After a week in Flagstaff, we chose to spend our final Arizona weekend in perhaps one of the most beautiful communities in Northern Arizona. We were blessed with perfect spring weather.
by MilwVon on March 30, 2009
Pink Jeep Tours has been in business in Sedona for nearly 50 years. Started as a way to show prospective real estate buyers the natural beauty of the community, today Pink Jeep Tours has a fleet of 63 specially designed tour vehicles built specifically to climb the red rock formations that bring visitors to Sedona from around the world.They offer several tours and combo packages, but for our visit we chose the two hour Broken Arrow Tour. Advertised as the most popular jeep tour in Sedona, we found out why! Our tour provided breath-taking views of the city and the surrounding beauty that is postcard perfect.Tour guide and driver extraordinaire Brian was engaging, informative and very accommodating to the six guests in our group. His expertise in Sedona was only surpassed by his skill in navigating the steep inclines to include the ascent down "the road of no return." While we made it down without incident or concern, check out the photo attached to this review of the smaller Polaris four-wheelers that thought they may as well follow us down. We were all holding our breath, hoping their drive down would be safe. I thought that it was good they were wearing helmets just in case they ended up rolling down the hill end over end.Our tour also provided us with two opportunities to get out and see the views 360 degrees at the submarine formation and again at the top of chicken point. At chicken point there was a group of college ROTC students out for a day of hiking and climbing. These young people were like billy goats on the side of the red rocks.We booked our tour through Sky Ranch Lodge, our home away from home during our overnight stay in Sedona. Ordinarily $75+tax, as guests we received a nice discount bringing our total for two at approximately $131. I/we have done a lot of tours via a variety of modes of transportation, including helicopters, boats, fixed wing airplanes and tundra buggies . . . and this was one of the top experiences I have ever had.Other tours offered include Ancient Ruins ($72pp); Diamondback Gulch ($68pp); Scenic Rim ($55); Coyote Canyon ($44-$55); and the Grand Canyon ($145-$155pp) with combo packages available with their tours in and around Sedona (i.e., excluding their Grand Canyon trips). I should mention that their Grand Canyon tours are aboard passenger vans that have been designed for passenger comfort on this long (10-11 hour) road trip.Add me to the list of guests who cannot recommend Pink Jeeps highly enough!!For more information and to make a reservation, check them out at www.pinkjeep.com or by calling 1-800-873-3663.
by MilwVon on April 3, 2009
Hopefully you have read (and enjoyed) my review of our Pink Jeep Broken Arrow tour in Sedona. It was a highlight of our eight day vacation in Northern Arizona. If you don’t have the time or inclination to tour Sedona by jeep, you can still get out and enjoy the sights that make this area of the country so unique.The drive over from Flagstaff is about an hour, give or take. As you head out of Flagstaff on Hwy. 89A you will enter the Coconino National Forest and soon reach the Oak Creek Canyon overlook where you can get out and stretch your legs with a walk to the lookout point at the end of the paved sidewalk. If you arrive in the area in the morning, you will find that the sun is in an absolutely terrible place for photos. We ended up coming back later in the day, mid to late afternoon, for our photos. The canyon below is beautiful as you look out across the switchback two lane highway below you. I should also mention that this lookout area is part of the Arizona State Parks system. They have a partnership with local Native American vendors, permitting them to sell their arts and crafts along the sidewalk near the visitors’ center. Their silver and turquoise jewelry, pottery and woven goods are really beautiful and from what I could tell, prices were very reasonable.As you continue your drive from Oak Creek Canyon, you will twist and wind along the Oak Creek which includes a lot of campgrounds and small lodges. The views are outstanding; tranquil and peaceful. I can see someone coming here to commune with nature to escape the rush of city life. Just before reaching Sedona is Slide Rock State Park, a year round opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. Most however, come here to enjoy swimming and "shooting the slippery rock chute" during the warmer months. There are picnic areas and a gift shop with snacks along with bathrooms, etc. More information