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Arizona Travel Guide Part 1: Flagstaff and Sedona

In the Lee household, traveling is our family Christmas tradition. 

Growing up, we used to spend the holiday at home, opening presents on Christmas morning, and cooking Christmas breakfast together. My wishlist back then consisted of toys, newest tech gadgets, and clothes. But as we've gotten older, we've strayed away from the meaning behind physical presents, and focused more on the physical presence of one another. 

Since my family is all spread out -- my brother in college, my sister in medical school, my parents in North Carolina, and me in New York -- it's always hard to get everyone together in one spot for a few days. However, this past Thanksgiving, we wanted to block off an entire week and had an itinerary planned out for a trip to Arizona. 

I flew into PHX from NYC early morning, and waited for my family to arrive from NC. 

They surprised me with macarons at the airport. 😭

Then, we picked up our rental car and drove from the PHX airport to the Cathedral Rock trail in Sedona. It was about a two hour drive. 

I brought a carry-on and a duffel bag for my entire week in AZ. A lot of it was hiking / workout clothes, with a couple of pieces like a plaid tweed blazer (for Christmas), my leather jacket, and a big puffer coat. The forecast was a bit tricky because we hit four different cities, and in some of the areas it was snowing, raining, or foggy. Scroll down through the post to shop the outfits from each day.
Here's what was on my checklist:
- workout leggings (3 pairs)
- dri fit Nike tops to layer underneath
- two rain jackets
- Nike running sneakers (ON SALE)
- XPETI waterproof hiking boots
- this sweater 
- this puffer jacket (it was incredibly warm and I wore it for most of the hiking -- also has a detachable hood)
- these combat boots for just every day wear in the hotel and restaurants
- favorite Nike cap
- black TopShop denim 
- plaid tweed blazer
- black turtleneck top
- leather jacket
- sweater
- faux leather leggings

SEDONA -- Cathedral Rock:
We arrived an hour before sunset. Even though we weren't able to hike Cathedral Rock to the top, we were able to hike a little bit of it. 


SEDONA -- Chapel of the Holy Cross:

On Day 2 of exploring Sedona, we headed straight to Chapel of the Holy Cross. 
This isn't so much a hike, but a drive to the top to see the touristy location.
It was raining this day too, so there was also a lot of fog covering some of the canyons.

SEDONA -- Cathedral Rock:  
We attempted to climb Cathedral Rock again. However, it was cold and rainy, and because the hiking path was very elevated, the rocks were slippery and we decided not to continue hiking upwards.
I was so bummed because the view from Cathedral Rock is absolutely stunning.


SEDONA -- Soldier Pass Trail:

This hike... was one of the scariest moments on our entire trip.
We started the Soldier Pass Trail at 3pm. It was raining and we were prepared with heat packs, gloves, rain jackets, hats, and hiking attire.

The hike is 4.8 miles (2.5 hours) round trip with a 450 ft elevation change.

We started here...

... and hiked all the way to the end of Soldier Pass Trail. 

In between, we found the Devil's Kitchen Sinkhole and took some unbelievable shots in the rain.

In the process, we were trying to find the Soldier Pass Trail caves that many people had mentioned in blogs and reviews about this trail. The caves were located on an off-trail path, but we were nearing sunset... 

After finding the location on the GPS, we were able to find it off the off-trail path.
Little did we know that the off-trail path took us up another mountain to get to the cave.
We were running short on time... 

We found two entrances to a cave, but it was pitch black inside and it was almost 5pm.
We still had a long ways to go back to the parking lot. 

The sun set and we were still hiking on the trails. 
Keep in mind, it was muddy and rainy, and impossible to see in the dark.
Thanks to our iPhone flashlights and the GPS, we were able to navigate on the rocks.

It took us another hour to get back in the dark, and the gate had been closed because it was past 6pm.
We were worried we'd be spending Christmas Eve trapped inside the park, but 911 assisted us and we were able to leave shortly after. The car ride back to the hotel, SpringHill Suites in Flagstaff, we were all a little shaken but we were able to talk about it with one another, exchanging our scariest moments and making a joke out of 'never hiking at sunset again.' We ended up bonding over our time spent together navigating in the dark, and I felt so relieved we were able to get out of there safely!

FLAGSTAFF -- leaving the hotel:
Meanwhile in Flagstaff, it was still snowing. Flagstaff was freezing, and I remember layering in a jacket and a coat as we packed up our things and hit the road to Monument Valley. 

Stay tuned next week for PART 2 of the Arizona Travel Guide!
I'll be sharing Monument Valley and Page, AZ.

Thanks for reading!


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