Breathtaking! Stunning! Magnificent! Wow! These are only some of the exclamations you’ll say and/or hear as you cross the border into Red Rock Country, as the Sedona area is affectionately called.
While the town itself is only about twenty square miles with a population of 11,000 people, it’s surrounded by state and federal land and receives more than four million visitors a year. At an elevation of 4,500 feet, it’s considered the high desert. You’ll find prickly pear cactus and yucca plants intermingled with oak and maple trees, and pinion and junipers at higher elevations. The ecosystems of Flagstaff and Phoenix collide here in a spectacular display of crimson rock, green vegetation and sapphire skies.
Considered the most beautiful city in the U.S. by USA Today, Sedona offers a visual feast seen from unlikely places – like the parking lot behind Anasazi Plaza in Uptown, or the little patio off of the Javelina Cantina or the upstairs dining area at Oaxaca Restaurant. Or really anywhere you look up and see towering red spires and hulking rock formations against an open sky. On sunny days (more frequent than not), red rocks against blue skies makes for stunning photos.
The town is cooler than Phoenix by about ten degrees and milder than Flagstaff, especially in winter. You can sometimes catch a glimpse of snow on the red rocks above, but its usually still warm enough to forgo heavy winter gear. Spring and fall are ideal times to visit — when the high desert is blooming or leaves are changing color.
One of the best experiences is driving 89A north from Uptown in fall to catch a kaleidoscope of colors along Oak Creek Canyon. Summers offers a cool reprieve from the 113-degree weather in Phoenix, especially along Oak Creek at places like Amara Hotel & Spa or L’Auberge de Sedona. In winter, the town is decked out with holiday charm.
The town offers a mix of the New Age flair (that arrived in the mid-1970s), cowboy culture (it is the birth place of the Cowboy Artists of America), outdoor ruggedness and a splash of luxury (found in some resorts, golf course, spas and residential homes). Whether you’re camping or staying at a chic urban hotel (Sedona Rouge), looking for a destination vacation (Enchantment Resort, Poco Diablo Resort or Amara Hotel& Spa), hoping for a more family-friendly (Best Western – Uptown) or budget-friendly option (Hampton Inn – Sedona or Best Western – West Sedona) or yearning for uber-romantic (L’Auberge de Sedona), there’s something for every taste, style and budget.
Outdoors enthusiasts have plenty to do — including jeep tours, helicopter tours, biking & ATVing, birding, and hiking. Hiking options range from easy walks to difficult climbs. Favorite trails include Brins Mesa Trail (a steep climb) or the short hike to the take-your-breath-away iconic landmark of Devils Bridge. Pick up a Recreation Map of Sedona Sites at the Visitor Center as you travel into Uptown (89A north). It pinpoints the area’s vortexes, natural rock formations, and hiking trails in and around town.
The town has a thriving artist community. It’s home to painters, sculptors, woodworkers, jewelry makers, and weavers. Art galleries are clustered along 179. Look for Hillside Sedona, Uptown and Sedona Arts Center.
The city is home to several annual events like Sedona Arts Festival, Sedona Film Festival, Sedona Jazz on the Rocks and Plein Air Festival. During this latter week-long fall event, painters work outdoors capturing panoramic vistas and iconic area landmarks.
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