may be found on their web site: http://www.azparks.gov/Parks/SLRO/index.html.From Slide Rock State Park you will fast be approaching Sedona. Before you arrive at the city’s welcome sign, you will see the world famous red rock formations. They are spectacular and when we came upon them, they somewhat took me by surprise. Entering the uptown area of Sedona is somewhat of a letdown other than the fact that you can see the gorgeous red rock formations all around you. Town itself, for me, has a bit of a feel of a typical tourist trap . . . but that is me. For those who love little quaint shops and restaurants, you will love this place.Driving on through town on Hwy. 89A you will approach a couple of round-abouts. The first will take you on out Hwy. 179 which will eventually take you by some famous formations including Bell Rock and Cathedral Tower. The second round-about will take you take you out of town on Hwy. 89A towards Airport Road and eventually out to Cottonwood, AZ and beyond.I mention Airport Road specifically because this is where we stayed (Sky Ranch Lodge) but perhaps more importantly; this is the location of a vortex. Vortexes are believed to be energy centers and the source of what many believe is the spiritual draw to Sedona. While we didn’t go to this particular vortex, we did enjoy our hike at Bell Rock where the presence of the vortex was very evident in the trees. You see, with the spiraling winds, the trunks and limbs of the junipers are twisted and contorted to make some very strange mutations. Admittedly, I didn’t seem to feel the vibe, it was interesting to see how the vortex affects the growth of plant life in the area.Airport Road is also one of the best lookout areas at sunset. With the sun drawing down to your left, the lighting on the red rock formations on your right is fantastic. The parking lot at the lookout was jammed about 20 minutes before the predicted time of sunset. Fortunately, we were able to scout a perfect viewing point on the Sky Ranch Lodge property where we took a lot of photos.If you plan a trip to or even through Sedona, I hope you will enjoy your drive and take some time to get out and explore. There are a number of hiking trails of varying degrees of challenge. Even an asthmatic like me could get out and enjoy it, but be sure to be aware of your personal limitations. The air is a bit thinner than you may be accustomed to and if the air is chilly that too could affect your breathing capacity. Here is a link to a really good map of the area highlighting the red rock formations and hiking trails in the area: http://www.redrockcountry.org/maps/big-map.shtml.
by MilwVon on March 31, 2009
We had a $10 Restaurant.com gift certificate which required spending $20 to get the $10 off. Who would think two hungry adults (who like to eat) would have trouble getting to $20?As we perused the menu, most breakfast meals were between $5.99 and $7.99. What was more impressive were the three breakfast specials including steak n eggs complete with breakfast potatoes or hash browns and toast for just $3.99 when ordered before 11am.Service was very prompt with ice water and hot beverages brought to the table almost immediately . . . coffee for David and hot tea (cranberry/apple) for me as that became my fave on this trip. A little more time with the menu and I settled in on the ham & mushroom omelet, which David selected the Denver omelet. Served with choice of toast, biscuit or english muffin and potatoes, it was a rather large breakfast. I could not finish mine and David had to force his way through his last few bites.Including beverages and tax, our total check came to $18.50 so we had to add on a cinnamon roll to go to push the $20.00 requirement to use our $10.00 discount.While they serve breakfast all day, you can order lunch starting at 11:00am and they are also open for dinner in the evenings. They offer a nice selection of traditional Mexican dishes as well as other meals you might expect including sandwiches, burgers and even a Friday fish fry featuring cod.A little bit about their location . . . they are located on 89A on the way out of town towards Cottonwood, in the Safeway Shopping Center. It would be easy to miss them so I can see why perhaps only locals know about this little jewel in the Arizona desert. I must admit, I loved their open airy feeling. The interior was bright and colorful with a lovely wall mural on the opposite side of the dining area from where we were seated.They are open seven days a week, 5:30am to 10:00pm and it is recommended that you avoid tradition meals times (particularly dinner) as they do get quite busy.OH . . . PS . . . the cinnamon roll was yummy on the ride from Sedona to Phoenix!
