Red Rocks - Rugs - Riches
Text and Photos by Howard Sheldon
As the early morning sun is absorbed by the red rocks of Sedona, a warm glow is spread throughout the small city. The surreal blend of red rocks, cool waters, singing birds and wildflower colors compose a symphony of nature around every corner.
The rust-red color of the landscape, the burble of Oak Creek, the red penstemon, the yellow daisies, the pale-pink wild lilies mingled with golden poppies along the roadside are an exquisite assault on the five senses. It's little wonder that the awe-inspiring views surrounding Sedona stir reverent feelings in its visitors.
If you are fortunate enough to visit Sedona soon after a brief shower, the air is filled with the peculiar, but pleasant scent of the high desert. It is a mixture of juniper, red clay, limestone and wildflowers. Breathe deeply and fill your lungs, you are in Arizona!
If you arrive in Sedona via Highway 179, you will be visually awestruck by Bell Rock on the north side of the road. Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock are two popularly photographed features of Sedona's red rocks.
US Highway 89A, through Oak Creek Canyon, was Arizona's first designated scenic highway and was named by Rand-McNally as one of the most beautiful drives in America. Before you are dangerously distracted by the beautiful scenery, pull over! There are many areas along the highways to get off the road and park. Get the camera or your phone out and record your trip. Take your time getting your pictures or videos. There have been numerous fender-benders due to drivers being distracted by the beautiful scenery. It can be deadly to drive and canvass nature's wonders at the same time.
Sedona contains an assortment of artists, crafts people, musicians, writers, hermits, bed and breakfasts, world-class resorts, mansions, museums and a myriad of art galleries and gift shops. Travelers from all over the world in brightly colored clothes with cameras around their necks file up and down the streets and walkways with armloads of newly acquired treasures. Just listen, and you can hear the chatter of foreign tongues on the streets, in the gift shops and restaurants.
There is one detail that you may find frustrating while shopping in Sedona. It's the lack of adequate parking. The number of daily visitors well exceeds the number of available parking spaces. Bring good walking shoes!
At an altitude of 4500 feet, Sedona misses the searing heat of the lower deserts and receives an occasional dusting of snow in the winter. The beauty and climate of the area make sightseeing, hiking, golf, tennis, horseback riding and jeep-touring year-round activities.
However, what is now a bustling tourist attraction and artistic community was something much different at the turn-of-the-century.
In 1901, Theodore Carlton Schnebly left Missouri and headed west. In 1902, he made the area that we know as Sedona his home. The area was named after his lovely wife Sedona Schnebly. (It wasn't until 86 years later, in 1988, that Sedona incorporated as a city.) Their home was on Oak Creek where highways 89A and 179 now intersect. Their restored home is on the grounds of the Los Abrigados Resort and Spa. You can actually spend the night in the "Stone House," the Schnebly's original home, for a small fortune. If they were alive to see today's Sedona, they would not recognize the town they founded.
Sedona has much to offer for the enjoyment of so many different people. There are endless opportunities for gift shopping. There are enough diverse recreational activities to satisfy any nature lover, old or young. There are numerous places to find solitude. Sedona will unlock powerful creative energies and stimulate your imagination. As the sun tracks across Sedona's Navajo-turquoise-blue skies, the ageless mountains, spires, boulders, trees and occasional intermittent waterfalls that surround it will display more colors than any ambitious rainbow.
The red rocks of Sedona have a song all their own. Hear their song, join in their chorus. Once Sedona is in your heart it stays there. Some call it "Red Rock Fever." The only known cure is to visit as often as possible -- or better yet move there. Above all, Sedona is a gift to be protected and cherished. Enjoy your sojourn.
Nearby State Parks
Red Rock State Park Sedona, Arizona
Red Rock State Park is a 286-acre nature preserve and environmental education center located just 5 miles west of Sedona off Highway 89A on the Lower Red Rock Loop Road. A wide variety of special programs are available for school groups and private groups; the picnic areas and classrooms may be reserved for public or private functions. To protect the fragile vegetation, the park asks that you stay on designated trails, that you pack out your trash, and that you leave your pet at home while visiting Red Rock State Park. Swimming and wading are activities reserved for local wildlife only. This is a day-use park, so there are no general overnight camping facilities available.
