California Dreaming Series|San Diego

Imagine a life where you are surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes, ocean blue waters, and palm trees galore? We might call this California Dreaming as you may think that no such place exists in your world. Well, this is our attempt to bring that world to you.

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San Diego downtown near the Convention Center

 

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San Diego view from Petco Park

San Diego is a vacationers dream with so many exciting attractions, amusement parks, the famous San Diego Zoo, and exquisite dining. However, San Diego offers so much more for you other than the average everyday tourist hot spots. Here are a few different things to discover and see less traveled areas in the San Diego area. Enjoy this photo journal series capturing some of San Diego’s hidden treasures that you may wish to explore. Happy Viewing.

Torrey Pines State Reserve: Hiking and Views

 

 

This is a peaceful, beautiful trail for visitors to enjoy in a clean, natural environment, and stunning landscapes and views. This is a reserve; according to torreypine.org, a reserve is not a park. This reserve is a targeted area protected for conservation and also has other restrictions different than a park. Read more here:

Torrey Pines State Beach

The beach is at the bottom of 300 foot sandstone cliffs of white and golden stone, with a greenish layer sometimes visible at the very bottom.
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At the north end of the beach the cliffs ends and Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, a salt marsh estuary, empties into the ocean. A county highway crosses the entrance, with limited free parking along the beach.
Learn more here:

La Jolla Cove

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La Jolla Cove and Shores are one the most photographed beaches in San Diego County!

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La Jolla Cove

It is home to several species of sea life including seagulls, seals, and occasional spottings of Orca killer whales. See more photos of this area here: La Jolla Cove

Sante Fe Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest

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Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest

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The Sante Fe and Del Dio Gorge Trails are both segments of the San Dieguito River Park area and the Coast to Crest trails. Three pre-historic cultural periods describe parts of this region and portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.

Miramar Air Show: Marine Corp Air Station

The Miramar Air Show was spectacular this year and certainly did not disappoint. This years air show theme was honoring 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. Also feature highlights were some impressive aircraft such as the F-35 Lightening II, F/A -18 Hornet, MV-22 Osprey, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, and of course, the infamous Blue Angels! Miramar Air Show is an annual event usually scheduled for some time in late September or early October.


Petco Park and San Diego Padres

If you visit San Diego, you must experience watching a baseball game at Petco Park with an unbelievable backdrop of the city surrounded by the ocean and spectacular sunsets!

You can watch airplanes arriving for a landing in the distance behind the city buildings as you watch the game.


Stunning sunsets

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Balboa Park

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Carlsbad State Beach

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Take notice of how this beach has a massive amount of rocks that comprise the beach. Then take a look at Moonlight Beach located in Encinitas just a short distance south of Carlsbad.

Moonlight Beach: Encinitas

Mount Woodson: Potato Chip Rock

Highly visited hiking trail in San Diego county. Mountain Lion and her cubs were just recently spotted in this area near the Mt. Woodson golf course. (Date: Oct 4, 2018)

Black Mountain Hiking Trail


Lake Ramona Hiking Trail

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Learn more about these hiking trails as I describe in one of my blog posts here:  4 Great Local Hiking Trails in San Diego.

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San Diego sunrise

San Diego is an exquisite city to visit and experience. It’s a vacation and travel destination for millions of people. And yes, there are the popular tourist attractions that visitors love to see but there are also the less traveled amazing spots that will leave you speechless. So when you make your trip to San Diego, be sure to explore one or two of the hidden gems that will make your dream vacation more complete. Thank you for reading!  California Dreaming!

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Coming Soon:  California Dreaming Series | Palm Springs

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A Day At La Jolla Cove! Views, Whales & Seals!

Recently, there have been several spotting of killer whales gracing the coastal regions in Southern California. Whales have been known to roam in the southern Pacific certain times of the year. I’ve also seen several local news outlets capturing video of these majestic animals and their calves as they search for food in these waters. So, of course, seeing this inspired me to go out on a little adventure and do some of my own searching. I hopped in the car and cruised my way over to La Jolla, California.
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La Jolla, California is a quintessential smaller coastal community located in San Diego County. It might be one of the most beautiful beach towns I’ve ever seen. DSC_0043_WEB
I have perused around this quaint community several years ago, but I was too focused on this short road trip to browse around the shops and boutiques again. I was in search of whales and surfers, since it was officially California Surfer Day.

