Pros: Breathtaking, life altering, fantastic hiking, mountain biking; lots to do.
We found our way to Sedona, Arizona on June 16, 2004 with plans to stay a few days. I had to review Sedona because you must see this town. When we came home and were asked independently what the best part of our 91 day trip was my husband and I said Sedona.
Our first stop (and yours) will be at the Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Visitor Center located at the corner of Highway 89A and Forest Road. We were told by a very helpful volunteer that Sedona is only about 16 square miles. Highway 89A is the major street that runs through town where you will find many stores and restaurants. One would consider Sedona New Age if I have to label it. We stopped into a book and gift shop called The Worm. It is a great place in which to shop. You will find it at 207 N. Highway 89A. I cannot wait until January 1 when I can put up the calendar I bought.
I am going to list some things to do in Sedona.
~Go on a trolley ride through the canyon
~Go to a Casino
~Visit Tuzigoot National Monument
~Take a four-wheel drive trip
~Go horseback riding.
~Navigate the Verde River in a canoe
~Visit an art gallery
~See a sunset
~Visit the Lions Club Playground at Posse Grounds
~Take a helicopter tour
Sedona ranks among the top most beautiful places we have been.
Almost all trails are open to mountain bikers but get a bike trail map just to make sure at any bike store.
Since it was later in the day we headed to the Vortex that the campground owner recommended because it is very quiet there. It is a favorite of locals. You really need a 4 x 4 to get to many of the hikes and this was one of them. Many of the formations and Vortexes have names because of their shape. Our first introduction to these formations was at Cow Pies. You will have to drive down Schnebly Hill Road about three miles from Highway 179 to Primitive Road, park there and walk.
This was a great hike because we did not have a lot of time and it allowed us to experience the formation and Vortex without hiking. It is a huge formation so you can walk for 15 minutes or hours. This trail has an elevation change of only 100 feet and is considered easy. You will get a really close view of the formations without breaking a sweat.
You will find health food and vegetarian restaurants without any problem. We went to New Frontiers Natural Foods at 2055 W Highway 89A. In spite of all the food we bought we took the advice of the owner of the campground and ate at the Hideaway located at Highway 179, Country Square. It was good; I would recommend it and I would go back. I was surprised that nightlife in Sedona closes early. Do not expect to be eating dinner at 10:00p.m. at night or to go shopping at 8:00p.m. Most stores close early.
A nice place to see the sunset is at Shnebly Hill Road. You will find a small parking lot and several paved roads which will get to the edge of the cliffs and canyons. There are a lot of hiking trails here as well as trails. We hiked in this area another day but farther down where it was not as civilized. Here you will find picnic tables and a restroom and some easy hikes.
I recommend you spend a day at Slide Rock State Park. Since I already reviewed it I will not get into it again. It was worth giving up a day of hiking especially if you will be in the area for more than a day or two.
A popular coffee spot where you can sit outside for hours if you like is called Ravenheart. There are a couple in town. We were able to connect for free to the Internet from there since I was having cell phone problems. My Motorola V600 cell phone is a modem.
We spent some time off-roading. There are wonderful areas if you have a 4 x 4. I told you about Schnebly Hill Road already with incredible views of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. Dry Creek Road took us to Boynton Canyon. From there we took Forest Service Road 152C. This was much easier on our car and the red rocks are just magnificent. One road I would love to know if anyone has been on is Broken Arrow. Remember we hiked the trail. There is an area that you can off road. The pink Jeep tours have trouble so we did not even attempt it but if you do it is a one mile road that leads to a view of Submarine Rock.
We did attempt to bike. We could have easily biked at Red Rock State Park, Upper Red Rock Loop Road and Bell Rock Pathway. My husband biked Bell Rock but we do not have mountain bikes. We have hybrids. In spite of this trail being touted as a smooth ride with wide open spaces, the fairly in fairly easy ride is not quite accurate for my level of biking. So I stayed in the car with the air conditioning on and he and Hanna went for a ride though he admitted he found it more difficult than he was comfortable with.
One of the most amazing sites is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It was built in 1956. If you stand in the plaza in front of the chapel (I guess I should tell you this chapel is built into the rocks!) facing its doors, look to the left (east) and find two red rock pillars. These are known as The Nuns. To their left a thin pillar of red rock stands. Margaret Straude saw this and thought it looked like an image of Mary holding Jesus. It was then that she decided to build a church on the hillside in view of the rock called Madonna and Child. The Chapel is open to visitors every day from 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. It is free and there is parking.
Other notable formations include Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock which is the most photographed Rock of them all and Airport Mesa, a great place to watch the sunset.
One hike was a short one but please stop here and see this amazing city from Airport Mesa. It is the closest Vortex to the center of Sedona and you will have views in every direction. You will see views of one I have not mentioned and that is Courthouse Butte. You will also see in another direction Capitol Butte (or Thunder Mountain) with a ridge on its right ending at Coffee Pot Rock.
It was somewhat crowded because this is a small rock. The book we had said that the hike to the upper hill is not for everyone and you may want to settle for the great views about fifty feet from the trailhead. My husband and I could not figure out why they thought it was not for everyone. It is a bit of a climb but barely difficult. We thought perhaps because it is a smaller rock and high so if you have a fear of heights you may not like it. Give it a try. It is not that high or that difficult to get up and down. In fact there area few trees growing on it and you can hold on to them if you have to.
One final restaurant that I highly recommend if you like Indian food is India Palace. You will find it at 1910 W. Hwy 89A, Suite #102 (next to Bashas).