Natural History Lovers

Arizona's outdoors are a must for many travelers to the Grand Canyon State, and few landscapes are as unique as the ones found in Northern Arizona's pines and plateaus. This itinerary highlights the outdoor adventure and amazing natural sights of the region, starting in Winslow, about three hours north of Phoenix, and ending in Flagstaff.

Follow this journey to revel in the history and stories of the people and cultures that first inhabited these visual wonders while experiencing Northern Arizona's otherworldly beauty for yourself.

Natural History Lovers
The Wave (@astroadams)

For this itinerary, we partnered with Micah Adams, "explorer, teacher, artist, photographer" and creator of @astroadams on Instagram. Together with his fiancé and fellow photographer, Lindsay (@twowildheartsphoto), Micah tours the world from their 4x4 offroad van.

You can see videos of their past adventures and more on their YouTube channel, Life with Micah & Lindsay.

Northern Arizona for Nature and History Buffs


Winslow has always been an important stop on Route 66, first popular with railroad travelers, and now with motorists and motorcyclists.

Paint­ed Desert

Colorful badlands meet the Mother Road in Arizona’s high desert.

Looking like pastel mounds of Neapolitan ice cream, Northern Arizona’s Painted Desert is a vast, striated badlands that extends some 150 miles from the eastern end of the Grand Canyon into Petrified Forest National Park. A geologist’s other-worldly paradise, the colorful hills, flat-topped mesas and sculptured buttes of the Painted Desert are primarily made up of the Chinle Formation, mainly river-related deposits dating back some 200 million years. Inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years, the multi-hued sweep of pigmented rock in the arid high desert received its present name in the 1540s from the Spanish explorer Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, who called the area El Desierto Pintado.

Homolovi State Park

Settled by the Hisat'sinom people in the 14th century, the lush flood plains and sandy banks of Homolovi State Park remain a significant site for the Hopi community of today. View the ruins of Hisat'sinom (known to some as the Anasazi), which still contain traces of that past civilization such as broken pottery, petroglyphs and traditional pit houses.

Then, stop by the gift shop to peruse its collection of books (some rare and unusual) about the natural and cultural history of the area. You'll also find an excellent selection of authentic Hopi and Navajo artwork available to purchase.

Reli­cRoad Brew­ing Company

Stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona then cross the street to RelicRoad Brewing Company, a casual taphouse serving craft beer, cocktails and comfort food. (Photo: John Weatherby)

Mete­or Crater Nat­ur­al Landmark

Visit the world's best-preserved meteorite impact site on Earth. Located just minutes from Interstate 40 and the old Route 66 in Northern Arizona near Winslow. Meteor Crater is the spectacular result of a collision that rocked the American Southwest approximately 50,000 years ago with the energy of more than 20 million tons of TNT. Situated under the wide skies of the Arizona High Desert, Meteor Crater offers an interactive educational experience for the entire family in a beautiful, natural setting. Be sure to stop at the Meteor Crater Visitor Center located on the rim of the Crater. The fully air-conditioned building features an 80-seat widescreen theater, indoor crater viewing area, Crater Trail access, Interactive Discovery Center, artifacts and exhibits, gift and mineral Shop, "Collision!" 4D Experience Room, and the Blasted Bistro.

Mys­ti­cal Ante­lope Canyon Tours and Arrow­head Campground

Get access to one of the most photographed places on earth with your personal Navajo guide. Then book a stay at their nearby campground where you can sleep in a tent or a traditional tipi.

Mystical Antelope Canyon Tour: @CanyonAntelope on Facebook and Instagram

Heli­copter Ride to Tow­er Butte

Take off from Page in a Papillon helicopter and travel high above Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam and Horseshoe Bend on your way to the top of massive Tower Butte, where even more views await you. (Photo: Micah Adams)

Instagram: @iFlyPapillon

Grab Some Din­ner & Brews

You can dine at camp, or try one of the local breweries nearby for something a little heartier. State 48 Tavern and Grand Canyon Brewing & Distillery are two popular restaurants with locations (and plenty of fans) in several cities throughout Arizona. Not sure which one to try? Try both! They're just steps from one another on North Navajo Drive in Page, Ariz. (Photo: @brewtangclanlfk on Instagram)

Instagram: @gcbrewery_distilling and @state48tavern

Secret Ante­lope Canyon & Horse­shoe Bend Tour

There's the Antelope Canyon everyone knows, and then there's the other canyon. On this tour, you'll join a semi-private tour of a slot canyon beyond the familiar Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon tours and get exclusive access to a private Navajo viewpoint of Horseshoe Bend. (Photo: @Chefmalubusato on Instagram)