I spent the afternoon pondering the coastal walkways and sidewalks, staring and glancing for hours out at the mesmerizing blue green waters.DSC_0076COVE 2 WEB
It was getting late, and with disappointment and frustration, there were still no whales or surfers in sight. I did however, have a great time capturing all the beauty and wildlife that make these coves home. There were seagulls, pelicans, and seals soaking up the sun everywhere you looked.DSC_0092 _ WEB
Take a preview of what my day at the office consisted of below.  Enjoy!

 

The park here in La Jolla Cove area is beautiful and peaceful to enjoy a quiet afternoon or a lunchtime break. DSC_0044_WEB

More gorgeous scenic captions here. DSC_0085_WEB

Did you know that La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California?

If you look close, the small rock island is covered with seals and birds lounging as they soak up the sun and relax.
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Sealife is an abundance here at La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores area.

If you are visiting the San Diego area, you might consider adding La Jolla Cove to your itinerary, it will certainly not disappoint. This was my office for the day.
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Directions to La Jolla Cove.

Thank you for reading! Check out more of my San Diego adventure and remember to subscribe and follow me on social media to see more adventure and exploration!
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Potato Chip Rock *Mt. Woodson San Diego

There are so many beautiful hiking trails and nature walks throughout San Diego County, but one of San Diego’s most popular and well known hiking spots is Mt. Woodson. This hike will offer you plenty of nature viewing pleasure and scenic landscapes.


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But the point of interest that captures many hikers is Potato Chip Rock. This narrow, thin looking piece of rock might appear somewhat risky and scary. 20180506_150631This is the most popular selfie and photo taking spots on the trail. Here are my captions from this gorgeous San Diego hiking trail.

Mt. Woodson: Backside Trail: 4.1 Miles Elevation 1220 feet  DIRECTIONS

The backside trail is one of two different trails to hike to get to the Potato Chip Rock area. We decided to take the backside trail to see what Mt. Woodson was all about. 20180826_105432Especially since we wanted to enjoy a more moderate level trail and not over do it for the weekend.

 

This was a beautiful trail and we were complimented with a gorgeous sunny afternoon too. Parking for this trail is actually along CA-67; and it can be busy so be careful and be patient in looking for a space to park.
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The trail starts off nice and easy with neat walkways and shrubs and treeline paths. 20180401_153548Then there are some steep incline areas as it reminded me of being on my stair stepper at the gym. I definitely encountered some heavy breathing, but that’s my kind of workout.  20180826_120555Once you reach near the summit, you will see some radio antenna equipment and towers. 20180826_113644Just slightly past that area is the infamous Potato Chip Rock, and if you hike during the weekend you may encounter a waiting line to step onto the thin appearing but steady rock piece that looks like a potato chip. 20180826_115046
San Diego has such a vast array of things to do, including the beaches, nightlife, amusement parks, and more. 20180826_104304_Burst01But if you just want to take a few hours and explore the outdoors and keep it simple, go check out Mt. Woodson near Poway, California.
Directions

 

Beginning of trail from the backside path, (parking off of Highway 67).

 

Beautiful views from Mt. Woodson.

Read about more incredible hiking adventures.

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8 Ways To Make Epic Memories In Mammoth Lakes, California!

Making memories can be one of the most extraordinary things a person can do. It usually does not involve material items; no hand held gifts, or any fancy cars or clothing. It can however, bring unbelievable happiness and be extremely humbling. Actually, this might be exactly how I would describe my first time weekend road trip to Mammoth Lakes, California. Amazing and more!

But Mammoth, with its neighbor being Yosemite National Park, is not only a place for such incredible outdoor activity and stunning natural beauty, it’s also a place where one might enjoy grazing across the lake in a fishing boat with your father and brother. Or indulging yourself in the fresh air as you and your sister reach the summit of a mountain trail. And even taking in those remarkable landscape and mountain views with your sweetheart.

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Twin Lakes at Mammoth, CA

The amazing beauty in Mammoth is what I remember only hearing about it from friends. They told me how much fun there was to be had at Mammoth and where it is located. I’ve only heard about the incredible amount of activity that one can do there; such as hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, boating, and surrounding yourself with total nature! And of course, people were always bragging to me about how beautiful, quiet, and serene it is in those mountains.