Visitor Center: 9 am to 5 pm MST
Park Phone Number: 928 282-6907
Slide Rock State Park - Sedona, Arizona
Located in what many consider to be Mother Nature's finest playground, Slide Rock State Park is nestled in lush Oak Creek Canyon. The park takes its name from a 30-foot water slide worn in the rocks of the creek bed. Fishing, hiking, picnicking and nature-watching take on new dimensions among the canyon's red rock walls and pine forests. A thriving apple orchard is a unique attraction. The state has expanded parking and other facilities used by the waves of visitors who refresh themselves at Slide Rock during summer months. Several Forest Service campgrounds are nearby. Slide Rock is 7 miles north of Sedona off Highway 89A.
Park Phone Number: 928-282-3034
Arizona State Parks Water Quality Hotline: 602-542-0202.
Updated daily to provide current water quality conditions for the Slide Rock State Park swim area. Slide Rock has been closed to swimmers in the past due to bacterial contamination from an unknown source.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park Cottonwood, Arizona
Don't be alarmed by its name; this state park is located next to the community of Cottonwood in the scenic Verde Valley, and is alive with animal and human activity. Perhaps best known as a "nest" for bird watching, the park is also favored for picnicking, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, and stream and pond fishing. Walking trails are established along the shady banks of the Verde River. The park, with its full-facility campground, is also a good base for exploring other attractions in and around the Verde Valley.
Visitor Center: Hours vary
Park Phone Number: 928-634-5283
Fort Verde State Park Camp Verde, Arizona
Fort Verde was the primary base for General Crook's U.S. Army scouts and soldiers. They were charged with squelching Apache and Yavapai Indian uprisings in the late 1800s. Some of the original buildings still stand today. Its officers' quarters are open to visitors interested in learning what life was like on the frontier. The fort's museum, located in the old headquarters building, exhibits artifacts that explain the history and methods of frontier soldiering. The park is in the town of Camp Verde, 3 miles east of Interstate 17.
Visitor Center: 8 am to 5 pm MST.
Park Phone Number: 928-567-3275
Jerome State Historic Park Jerome, Arizona
The 1916 mansion of James "Rawhide Jimmy" Douglas sits regally atop a hill overlooking the scenic Verde Valley. The mansion served as a hotel for visiting mining officials and investors, as well as home to the Douglas family. Once Arizona Territory's most productive copper mining area, Jerome lost its sheen when prices plummeted during the Depression. The mansion's well-appointed interior and adobe-brick architecture reflect the copper mining high-life before the fall. Displays feature local mining history and methods. The park, located in the town of Jerome off State Route 89A, has a number of intriguing historic attractions nearby.
Visitor Center: 8 am to 5 pm MST.
Park Phone Number: 928-634-5381
Other Local Attractions
- Munds Mountain Wilderness: East of Sedona.
- Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness: 20 miles south of Flagstaff.
- Sycamore Wilderness: Sedona Ranger District.
- Prescott and Coconino National Forests.
- Tuzigoot Indian Ruins: Clarkdale, Arizona.
- Montezuma's Castle and Well: McGuireville.
- Verde Canyon Railroad: Clarkdale, Arizona.
- Jeep and Gold Panning Tours: Sedona, Arizona.
- Fishing, Mountain Biking, Horseback riding and hiking.
Lodging and Food
There are resorts, hotels and motels in Sedona with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list, click here. (Rates, availability and reservations online.)
- There are six campgrounds in Oak Creek Canyon
- 173 sites total on a first come first served basis
- No electrical hookups or shower facilities
- Contact Sedona Ranger Station 520-282-4119 for more information or the Sedona Chamber of Commerce
- Arizona State Parks: 602-542-4174
- Arizona National Forests: 800-280-CAMP
How To Get There
For more details on Sedona and directions on how to get there, please visit Sedona's web site.
Verde Canyon Railroad
Tuzigoot National Monument
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