I’ve never spent much time in Arizona except for the occasional work trip to Phoenix which never allowed for any exploration outside of the immediate area. If I saw a cactus, I felt like my trip was complete. How wrong my misconceptions were of this beautiful area, specifically Sedona and the awe inspiring Grand Canyon. I was amazed at how the climate and landscape changed just 2-4 hours north of the Phoenix metropolis. From the desert, to forests, to snow capped peaks, and the gigantic hole in the Earth. What a lovely area of the country to explore.
Sedona, AZ was my location of choice. Situated in the Coconino National Forest, this beautiful spot consists of incredible rock formations, hiking/biking trails through Pinyon pine and Juniper forests, and incredible sunsets which illuminate the surrounding red rocks in this area. It is also known as a spiritual place due to the vortex energy associated with the area. A vortex is described as the natural intersections of electromagnetic earth energy. Some say that the forces can be felt physically and spiritually. These energy centers are located in known sites around Sedona such as Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock. It is a wellness destination for many due to its healing energy and most hotels offer some type of yoga and meditation classes.
Sedona also has a lively arts scene with more than 80 art galleries and international film and wine festivals. There are also many shops/spas that offer workshops and tools for wellness and enlightenment.
Our first day consisted of a hike to Cathedral Rock and a stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. While I love to hike and usually do not mind heights, I was a little unsure about hiking to the top of Cathedral Rock. The path plateaus with a panoramic view of the area and that is a good place to stop, relax, and take in the beautiful views of the area. Word of warning if you plan to go to the top: you will be climbing up a sharp incline with no path and nothing to hold onto. I tried it but was too scared that I would slip and fall so I ended up coming back down very carefully… on my butt!
After our hike we stopped by the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Catholic church carved into the red rocks. A service was beginning so we were not allowed in at that time but what a beautiful place to worship and see God’s creation!
Afterwards, we headed to our hotel, The Sky Rock Inn, and got settled in before heading to dinner for the evening. The hotel has the most amazing views of Sedona. The hotel offers outdoor yoga and meditation classes each morning and live music every evening by the bar. There is a also a healthy continental breakfast served each morning to fuel you up for your hikes and excursions and don’t forget about the pool to cool you off afterwards. Sky Rock also offers a variety of alternative healing and complementary therapies such as Vortex healing, Chakra readings, and even star gazing. This hotel is is also within walking distance of several hiking trails in the area. The rooms are a bit dark but there are plans to update and renovate the guest rooms within the next year. There is also a free shuttle that runs every 30 minutes to take guests from the hotel to the uptown shopping district. I highly recommend this hotel as it adds to the overall Sedona experience and the views are spectacular.
Our next hike was Boyton Canyon. This hike was originally supposed to be 10 miles but we cut it short to 6.5. The views are wonderful but the intense sun was beginning to wear on us so it was back to the hotel for a quick lunch and dip in the pool. Time to relax before dinner at Soundbites (dinner with a view).
Note* Always bring water, a snack, and sunscreen. While the weather may be in the 70’s, the sun is intense and you are in it all day when hiking these trails. Be prepared.
Today consisted of an excursion to the Grand Canyon. I have never been there before and I must say that there are no pictures that can do it justice. This is a place than should be experienced in person because it is so vast and awe inspiring. We stopped at several lookout points along the south rim of the canyon to take the obligatory photos but again, the view was incredible and one that is hard to describe. I will say that there are some very “brave” (ignorant in my opinion) people who feel like they must take selfies at the edge of the cliff or the experience must not be real. Please, don’t be one of those people! Accidents happen and it’s the second leading cause of death in the Canyon.
We stopped for lunch at the El Tovar Hotel, located in the Grand Canyon. Set in a lovely dining room overlooking the Canyon, our lunch was relaxing and leisurely. This would be an excellent place to stay if you plan to spend a day or two exploring the Grand Canyon.
Our final day included a short hike along the Adobe Jack trail (within walking distance from the hotel), some pool time, shopping time, and the Pink Jeep tour. Let me just say that I had no idea what to expect from the jeep tour and I was not prepared for that excursion whatsoever. The jeep tour is off road (expected) but along a route where you will ride over extremely large rocks as you bounce your way to the top of the overlook (not expected). This ride wasn’t just bouncy, it was extremely rough! I did not expect us to ride over the amount of rocks along this trail and all I can say is thank goodness I did not have any nausea, back problems, neck problems, or a pregnancy to contend with. I would advise anyone who does have those issues to not go on this tour. It states as much in the waiver that you sign before getting in the jeep. Mind you, the views at the top are exquisite but they are views that you can get on some of your more relaxing hikes were you don’t need a back brace after the excursion ends. In retrospect, I would have skipped this tour as this is not my cup of tea. But, if it is your thing, go for it. It’s quite the wild ride.
Our trip wrapped up with a lovely dinner at The Cowboy Club and then it was back to the hotel for a cocktail around the fire pit while overlooking this view one more time.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Sedona and would happily return for another visit, maybe with a few more spa treatments included (especially after that jeep ride : )