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Hence, the mountains were calling..(-John Muir) and then we go. A friend of ours had already planned her weekend road trip to Mammoth and she asked if we wanted to join her; and we said of course, we are all in! So we packed our bags and prepped the car and planned to maximize our weekend filled with incredible hikes, mountain vistas, and relaxing kayaking. Check out these great ways to make your own memories of which you may want to add to your own
Mammoth Mountain itinerary.

  1. Seven Lakes Point Loop: Hiking Trail and Views
    A. Elevation: 2372 Feet gain, starting at Twin Lakes Campground, it will take you by the bottomless pit and Lava Tube. (This hike is considered risky and dangerous due to the soft and loose gravel).
    B. Spectacular views of at least 5 or so lakes.
     

     

     

     


    2. Lava Tube: Hiking and History

Lava Tube is a conduit where lava once flowed, cooled and created a cave-like hole in the rock above Lower Twin Lake. This geologic formation is commonly referred to as “Hole in the Wall.”

 

 

Down In The Lower Valley Areas: Reds Meadow Valley
You will need to have access to the lower areas into the valley of Mammoth Mountain via shuttle down to these following areas.
DSC_0272The shuttle route begins at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s Adventure Center and makes several stops throughout the valley and begins operating when the Reds Meadow Road opens in the summer, and continues through Labor Day weekend. The price per person is $8 / ticket per day. The Reds Meadow/Devils Postpile Shuttle has provided transit service into the Reds Meadow Valley and to the Devils Postpile National Monument for over 30 years! The parking area fills up quick.

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The parking area leading to the ski lift adventure store at Mammoth.

3. Devils Postpile (Rainbow Falls hiking Trail) National Monument:
Devils Postpile National Monument is a National Monument located near Mammoth Mountain. The monument protects Devils Postpile, an unusual rock formation of columnar basalt. You will pass by Devils Postpile on your hiking path down to another spectacular main attraction: Rainbow Falls.

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Devils Postpile National Monument

4. Rainbow Falls: Hiking and Views with Waterfalls

Rainbow Falls is a waterfall in the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River.

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Rainbow Falls

Additionally, as you continue your hike you may notice the Pacific Crest Trail merging into the trail while passing through this monument. And you will also notice the National Monument lies within the borders of the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

 

 

 

There is also the ‘Lower Falls’ that many folks do not venture further down below. This is a beautiful area where waterfalls are splashing into the stream of which some people enjoy a cool dip in the water or some are a little more adventurous and they jump off some of the lower rock formations. This area is a nice place to relax, enjoy a snack before the hike back up the trail to the top to catch the shuttle to return from out of the valley.

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Lower Falls near Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Lakes, CA.

5. Minaret Falls Trail: Hiking Trail to Waterfalls. Minaret Vista

This is a moderate trail located near Lake Mary, California with scenic views. This hike is enjoyable and great for walking and nature trips and bird watching.

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FITLIFEANDTRAVEL.COM * Steller’s Jay birds in Mammoth

The falls are very nice and can be a challenge climbing upward to be close to them.
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The Minaret Vistas

East of Mammoth Lakes area.
6. Convict Lake: Kayaking

Kayaking on Convict lake is incredible as you can enjoy the calm and peaceful aspects of quiet and serene lake surroundings, as well as the outstanding views of Laurel Mountain that hugs the lake. This place has an interesting history attached to it as well. Back in the late 1800’s several prisoners escaped from a Nevada prison and fled towards an area now known as Convict creek. Read more about it here:

 

 

7. Hot Creek Geological Site:

Pretty but dangerous, this Hot Creek Geological site is an active hot bed of nature in action. Boiling water is bubbling up from the creek bed. Amazing to look at & ponder, but I keep a distance. Located at the bottom of a large volcanic basin, this is an interesting place to see and visit, but you must keep at a distance because the hot creek is dangerously hot and can contain arsenic and other natural substances that can be toxic.
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8. The Village at Mammoth:

Enjoy a day of fun, shopping, music, and other events at The Village at Mammoth. Here you will find many events and fun! The weekend over the Labor Day, we attended the Rock N Rye event; of which we enjoyed a few live bands, vendors, morning yoga, and many other activities throughout the weekend! This area is the quaint downtown part of Mammoth and is the home of many highly visited restaurants. We had dinner at two restaurants located in this area (the tourist area), but we later learned that the really tasty dishes were found in food eateries located on the other side of town away from the tourist area.

