Sedona: Beautiful, Mysterious & Seductive

Beautiful. Mysterious. Seductive.

Sedona’s mesmerizing red-rock country is unique to the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sedona’s mesmerizing red-rock country is unique to the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

These words describe Sedona.

But words alone cannot adequately describe this part of the country. Exhilarating nature! Scary excitement! Spiritual renewal! The sun and the moon! Incredible historic stories of wisdom and strength! The wild animals, birds, and flora! And of course, art! All are surrounded by azure blue skies and clean air.

The massive red-orange buttes and spires surrounding Sedona carry imaginative names reflecting their curious shapes—names like Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, Coffee Pot, and Snoopy. Towering along the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, these monoliths lend an aura of mystery as well as incredible beauty to this landscape.

Sedona’s mesmerizing red-rock country is unique to the world. The Sedona community offers so much—history, archeology, arts, culture, hiking, biking, off-road adventure, and spiritual and metaphysical meditations.

Uptown Sedona and Pink Jeeps heading out of town to tour into the more remote parts of the Red Rock Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Uptown Sedona and Pink Jeeps heading out of town to tour into the more remote parts of the Red Rock Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona is a four season, red rock playground where families can escape, romantic adventures materialize, and photographers’ dreams come true. Surrounded by stunning red rock formations and an abundance of activities for people of all ages and interests, it’s no wonder Sedona has been ranked as one of the most beautiful places on Earth by Good Morning America.

During the winter Sedona receives a bit of snow but daytime temperatures seldom drop lower than 40 degrees, making hiking a year-round activity. Summer can come as early as March. Summer arrives in May, offering a cool getaway for people living in the warmer desert regions, and then by mid-July the monsoon season brings rainstorms filled with dramatic lightening flashes. By the end of October autumn splashes the canyons with blazing shades of red and yellow.

Spring is our favorite time in Sedona. Bring your hiking boots and camera.

Drive through the 16-mile gorge of the Oak Creek Canyon. This winding two-lane road can be very crowded and is not for your big rig. This stretch of road was Arizona’s first officially designated scenic byway.

Set among stately sycamores and lush gardens, Tlaquepaque was built in the Spanish colonial style in the 1970s as a place for artists to live and work. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Set among stately sycamores and lush gardens, Tlaquepaque was built in the Spanish colonial style in the 1970s as a place for artists to live and work. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You will want to stop at every lookout and hike some of the trails along the way.

Slide Rock State Park, about seven miles up the canyon from Sedona on Highway 89A, is famous for its natural water slide with cool water and warm rocks creating great swimming holes.

For maps and brochures and to purchase a Red Rock Pass stop at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, located in Uptown Sedona. Walking tours, trolley rides, and Pink Jeep tours introduce you to many historic areas and scenic back roads and vistas.

And then there is Tlaquepaque (Tla-keh-pah-keh), a beautiful artist colony and shopping area. Set among stately sycamores and lush gardens it was built in the Spanish colonial style in the 1970s as a place for artists to live and work. It has a lovely old-world feel with charming courtyards, fountains, balconies, and hidden niches. More than 40 shops, galleries, and restaurants offer some truly outstanding works of art.

One of the most popular activities in Sedona is to take a Jeep tour out into the more remote parts of the Red Rock Country. Our favorite of these trips is up and over the primitive Schnebly Hill Road (FS 153) which zigzags east from State Route 179 in Sedona, 13 miles to I-17.

Sedona and Red Rock Country as viewed from the top of Airport Road. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Sedona and Red Rock Country as viewed from the top of Airport Road. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Named for Sedona Schnebly who sheltered travelers in her home during the early 20th century, the road twists and winds along massive cliffs as it travels the Mund’s Mountain Wilderness area. Each bend in the road offers incredible views of sandstone mountains in vivid shades of scarlet and cream. If you have a high clearance vehicle you can make this drive yourself, as we have done on several occasions.

Just a two-hour drive north of Phoenix, two hours from the Grand Canyon and 30 miles south of Flagstaff, Sedona is central to many of Arizona’s major attractions making it an ideal destination.

We always leave this part of Arizona reluctantly and know that you, too, are sure to experience the magic that is Sedona and Red Rock Country.

Worth Pondering…

There are only two places in the world

I want to live—Sedona and Paris.

—Max Ernst, Surrealist painter

Read More

Red Rock Scenic Byway Signage Goes Up

The Red Rock Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest will soon commence construction of six Red Rock Scenic Byway sign structures, several informational kiosks, and some trailhead improvements along a 7.5-mile section of State Route 179. The work is expected to take several months to complete.

Scenic Byway signs will be constructed at the north and south ends of the 7.5 mile stretch of SR 179, and at Courthouse Vista, Little Horse Trail, Bell Rock Vista, and Yavapai Point Vista.

Various improvements at Yavapai Point Vista will also occur, including the construction of a pathway to vista points, and the installation of interpretive panels. A temporary 60-day closure of Yavapai Point Vista will be in place during the construction period; all other sites will remain open, reports US Forest Service in a recent news release.

The Scenic Byway signs will be constructed of natural red rock and rustic appearing steel to blend in with the surrounding landscape and local architecture.

