Solo in Sedona

This was a birthday present to myself. The land was so astoundingly beautiful and powerful that I stayed twice as long as planned.


Solo in Sedona

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by godspeed on March 10, 2007

Approaching Sedona from the south on Highway 179, I caught sight of a cluster of majestic red rocks rising into Popsicle-blue sky. It was like entering another world. I would have pulled over, but highway construction conveniently allowed me to crawl along slowly enough to gawk and find my breath. Though I had flown all night and driven two hours, fatigue suddenly dissolved. All I wanted to do was get out of the car and onto the land.

Sedona is situated at the southwestern rim of the Colorado Plateau. Elevation is about 4,500 feet (red rock formations rise a lot higher). It’s a small town of about 10,000 people that spans 19-square miles (49% of which is Coconino National Forest).

Sedona is known for its vortexes (places where subtle, swirling energy emanates from the earth’s surface). Native Americans have long considered the land here sacred. You’ll probably feel its power right away. There are four main vortexes in Sedona, and millions of tourists and spiritual seekers flock to experience these energy centers. Links to vortex information: www.visitsedona.com, www.lovesedona.com

Though my primary motivation for visiting Sedona was to experience the land, I’m not a rabid hiker. I lost my taste for it after bad experiences with my bushwhacking, time-challenged, food-and-water-underestimating ex-father in law. Yet, I spent six blissful days exploring Sedona trails. It didn’t feel so much like hiking to me - I think because I stuck to open spaces, never set an agenda, and stopped to rest and even nap whenever I felt like it. The rocks are very accommodating, often forming natural stairs and cradles. All of the vortex sites and many of the trails are easy to get to and traverse. People of all ages and in a variety of physical conditions can easily stroll into the vortex areas. Personally, I had many profound and uplifting experiences on the land that rejuvenated me and cleared my head.

Surprisingly, Sedona has a lot of good restaurants in all price ranges. There’s also a good art scene and healers galore. It seems the majority of people who live here are healers, artists, writers or some combination thereof. It’s an open, friendly tourist town that has managed to keep tourist traps to a minimum and primarily confined to a strip of uptown Sedona.

${QuickSuggestions} Most of the land is part of the Coconino National Forest, and you’ll need a Red Rock Pass to walk around. They cost $5 for 24 hours or $15 for seven days. You can buy passes at kiosks (cash or credit) in the parking areas of most sites and also at stores, such as Circle K. I was told some hotels sell them too. This is the link for more information: www.redrockcountry.org/passes-and-permits/where-to-purchase.shtml

There is significant construction on Highway 179, which feeds off I-17 and runs through the Village of Oak Creek into Sedona. Traffic there can be tedious. A lot of must-see destinations are off 179, including Bell Rock, Courthouse Rock, and Chapel of the Holy Cross. Allow plenty of time, and watch for sudden stops.

Parking in uptown Sedona can be challenging. Try the lot at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. Make a left off 89A at the first and only light in uptown (Forest Street). The visitor center is the first thing on the left after you turn on Forest Street. Another option is to go past Forest Street and make your next left on Jordan Road. You'll see the back of a BBQ restaurant on the right almost immediately. There are two lots just past the BBQ place. The second one is free public parking.

The sun is strong. Make sure your sunscreen is fresh. Bring a hat and good sunglasses. It’s chilly in the morning and at night. I was glad I brought polar fleece.${BestWay} You must have a car to get around Sedona. You can fly into either Phoenix (about 120 miles south) or Flagstaff (about 30 miles north) and rent a car at the airport. It's typically cheaper to fly in and out of Phoenix.

Adobe Hacienda

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by godspeed on March 12, 2007

I fell in love with "The Baja Room" at this lovely five-room B&B when I saw a picture of it online. The decor was understated, cozy Southwestern (no cowboy gear or other hokey stuff). At almost $200 a night, it wasn't the most economical choice, yet I couldn't picture myself anywhere else. It did not disappoint.

The B&B is in the Village of Oak Creek, which is just south of Sedona proper (about 15 minutes to uptown Sedona), and has views of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. The house is comfortable, very clean, and quiet. The overall vibe is peaceful and relaxed.

The five rooms all have walls of windows looking out the back of the property. I had a nice view of Bell Rock from my bed. The view is slightly disrupted by netting that's up to protect the property from the abutting golf course. It's not ideal, but I got over it.

My room was extremely clean and spacious for a single person. The bed was firm and comfortable with nice sheets, though the pillows were too foamy and hard for me. The bathroom was nearly as big as the bedroom and had a large, sunken Jacuzzi tub that I loved after long days hiking.

