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Sedona, AZ

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

For our first real vacation together outside of MA, we visited AZ. Part 2 of the trip centered on Sedona. For other segments of the trip click on the hyperlinks below.

2. Sedona

Day 1

Sedona is regularly described as one of America's most beautiful places. Nowhere else will you find a landscape as dramatically colorful with towering red rocks and jagged sandstone buttes matched against an almost always blue sky. In 1902, when the Sedona post office was established, there were 55 residents. Sedona was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly (1877–1950), the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly who was the city's first postmaster.

Sedona began to develop as a tourist destination, vacation-home and retirement center in the 1950s. Most of the development seen today was constructed in the 1980s and 1990s. As of 2007, there are no large tracts of undeveloped land remaining. Just driving around the city provided great views of the famous red rocks of Sedona.

Sedona is famous for its energy vortexes. They are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.  

The four best known vortexes are found at Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and Boynton Canyon—each radiating its own particular energy. Some are thought to produce energy flowing upward while at others the energy spirals downward, entering the earth. We plan to hike Cathedral Rock and may get an opportunity to experience this phenomenon.

Devil's Bridge (3.6 miles)

On the advice of a local from a shop in town we decided to hike Devil's Bridge. From a trailhead elevation of 4,600 feet, there's a mere 400 foot climb in altitude during this hike. The journey to reach the top won't leave you breathless -- but the views you see certainly will.

I can't even try to understand how this rock has remained perched in this spot for more than a couple of hours never mind hundreds or thousands of years.

Devil's Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area with a height of 54 ft.

There was only one other couple at the bridge when we arrived. We offered to take a picture of them if they took a picture for us. Perfect timing with this amazing view.

After the hike, we booked a 'Pink Jeep Tour'. We had read some great reviews about the company and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to see areas of Sedona that would be difficult for us to see on our own. Even better, our tour was occurring close to sunset.

Here are a few of the photos from the ride.

The red and yellow tones were even stronger as the sun began to set.

Everyone's an actor!

Day 2

We started the day off by visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The chapel was inspired and commissioned by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who worked with project architect Richard Hein and architect August K. Strotz to complete this noteworthy and award winning chapel. The building juts up 250 feet from the rock.

Completed in 1956, the chapel was under construction for 18 months and cost a total of $300,000. In 1957, the chapel was awarded the American Institute of Architects an Award of Honor. What an incredibly peaceful view if you were sitting for the service.

Next up for today was hiking Cathedral Rock. Cathedral Rock is the most photographed site in the Sedona area. The trail to Cathedral Rock is only 1.4 miles roundtrip to the saddle between the towers but it was marked as difficult because of the trail conditions and rapid elevation gain of over 700 ft.

This epic cluster of red rocks resembles a Cathedral with two praying hands at the center as seen from the back, unfortunately we were hiking from the front but here is a shared photo of Cathedral Rock when viewed from the back.

Our view from the parking lot was not quite as impressive but still great none the less. A great article I read broke the hike into 4 segments. The first section of the hike is an easy climb through light vegetation and short trees.

Although only a slight elevation gain, there were impressive panoramic view.

The second section traverses and begins to climb the base. In the picture below two hikers are visible approaching the top of this section.

Multiple cairns mark the trail. For a few steep spots, you might need to use a hand hold to make the climb more manageable.

The third section involves a more steep climb including this rock crevasse. Some people turned around here satisfied with the climb and views. The crack rises at about a 45-degree angle for about 40-50 feet, but there are ample hand and footholds.

The views become even more impressive. The trail became less busy and less crowded; probably as a result of the previous climb and rising temperatures.

Cathedral is topped by twin spires one of which is clearly visible in the picture below.

At the top of the crack, you’ll reach another series of plateaus, and short, steep climbs.

Courthouse Butte off in the distance from the trail as we approached the saddle.

We were hiking before lunch but the sun was high and hot! We welcomed getting to the saddle and the shade cast by the towers

At the end of the trail, we were feeling very small in comparison to the towers surrounding us.

Another reason why Cathedral Rock is so popular is because of its supposed energy vortex, a spot where the earth’s energy spirals above its surface. This vortex is at the intersection of Oak Creek and Cathedral Rock, called Red Rock Crossing. Those who believe in vortexes claim it has a feminine energy and that visitors should expect to leave feeling creative and rested.

Notice Dave in his red shirt on the trail at the base of the tower.

We continued walking around the saddle between the towers.

Before heading back down we ate lunch on a small ledge overlooking the trail. There was no one else at the top, we had it all to ourselves.

The view directly across from our lunch spot.

After returning to the car we began our drive to Grand Canyon, where we'd spend a few days enjoying the vistas and hiking into the Canyon.

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