 

 

In summary, if you think a collection of ‘things’ will give you the same reward of experiences of quality time with family or friends in a special place, think again. Memories can not be fabricated, bought, fall apart, or manufactured. I know I will always cherish this weekend with my wonderful husband, and our special friend; Sam who was so gracious in asking us to piggyback on her weekend trip that she planned out and arranged the kayaking reservation and other fun activities!

Do you have any special memory making trips that turned out to be more than you expected?  Please share in the comments your memorable trips and if you have experience in Mammoth, California!  Thank you again for reading and for all your support! Here are some of my other memory making trips!

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My Detour To The Valley Of Fire

Valley of Fire State Park is located about 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas off of Interstate 15. We passed this sign while on our road trip to Zion National Park in Utah. The sign definitely drew our curiosity and peaked our interest. It is a Nevada State Park, and there are two ways to get to the park. The fiery looking red sandstone cliffs were formed as a result of shifting sand dunes during the dinosaur age. The earth moving, uplifting and erosion has now created this present landscape.

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This park happens to be an unexpected detour for us and we consider this a hidden gem and enjoyed exploring this interesting park thoroughly. It was a warm and beautiful day on our return from an adventure in Zion National Park, so this was a great place to top off the end of our weekend road trip. We arrived to the park using the east entrance.

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Take a look at some of these interesting and beautiful sandstone rock formations as well as the stories behind them.

Mouse’s Tank:
This area is named after an outlaw who used this area as a hideout during the 1890s. This area is a natural basin and can hold rain water collections for many months.

 

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Entrance to Mouse’s Tank
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Mouse’s Tank

On the hiking trail to arrive at Mouse’s Tank, you will find large boulder/rock areas that have prehistoric petroglyphs. The prehistoric wanderers were the Pueblo peoples. Their approximate span of occupation has been dated from 300 BC to 1150 AD.

 

Seven Sisters area:
Several beautiful rock formations easily seen from the road as you journey through the valley.
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Other cool rock formation areas to explore and visit in the park. A must see include:
Beehives
Arch Rock areas
Firewave
Petrified Logs
Rainbow Vista
White Domes

 

The Valley of Fire State Park also allows camping at first come first serve. There are two campgrounds and a combined total of 72 units. There are also RV Camping sites as well.

 

Rock climbing is allowed but is limited to designated areas within the park.

Thank you for reading!
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Conquering Koko Head Stairs Hawaii

Koko Crater Head Trail:  ‘Koko Head Stairs’:  The spectacular views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing during this extraordinary hike up the Koko Head stairs.

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View at the top of Koko Head, Hawaii

This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad tithes) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast and will definitely offer a cardio workout like no other.

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Koko Head Stairs Hike

Koko Head is the eastern side of  Maunalua Bay and the southeastern side of the Island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaiʻi Kai. You will enjoy wonderful views of Haunama Bay and beyond.  The climb can be grueling and scenic, so its a good idea to take a rest and take in the views.

 

 

There is a section where a larger drop to a ridge is located below, so you take your time and go slow if needed.  You may be huffing and puffing half way up the climb, only to learn you have quite a ways to go and are getting higher and higher.

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Koko Head Stairs

When you reach the summit you will be blown away!  It seems to always be windy up there, so be prepared to hang on to your hat or water bottle and be safe.

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Things to remember:
1.Wear sunglasses and sunscreen
2. Drink plenty of water
3. Bring camera
4. Hike may take between 1-3 hours

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View up top Koko Head
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Koko Head views

Koko Head stairs is not your average hiking trail. It’s location is centrally located close to all your other fun activities not far from downtown Honolulu.

 


So when you break away from your snorkeling, surfing, lounging, shopping and dining; go out and conquer this heart jumping amazing hiking trail!

Map and Directions:

See more hiking trails and adventure here:

Dance To Devil’s Bridge Sedona

Dance To Devil’s Bridge Sedona, AZ

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Dust infused red-orange sunsets, smoldering red rock canyons, and blue skies with puffy white clouds describe my recent road trip to Sedona, Arizona.