Just about everyone who visits Sedona suggests Cowboy Club for at least one meal while in town. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and are conveniently located in the center of it all in the uptown area of Sedona, and practically right across the street from the Pink Jeep Tours' driveway. This made Cowboy Club a natural first choice for lunch after our Saturday afternoon Broken Arrow jeep tour.David was really not very hungry, and I didn't think I was up for a large mid-afternoon meal, so we ordered a club sandwich to share. It was an unusual twist to the typical deli styled three-decker I'm used to seeing. Served on a nice oblong deli type roll, the sandwich had plenty of turkey along with several thick cuts of bacon and jack cheese. What added to the unusualness of this sandwich was the peanut coleslaw that came atop the sandwich. That's right . . . coleslaw ON the sandwich or should I say, IN the sandwich. I ordered it on the side. It was very good, but I still cannot fathom it being on the bread, in the sandwich. Served with very thin fries, even thinner than shoestrings fries, the meal was filling even with of us splitting it.Service was decent, nothing special, but she did keep my water glass near full throughout the meal. At $10.99 for the sandwich, we felt that was a bit pricey for "just a sandwich and fries" but I think it was largely about the location and the historical perspective provided at the Cowboy Club.In looking through their dinner menu, they had a nice variety of entrees including what I'm told are some of the best steaks in the city. With rib eyes at $28.99 and tenderloin at $36.99, come hungry and enjoy! They also offer a full service bar including beer, wine, cocktails and frozen blended drinks.For more information including hours and menus, check them out at: http://www.cowboyclub.com/cowboy_about.html.
After a week in Arizona, it was time to finally enjoy a good Southwestern meal. Mexican restaurants are popular in this part of the country and pretty much a dime a dozen. I had encouraged patience with David especially after our first outing for Mexican food was averted due to a kitchen fire back in Flagstaff. Patience paid off when we selected Oaxaca Restaurant and Cantina in Sedona!After a rather full and tiring day, we were both ready for some adult beverages and strawberry margaritas were the chose de jour. We were a bit sticker shocked at the $8.95 per drink for a 16 oz glass but the margaritas were slushy frozen delights with very good flavor, although a bit weak on the booze. Ordinarily we'll feel a bit tipsy after a couple of these cocktails, but not tonight. That's ok; we weren't drinking to get drunk, but to the contrary . . . to relax. Mission accomplished!For dinner I ordered an off the menu shredded beef wrapped with melted cheese on top and sides of mild red sauce and sour cream. They meat had been prepared with a night mix of spices, providing a mild kick, but not too much for my typically sensitive taste buds. Served with side dishes of the obligatory fried beans and rice, there was simply too much food to eat!David had the steak fajitas which came out with all the sizzle and aroma you'd expect. His dish had a generous serving of meat, prepared with green and red peppers, onions, and mushrooms. With six tortillas, freshly made guacamole, and all of the other accompaniments, he also had more than he could eat in one sitting.While initially I was a bit disappointed that they did not serve a complimentary basket of tortilla chips and salsa, I was soon happy that I hadn't filled up on them. For those who want them, they are available for $5.00.Before our trip, I had found a "buy one entree, get another half-priced" on the local Sedona Chamber of Commerce web site so our dinner including the bar tab (which was more expensive than our dinners) came to a total of $80.00 including tax and gratuities.Service was outstanding, the atmosphere pleasant and chairs very comfortable. After sitting for over an hour after a long day of hiking and being outside, I could barely move. I thoroughly enjoyed dinner and cocktails at Oaxaca and would go there again in a heartbeat when in Sedona.They are located right in the "uptown" area of Sedona, on what can best be described as the main drag in town (89A). More information including menus may be found on their web site: http://www.oaxacarestaurant.com/.
You know how sometimes when you shop based on price, especially with lodging, you really do not know if you're going to be happy with your choice? Going into this particular overnight stay, I was especially concerned because the room rate was about $20 less that others that I found for the same date, and published reviews were somewhat mixed. Once checked in, however, we were very pleased with Sky Ranch Lodge and the location high above the city at the Sedona Airport.This small motel style "lodge" was comprised of approximately 25 four unit buildings, most of which were single level making it especially nice with the low to the ground profile in a place where the unobstructed views beyond your window is what we were looking for. Granted, we were in a "garden view" room which did not provide the beauty of the red rocks beyond the property; it was still a very pleasant and peaceful view from our room at the backside of the property. The trickling water sounds of the fountains were an especially nice touch, especially when it was time to go to bed.We have a room with a king bed. It was nicely decorated and with the usual features like an in-room coffee maker with premium coffee and some very nice tea selections, a hair blow dryer and all the necessary bathroom toiletries (shampoo, hand lotion and soaps). The only thing that would have added to our stay would have been a mini-fridge. At $80/night rack rate, we were very happy with our experience and the value received.For guests staying at Sky Ranch Lodge, there is a nice discount available on the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow tour. Normally a $75+tax for adults, we did it for $131. Thank you Sky Ranch Lodge!For more information to include photos of the lodge and other special packages, check them out at http://www.skyranchlodge.com/.
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