There was no desk and the seating wasn't as plush as some of the other rooms, neither of which I cared about. Free Internet and free long distance were useful and appreciated. A small refrigerator and free bottled water and soda were also convenient. I was somewhat disappointed that the fireplace was electric, but I decided to be thankful I didn't have to mess with wood and smoke.

Breakfast was outstanding and overly ample every day. Weather permitting, it was served outdoors on a very pleasant back patio. The dining room inside was also nice, but I preferred being outside. The coffee was good and ready early. It helps if you let the owners know ahead of time if you're vegetarian or if you want soy milk.

I appreciated that the owners were helpful and accommodating but also respectful of privacy not chatty for the sake of being chatty. There was a full house when I was there, and the other guests were mature, polite, quiet, and friendly. Overall, it was a near perfect B&B experience.
Adobe Hacienda Bed and Breakfast
10 Rojo Drive
Sedona, Arizona, 86351
(928) 284-2020

Coffee Pot

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by godspeed on March 12, 2007

The Coffee Pot restaurant in West Sedona serves great, cheap breakfast all day. It's classic diner food that is surprisingly ungreasy. The menu is huge and includes Mexican food and American comfort foods, but I stuck to breakfast food. Service is quick, and it would be challenging to spend $10 per person.
Coffee Pot
2050 West State Route 89A
Sedona, Arizona, 86336
(928) 282-6626

Sedona Raw Cafe

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by godspeed on March 12, 2007

Sedona Raw Cafe is very, very good. The food is uncooked and is as good as Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco. If you haven't tried a raw food restaurant, the food is remarkably delicious when prepared well. Your body feels amazing - light and energetic - after eating it. I ate here four times in six days.

The nori roll platter is outstanding. (In case you don't know, nori is very mild seaweed that is used in sushi rolls.) Two rolls are filled with a smooth almond-ginger pate accompanied by a sort of Asian slaw salad with sesame cilantro dressing, fresh mango, ginger, nama shoyu, and wasabi.

The green goddess soup is a creamy, satisfying puree of avocado, cucumber, kale, bell peppers, and spices. All the salads are big, and the dressings are delicious.

Try the raw chocolate "magic healing bars" for dessert. Made fresh daily by a local raw chocolatier, they have something like 27 ingredients and are sublime. If you aren't going to be in Sedona anytime soon but like the idea of a chocolate magic healing bar, order them at www.chocolatesuperfoods.com.
Chocolatree Organic Eatery
1595 West Hwy 89a
Sedona, Arizona, 86336
(928) 282-2997

Thai Spices

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by godspeed on March 12, 2007

Thai Spices in West Sedona serves some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had anywhere. The menu is big-ish, and you can get anything vegetarian. Everything is fresh and mostly organic. If you call ahead, you can even get specially prepared macrobiotic dishes. I ate four delicious meals there in six days.
Thai Spices
2986 West State Route 89A
Sedona, Arizona, 86336
(928) 282-0599

Bell Rock

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by godspeed on March 12, 2007

Bell Rock was one of my favorite places in Sedona. Perhaps it was no coincidence that I could see it from my bed at the Adobe Hacienda. It’s easy to access, easy to climb, and provides breathtaking views in all directions. I walked around here every day of my trip.

Each visit I took different routes and found a number of very pleasant places to recline and take in the views. One early afternoon, I was lying still on the western slopes about halfway up when a roadrunner walked right up and checked me out. It didn’t seem to be in a hurry, and it certainly wasn’t running. It walked to within two feet of me and just stood there. I’d never seen a roadrunner up close, and the experience was amazing. It was a beautiful bird, and we stared at each other for some time before it turned and walked away.

The light in Sedona was spectacular throughout the day and in all conditions. In the early morning, the red rocks glowed pink and orange, and I saw shades and saturation of blue that seemed impossible. Thunder and lightning storms occurred twice, and both were beautiful and oddly peaceful. One storm danced around Bell Rock in the twilight, trailing long cords of white light through shades of purple, indigo, and gold.

On several occasions in the early morning light, I was treated to a cloud show at Bell Rock. It was similar to childhood experiences of looking for shapes in clouds, except it was more like a movie than a “Where’s Waldo” game. In rapid succession, the clouds above me morphed in into various faces (some known to me, some unknown), symbols, images, and even scenes with elements interacting. It was totally unusual and exciting. Both “shows” were very pertinent to me and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.

