Trip to Sedona, Arizona

Palatki Heritage Site
Palatki Ruins
Overview

This is a 5 night trip trip to Sedona, Arizona. We used credit card points to cover the flights (Spokane to Phonenix) and the hotel. I used the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit for most of the the Silvercar rental. Sedona has great vistas and we enjoyed the warm weather.

Planning the flights

We booked direct flights and used 12,500 AAdvantage points per person from a Citi American Airlines mastercard to fly there, and Southwest airlines Rapids Rewards points from a Chase Southwest card for the return flight. We booked about 10 months in advance and the AA flight changed, but it was still convenient. For the Southwest flight I checked prices and when they went down I re-booked the same flight with fewer points twice. The original price was originally 16,599 Rapid Rewards points/person and the final was 13,771 per person.

Booking the rental car with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card

For the car I like to use Chase UR points via the CSR card to take advantage of the primary insurance that comes with it. The pricing using UR points was relatively high due to a high volume when we booked, so I decided to try Silvercar which had a 30% discount from the Chase CSR (2 day minimum). I still used the Chase CSR and used up my $300 travel credit. The total cost was $433.76 for 5 days (2 weekend days).

Booking a place to stay using Chase UR points

I wanted to use Chase UR points with our CSR in order to get the 1.5X value. We found an inexpensive but highly rated hotel, the Greentree Inn centrally located to restaurants in West Sedona. Since the price was quite good we splurged and got a suite, the total cost for 5 nights was 38,899 Chase UR points including breakfasts.

Getting to Sedona in Style

The American airlines flight left on time and when we arrived I logged into my Silvercar app on my android phone and messaged we had arrived once I was on the shuttle. They said they had high volume and they would meet me at the designated spot and I might have to wait up to 5 minutes. I was skeptical, but sure enough someone picked us up within 5 minutes. This was a vastly improved experience from our last trip to Sedona when we had to wait in the garage for over 20 minutes from a different rental car company. It took awhile to familiarize myself with the tech in the Audi A4, and I eventually gave up on the navigation system and just used a Garmin plugged into the cigarette lighter and we took off for Sedona. The car comes with wifi so the DW was able to watch a final four b-ball game on the laptop while we drove. The Audi was smooth and even at 75 mph it felt like going 40 mph in our older vehicles.

Palatki Heritage Site
Sinaguan ruins
Palatki Heritage Site

Our first day we didn’t feel like hiking so we we took a 31 minute drive to Palatki Heritage Site. There is a short trail from the parking lot to a visitor center. You have to wait for a guide, you can’t just walk the site on your own. We found out we were supposed to reserve a spot, but there was a no show so we got to head out right away. A volunteer told us about the ruins and then sent us to the grotto where there were petroglyphs (carved) and pictographs (painted). A second guide told us about the various peoples who had used the area. A worthwhile trip and nice to be in 75F weather for the first time in 2018.

Lunch at Nicks Westside

Nicks Westside restaurant was right across the street from our hotel and we walked over. The staff was very friendly and they have all day breakfast. I got the prime rib and eggs with hashbrowns and DW got the huevos rancheros. Both were excellent.

Happy hour and dinner

We went to Oak Creek brewing for happy hour and had their Snake Charmer IPA and the Oak Creek Amber. They have a nice backyard outdoor seating area and both beers were good. For dinner we went to Creekside American Bistro and had crab cakes and sat on the deck. Again no reservations so we weren’t able to get the best seat, but we still had a nice view of the red rocks while eating.

Boynton Canyon Trail
Boynton Canyon morning light

The next day after having Sedonuts (yes they’re good) for breakfast we hiked the Boynton Canyon trail. It was cool in the morning and warmed up as we hiked. The trail starts out by a resort area but then heads up intoa  Canyon. The climb was gradual except for the very end and a very enjoyable hike. The lighting in the canyon was spectacular. Unfortunately I forgot my good camera on this trip so all I has was my android camera.

It’s all about the red rocks
Happy Hour at Vino Di Sedona

We walked to Vino Di Sedona for happy hour (3-6 pm). They had a special where if you ask for it you can have tastings for two for $12 (Sun to Thurs), a killer deal. DW and I each got six tastes of wine. The choices were great and we both found new wines we liked. DWs favorite was Peachy Keen from Arizona and mine was a Malbec.

Devil’s Bridge Hike

The next day we did Devil’s Bridge form the Mescal trailhead. A lot of people were out on this popular trail. It was a nice hike and the arch was large but the viewpoint was only from the top.

Devil’s Bridge
Dinner at the Sundowner

I was intrigued by a self-proclaimed dive bar rated 4.6 on Google reviews. The Sundowner did not disappoint. The clientele were friendly, and the the service and food were excellent. The salad with breaded chicken on top and thousand island dressing was fresh.

Hiking Chimney Rock from thunder Mountain Trailhead

The next morning we did a hike that left from a trailhead in town. The views from the Little Sugarloaf summit were spectacular and we were the only ones on the top.

Smoke from prescribed burns
Secret Trail

The hike I enjoyed most in Sedona was Secret Slickrock rail. It’s a short walk to a red rock overlook that has a spectacular view of Cathedral Rock. We only saw one pair of mountain bikers in the middle of the afternoon, while the Crescent Moon day use area below us was busy.

View of Cathedral Rock from Secret Slickrock Trail
Wine tasting at Page Spring Cellars and dinner at Up the Creek Bistro

After a 15 minute drive from Sedona to Page Spring cellars we had a nice afternoon tasting of red wines and sweet white wines. Our server was fun and knowledgeable and the wines were also great. The deck was busy and we were only able to get a seat in the sun. After awhile we moved to the front of the bistro and found a set in the shade. Just up the road is Up the Creek Bistro where we had our final dinner. The view of the creek and watching the humming birds was a nice ending to our trip to Sedona.

Summary

It was nice to have some 75F weather in early April and the red rocks are always stunning. We tasted some great wines and thanks to Citi and Chase for helping with the flights and the lodging. Having banks help pay for vacations is one way to get FI faster.

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