things to do
best arizona vacations – 33 summer getaways
Things To Do
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Things To Do
Best Arizona Vacations – 33 Summer Getaways
June, 2011, Page 106
Grand Canyon Caverns
Mile Marker 115, Route 66, Peach Springs
Eat your heart out, Dr. Evil. Guests at this Route 66 hotel can hole up in their own secret, underground lair inside an ancient limestone cavern 220 feet below ground.
The inn offers 48 street-level rooms with adequate accommodations at best, but the real draw is the ultra-private Cavern Suite, which opened in January 2010. You’ll take an elevator 22 stories down to a dry, limestone cavern that formed over the course of 65 million years, measuring 200 feet wide and 400 feet long (slightly larger than a football field) with a 70-foot ceiling.
The surprisingly cozy suite features two double beds, a living room with a fold-out sofa bed, a bathroom, electricity (to run lights and a record player, should the sound of your beating heart become too distracting), and a library stacked with books and magazines dating back to the 1800s. Above-ground staff stay on call to fetch water and gourmet meals.
At a steady 56 degrees, zero humidity and void of any life (seriously, not even a bug), the cavern is an isolationist’s dream. Plotting world domination is optional.
: $700 per night for double occupancy, plus $100 per each additional guest (up to six total). Note that you’ll have the place to yourself between check-in at 4 p.m. and check-out at 10 a.m., but during the day, tour groups visit the cavern.
Sage Hill Bed & Breakfast
In the Navajo Nation community of Red Valley
(labeled as “Red Rock” on maps), on
Navajo Route 33 (N33)
A stay at Sage Hill is a key unlocking the door to the often mysterious Navajo culture. Owners Timothy Benally – a Red Valley native and former member of the Navajo Tribal Council – and his wife, Karen – an Anglo cultural anthropologist from Michigan – welcome guests into their home and introduce them to Navajo landscapes and traditions.
Help prepare a Navajo meal of mutton stew, blue corn mush, fry bread and chiilchin (lemonade berry/sumac pudding) ($30 per adult). Learn the intricate process of crafting a Navajo rug from a local weaver (cost varies; see website). Navigate the back roads to hike and photograph sheep camps and sandstone arches in the Lukachukai-Chuska Mountains ($25 in your vehicle; $40 in the Benallys’). Journey with an archaeologist into Broken Flute Cave, a 1,700-year-old site including 20 pithouses, a kiva and rock art (requires at least two months’ advance notice and a minimum $390 charge).
This remote B&B has just one bedroom – a plush queen suite with a full bathroom and attached sitting room, plus an adjacent single bedroom for larger parties. That means you’ll have an intimate experience with plenty of time to pepper the Benallys with questions about Navajo culture.
: The queen suite is $85 per night, including dinner on the night of arrival plus full breakfasts thereafter. To reserve both rooms, the charge is $125 per night. Because of the rural location, restaurants are few and far between, so additional meals are available for $9 per person for dinner and $6 per person for lunch.
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