I recently had out-of-state guests who decided, on the spur of the moment, where they would be going and staying. So, I didn't have time to advise them on where to go and what to see in Sedona. Of course they wanted to go to Sedona, the land of red rock formations, gourmet food, and vortexes! If I had been given the opportunity, I would have shared with them some Sedona advice for first timers.
Orient Yourself to Sedona Attractions
A great place to start is to visit the Sedona Chamber of Commerce's 3D online interactive map of Sedona attractions.
|Sedona Map (click link above for an interactive version)|
Go to the full size map in the link above, click around and explore Sedona. The map will also help you decide where to stay. Not knowing what was there, my friends headed for Uptown Sedona, the most crowded area. They were disappointed. "Too many people," they reported. But look what else is there to see if you just venture out of the crowded areas!
Stay in a Peaceful Setting
To soak in the natural beauty of the Sedona Red Rocks, you need to retreat to a setting by Oak Creek or out of town a little bit. I recently had the opportunity to stay at the Amara Resort, convenient to Uptown, but down on the creek with a Red Rock view. It was quieter down there and the onsite restaurant, Salt Rock Southwest Kitchen, serves excellent food and libations. Next to the Amara Resort is the beautiful L'Auberge de Sedona, also located on the creek but with separate cabin accommodations complete with relaxing porch.
|Great Margaritas with a view at Amara!|
Another place to stay, this one with a killer view, is the Sky Ranch Lodge, up on Airport Mesa. It's not a fancy hotel, but it has a fantastic location. Airport Mesa is where people gather at sunset to watch the Sedona magic and get some great photos. I haven't stayed there but it's high on my list (pun intended) as a desirable place to check out.
|Vista from Airport Mesa|
Another recommendation for a peaceful place to stay is up Oak Creek at Oak Creek Cabins. I haven't stayed there but friends told me they went every year around Halloween. You'll have your own cabin and can explore the creek and woods there. Cooking in is common as you'll need to drive into Sedona proper to go out to dinner.
Seek Sedona Advice
Read up, ask around and get some information before going to Sedona. Wander With Wonder, where I frequently publish my articles, has some great Sedona information. And, of course, I have my favorite places including:
Red Rock Crossing via Crescent Moon Ranch Day Area
It’s a quick drive from Uptown via 89A, past the turnoff to the airport to Upper Red Rock Loop Road. You then follow the signs to Red Rock Crossing and Crescent Moon Ranch Day Use Area.
It’s a place I have visited often, sometimes to photograph beautiful
Cathedral Rock, and sometimes just to wade in the creek. I recommend arriving when
they open at 8 a.m. After paying the $11 day-use fee, park in one
of the first parking lots (very few cars are there at that hour) and
take the pathway past a giant tree to the creek. Farther on, there are trails along the creek, swimming holes, and Buddha Beach, where people make and leave rock cairns.
Chapel of the Holy Cross
High on a red rock cliff is a Catholic Chapel that you can visit. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was created by a local rancher and a sculptor. When you enter, you'll be taken by the beautiful crucifix on the "tree of life" and the soaring windows with the Red Rock view. It's beautiful and peaceful.
Always fun is the little shopping village with art glass galleries, restaurants, and even a brewery. The Tlaquepaque village is reminiscent of a Mexican village and is fun to wander and shop. Of course, during the height of tourist season in the middle of the day it will be crowded.
|Tlaquepaque shopping and dining in a little scenic village.|
Schnebly Hill with a Jeep
Get away from it all and drive up Schnebly Hill (accessed not far past Tlaquepaque) for some stellar scenery and hiking. However, the road will become rutted and stoney not far out of town so you will need a jeep or other off-road worthy vehicle. If you don't have one, check with a local Jeep tour company like Pink Jeeps for a guided tour up there. This is not a loop trail so you'll need to drive up, check out the scenery, and then turn around to go back into town.
|My favorite view of Sedona is accessible via Jeep|