“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”
I may not have been everywhere, in fact I still have a bucket list longer than I wish to admit, but I do know a special place when I find one…
It’s a place where you stand and stare in wonder. One where you throw your head back, take in a deep breathe of fresh air and feel yourself instantly relaxing. A place where you know an adventure is waiting for you. No, I’m not talking about a beach resort in the Caribbean! I’m talking about another place that’s special to my heart. A place I find myself returning to time and time again, and one I suggest you consider adding to your ever-growing bucket list as well. I’m talking about Sedona, Arizona.
While some may find Sedona is super touristy, I feel that Sedona has something for everyone, which I why I don’t hesitate telling you that you NEED to visit. I know that no matter what your adventure style, you can find the right balance and mix here and get outdoors to enjoy a beautiful spot. If you love rugged adventure, there is certainly no shortage of that. If you like a scaled back adventure with a bit of luxury at the end of the day, that can easily be done. If you fancy spectacular landscapes or photography, you will have found your paradise. Perhaps you are intrigued by mystically energies, folklore and history? You can find yourself here (quite literally). If you just want to get pampered and relax while everyone else is out adventuring, Sedona can see to that as well.
Obviously when I visit, I’m there for the adventure. Sedona has an energy about it (quite literally, as the legends say) that instantly sends me to my happy place. My favorite mornings are spent watching the sunrise over the red rocks while enjoying a hot cup of coffee and dreaming of what trail I’ll explore that day. The rocks look different all day long as the light illuminates their rich oranges and reds. I’ve only visited Sedona in the shoulder season (aka. Not summer), which means cooler nights but perfectly warm days for hiking AND fewer crowds.
There are plenty of campgrounds for the adventurous budget traveller in the Sedona and Oak Creek areas. My first stop in the morning is usually the Hike House to find out what trail suits my mood and get some insider information on the hike and stock up on snacks. There are plenty of trails within a short driving distance through town. After you work up a sweat hiking in Red Rock State Park all day, you can cool off with a swim at Slide Rock State Park.
Slide Rock State Park
One of the most popular hikes in the area is Cathedral Rock. Normally I don’t like crowded popular trails, but this is one of my most favorite that I’ve done in Sedona and return to each time I go to do it again.
Cathedral Rock was the first day hike I did solo many years back; albeit short and popular, it felt pretty incredible to do something on my own and love it. This became a huge stepping stone for my adventurous soul and has a pretty special place in my heart. The hike itself has a couple of steep rock scrambles but I saw people of all different fitness levels undertaking this challenge each time I’ve done it. The view is your reward at the top and it’s worth the climb.. but if you wish to just take the trail around it, you won’t be disappointed either.
I also recommend the Airport loop trail for a moderate hike that could be enjoyed by everyone. It offers great panoramic views of the Sedona landscape and Cathedral Rock.
Nearby to Sedona, is Oak Creek Canyon which is equally magnificent for scenery. Take a drive or a walk here around sunset and enjoy breathtaking views from the scenic overlooks.
Views along Oak Creek Canyon
If you want to expand your adventure territory, the Grand Canyon is a 2 hour drive from Sedona. If you are mega adventurous, check out Humphreys Peak in Flagstaff Arizona where a 12000 + ft mountain calls out to be climbed (and is also on my Bucket list).
Sedona is often called the day hike capital. I’ve been multiple times and feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of hikes I wish to do here. No matter what your skill or comfort level is, you will certainly find a scenic path that suits your needs. For Mountain bike lovers, the same applies. This would be a great destination vacation for the family or beginners (or seasoned adventurers) who want to get outside and be a bit adventurous. From canyons to red rocks to desert to mountains, Sedona is a great place to find an adventure, relax and unwind.
How could you resist?