Instagram: @HorseshoeBendTours

The Bird House

Take a break for lunch and spoil yourself with some of "the best fried chicken. PERIOD." That's the claim, anyway, from BirdHouse in Page, which serves up hot fried chicken and cold beer from breweries both local and nationwide. And judging by the glowing reviews it's received, it's a pretty strong claim. (Photo: @chickswholovechix on Instagram)

Hike (or Bike) the Rimview Trail

This 10-mile trail is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and birdwatchers. It's rated as "easy," and takes a little under 4 hours to complete the full loop, depending on your speed. After a long day, reward yourself with a nice walk, a little solitude, and an unobstructed view of the Arizona sunset. Make camp at Lee's Ferry Campground. (Photo: @the.wandering.hurlburts on Instagram)

Kayak/​SUP Horse­shoe Bend (Overnight)

View Horseshoe Bend from a different perspective, as you kayak or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) the waters below, courtesy of Kayak the Colorado outfitters. Choose from a variety of kayaks, including tandem, sit-on-top, sit-in, inflatable, and more, and plan to be on the waters for a few hours each day. You'll camp overnight (bring your own food and water), and return to the dock the following afternoon.

Note: If you do not have a "National Parks Pass," a "Grand Canyon Week Pass," or a "Glen Canyon Recreation Area Pass," you will need to stop at the kiosk a quarter mile down the road to pay the entrance parking fee to Glen Canyon.

Instagram: @kayakthecolorado

Din­ner in Mar­ble Canyon

For your last night in Page, turn in your tent (or RV) for a room at Lee's Ferry Lodge at the base of the famous Vermilion Cliffs. Rest up and grab some dinner. You can eat at Lee Ferry's Lodge's on-site tavern (pictured above) or try the following nearby options:

Morn­ing Hike at Cathe­dral Wash

Page is famous for its canyons, and by now you've seen a fair amount of the two most famous: Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. The canyon of Cathedral Wash is no less spectacular with its rocky ledges and Toroweap formations. Though short (about 3 miles roundtrip), this hike requires some rock scrambling and wayfinding abilities. (Photo: @kaytheone on Instagram)

Dri­ve to Flagstaff

Drive two hours south on US 89 to Flagstaff. Walk around town or stretch and get ready for your next hiking adventure, this time with an extra dose of history. (Photo by Kerrick James.)

Wal­nut Canyon Nation­al Monument

Located in Flagstaff, Walnut Canyon National Monument is a natural gem in central Arizona that offers opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the past. Among the remarkable geological formations of the canyon, the former homes of ancient inhabitants are easily evident. Along the trails, you can imagine life within Walnut Canyon. On our Rim Trail, you can view a partially rebuilt pueblo and pit house. With over 300 cliff-dwellings you can walk in the steps of those who came before.

Lunch at Satchmo’s

We won't let you finish your journey on an empty stomach. For lunch, try the BBQ and Cajun food at Satchmo's. This is Louisiana by way of Arizona. We're talking crawfish, catfish, pork belly, brisket, ribs and so much more. Keep the napkins handy. (Photo: @hungry.tafreshi on Instagram)

Where they stayed:

The Adams' are all about the #VanLife. This trip includes stays at several campgrounds suitable for larger vans and RVs.

McHood Park Campsite

This first-come, first-serve site is located five miles southeast of Winslow off of State Route 99 near the McHood Park Clear Creek Reservoir.

As of June 2020, the cost is $15 per night, payable at a kiosk by the entrance. If the site is full, keep in mind there are numerous campgrounds nearby, including a campground at Homolovi State Park, with varying amenities.

Arrowhead Campground

Highway 98 Mile Marker 306, 9, Page, Ariz.
(928) 640-3852

Guests can rent or pitch their own tents, or opt to stay in a traditional tipi at this campground on the Navajo Nation from the same people who run Mystical Antelope Canyon Tours. If you opt to stay in a tipi, they advise guests to bring their own linens or sleeping bags and towels.

Lee's Ferry Campground

Off Hwy 89A on the Lees Ferry Road, about 44 miles from Page

There are no reservations or hookups at this site within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; but, for $20 per night, you can expect peace, quiet and views of the Colorado River.

Lee's Ferry Lodge

US Highway 89A Mile Marker 541.5, Marble Canyon, Ariz.
(928) 355-2231

Speaking of views, you really can't beat the ones at this lodge in Marble Canyon at the base of Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Recreation Area. Every one of the 11 rooms at this rustic spot has a patio with views of the nearby mountains—perfect for stargazing at night.

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About the Author

Arizona Office of Tourism

These articles are brought to you by the staff of the Arizona Office of Tourism, and occasionally local tourism organizations around the state.