A few days ago I posted some pictures and a description of the area on Arizona Route 89A where the highway descends into Oak Creek Canyon. About thirteen miles south of that point Oak Creek Canyon spills out of the mountains and onto a beautiful, carved up mesa. There you’ll find the town of Sedona.
Like much of the US Southwest in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado, the area is covered in red sandstone formations, carved into all sorts of odd shapes over millions of years by wind and rain.
In this part of the world it’s pretty easy to see the layering of the earth just about anywhere you look.
There are plenty of tours that will take you off of the main road and into the back country. (We use the Pink Jeep tour company and were quite happy with the experience.) Unless you have the experience and vehicle to handle an off-road tour, don’t try it on your own! While we were out on our tour in country that only Jeeps and goats roamed, we encountered a couple of Japanese tourists in a compact rental car with no four-wheel drive, no water, no idea of where they were going, and no clue how much trouble they were getting themselves into. We hope that they listened to the advice our guide gave them about stopping and going back down, carefully!
There are critters about and you may see some of them. We saw a lot of birds and a couple of small animals, but there are deer, coyote, snakes, and god knows what else out there.
You might want to go to Sedona in the spring or fall when it’s not too expensive and not too hot. In the winter all of the snowbirds will be there and it will get expensive. In the summer it’s going to be “one hundred and stupid in the shade” before 10:00 AM.
One thing that we did not do on this last trip but I would love to plan into the next one is some hiking. Again, even more so than for driving off-road, make sure you know what you’re doing, have what you need (water and sunscreen!), and have a Plan B. You might be only five miles (or 500 yards) from town, but you can still get into some serious hurt if you’re not careful. I would also just love to get out away from town here with a telescope on some clear night!
From the 1930’s on the area has been used to make dozens of movies, both Westerns and other types of films. The town has and still does promote itself as “Arizona’s Little Hollywood”.
Even if the off-road experience isn’t for you, there’s a very nice state park just south of town with the usual small museum, observation sites, easy to medium difficulty hiking trails, and the obligatory gift shop.
One of the things that makes Sedona such a tourist attraction these days is its reputation as a location of “spiritual vortices”. Remember the “Harmonic Convergence” in 1987? According to many “New Age” groups, Sedona was where it was supposed to happen. I didn’t see or feel any of that, but there was a fantastic thunderstorm which I enjoyed a great deal!
All in all we found Sedona to be a great place to visit. The main town seems to be a bit “upscale touristy” for me, sort of like Malibu or Newport Beach without the beach. (It probably wasn’t a coincidence that The Eagles’ song “The Last Resort” was playing in my head for days after we left — it’s like the song was written for Sedona.) But it’s easy enough to avoid all of that, there were good restaurants to be found, and if you’re there for the beauty of the desert there are plenty of opportunities to get out of town and see it.
We’ll be back! (With hiking boots and a telescope, perhaps?)