It brings to my mind the word associations: STOP, attention, fire, love, and power. It evokes images of blazing sunsets, a Burgundy wine, and a bouquet of Valentine’s Day roses. It is considered a lucky colour in the Chinese culture, yet red is used across the world in warning signs – an indicator of danger and caution. I don’t know about you, but few people I know would paint the interior of their home in Pantone 188 (Brick Red) because of the sheer impact – walls like that demand constant attention.
Yet it’s Sedona’s redness that will mentally stop you in your tracks and round your lips as you silently mouth, “wow.” You know you’ve arrived in the town when you see red from the ground up; your eye will trace skyscraper red rocks layered intermittently with beige and orange all the way to a sky laced with cloud wisps. These rock formations are the town’s framework, sculpted over the years into jagged buttes and abstract shapes. The beauty of Sedona’s red environment is that the colour is ever changing – upon waking, your eyes may rest on sculptures of rusty red, only to have you return to the same scene at sunset and witness them donning a burnt sienna hue. There’s a bit of mystery to it all too: Sedona’s red rocks have a meditative effect yet instinctively they pull at you – they will you to explore their nature.
You may not necessarily paint the town red though Sedona will leave its mark on you, and your dusty sneakers, forever.
WHAT we did
Hikers in a past life, Sedona is where my husband and I ignited our passion for the adrenalin rush of a good rock climb. In our previous home of New York, we were urban dwellers where entertainment included theatre, restaurant, and navigating museums; where travel was via subway, car, or ferry. In Sedona, we used mainly our legs to get around and reignited long dormant muscles to explore this outdoor natural history museum.
30 years ago, Page Bryant declared that Sedona was a key area for vortexes – subtle energy that interacts with the being of each person that comes within 1/4 to 1/2 mile of it. Vortexes are a key draw to Sedona, especially for those on a wellness vacation as they purport healing powers. There are 4 hikes to choose from to experience this energy – Airport Vortex, Cathedral Rock Vortex, Boynton Canyon Vortex, and Bell Rock Vortex. I recommend the Cathedral Rock hike for its beauty and ease (a little steep in parts but the views from up top are infinite) and Bell Rock for the sheer fun of climbing the slopes of this “bell.” We didn’t take a tour and used the map and tips given to us by the hotel concierge.
How to find the strongest points of energy? One way is by observing the Juniper trees around those rock formations pinpointed for their vortex strength. “Juniper trees respond to the vortex energy in a physical way that reveals where the energy is strongest. The stronger the energy, the more of an axial twist the Juniper trees have in their branches.”
Long regarded a spiritual land by the Ancient Indians, “the Yavapai-Apache tribe consider this sacred ground their Garden of Eden, believing this is where the first woman mated with the sun to begin the human race.”
WHERE we stayed
If you’re going to go to Sedona, you must stay at least two nights (3 full days) in accommodation that allows you to wake up to the Red Rocks first thing in the morning. There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing such natural and unexpected beauty from your balcony.
My husband and I stayed at the beautiful boutique Amara Resort and Spa. Ideally situated in Uptown Sedona, it is located along Oak Creek, has a Red Rock backdrop, and is within walking distance of the main street’s boutiques and galleries, restaurants, cafes, and tour services. We were there in early November – an excellent time because of fewer crowds and warm weather, yet our morning yoga class was wall-to-wall packed.
Breakfast al fresco at the Hundred Rox Restaurant was a daily highlight. For me at least, there’s no better way to start the day than with fresh fruit, eggs, coffee, wonderful company, and a spectacular view, now etched into my memory. This mental visual is a lovely scene to reflect upon, months after my visit. In the evening, ordering a prickly pear cactus cocktail while lazing by the saltwater infinity pool felt decadent after a day of climbing and hiking. Bonus: All hotel rooms are located steps away from the outdoor area; the bed’s pillowtop mattress is the softest and most luxurious present ever after an invigorating day outdoors. If you stay here, I assure you an excellent night’s sleep.
Something new to taste
You don’t have to be such an adventurous eater to dig into some Nopalitos Cactus Fries – marinated, breaded, and flash fried strips of Nopalitos cactus served with prickly cactus sauce. They don’t have the crunch appeal; instead, think fried bell peppers. Head to the casual Cowboy Club – a 50 year old Country and Western style restaurant/bar to try them.
HOW to get to Sedona
Driving to a town at an elevation of 4,500 feet means a steady ascent. As we were driving from El Paso, the State Highway 179-N guided us uphill and the Arizona 89A road led us into the centre of town – it also serves as Sedona’s main road. Expect to see a ground cover of columnar cacti and otherwise flat land prior to reaching Red Rock Country. The contrast is stark.