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A Guide to Sedona | Arizona

A Guide to Sedona | Arizona

There's a moment on Highway 179 when the road makes a wide curve through high desert brush and the red rocks of Sedona appear.  In the dozen plus times we've visited this spiritual place, turning that bend has never lost its charm.  Each time, our hearts make a happy leap, overjoyed to be in magical red rock country again.  

Why Go

A 2 hour drive from Phoenix, Sedona attracts visitors from around the world with its red rock formations and vortexes.  Whether you enjoy hiking or sipping wine with a view, Sedona offers something for everyone across all abilities.  

What to Do

Hike

VORTEX \vor-teks\

  • something that resembles a whirlpool that pulls things into its center
  • cross points of energy fields

Cathedral Rock There and Back | 3.9 miles round trip

What we love most about this hike are the views.  The beginning takes hikers in front of iconic Cathedral Rock, then wraps around the back of the monument to provide a panoramic view of Sedona and the stream from where you came.  Particularly wonderful in the late afternoon, around sunset.  We recommend starting around 2-3pm.  To compete this hike, drive to Crescent Moon Picnic Area ($10/car per day use fee) and follow Red Rock Crossing Trail.  Take off your shoes and cross the creek (there are great photo opportunities from the middle of the creek) to continue on the trail.  You'll meet up with Templeton Trail along the other side of the creek heading towards Cathedral Rock.  Continue on this trail until it meets up with Cathedral Rock Trail to hike the steep uphill at the back of Cathedral Rock.  You'll be rewarded with beautiful views of the valley below.  

A.B. Young Trail | 3.7 miles round trip

Start at Bootlegger Campground and cross the creek where you can.  You'll quickly link up with the trail and start switch backing up the mountain toward East Pocket Lookout Tower where you'll be rewarded with the best uncrowded views Sedona can offer.  A great trail for those looking to avoid the crowds and have a reward for your workout.

West Fork Trail | 6 miles round trip

With soft sand underfoot, you'll pass through the ruins of an old stone resort, the fireplace the only structure remaining almost intact, covered in ivy.  Greenery gives way to prairie and then the real scenery begins.  A half pipe turned on its side made of stone, the West Fork Trail truly begins.  Following the West Fork river, you'll stroll under juniper trees, with red rocks towering in the background.  Go as far as you like and then turn around to complete one of the prettiest hikes in Sedona.  Insider Tip: Get here early as this trail gets crazy busy, especially on weekends!

Bell Rock | 0.75 miles one way

A short loop off the highway, the well trodden Bell Rock trail loops around the Bell Rock monument, one of the more iconic formations of Sedona.  You'll need a red rock pass to park at the trailhead (can be purchased in the parking lot).  If you're looking to visit a vortex while in this new-age town, the Bell Rock trail passes right by one.  An easy, beautiful trail to help get you aquainted with the red rocks.

Devil's Bridge Trail | 4.4 miles round trip

A moderate hike, Devil's Bridge takes you out of the hub of Sedona and further into the red rock landscape. Our two favorite aspects of the hike are the sandstone steps that lead up to Devil's Bridge and the natural bridge itself.  Brave hikers venture out to the middle of the stone bridge for a memorable picture.  Each time we've gone, strangers have been more than willing to take our picture and vice versa.

Light a Candle at the Chapel of the Holy Cross

Instead of arriving at the Chapel of the Holy Cross by car or bus like droves of other tourists who have to fight for a spot, stretch your legs on a mild 5 1/2 mile hike.  Once you arrive at the Chapel, designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, make a donation and light a candle before returning on your hike.

Hike to Chapel of the Holy Cross | Park at the Bell Rock Loop trailhead start on Bell Rock Loop.  When the trail intersects with Little Horse Trail, turn left.  Follow Little Horse Trail until it meets up with Chapel Trail and follow until you arrive at the Chapel.  Return the way you came.  

Cruise in a Pink Jeep

If hiking's not for you, you can explore Sedona on an iconic Pink Jeep Tour.  The charismatic guides provide an in depth history of the area and will impress you with their driving abilities.

Pink Jeep Tour | $110 per adult for the Broken Arrow Tour

Shop for Crystals

Sedona is a new age vortex, if you will, so if you ever had an inkling to hop onto the crystal train, this is the place to do it.  The crystal shops on the main drag of 89A are higher priced than shops on the outskirts (not surprisingly).  We like Village Rock Shop in Oak Creek, which also a good selection of reasonably priced geode bookends.

Reveal Your Aura in an Aura Photo

Stop by Sacred Light of Sedona on your way into to town to see what energies you're emitting.

Where to Eat

  • Dahl & DiLuca | Homemade Italian pastas and occasional live music.  This place has us returning again and again.  Don't be deterred by the dolphin fountain in the front.
  • Indian Gardens | Our absolute favorite place for lunch.  Only open for breakfast and lunch, Indian Gardens has a charming patio across from Oak Creek along Highway 89A and serves up fresh, delicious food and local craft beer in a charming patio setting.  Our favorite dish is the Falafel Wrap.
  • L'Auberge de Sedona | For a celebratory dinner, we recommend L'Auberge de Sedona along Oak Creek.  This is gourmet luxury.
  • Oak Creek Brewery | Located inside the Tlaquepaque (pronounced "Tuh-la-ka-pa-key) shopping center, Oak Creek Brewery serves their own beer as well as decent pub fare.  We also recommend their Prickly Pear Margarita (less sweet than at other places).
  • Black Cow Cafe | After a day of hiking in the heat, there's nothing quite like homemade ice cream.

What's on our List: Elote cafe and Mariposa (the same chef, Lisa Dahl, as one of our faves, Dahl & DiLuca).  We've heard rave reviews, but have never been.  For next time!

Where to Stay

There are loads of places to stay in Sedona and sometimes, the most affordable does the trick.  You'll be out exploring most of the time anyway.  But if we had to choose our favorites, these would be our top 3.

Orchards Inn | We've stayed at around a dozen places in Sedona, and Orchards Inn continues to win our favorite spot for two reasons: 1) every room has a patio with red rock views and 2) comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.  We've stayed at places along the creek, which is also nice, but nothing beats watching the sunset on the red rocks from the privacy of your own patio. Around $200/night.

L'Auberge de Sedona | Luxurious cabins along Oak Creek.  Close to town, but very secluded.  Everything here is perfect, as it should be for the price tag you pay.  Starting at $450/night.

Orchard Canyon on Oak Creek | Charming log cabins tucked privately next to Oak Creek.  See our full Lodging Review here.  Around $350/night which includes dinner for two onsite at their restaurant.

Happy Trails!

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