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  • Maddie LaBerge

Tips & Tricks for a Weekend Trip to Page, Arizona

This weekend in March was very special for me as I was able to spend it with my Aunt Kristin and Uncle Scott. Technically, they’re my great aunt and uncle – and I’ll tell you what, they really live up to the title. 


At 66 years-old, my Uncle Scott ran a 50 mile ultra race through the sandy and rocky desert. The course passed through Antelope Canyon and around Horseshoe Bend and in 11 hours, not only did he have a strong finish, he placed first in his age category! I was (and continue to be) so incredibly proud of his determination and execution. He’s ran several 100 mile races and other 50 mile races in the last 30 years, but this was his first 50 miler in a while. 


36 Hours in Page, Arizona 

Max and I were longing for a quick weekend away from Phoenix and were thrilled when we learned the race was only four hours from our apartment. We booked an AirBnB, scoped out the trails we wanted to hike and made plans to see the natural wonders of the area. Finishing our work day on Friday, we rushed home, packed the car and took off up north. 



Friday, March 7 | 4:30 PM 

The clock on my desktop blinks to update the time: 4:30 PM on the dot. I close my laptop, pack my bag and wish my coworkers a great weekend in my effort to get out the door. I drive home with the excitement of a mini-vacation on the horizon. 


Friday, March 7 | 5:00 PM 

I arrive home to the car being mostly packed since Max got off work earlier than me. We pack the last minute items, change into comfortable driving clothes and leash up Steve before hopping into the car. 


Friday, March 7 | 5:30 PM 

Max drives us out of downtown Phoenix and through to the I-17, where we stay for 142 miles gaining elevation and losing daylight. 


Friday, March 7 | 7:00 PM 

We stop for food and let Steve stretch his legs in Camp Verde after driving through rain and sleet. 


Friday, March 7 | 10:30 PM 

In pitch blackness, we find our accommodations in Big Water, Utah, about 30 minutes outside of Page, Arizona. In my bike shorts and sandals, I am wholly unequipped to help bring in our baggage – utterly shocked by the temperature that awaits me outside of the car. 


Max, ever the saint, unlocked the door and brought in our bags. I changed into some sweats and was able to check out our beautiful yurt. We booked the Clockwork Oasis Yurt, one of four individually themed yurts on the lot. Inside were funky steampunk lights, a giant bed and a handwritten letter from our host, Rebecca wishing us a wonderful stay. 


Snacks provided by our AirBNB host in Utah!

We were pleased to find a full bathroom en suite with stocked toiletries, as well as a kitchen sink, microwave, Nespresso machine and mini-fridge. Plus, our host left us a tray full of treats from Bare apple chips, apples and bananas to Sun Chips and Pringles. Glamping, truly at its finest. 


Our Yurt in Utah
The Clockwork Oasis Yurt

After we turned on the electric fireplace and blasted the heater, Max and I curled up in bed, Steve snuggled up in front of the faux flames and we all knocked out, ready for the day ahead. 


Saturday, March 8 | 7:00 AM 

My alarm blares but I’m already awake. Steve has been pawing at Max to get up to go outside and explore. We have to start early to meet my Aunt Kristen at her rental house in Page. After a quick shower and a rifling through our treat tray, we are about to take off in search of some coffee when our lovely AirBnB host caught us to give us a brief hello! She asked if we needed anything and gave us a spare key due to a recent sandstorm, just in case sand got in the lock! So sweet!


Weekend trip in Page, Arizona.
Outside the Clockwork Yurt on our first full day!

Saturday, March 8 | 7:30 AM 

The drive from Big Water to Page is a short 15-20 minutes through desert and over the Glen Canyon bridge. We arrive at Hot N’ Sweet Donut Shop and take turns ordering to keep Steve outside. I got a bagel with cream cheese and a salted caramel oat milk latte while Max snagged a few donuts and an iced americano. 


Weekend Trip to Page, Arizona.
Salted Caramel Latte with Oat Milk from Hot N’ Sweet Donut Shop

I liked my coffee and bagel so much, we actually went back the next morning. 


Saturday, March 8 | 8:00 AM 

We eat our round treats in the car and head into my Aunt’s rental. We get to hang out in the backyard with Steve until we get word that it's time to find the 50-mile race aid station shuttle. 


Weekend trip in Page, Arizona.
Budding blooms in the backyard of my Aunt's rental.

