Sedona is known for its beauty and serene setting amidst the beautiful Red Rocks. The town is famous for its vibrant arts community with nearly 100 art galleries and events including the Sedona International Film Festival, Sedona Arts Festival and the Sedona Jazz Festival. It offers excellent outdoor adventures, including mountain biking, hiking and off-roading. Sedona is surprisingly sprawling, with Oak Creek to the south, West Sedona and Uptown Sedona each providing great views, hikes, dining and arts. Sedona is an outstanding place to experience “new-age” left wing counterculture Americana. The locals lean far to the left of center, but are warm and welcoming to outsiders.
Everyone loves Sedona. Really. But, they’re all in love with a different town. Some of them come to bask in luxury. Others come to commune with the unearthly red rocks. Still others come to wallow in foodie culture. Some folks may come to see the setting of their favorite cowboy movies. Or hike. Or shop. Or for the concentration of spas unique to the setting.
Touted by glossy travel mags as one of the top ten beauty spots in the USA. Celebrated in the shabby chic press as New Age Central and the home of spiritual enlightenment for a price. Sedona is a multifaceted little town that’s a haven for hikers, nightlife lovers, conspicuous consumers, the stressed, distressed, nature boys, family groups, and the sort of spontaneous traveler who take a four-day weekend to search for the perfect margarita.
Set off from Phoenix, aboard a Tour West America coach, for a road trip to Sedona. Travel along Interstate 17 and Arizona 179 past a dazzling display of nature and history framed by towering red rocks.
Interstate 17, also known as the Old Black Canyon Trail, takes you past small towns and lovely scenery. As you approach Cordes Junction, you’ll pass signs for Bloody Basin, Big Bug Creek and Bumble Bee. In the 1800s, these mining towns were filled with gold prospectors who settled here during their quest for wealth. Today, the stagecoach stops are empty and these mining outposts have become quiet ghost towns. Visitors will find few amenities, but the ramshackle buildings offer some photo opportunities — and maybe even ghost sightings.
Take a detour at Exit 289 and visit Montezuma Castle National Monument. These preserved cliff dwellings were once home to the Sinagua people over 1,000 years ago. The 20-room apartment, etched into the side of the limestone cliffs, is one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America.
Right before the junction for Route 179, you can experience more of Arizona’s rich history at the V-Bar-V Heritage Site. This Verde Valley petroglyph site is a great example of Beaver Creek Rock Art dating back to the Southern Sinagua from 1150 to 1400 AD. The well-preserved rock art is spread out over 13 panels and includes more than 1,000 unique petroglyphs.
Hop back on the highway and proceed until exit 298 where you will find the Arizona 179N junction to Sedona.
It’s no surprise that State Route 179 is also known as Red Rock Scenic Byway; the towering sandstone rocks frame this state highway on the road to Sedona. In about 7 miles, you’ll come to the Village of Oak Creek (or Big Park) where the Bell Rock formation rises from the landscape. Bell Rock is known among New Age-types as one of Sedona’s important vortex sites, or a spot where the Earth gives off unique energy. Courthouse Butte is another popular formation in the area.
Continue on 179 to Sedona and use the town as a home base for your adventures.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Now that you’re at your destination, let someone else take the wheel and sit back and enjoy the scenery on a jeep tour. Pink Jeep offers several excursions in the Sedona area, combining stunning nature and geology with an overview of the area’s Native American culture and history. These off-road adventures travel into deep canyons and along bumpy roads to deliver you to the towering red rocks.
A trolley tour or helicopter ride are alternate ways to observe Sedona’s beauty.
In summer, indulge in some old-fashioned fun and cool down at the natural water slides at Slide Rock State Park. Water chutes have been carved into the rocks over time making for a rocky slip and slide into the creek.
Sedona has all of the makings of a great small town, including excellent restaurants, galleries and shopping, all with a charming southwest vibe. Search for unique souvenirs at the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, a beautiful outdoor shopping district with quaint arches and porticoes and shaded cobblestone streets. Artisans sell their goods in galleries and boutiques including hand-blown glass creations, stunning photographs and cool jewelry.
If you enjoy breakfast for lunch, swing by the Coffee Pot Restaurant on 89A between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. for all-day breakfast. Leave plenty of time to peruse the menu as patrons can choose from 101 omelet concoctions. Much of the menu reflects a Mexican influence with omelets stuffed with salsa and ground beef and huevos rancheros served with guacamole and tortillas.
Pick up a take-out lunch at the Heartline Café on 89A to eat later under the great rocks. The market is stocked with fancy cheeses and gourmet grab-and-go options including hearty salads, sandwiches and veggie dishes. For dinner, there’s a feast of small plates like smoked potato and grilled corn chowder with blackened shrimp or warm red cabbage alongside entrees such as pecan-crusted trout or slow-cooked pork osso bucco.
Dozens of other restaurants offer dining options from casual to fine dining. When it comes to dining, Sedona has an exceptional choice of style, atmosphere, decor and flavor developed for tourists from around the world. Many of the restaurants in Sedona are rated among the best restaurants in Arizona, and several have earned national acclaim.