There are two easy ways to approach Bell Rock. The first is from the official Forest Service parking lot, which is off Highway 179 just past Bell Rock Blvd. on the right. This route allows you to make a long approach. From here, you can wind around the west side of Bell Rock, or you can take the longer route around Courthouse Butte, which sits next to Bell Rock. If you have less time or energy, you can continue on 179 past Bell Rock Blvd. and park in a pullout that is very close to the trailhead leading up Bell Rock itself.

The loop around Courthouse Butte takes about two hours. The trail is good, and it’s very scenic. At points, it dips through more forest-like terrain, which is a nice contrast to the open expanses of Bell Rock.
Bell Rock
6246 State Route 179
Sedona, Arizona, 86351
(928) 282-4161

Kachina Woman

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by godspeed on March 12, 2007

Kachina Woman is a rock formation near the entrance to Boynton Canyon. It’s a really special spot. The climb is easy and only takes 10-15 minutes. The vortex energy is strong and evidenced by tightly twisted Juniper trees. (Juniper bark grows twisted where the vortex energy is strong.) It felt extremely good to me just to sit up there and stare at this beautiful rock. I felt really peaceful and in the presence of something very powerful, yet gentle.

I was lucky to be there alone three times. A hawk visited me on my way down once. For 10 minutes, it circled, swooped, and soared about 20 feet above my head. It was an amazing experience. At one point, I heard people coming down the trail, so I moved off to let them pass. Remarkably, the hawk stayed with me, though it ascended some. I hoped the loud family approaching wouldn’t scare the hawk away. They didn’t, and I was surprised that they didn’t notice it at all. I was so thankful for the experience and thought about all the things we miss when we are busy chattering and more focused on trying to get somewhere than on just being present where we are.

To get to Kachina Woman from uptown Sedona, take 89A west to Dry Creek Road (it’s near the end of West Sedona and there’s a restaurant called Delish on the corner there). Turn right (north) on Dry Creek Road. When the road runs out, turn left on Boynton Pass Road and follow the signs to Boynton Canyon and Enchantment Resort. The parking area for the trail is on the right side of the street before you get to the resort. It’s clearly marked.

Enter the trail and follow it until it forks. At the fork, there is a stone bench under a tree on the right. Do NOT follow the signs to Deadman's Pass. From the bench, make a left and follow the trail. You’ll see sign pointing the way to "vista trail." The path leads up and to your right.

If you’re adventurous, you can climb up behind Kachina Woman. It’s a scramble up steep rock, so be careful. I approached from the southeast side of her and slid down on my butt. There’s a small cave up there and a great view into Boynton Canyon.

Boynton Canyon trail continues on into the canyon. It's a great walk and very popular. You can access cliff dwelling ruins from it. Here's a link that describes Boynton Canyon trail: www.visionsofheaven.com/journeys-sedonadocs/sedBoynton.html
Kachina Woman

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona Spirit Journeys

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by godspeed on March 12, 2007

I decided to hire a tour guide for my first full day in Sedona to help me get acquainted with the area and learn a bit more about the vortexes (areas that emanate subtle, yet powerful, energy from the earth’s surface). It was a great decision.

Linda Summers, owner of Sedona Spirit Journeys, is hands down the most delightful, best tour guide I’ve ever come across. She’s extremely knowledgeable about ancient and modern local history, geology, Native American culture, plants, animals, and various healing traditions. Her demeanor is serene and gracious. She loves her job, and it's a treat to go out with her.

I called prior to my trip and explained that I wanted to visit as many vortex sites as possible and also explore around Oak Creek. She tailored my tour exactly to my specifications and even made me a Native American Medicine Wheel on the shore of Oak Creek.

We also made a quick, unscheduled stop to view Thunder Mountain, where beautiful violet-infused storm clouds were gathering. Linda explained that Walt Disney used to come to the very spot in which we sat and that he is said to have gained many creative insights there. Though the creek bed running below us was dry, the sky flowed with cartoon-like colors and flashes of lightning. I could imagine Walt Disney there and was inspired to research more about him and his time in Sedona when I got home.

The day was full of wonderful experiences. Linda even played a little Native American drum for me. I learned a tremendous amount from her, and I further explored on my own some of the places we went together. She also suggested other spots, each of which I enjoyed tremendously.

I’m totally sure I would not have enjoyed my time on the land as much as I did had I not gone out with Linda and learned from her on the first day. I highly recommend it.

Linda is also a Reiki Master, formerly practiced psychology, and has a degree in Native American studies. (Reiki is a gentle, hands-on Japanese healing modality that imparts deep relaxation and balances life force energy). She has close connections with the Navajo and Hopi people. If you have time, she can take you on two-day tours into their worlds.
Sedona Spirit Journeys
P. O. Box 129
Sedona, Arizona, 86339
(928) 282-8966

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