The Magic of Sedona Arizona
We recently traveled to Sedona Arizona to experience first-hand the magical splendor of this beautiful community. We booked our flight and accommodations through TripAdvisor and were extremely pleased with our choice of hotel, The Sedona Rouge.
It’s hard to beat the backdrop scenery of Sedona Arizona, certainly one of America’s most scenically nestled communities. Those famous “Red Rocks” are even more magnificent in person than they appear in those glossy wall calendars. And the climate’s pretty enticing, too, what with the plentiful sunshine and generally tame winters.
Given the lovely and sun-kissed landscape, then, it’s little surprise tourists and retirees alike flock to Sedona Arizona —or that spiritually minded folks of all faiths find such inspiration in the setting. For an outdoor lover, the town—located where the grand Mogollon Rim plunges in cliffs and canyons to the Verde Valley—delivers a feast of attractions. Some of Arizona’s best hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, skydiving, hot-air ballooning—heck, you name it—await right here amid the Red Rocks.
The Transition Zone: Sedona’s Spectacular Natural Landscapes
Both geologically and ecologically, Sedona’s in a fascinating transitional setting, putting some amazingly diverse natural heritage at the fingertips of an outdoorsperson. The city’s perched in the shadow of one of Arizona’s defining landforms, the Mogollon Rim: essentially the southern scarp of the Colorado Plateau, a 200-odd-mile wall marking the boundary between the Plateau’s lofty, canyon-cut tablelands and the hot, lower deserts of the Basin and Range to the south.
Some of the innards of the Colorado Plateau are on full display in Oak Creek Canyon to the immediate north of Sedona. This basalt-rimmed defile, one of the most celebrated of Arizona’s land-forms, reveals some of the same colorful sedimentary layers exposed in the Grand Canyon to the north, including Coconino Sandstone and the Toroweap and Kaibab formations. The most celebrated stratum (and one that isn’t found in the Grand), the Schnebly Hill Formation—sandstone derived from ancient seashore dunes—creates Sedona’s iconic Red Rocks, those bold cliffs, buttes, and pillars that look especially mesmerizing lit by low sun.
A sister red-rock gorge to the west of Oak Creek Canyon—and within easy striking distance of Sedona Arizona—quieter Sycamore Canyon also beautifully gnaws into the Mogollon Rim’s ramparts.
From an ecological perspective, the Mogollon Rim divides the Rocky Mountain-flavored ecosystems of the Colorado Plateau—high-elevation spruce-fir stands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, gleaming aspen groves, etc.—from the “Madrean” zone of the arid Southwest and adjoining Mexico, which in Arizona includes cactus desert, greasewood flats, and “sky-island” forests that have more in common with the Sierra Madre Occidental than the mountains of the Four Corners.
This is all to say that nature-minded visitors to Sedona can hoof or pedal their way across a beautiful spread of ecosystems: from clifftop groves of old-growth Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir and steep thickets of Manzanita and Juniper to lush riverside woods of Arizona Sycamore, Walnut, Alder, Bigtooth Maple, and Ash. Whether you’re bumping along a remote jeep track or hiking one of the numerous trails, keep your eyes peeled for critters that mingle along this ecological frontier: mule deer, javelina (peccaries), ringtails, pumas, elk, coyotes, gray foxes, bobcats, and a dizzying inventory of birdlife, from hummingbirds and cactus wrens to common black-hawks and golden eagles.
Sedona Arizona Climate
Sedona’s popular as a year-round tourist getaway and retirement hub partly due to its attractive climate. Given its 4,500-foot setting at the base of the Mogollon Rim, the area’s neither as cold as the Colorado Plateau country northward or as hot as the southern deserts. Winter temperatures often climb into the mid-50s (Fahrenheit). Summertime can certainly be on the scorching side—temperatures beyond 100 degrees aren’t uncommon—but a dip in a red-rock pool or a siesta in the shade of a streamside sycamore delivers leisurely relief.
The heaviest rainfall tends to come in the high-summer thunderstorms of the Arizona monsoon. Hikers and backroad drivers alike need to be cognizant of the dangers of flash flooding during and after such intense downpours: Canyon bottoms and normally dry washes can turn into dangerous torrents.
Room to Roam
Sedona’s a great hub for outdoor adventure: The world-class scenery comes backed up by thousands of acres of public land open for hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and the like. The surrounding Coconino National Forest offers some of the finest opportunities, and encompasses a number of first-rate wilderness areas within the Sedona hinterland. Two of them, the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness (encompassing part of Oak Creek Canyon as well as gulch-ridden backcountry to the west) and the Munds Mountain Wilderness (home to gorgeous escarpments and buttes), are a stone’s throw from the city, while the Sycamore Canyon and Wet Beaver wildernesses lie a bit farther out.
Red Rock State Park protects some of Oak Creek’s riparian corridor and adjoining butte-lands southwest of Sedona. And to the north, in Oak Creek Canyon, Slide Rock State Park marks a beloved swimming hole with its sandstone cascades and pools.
Throw in expansive Bureau of Land Management acreage, and you’ve got truly across-the-board recreation sites at hand with Sedona as your springboard.
