Sunday Hikes: Devil’s Bridge Trail

Possibly the most popular hike in Sedona, Arizona is the Devil’s Bridge Trail. This is the largest sandstone arch in the Sedona area. There are multiple hiking routes to get to the Devil’s Bridge, but we took the most direct route. Tip: get here early to beat all the Jeep tours.

We walked the high clearance dirt road to the final leg of the hike, but our Jeep Patriot could have handled it easily. This made it a 3.7 mile round trip. If you drive out the high clearance road then you can hike as little as 1.8 miles round trip. There are alternate routes that are over 5 miles round trip and are less crowded.

The final leg is mostly up and has a few fun scrambles. It was pretty icy while we were there so we had a little more fun than usual. The views of the Sedona area are amazing from up on high.

One of the interesting things about Devil’s Bridge is that you get to go on top of the arch. Most arches are not that way. As you can see from the pics that is is pretty exhilarating on top, especially when icy.

This is a great fun hike, but again I caution to get out there as early as possible to beat the crowds. Thanks for reading. rk

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New Year’s Eve at the Grand Canyon

Here’s an idea for your next New Year’s Eve. The Grand Canyon. I sorta accidentally stumbled into it this year but it was quite fabulous.

I hadn’t realized that this was a thing, but folks come here every year to celebrate the coming of the new year.

I was very fortunate to be able to score a last minute room at the famous El Tovar lodge right on the rim (I had been checking for a couple months and it had been all booked). It was still all decked out for Christmas so that was cool also.

I was also able to sweet talk the hostess into a last minute dinner reservation at the El Tovar Dining Room which is one of the finest places to eat anywhere in my opinion.

The Grand Canyon views were exceptional with clear skies and snow everywhere. The Rim Trail was very icy but that made it all the more fun.

To top it all off, the concessionaire companies threw New Year’s Eve parties. Xanterea had live music at the Bright Angel Lodge, but Delaware North and their DJ proved they could party harder at Yavapai Lodge.

All in all, an unexpectedly wonderful day and evening. Happy New Year! rk

Picture of the Day: Snowy Chiricahua National Monument

I was a little shocked to see this much snow just 70 miles north of the Mexican border in Chiricahua National Monument. I pictured southern Arizona a little differently. Hiking in the 8″-10″ of snow under a cloudless blue sky was magical though and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I hope you enjoy the pictures. rk

Sunday Hikes: Alkali Flat Trail

The Alkali Flat Trail in White Sands National Park was different than any hiking trail I’ve ever done before. It’s a 5 mile loop trail through the seemingly neverending sand dunes. It’s also unusual as most hikers are carrying plastic sleds as well.

The trail follows from one marker to another where you can walk up a sand dune and then sled down the other side. Eventually you get the the far end where you can see the Alkali flights along with the adjacent White Sands Missile Range in the distance.

This hike is really unusual but also amazing with mountains off in the distance surrounding you as you navigate the sand dunes. This is the definite White Sands hike you must do when visiting our newest National Park.

rk

City Spotlight: Munich

This is the second installment sharing some of our favorite cities to visit. You can read last week here:

I arrived in Munich at 8:30am last spring on the Nightjet train from Milan. I was blessed with a beautiful blue sky day and warm weather.

The Munich train station is located like in most European cities within easy walking distance of the city center. I checked into my hotel (room was shockingly ready at 8am!!!), took a quick shower, and headed into town.

To say I loved Munich was an understatement of the highest degree. I wandered thru churches, marveled at the architecture in Marienplatz, and enjoyed the open air markets. Oh and the food, sausages, schnitzel and beer oh my!

Please look through the pictures below and soon you will start planning your trip to Munich.

One of the many churches I wandered thru.

Marienplatz. I loved seeing glockenspiel in the tower turn and play music.

The open air market was just delightful.

Views from a church steeple. Well worth the climb.

Of course, I went to the world famous Hofbrauhaus. I’ve seen pictures of my mom and grandmother here so it was a little sentimental for me to be here where they were many years ago.

So yeah, I loved Munich and can’t wait to return. What a wonderful city. As always, thanks for reading. rk

Picture of the Day: Minneapolis

I visited my daughter in Minneapolis recently. I was there for the last mild day of the year and then it promptly dropped down to 8*F the last day I was there.

