The layered landscape of the Southwestern United States—with towering red-rock formations, twisted junipers, and winding canyon waterways—is often described as otherworldly. But in Sedona, Arizona, otherworldly takes on a whole new meaning. The town of just 10,000 year-round residents attracts global visitors for traditional vacation activities such as golf, spa services, shopping, hiking, and all things metaphysical. Tapping into the energy of the area’s natural vortexes is said to enhance healing, enlightenment, and spirituality. Whether you are excited by the relaxing properties of the arid desert or the mystical properties of the metaphysical, Sedona awaits.
You’d be remiss if you didn’t spend time outdoors, taking in the beauty of the dramatic, varied, and brilliant shades of the red rocks. They are easy to appreciate, regardless of your mobility. If you’re able to adventure along the trails, there are plenty of hikes available to all levels of experience. Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge, and Fay Canyon offer breathtaking journeys and viewpoints. Stop at the town visitor center for maps, current weather conditions, and any hazards be mindful of. The desert is prone to dangerous flash flooding, so you should be aware of impending rain before embarking on a day hike. Water is always paramount, regardless of the length of your trek. You can never bring too much.
If you’re not secure in your outdoor skills or you have a limited amount of time to see the landscape, consider signing up for an adventure tour. Guides and their jeeps will take you directly to the viewpoints so you can spend more time at the highlights and less time getting there. You don’t need a guide to get to Oak Creek Canyon. The river offers plenty of easy access spots to cool off with a swim or relax with your fishing poll.
STAY AND DINE
Wherever you go on your trip, you’ll want to take in the views; and mealtime is no exception. Choose spots like Open Range Grill and Tavern in Uptown that offers tables with uninterrupted red-rock views, or drop by one of Enchantment Resort’s eateries for elevated southwestern fare. At Tii Gavo you can nosh on a desert salad (crispy nopales, broiled chayote, citrus, spinach, and spicy prickly-pear vinaigrette) while appreciating the desert landscape. Enchantment is a full-service resort located outside town with golf, spa, dining, and planned outdoor activities. In town, you have the option of B&Bs, small hotels, and large-scale timeshare resorts.
Whether you’re after spiritual or physical healing, Sedona has plenty of resources to aid your journey. The circa-1956 Chapel of the Holy Cross is a small, albeit architecturally spectacular chapel built into the hillside. It’s located in one of the area’s known vortexes—an area that’s highly charged with energy said to enhance meditation, inspiration, and healing. Other popular vortex spots include Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, and Bell Rock among others.
Rocks are an ever-present theme in Sedona, where famed healer John Barnes has a treatment center called Therapy on the Rocks. The mecca for myofascial release—a form of physical therapy that treats the entire Myofascial mind-body complex—is located in Oak Creek Canyon, complemented by the soothing sounds of the water flowing over the rocks.
Don’t leave Sedona without a keepsake that captures your unique experience. Along the main drag in Uptown, you’ll find plenty of traditional souvenir stores full of t-shirts and turquoise, distinctive galleries, and glittering crystal shops. For original artwork, jewelry, and the like, turn to Sedona’s Tree House, which features an ever-evolving collection of local wares. In Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, the stand-alone outdoor market transports you to an old-world locale with cobblestoned roads, adobe-style architecture, and upscale shops and restaurants. Throughout town you’ll find outdoor sport shops to keep you outfitted for your Sedona biking and hiking adventures.
How to Get There: Although there is a small local airport that is a hub for aerial tours, your best bet is to fly into Phoenix, Arizona (a two-hour drive to the south) or Flagstaff (a forty-minute drive from the north). Both drives are simple and scenic, so your final decision will come down to price and timeframe.
When to Go: Sedona is a four-season destination, but the desert is desirable to most travelers in the in-between times of spring and fall. Spring brings fantastic blooms while fall brings mild temperatures. Summer can see upper 90s Fahrenheit, but it’s balanced by monsoon season; the rain brings the heat down and is accompanied by visually spectacular lightning storms. Finally, snowcapped red rocks are a sight to behold in winter, when the approximately 4,500-foot elevation sees occasional dustings.
What to Bring: Pack clothes appropriate for the season, a swimsuit regardless, and a manageable backpack for day trips. You should always have plenty of water on hand to combat desert dehydration.