grand canyon to la posada

The photo above was taken at the historic La Posda Hotel in Winslow AZ toward the end of Day 3 of my mid-June 2020 trip through northern sections of Arizona and New Mexico. It seemed to me, when planning the trip, that this would be an appropriately grand place to stay after a first visit to the Grand Canyon. I wasn’t disappointed.

Before getting there, however, I had one other big thing to do at the Grand Canyon: Get out at dawn, take photos, and then hike down into the canyon a bit.

I’d looked at several trails, including the South Kaibab Trail. It was clear that I would have to get up early early to see anything, and that shuttle buses could take me anywhere starting far enough before dawn. Given how busy I expected to be, however, I decided to keep things simple and take the Bright Angel Trail, closer by foot to my hotel. I spent about 10 to 15 minutes getting photos first, spotting only one other person nearby outside of the El Tovar.

(Tip for avoiding crowds: Arizona doesn’t have Daylight Savings Time. Wake up before dawn!)

South Rim Trail near El Tovar Hotel & Mary Colter’s Hopi House, Grand Canyon National Park

I then headed over and down. Verdict: MUCH harder than I thought it was going to be, even after reading plenty about Grand Canyon trails being rough. The hike gave me a much greater appreciation for the enormity, or grandness, of the canyon, though.

From the Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park
From the Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

I knew the rule about how it will take you twice as long to go back up as it did to head down, meanwhile. I wanted to get breakfast at the hotel by 8:30 to 9 a.m., at least. Consequently, by the time I got down to the 1.5 mile Resthouse, I decided to turn around. I started around 5:15 a.m., and returned around 7:45.

Getting back up was murderous, but I felt decent enough, and promptly ordered a room service breakfast. I headed out to Flagstaff by 10. I stopped briefly in Williams AZ, just for photos of the old Flintstones Bedrock City place. I spent about two-and-a-half hours in Downtown Flagstaff at lunchtime, snapping photos of its many retro signs, sitting in a swank coffee shop and writing in a journal, and browsing through a fantastic bookstore and outdoors apparel and accouterments stores.

After that, I headed to Winslow (yeah, that Winslow) and La Posada. And here, there’s a connection with previous trip stops, namely, with architect and designer Mary Colter. She was behind several Grand Canyon National Park structures, including the Hopi House, the Desert View Watchtower and the Bright Angel Lodge. She also designed the landmark Painted Desert Inn at the Petrified Forest National Park.

It was not Colter’s reputation that led me to La Posada, however. It was reading about it in the context of thinking, Wow! There has to be something more interesting along the way than a $200-a-night chain hotel in Flagstaff to stay at after the Grand Canyon, but before heading to Santa Fe. Turns out there was. This hotel, a railroad era hotel renovated room-by-room beginning in the late 199s, features a mix of design elements, from the streamline moderne style of its era, along with Mission-style architecture and Navajo art. Then the property had Jacuzzi whirlpool tubs in every room (which came in handy after the canyon and Sedona area hiking.)

Oh, and a stellar restaurant, the Turquoise Room. I had more flavorful food at the restaurant here, for dinner and breakfast than anywhere else on my trip. During the one month or so I experienced a bit of the old maskless indoor life, I enjoyed being treated like a benign kingly ruler, with mega-pro gloved staff and all. (Didn’t have to dress up, though!) Makes me feel almost wistful now.

A few pics below. A day of luxuriating here, and I headed out for a purposefully slow, half-scenic route trip to Santa Fe.

Black Currant Margarita at the Turquoise Room of La Posada Hotel, Winslow AZ

Huevos Rancheros at the Turquoise Room of La Posada Hotel, Winslow AZ