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After my previous heart pumping, huffing and puffing, 109 degree hot day hike up Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona, I found myself a little hesitant to trek out there in the desert for another scorching hike. The hike we discovered and wanted to explore this weekend, is Devil’s Bridge.

The name sounds more frightening that it really is. Devil’s Bridge is the hike that offers a shorter or longer hiking route to get to Devil’s Bridge, whichever you choose to enhance your own experience. We added this hike to our list only a week prior and knew we just had to go see it. This particular adventure was a last minute unplanned road trip to Arizona for a weekend wandering excursion. We learned from our research that this hike is rated as not very difficult, and on the easy to moderate scale. But learning about the views from the bridge and the background landscape were something we just couldn’t pass by.

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So we proceeded to prepare the car, gathered our food and backpacks, and hit the road on a late Friday afternoon. Of course, we prepared the car and we changed the oil, filled the gas tank, put a gallon of water in the car, and checked air pressure in the tires for safety and we were ready to go. See more info on How To Prepare For a Weekend Road Trip Here:

It was a picture perfect desert evening as we rolled into town just in time to relish the golden sunset that said “welcome to Arizona.” 20180803_192819

We got settled in our room at a Choice Hotel, and then awoke early the next morning so we could continue onward towards Sedona. We packed our water, power bars, and lunch, as we were ready to tackle that Devil’s Bridge.

Tackling the hike to Devil’s Bridge first required finding it somewhere in Sedona. So here is a rendition of our highly technical research together with my husbands hand drawn map that worked great to guide us to the trailhead and parking areas.

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We made our way north on Interstate 17 and near the Sedona area and finally found the trailhead and parking areas for Devil’s Bridge hike. We were a little shocked to see how heavy traffic was on that Saturday morning in the middle of Summer in the desert. Of course, we do not have an all terrain vehicle to park in the closer trailhead to the Bridge hike, as the road that lead to the parking area was very rugged, steep, and contains many holes and is very sandy. So we parked at the Mescal parking area.

We wanted to take the longer hike to make our hiking experience a little more fulfilling and see more. The hike starting at the Mescal parking area is a little more than 4 miles give or take round trip, so not too bad. It is considered to be an easy to moderate hike.

This is the route that is a little more scenic as well and is great for spectacular panoramic landscape photos.

Prior to reaching the trailhead parking areas, we needed to take bathroom breaks and make sure our water supply was full. So we stopped at the Sedona Library just outside of trailhead parking areas on the two-lane road heading towards Devil’s Bridge hike. It was a very quaint library and a model train expo was going on this day. We peeked in the door and saw very long model train tracks and a moving model train tooting along the tracks set up on several tables!

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Sedona, Arizona library

I did not notice any restrooms or portable potties at or nearby this trail, so make sure you are prepared for these couple of hours out here on this trail.

The trail was mostly simple, smooth, clear paths, and very scenic. Together with quiet, peaceful, and not too extreme heat, it was a perfect setting for hiking to Devil’s Bridge. We captured some spectacular shots of the landscape on the trails.

 

As you get close to the bridge area, there are a couple steep incline switchback areas that you will need to climb. The boulders and rocks may be hot, so be cautious as you find your grip to help keep your balance and to climb up.

Then at the top you can wander, relax, eat lunch and carefully walk towards the bridge and take the money shot of the bridge or of you on the bridge.

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Some people take turns on the bridge, so everyone can have their own photo opportunity of standing on Devil’s Bridge. The day we hiked this trail, there were a handful of people, and the wait out on the bridge was very short. Everyone was courteous and took their turn on the bridge.

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Adventure is a trait that many of us have, and when we are curious about something new, we long the desire to go out and experience it. Devil’s Bridge was an awesome experience that satisfied both curiosity and our adventure desire on this unplanned weekend getaway. Life is too short to miss out on an experience because you may be a little hesitant or because of things in the past. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see something new! We are so glad we did! We danced our way onto Devil’s Bridge!

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Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, AZ

Thank you for reading!   Please contact me if you have anything to add or share, I always enjoy hearing from you! Please follow my blog and social pages to read about more adventure and exploration!

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