Toyota Road Trip: My Northern Arizona Adventure

Thanks to Toyota, I had the amazing opportunity to join a few Arizona influencers on an epic road trip through Northern Arizona! It was truly an incredible experience and one awesome adventure.

Wow, where do I start? So much to share about this opportunity.. I don't want to leave anything out! I guess I'll start at the beginning.

When I first was invited to go I couldn't believe it. I've never been up to Page, Arizona but it's been on my bucket list. I recently signed up to run the Antelope Canyon 55k in March so I can experience the area. Now, add in a chance to drive a new Toyota vehicle on an epic road trip through Northern AZ... needless to say I was ecstatic!

A few days before we left on our trip, they dropped off a BRAND NEW 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro for me to drive. And folks, when I say brand new... I mean it. It literally had 30 miles on it when it arrived. And it had that intoxicating "new car" smell.

Honestly, I was a little nervous about driving a truck because it's been forever since I've been in one. I currently drive a 2013 Toyota Camry, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But once I got behind the wheel of the Tacoma, I fell in love. It was higher than I'm used to, but drove so well and was easy to get accustomed to.

We were allowed to bring one guest with us on this adventure, and unfortunately my partner Jason wasn't able to join me. So instead, I invited my friend Meaghen. She just recently had a baby, so I thought she could use the mini-vacation!

On Thursday, we packed up and headed up to our first stop on the road trip--Sedona! I've been to Sedona before, and always love visiting. It's a beautiful area and a quick drive for a getaway from the Phoenix heat. 

While on the road, we got to experience first hand some of the amazing bells and whistles of the Toyota Tacoma. Some of my favorites were: 
  • Back-up camera and rear parking sonar. This tech really helped me be more comfortable behind the wheel. I seriously loved that thing! Made backing up a breeze.
  • Blind spot monitor. While on the freeway, this feature gave me some peace of mind. On the outside mirrors, a little indicator would light up to let you know someone was in your blind spot. 
  • Entune Audio System. This touch screen feature was amazing. Sync up your smartphone via the app and you've got music, navigation, calls, and more all literally at your fingertips! 
  • GoPro Mount. The 2018 Tacoma actually comes with a GoPro mount ready to go on the windshield! (Sorry, GoPro not included! haha)
  •  Qi-Compatible Wireless Charging. If your phone is Qi-compatible, just set your phone on the non-slip surface and forget about plugging and unplugging charging cables. 
  • Quiet Cabin. The outside noise was reduced so much! Even when it was raining on us multiple times on this trip, the inside stayed super quiet. Made the drive always feel smooth and sleek.

We got into Sedona in the early evening and it was raining. So we chose to skip our short run/hike and save it for the morning. We were staying at the Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa and it was incredible! Beautiful scenery and amazing rooms. We're talking full sized chocolate bars on the pillows, balconies with a view, and a shower you just didn't want to leave. 

For dinner, we met up with the rest of the Arizona influencers joining us for this trip. They were all very friendly and fun to talk to. It was a mix of travel bloggers and lifestyle influencers. I was the only "running guy" there. We all loved hearing everyone's unique background and story. And almost everyone was driving a different Toyota vehicle, which made for fun stories as well!

We were treated to fine dining at the Cress on Oak Creek restaurant. The patio views were stunning and the food absolutely wonderful. I'd never been there before but will have to go back! 

Making friends. Technically we're now besties with Kristen Keogh and her sister, Jackie.

The next morning, Meg and I woke up early for a quick little run/hike/photo shoot. A short drive from the hotel is the Thunder Mountain Trail/Lower Chimney Rock Trail. So we had to go check it out for sunrise. The rain had really cooled things off and it was fantastic to start the morning in the crisp, fall-like weather and incredible scenery. 

I always love running the trails there in Sedona. If you've never been, I highly recommend just making a trip, finding a hotel, and exploring! Anywhere you go the views are fantastic.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road again for the drive up to Page. It was just under a 3hour drive from where we were. The drive from Sedona to Page was pretty beautiful as well! And the Tacoma handled the winding roads with ease.

I was super pumped for our tour of Page. We had reserved a spot with the Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tours. They offer an exclusive, semi-private tour that takes you through the Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon and a private spot that overlooks Horseshoe Bend. It's an amazing experience that your everyday hiker and explorer doesn't normally gets to experience. So I'd highly recommend checking them out if you ever are in the area.

