Five Ways of Experiencing Sedona

Trail to Bell Rock, Sedona
Trail to Bell Rock in Sedona; credit Gregory Whitcoe

From a distance, Sedona looks like granite fortresses rising from the desert, their sides painted in the shades of autumn leaves. Up close, the rock formations tower over a rugged landscape known for its distinctive and brilliant crimson red color. And screen saver images don’t do it justice.

Sedona ranks among the country’s best places for a spiritual rejuvenation. Travelers flock to this small town (population 10,000) to unplug, chill and relax in the midst of natural, untamed beauty. The beauty we need.

Go on a Hike
Hiking paths are plentiful and well-marked, allowing up close views of the towering red rocks. On foot, you’ll find that Sedona is more than tall structures. Sloped hills, mountain plateaus, desert expanses, dusty trails and box canyons (where there’s one way in and one way out) are just a sample of what you’ll see. If you can, wear hiking shoes rather than sneakers, keep a hat on for shade and bring plenty of water.

Take a Ride on a Bike
Biking through Sedona can be peaceful or daring. Check the Visitor’s Center for bike trails that match how comfortable you feel on two wheels. If it’s been years since you’ve mounted a bike, stick to the flat terrain, beautiful views that you can leisurely pedal through. Better cyclists can find steep hills that’ll test your hamstrings and sharp declines that’ll make your stomach jump. Sedona is home to many bike shops.

Sit Still
While hiking and biking through Sedona has its perks, the authentic Sedona experience involves being still. You might have to walk or hop on a bike to get to a quiet place. But the point is to sit and clear your mind of everything except the beauty of your surroundings. Meditate, pray or just breathe. And be grateful for a life that gives you this experience.

Enter into a Vortex
If you want to take the Zen of Sedona to another level, visit a Vortex site. Visit Sedona, the city’s travel organization, describes vortexes as “swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.” Here’s where they’re located.

Find the Arts and Culture
For such a small city, Sedona has a large arts and culture scene. If you’re lucky enough to stay longer than a day, devote some time to visiting the more than 80 galleries and shops. The largest concentration can be found along State Route 179 on a stretch called “Gallery Row.” You can download an app guide from http://www.walksedona.com

In fact, art is so important to the city that public art is everywhere – statues, sculptures, avant garde structures and more. This Public Art Map tells you where to find them. If you visit Phoenix, you must make the 117-mile drive to Sedona at least once in your life.

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