This section of SR 179 is special because in 2006, the US Dept. of Transportation recognized its uniqueness by giving it All American Road status, the highest designation within the National Scenic Byways Program. To date, this section of 179 remains the only All American Road in the State of Arizona.

Nationally, there are 125 National Scenic Byways in 44 states, but only 36 of the Byways, including the Red Rock Scenic Byway or “Gateway to Sedona”, have additionally earned the prestigious All-American Road designation.

This project is being funded through the National Scenic Byway grant program and was awarded to the Red Rock Ranger District.

The public may experience some inconvenience during the construction period, in and around construction sites.

Details

Red Rock Scenic Byway

Length: 7.5 miles

Time to Allow: Take 20 minutes to drive, but allow several hours to include all activities along the byway.

Website: redrockscenicbyway.com

Coconino National Forest

The Coconino National Forest is one of the most diverse national forests in the country with landscapes ranging from the famous Red Rocks of Sedona to ponderosa pine forests, to alpine tundra. Explore mountains and canyons, fish forest lakes, and wade in lazy creeks and streams.

Website: fs.usda.gov/coconino

Red Rock District Coconino National Forest

Location: 8375 State Route 179, Sedona, Arizona (just south of the Village of Oak Creek)

Address: P. O. Box 20429, Sedona, AZ 86341-0429

Administrative Offices: (928) 203-7500

Visitor Center: (928) 203-2900

Note: This is the second of a two-part series on the Red Rock Scenic Byway

Part 1: Exploring Red Rock Scenic Byway

Worth Pondering…

God created the Grand Canyon, but he lives in Sedona.

—New York Times, 1997

Read More

Exploring Red Rock Scenic Byway

The National Forest/Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center

Your first must-stop is the beautiful Forest Service Red Rock Ranger Visitor Center, located just south of the Village of Oak Creek on SR 179.

This is Red Rock Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Get maps and tons of Red Rock Country “fun things to do” information, as well as your Red Rock Pass for trailhead parking. Learn all the stories and history of this amazing area, like how the rocks and mesas were formed and named.

Red Rock Crossing on Oak Creek

As you leave the Visitors Center driveway, turn north (left) on SR 179 and you’ll see a major intersection with a stoplight. Turn west (left) onto Verde Valley School Road and drive 4.7 miles where the road dead-ends at the Red Rock Crossing parking lot. Do not park anywhere but the parking lot. This road travels through residential areas so be aware of the 30-35 mph speed limit; also, for the last 1.2 miles, the road is unpaved as well as curvy, hilly, and subject to flooding after excessive rains.

From the parking lot, it is a very short walk to the pathway that will lead you down to the unique red rock banks of Oak Creek.

Don’t forget your camera, because you’re at one of the most photographed sites in the country as well as one of the most naturally beautiful settings in Sedona.

If it’s a Saturday, chances are there’s a small wedding taking place at the north end of the crossing. Most days there will be artists painting or photographers setting up their shots or people just soaking up the inspiring view.

Tourists come from around the world to absorb the natural wonders of Red Rock Country. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the creek water’s low enough, step across the red rock stepping stones, which is the crossing, to Red Rock State Park situated on the other side.

Bell Rock Vista and Pathway Southern Trailhead

Turn east (right) out of the Red Rock Crossing parking lot and take Verde Valley School Road 4.7 miles back to its stoplight intersection with SR 179, where you will turn north (left).

Proceed straight, through the Village of Oak Creek, and just past the next stoplight, on your right hand side, will be the entrance to the Bell Rock Vista and Pathway parking lot.

Here’s where you’ll discover the size and power of the red rocks; this is a travelers up close experience with mystical Bell Rock and mammoth Courthouse Butte. Feel the red rock energy and enjoy the views.

There are many pathways to choose from, all going to or near Bell Rock that can be done in a half hour or as long as you feel like walking.

Little Horse Trail and Bell Rock Pathway Northern Trailhead

Turn north (or right) out of the parking lot onto SR 179; proceed straight and be on the lookout for signs that say “Little Horse Trail” and “Bell Rock Pathway”; entrance to this stop’s parking lot will come up fairly quickly, on your right.

Discover a little serenity among the glorious hiking and biking trails that meander to hidden washes and breathtaking red rock panoramas.

Little Horse Trail is a local favorite, rated moderate, and 6.5 miles if you do the full round trip. Remember the rules of the trail, and have fun!

Also at this stop, view the “Three Nuns” with the renowned Chapel of the Holy Cross perched below.

Finished in 1956, Chapel of the Holy Cross sits atop a pinnacle 250 feet above the valley floor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Officially, the scenic road ends just beyond this point so after your hike, and before resuming your drive, take a moment to look west and gaze upon famous Cathedral Rock, a huge rock formation with multiple red rock spires. Whether it is silhouetted against a glowing sunset or shining in the midday sun, it is considered one of the most beautiful of all the red rock formations in the Sedona area, and surely a fitting way to end your day of Red Rock Splendor.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Red Rock Scenic Byway

Part 2: Red Rock Scenic Byway Signage Goes Up

Worth Pondering…

There are only two places in the world

I want to live—Sedona and Paris.

—Max Ernst, Surrealist painter

Read More