Sedona is not just a land of timeless beauty, it also has some spectacular restaurants. We had the pleasure of dining at the Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill which is located between West Sedona & Uptown. The views from the patios and dining rooms could be the finest world wide – enjoying large scale art or star gazing in the dark Sedona night. The cuisine is Latin inpired, steak & seafood dishes, primarily from Chef Dahl’s interactions with chef’s in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, focusing on premium ingredients.
A few other Sedona Arizona restaurants we recommend:
- Reds Restaurant at Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa: Dining with simple sophistication and style from a menu that reflects American cuisine prepared with culinary finesse and global awareness. Simply delicious food with great flavor. However, Reds is only open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
- Dahl & Diluca Ristorante Italiano: Located just accross the street from Sedona Rouge Hotel, this restaurant is fine dining at it’s best. You’ll feel like your dining in the heart of Tuscany. The decor is extremely well done, and it’s a very romantic restaurant. Fabulous calamari, house-made pasta’s, seafood, veal and eggplant parmesan.
- Cafe Jose: If you enjoy a good hearty and wholesome breakfast, this is a great place to go. The decor isn’t anything special, but the food has a great home-made appeal.
- Oak Creek Brewery & Grill: Enjoy Sedona’s very own micro brews! Try the ‘Seven Dwarfs’ sampler which is a sample of each of their seven micro brews. They also have a wide selection of salads, appetizers & entrees for the whole family. Located in the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. This area has a ton of art galleries and shops as well as other restaurants.
There’s a wide range of accommodations for all budgets in Sedona. Be sure to book early. After checking through many options on TripAdvisor, we selected the Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa. It was a great decision! A charming hotel, tastefully decorated, with a courtyard that enticed one to enter with the inviting scent of Jasmine. The staff were helpful, extremely friendly and courteous, and it was a great all-around experience.
We were located in the newer section of the hotel, which we really recommend. The room was open, spacious and had a great view to an open courtyard. The outdoor area has a large seating area with big comfy chairs, a fire pit and relaxing water feature. This space provides plenty of room for children to safely play outdoors – where mom and dad could watch while enjoying an evening cocktail. During our stay, we enjoyed complete privacy. The pool, jacuzzi and spa are in close proximity.
Sedona Arizona: Deep History
People have called the greater Sedona area home for thousands of years. The pre-Columbian Sinagua culture inhabited cliff dwellings along the Mogollon Rim and its surroundings, and some precious remnants remain at sites such as Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot national monuments and the Honanki, Palatki, and V-Bar-V heritage sites, all within a few dozen miles of Sedona. Admiring the majestic Montezuma Castle in its limestone recess, the ridgetop ruins of Tuzigoot, or the enigmatic petroglyph panels of V-Bar-V, you’re reminded that Sedona’s indigenous heritage encompasses many rich centuries before Europeans ever set foot in North America.
The Sinaguan cliff-dwellers abandoned the regions in the 1400s, their old Verde Valley homeland adopted by the Yavapai and Apache peoples Europeans encountered in their early explorations. The American Indian presence is alive and well in the region, with the Yavapai-Apache Nation remaining a vibrant cultural force.
Euro-American settlers took advantage of Sedona’s favorable microclimate by planting orchards and raising crops as well as ranching. These days, the town’s a well-known destination for outdoor recreation, spa retreats, and Southwestern artwork, but Old West history remains part of the fabric—not least because so many Hollywood filmmakers treasure that rugged skyline for quintessential Western scenery.
Sedona Arizona Community Attractions
It’s hard to resist the canyons and mesas so lavishly laid out on Sedona’s doorstep, but the area also claims more urbane pleasures for when you’re in between adventures. The city proper comes packed with art galleries, spas, and eateries, while the Verde Valley hosts a surprising lineup of wineries; viticulture, as Sedona’s official tourism website notes, actually has a longstanding history in Arizona, and Sedona’s early vineyards date to the 1800s.
From multicolored chasms to sheer-walled mesas, from aboriginal rock art to lavish desert resorts, Sedona lives up to the hype. Come get your Red Rocks on in the heart of Arizona!
When visiting Sedona, you can’t help but want to get out and enjoy some of the spectacular hiking trail. After talking to the locals and determining when the best time would be to avoid any potential crowds, we selected three hikes: West Fork Trail, Brins Mesa Outlook Trail, and the Courthouse Butte Loop.
Situated in Cottonwood Canyon 10.5 miles north of Sedona along SR 89A, The West Fork Trail is one of the most beautiful trails in the Sedona area. Parking at the trail head is limited and is a pay lot that fills up fast. If it’s full, you can park along the high way a few hundred meters away and walk into the park for a $2.00 per person fee. The trail head has access to [read more]
If your looking to get out and turn your hike into a leg burning exercise, then you have to take the Brins Mesa Overlook Trail. The trail head is easy to find. From Sedona on 89A you turn up Jordan Road and go to the end where you take a left on West Park Ridge drive. [read more]
Near the Village of Oak Creek, the Courthouse Butte Loop is a pleasant 4.2 mile trail circling Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. It is best to do this hike in the early hours of the morning as it can become very hot and has little shade to offer. Always take a hat and plenty of water to avoid heat stroke and dehydration. [read more]