The Grand Canyon Loop, an all day, self guided tour of three National Monuments, the Painted Desert, a Native American trading post and sunset at the Grand Canyon.
Starting in Williams take I-40 east 45 miles to Walnut Canyon National Monument Built by Pueblo Indians about 800 years ago, this first stop consists of hundreds of cliff dwellings in shallow caves under limestone ledges in a beautiful juniper, pinion and pine tree filled canyon.
Back on I-40 head west, (back toward Flagstaff) about 3.5 miles. Follow the signs for SR 89 north towards Page and about 12 miles north of Flagstaff, turn right on the paved Sunset Crater - Wupatki Loop Road. Two miles further and you will reach Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, a 1,000-foot volcanic cinder cone formed about 900 years ago with lava flows and sea of black cinder sand where astronauts trained for the first trip to the moon. The surrounding forest changes from huge ponderosa pines to scattered juniper trees.
Continuing along the Loop road about 12 miles brings you to Wupatki National Monument and the incredible ruins of masonry pueblos built by Sinagua and Anasazi Indian farmers between A.D. 100 and 1225. The backdrop to the ruins is probably the best view you can find of the Painted Desert.
Continue on the Loop road until it rejoins US 89 and head towards Cameron about 20 miles to the north. One half-mile past the junction with SR 64 (East Rim Drive) is the Cameron Trading Post. Although extensively remodeled a few years ago, Cameron is an old Trading Post with an extensive rug and pot collection and the only decent lunch you will find on the way. After your visit to Cameron return on SR 64 and about twenty-five miles to the east entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. Along the way you should check out scenic overlook at the Little Colorado River. Its another twenty-five miles to Grand Canyon Village for sunset but along the way you can enjoy the many overlooks on the lightly traveled east rim of the Canyon.
From the Village it is 56 miles back to Williams and the Red Garter. The whole trip will take from 6 to 8 hours and my guests rave about it.here.