Max drove us to the drop off point and from there, he explored town while Aunt Kristen and I rode in a (very bumpy) van to the Horseshoe Bend aid station. Although the name indicates a closeness to Horseshoe Bend, that was not the case and it was not visible or within a walking distance for us. 


It was my first time supporting anyone at a long race like this and I was excited! Luckily there were a ton of seasoned pros around me that have been cheering for their runners for years. Here is my short list of great things to cheer for the runners: 


Looking good, runner! 

Go, runner, go! 

Looking strong!

You got this! 

You’re incredible


Saturday, March 8 | 10:00 AM 

We were at the 20 mile mark and the 32 mile mark, as runners completed a loop after passing us before retracing their steps past us again. Luckily, my Uncle Scott has a huge running support system and we were able to cheer for his friends while we waited for him to come by. 

Weekend trip to Page, Arizona
Cheering on Scott's long time friend, Claire!

Additional tips if you plan to support a long distance runner: 


Bring sunscreen, seriously. 

Along with that, bring a hat and sun-protective clothing. 

Bring extra water. 

Bring a few snacks. 

Bring a go-bag full of things your runner might need. 

Invest in a good camping chair that can fold up easily. 


Weekend Trip in Page, Arizona.
Repping our crew sheets at the Antelope Canyon Aid Station.

In the meantime, my Aunt Kristin and I were able to chat nonstop. We almost never have one-on-one time, since I normally only see her when she hosts our annual big family Thanksgiving! So this was definitely a treat. We chatted about family, friends, future and past experiences and I couldn’t help feeling so lucky to have spent this time with her. 


Saturday, March 9 | 11:00 AM

After waiting and cheering and chatting, we finally saw the outline of my Uncle Scott coming towards us! He was all smiles as he ran to the 20 mile mark. He was feeling great on the trail despite the loose desert sand and was really enjoying the beauty of the desert. We made sure he had everything he needed before he zipped past us to continue on.


Weekend in Page, Arizona.
My Uncle Scott staying strong halfway through his 50-mile race.

Saturday, March 9 | 1:00 PM

After some more waiting and cheering and chatting, we saw the outline of my Uncle Scott coming back towards us! He was STILL all smiles as he ran past the 30-mile mark. He was able to run along the cliffside of Horseshoe Bend and said it was beautiful. He stopped for a quick something to eat at the aid station and told us to go have fun! We (again) made sure he had everything he needed before he zipped past us to continue on.


Saturday, March 9 | 1:30 PM

We were a bit hungry after all of our cheering and stopped for some food with Max after retracing our path from bumpy van to Max's car. We stopped by Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery in Page to grab a local beer (for me) and a bloody mary (for Max). I got a Caesar salad, which was only okay for $16. Plus, my literal least favorite way to be served a salad is when it comes in a wedge! Why am I having to cut the dang thing up and make it a salad myself?


Saturday, March 9 | 2:30 PM

Anyway... after catching up with Max about his adventures thus far, we made our way to Horseshoe Bend to see it ourselves!

Weekend in Page, Arizona
The famed Horseshoe Bend view.

A few notes about visiting Horseshoe Bend:


There is a $10 per car admission fee that can be paid in cash or card, with some restrictions around holidays.

Your National Parks Pass will not give you free entry as the parking lot is managed by the city of Page.

Once you park, there is an easy half mile trail to the bend's lookout point.

There is a fenced lookout point and then on either side, there are rocks to climb on and explore. Although one should definitely watch their step, it's a long way down.


We ended up finding the perfect place to get the Instagram shot, just to the left of the main lookout. We stayed for around half an hour, taking photos and exploring the surrounding desert. I was even able to spot a few kayaks in the river making their way around the bend! I will definitely be adding that to my bucket list activities.


Saturday, March 9 | 4:30 PM

We dropped my Aunt off at the house so we could fit in a bit more adventuring before heading to the finish line to cheer Scott across. I wanted to do the Hanging Garden Trail but in the sake of time, we ended up just parking on one end of the Glen Canyon Dam bridge and walking across to the visitor center. Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed when we got there but there were still a few things to check out in the front of the building. My favorite was the dinosaur tracks! Next time, I'd love to be able to observe the dam from the seemingly Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired circular visitor center.



Saturday, March 9 | 5:30 PM

We packed up our things, picked up my Aunt Kristin and got ready to cheer Uncle Scott over the finish line! We got there at the perfect time, being able to see Claire finish and a few other running friends before he crossed the finish line with a huge smile on his face.


I don't know how he does it, I assume it's running endorphins!