I really liked the downtown area and was able to walk and explore a good bit. I took a picture of a bridge over the Mississippi River with a cool reflection that I really liked. Not bad for an iPhone 8!

Sunday Hikes: Mount Fremont Lookout Trail

We drove into Mount Rainier National Park from the north and beelined straight to the Sunrise Visitor Center. After checking out the Visitor Center and the area maps, we identified the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail as the one we wanted to hike.

Mount Fremont is a 5.7 mile round trip trail to the closest fire lookout to Mount Rainier. We started on our way with gorgeous views of Mount Rainier in front of us.

The trail wraps around the promisingly named frozen lake. Sadly it looked more like a retention pond during this September hike. I’m sure it was much more impressive in June.

From here the hike picks up elevation and eventually cuts sharply to the right where you walk on scree with the fire lookout visible in the distance.

The lookout has amazing 360 degree views in all directions. The Cascades are to the north and Mount Rainier to the south. This was definitely worth the hike.

We headed back facing Mount Rainier as we watched a helicopter travel back and forth from Sunrise to a spot in the distance. I’m assuming ferrying supplies. We were able to spot a group of mountain goats down below, but the pictures just didn’t come out well sadly.

I can’t recommend this hike enough when at the Sunrise Visitor Center area. I really enjoyed it and hope you do as well.

Thanks for reading. rk

City Spotlight: San Francisco

This is the first in a new series where we share favorite cities that we love and hope you plan to visit and enjoy them too!

The City by the Bay is a beautiful city to visit. It’s one of my favorite places and has a ton of things to do. Here is just a sampling:

  • Rent a bike and cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, you can take the ferry back.
  • Wander Chinatown and eat here at least once.
  • Coit Tower, climb to the top and watch the sunset.
  • Fisherman’s Wharf. Despite all the tourists, it’s worth visiting to see all the sea lions and enjoy Dungeness crab. It’s also the departure point to Alcatraz (which must be booked well in advance if you want to go there).
  • The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is beautiful.
  • Full House fans must make a pilgrimage to the house featured in the TV show.
  • The San Francisco Wave Organ is an under the radar attraction, plus it’s free. Go at high tide.
  • The Palace of Fine Arts is a great spot for your instagram selfie.
  • Ghirardelli Square, I like their hot fudge sundae!
  • There are some great sushi bars here, I like the ones with the revolving boats.
  • The Tonga Room, I love a good tiki bar and this is a great one!

Some other things to know about San Francisco.

  • Sadly, the homeless situation here is pretty bad. Avoid the Tenderloin district where it seems the worst. Don’t leave any bags visible in your car or you have a great chance of having your window bashed in. I have always felt safe here so don’t let this discourage you.
  • Some great nearby attractions are Napa and Sonoma Valley, Muir Woods, and Point Reyes National Seashore.

Have a great time on your visit and please comment on some of your favorites. Thanks rk

The Palace of Fine Arts

Coit Tower

Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf

Picture of the Day: Tree of Life in Olympic National Park

Located on the beach near Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park, this cool tree looks to be defying gravity. Named the Tree of Life or sometimes the Tree Root Cave, you can walk under the tree and when wet see a waterfall flowing behind it.

I added a shot of the beach as well. The Washington coast is so beautiful.

Thanks! rk

Sunday Hikes: Grove of the Patriarchs

This fun trail is packed with lots of cool sights and is quick to complete as it is flat and only one mile round trip. After several days backpacking in the North Cascades this was right up my alley.

Conveniently located right off the main road in Mt Rainier just east of Paradise Visitor Center, this is a must do hike in Mt Rainier National Park.

The trail begins running along the Ohanapecosh River with plenty of large trees and scenic river views.

At the halfway point you cut right and cross the river on a very cool bridge.

This leads you into the Grove of the Patriarchs. This grove of ancient 1000 year old trees is made up of Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars. The trails through the grove are mostly on wooden boardwalks to protect the trees.

With fellow Bighorn blogger Josh for scale, you can see the size of these amazing trees.

You head back the way you came, crossing the bridge and soon back to the trailhead. Definitely hit this quick hike on your next visit to Mt Rainier.

Thanks for reading. rk