For miles along the drive from Phoenix to Sedona, all you see is Arizona’s well-known, flat desert-scrub landscape. Suddenly, they appear on the horizon: Sedona’s red rocks, or dramatic red-sandstone formations that seem to glow morning and evening. As you get nearer, you get a better idea of the scale—these huge masses, deeply red and brown in color, nearly dwarf the little town of Sedona.
It seems the rocks inspire creative thinkers—since the 1960s, artists have been drawn to Sedona's majestic landscape. The town now hosts an art community with close to 100 galleries and cultural events, including the Sedona International Film Festival, the Sedona Arts Festival, and the Sedona Winefest. The liberal atmosphere also boasts a funky, walkable downtown complete with shops offering aura photographs and crystal healing. Whether coming to see the rocks and hike or to rejuvenate in the area’s numerous spas and purported New Age vortexes, you’ll be able to enjoy this resort town’s gorgeous scenery.
- Sedona Trolley tours: Narrated trolley tours offer an easy way to see downtown; they can also take you into Dry Creek Valley, which has canyon views.
- Chapel of the Holy Cross: Hike up a short, easy trail to find this imposing Roman Catholic church built into the red-rock cliffs. The chapel’s striking architecture and desert views make it a favorite spot for tourists, but remember to keep your voice down—this is still an operating church.
- Main Street: Walk several blocks through Sedona’s pedestrian-friendly downtown, where you’ll find dozens of restaurants, galleries, crystal stores, and unique shops. Keep an eye out for the aura photographers—$20 or so will get you a colorful souvenir picture.
- Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village: A one-time artists’ community, now an upscale shopping area. Giant sycamore trees shade trickling fountains and cobblestone streets in this quiet place modeled after a traditional Mexican village.
Outdoors in Sedona
- Airport Loop: A 3.2-mile hiking trail that’s popular for vistas of famous outcroppings such as Cathedral Rock and Courthouse Butte.
- Slide Rock State Park: Barrel down a natural water slide and see a preserved turn-of-the-century homestead at this 43-acre historic park in Oak Creek Canyon.
- Jeep tours: There are several off-roading tour companies in Sedona. If you’d rather not hike, take a Jeep tour for otherwise-inaccessible views of the red rocks up close.
- New Age vortexes: Sedona’s reputation for healing comes from its vortexes—areas where Earth’s magnetism is believed to have special properties. Cairns mark the vortex sites at Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Schnebly Hill, and Boynton Canyon, and you can hike to each one.
Where to Stay
- The Sedona Dream Maker Bed and Breakfast: Get a real feel for the city at this homey inn with mediation areas, big breakfasts, and a sky deck for views of the mountains.
- Sky Ranch Lodge: Set atop Airport Mesa, this hotel has unbeatable views of Bell and Cathedral Rocks. Watch the sunset from the property’s highest point while sipping a locally sourced varietal from the onsite wine bar.
- Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa: A swanky boutique hotel with a rooftop terrace, outdoor pool and fireplace area, and great views of the red rocks