Weekend in Page, Arizona
Crossing the finish line after 11 hours!

He received a huge medal and we gave him alllllll the love. He finished strong at just a few minutes over 11 hours and ended up placing first in his age category! I learned that typically when you win in your age group, you are awarded a rodeo-like belt buckle. Apparently, a man showed up to run a horse race called the Western States. As it was a horse race, winners would receive a rodeo buckle. When a man wanted to complete it but had no horse, he moved forward on foot to complete the race! Since then, most ultra-marathons continue to give out this prize.



Unfortunately, this race wasn't handing those out. We all joked about counterfeiting one before piling back into the car to part ways and say goodbye. My aunt and uncle had plans early in the morning and would be taking off in their incredible adventure van at daybreak.


For me, this ended up being a lot more emotional than I originally had thought it would be. But being able to see someone I love so dearly complete something that is so difficult and requires so much effort, strength and resilience – all with a smile on his face – was overwhelming. I choked back the tidal wave of emotions until Max and I loaded up into the car to return to our Utah yurt.


This was a very special trip as I have never had any family come to Arizona just to visit me. They spent time with me in Phoenix earlier in the week and treated me to lunch and I was able to show off my new apartment to them. It was just really comforting to be told by these accomplished, wonderful people that they were proud of me and what I was doing.


We picked up a 12 pack of local brews from the Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery on our way back to Utah.

Weekend in Page, Arizona.
Prickly Pear Wheat Ale from Grand Canyon Brewing and Distillery.

Saturday, March 9 | 8:00 PM

By 8 PM, Max, Steve and I were tired. Steve could barely keep his eyes open in the car and to be honest, neither could I. We drove into the court of yurts and couldn't believe the amount of stars we could see! Steve plopped back in front of the faux fireplace and immediately fell asleep, while Max and I cracked open a few cans and enjoyed the amazing views of the cosmos. We could see the Milky Way and I honestly do not know if I've ever seen more stars in my life. We were tucked away from any city lights and if it says anything, the photo below was taken on my iPhone!

Weekend in Page Arizona
My iPhone's view of the cosmos

Seeing this many stars always makes me think about Native people and cowboys, who used to see this untouched land and a sky without light pollution. What a sight to have been able to see and a secret able to keep.


We finished up our beer and fell asleep once again in our big comfy bed.


Sunday, March 10 | 8:00 AM

It was go-time once again. Our check-out was at 11 AM but we had places to be and things to see! We packed up all of our things, filled our water bottles and set off to Hot N’ Sweet Donut Shop again. I got another bagel, this time with peanut butter and the same latte. Now was the time to hit up the Hanging Garden trail I had scoped out ahead of our trip.


Hanging Garden Trail in Page, Arizona.
Hanging Garden Trail in Page, Arizona.

This moderate hike was about 1.75 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 90 feet. On mostly sand and stone, we hiked with Steve (we love a dog-friendly hike!) to the gardens which were beautiful! A word to the wise: keep your eye on the trail, it can easily get away from you and you might not end up where you'd like to be. Watch for stacked rocks and rock paths to guide your way!



Sunday, March 10 | 10:00 AM

From this trailhead, we headed to the Page Shores Natural Amphitheater for some sandy dunes and beautiful rock formations. There isn't really a defined trail to take, so we explored around the stage area and climbed on a few rocks for three-quarters of a mile before heading south to Flagstaff for some big lunch plans.



Sunday, March 10 | 11:00 AM


As we headed south, we stopped at a scenic view pull off I-89 to take in some final views of the beautiful red rocks and hidden scenery.



Sunday, March 10 | 1:30 PM

We hit Flagstaff right before the train came in, which made for a really cool long exposure photo. Then we leashed up Steve and took to the patio of our favorite pizzeria, Pizzicleta! Here's everything we ordered:


Rosemary Focaccia

Diavola

SS-145

Stout on tap

Rosemary IPA



We ended up getting a different pizza by accident, the Rucola – which they comped on the final bill due to the confusion! The server/host was working so hard as the only person on the floor and we could both tell that she was pretty stressed out. Even with the mixup, it was still great food and service and we were happy to have leftovers to take home.



Sunday, March 10 | 4:30 PM

We rolled back into Phoenix, just after the Oscars had begun. I was reporting live updates to Max as he drove us back to Midtown, before we unpacked all of our things and snuggled in to watch the winners, losers and dramatics of the Academy Awards!


Thanks for tagging along on this wonderful weekend away in Page, Arizona!




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