Toyota had worked out an arrangement with the tour company and they were allowing us to do something no one has done before--taking our Toyotas OFF ROAD and driving where usually only their vehicles were allowed. Originally, we had planned to ride along with our new friend Kristen Keogh in the RAV4, but the tour guide told us that vehicle was too low. So last minute it was decided we would take the Tacoma off-roading... and I got to drive!

Think I'm excited at all to be off road?! Haha

I've been a passenger while off-roading... but never gotten to be the DRIVER. So this was icing on the adventure cake! Technically, we were going too fast (~25mph) to be what some consider "real" off-roading. But we were off the beaten path, in 4-wheel drive, bumping along and driving up rocks. So I'm still counting it!

I loved going off road and seeing how the Tacoma TRD Pro would handle it. We did slide around a bit because of the soft, loose sand and mostly because we were going faster than normal, without any weight in the back. But overall the 4-wheel drive was fantastic. Bumpy but not excessive. 

We never got a chance to try all the awesome off-road capabilities this baby has (like CRAWL CONTROL). But I'm sure had we put it to the full test, the Toyota Tacoma would've handled it all effortlessly.

Our first stop on the tour was the Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon. This is the slot canyon the Antelope Canyon 55k will pass through! So I was super excited to check it out. And it did not disappoint. 

Our guide was super informative and understanding that we wanted to take photos. So he led us to the end of the canyon, and then allowed plenty of time afterward for us to explore on our own a bit and take a ton of pictures. It was truly awe-inspiring being inside this place. I can't wait to visit it again when running in March!

After the Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon, we drove not far to a private Horseshoe Bend Overlook, just for those who take this tour. This private overlook was just south of the very congested, popular overlook spot where dozens to hundreds wait in line just to snap a quick photo. Here, we were able to enjoy the breath-taking views in quiet contemplation. And search for that perfect profile photo and instagram shot, of course.

The views though... were quite something.  Spectacular scenery doesn't translate very well sometimes, unless you have the right camera. Though here, I think you can see just how amazing it was. But trust me when I tell you this spot is even more magical then the photos!

You can do either portions of this tour separate, by the way. But I highly recommend doing them both if you can!

After our amazing tour, we checked into the Hyatt in Page near Lake Powell. For dinner we had authentic Native American Fried Bread at Into the Grand. There was also fantastic live entertainment from the Native American Dance Performers. A fantastic way to end the day!

After dinner, we had a drink or two back at the hotel with our new influencer friends and their guests. And then it was time to hit the sack after a long day. The next day everyone was off doing their own things, so we basically said our final good byes then.

In the morning, Meg and I wanted to explore a little more before heading home. So we swung by the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook for another brief run/hike/photo shoot. A really beautiful and yet easily-accessible spot.

We would've explored more at Lake Powell or the Grand Canyon, but Meg did have a baby at home... and I had my fur-babies to return to. So we decided to hit the road and travel back early. However, we made sure to stop in Flagstaff for a lunch and to fill up growlers with some local brews!

We did drive through a storm on the way back, but the Tacoma remained quiet and we barely felt the wind or rain effect the drive at all. 

And just like that, the amazing road trip was over. I took the pups out for a quick ride that evening, just to get their opinion as well. They gave it two paws up! 

Just two weeks later and I'm still on a rush from this trip. I learned there are so many great places in my state that I have yet to visit and explore. I want to run every trail and discover new adventures all over the great state of Arizona! 

I also have a stronger brand loyalty to Toyota. I love my Toyota Camry, but have been thinking about what my next vehicle would be. And I think the Toyota Tacoma may be it! It's the perfect size for someone like me. With a significant other and just fur-babies to drive around, this really would be great for our lifestyle! Plus, I think it just...fits me..don't you? ;-)

On this trip, the Tacoma TRD Pro got roughly 20-22mpg, which is pretty great for a truck. I also really loved it's compact size. And of course, now that I've had a taste for off-roading, I want to do it again!

Overall, I'm so thankful for Toyota for inviting me on this trip. I seriously can't wait to take another trip up north to explore and run some more. 

Thanks for so much for reading. If you have questions about the Toyota Tacoma or anywhere we visited on the trip, don't hesitate to drop your questions in the comments any time. Happy Adventuring!


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