You know those pictures of the southwestern United States where the sun is setting on a stunning red rock setting? Odds are, they were taken in Sedona. Located in central Arizona, Sedona is a true oasis, a paradise for those looking to escape whether for a few hours or a few weeks. There is lots of shopping, of course, and golf and spas, but if you want to really get out and explore I have just what you’re looking for.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is definitely a must-see, regardless of your thoughts on religion. Built into the buttes, it was once a Roman Catholic church, and is visited by millions each year to take in the stunning scenery. It is a peaceful place where you can sit and gather your thoughts or just enjoy the view.
If you can find someone who knows how to tell you the way, stop and take a dip in Oak Creek. You will definitely need a four-wheel drive vehicle to get all the way in, so if you don’t have one plan on walking in a short bit. The spots frequented by locals are the best. Slide Rock is great to see, but very touristy, so if you can find your way in off the upper loop, I would definitely suggest that instead. The water is a bit chilly! This creek runs pretty steadily and it comes from Flagstaff, so the water is not what one would call warm, but is certainly refreshing on a summer day.
Rent at ATV and go off-roading! Can you tell I tend to lean toward dirt-bound activities? Check out Sedona ATV at www.atvsedona.com; they have great prices and phenomenal step-by-step maps so you can go out on your own and not get lost. We did the half day tour, which is four hours, and you definitely need that at a minimum to squeeze in everything. The trails are a ton of fun and you can take them at a slower pace or just fly right through for some real fun!
The Honanki Ruins are absolutely amazing. This is where the Sinagua lived from AD 1100 to 1300. They were ancestors of the Hopi tribe and the Honanki Heritage Site is very well-preserved. It’s a short walk in to the ruins from the park entrance and as you stroll down the shaded path and listen to the wind blow through the trees, you will feel peace. When you look up at the massive butte into which the cave dwellings were created, you will understand the obvious protection that was provided by Mother Nature.
Schnebly Hill Road is an adventure all on its own. This is a 13 mile, zig-zagging trail up some pretty interesting terrain. It takes you to a height that offers the most spectacular views of Oak Creek Canyon; scenery that is absolutely unparalleled. This road eventually will get you to Flagstaff, and it’s worth mentioning that at one time it was the only road! That’s a sobering thought when you consider that people were in horse-drawn carriages. They normally couldn’t travel more than a mile or two per day and broken wagon wheels were unfortunately a common occurrence.
All the bouncing is worth it in this off-road adventure (at least the road to the chapel is paved!). Next time you’re in Sedona, make your way off the beaten path!