Sedona is magical. The contrast of nature’s red rock formations that jut into the open blue skies takes your breath away. No wonder almost 3 million people from around the world visit annually (pre-covid19 of course). The call of the land is irresistible. It is a nature lover’s paradise. It also draws healers and spiritual seekers from all cultures and beliefs. Ask anyone who lives, or visits, about the “vortexes” or “vortices” in the area and they’ll tell you the force is real. From what I’ve learned, many believe the vortexes hold Earth’s energy forces and help accelerate healing – and there are four big ones here. Sounds a bit Goop-ish, I know, but if anything, the landscape leaves you in awe whether you’re there for the positive vibes or not.
Sedona offers much more than day spas, meditation workshops, healing retreats, zen inspiring scenery and crystals. Mountain bikers of all levels are drawn to the various terrains. Wildlife enthusiasts seek out the creatures under the sun and moon. Kayakers and canoeists love to meander through the Verde River. Artists are drawn to the mesmerizing landscape.
You’ve probably seen Sedona in films and commercials but to experience it in real life is special whether it’s for a day or longer. My first visit was well over 15 years ago. I had returned in the Fall of 2019 for a day trip and it was just as beautiful as the first time.
I was in Scottsdale, Arizona for a few days and connected with the local day-tripping tour company, DETOURS AMERICAN WEST. If you don’t drive…or prefer not to drive there are always options to safely get around and yes, it also can be done within your budget. You just need to do a little research ahead of time but there are many options. Booking with a local tour company offers a less stressful way to get to your bucket list and often with more comfort. I find locally-run tours are also a good way to get more insight and “flavour” into a place that you might not get otherwise – I love hearing personal stories and the connections. I happen to luck out with a very knowledgeable and fascinating guide, Mike, who naturally wove in his life stories — he was full of animated stories about what drew him to Arizona, or what he referred to as “the most perfect place in the world.”
Mike had the right balance of offering historical facts, nuggets of fun, along with his own experience for an intimate group of 12 tourists comprised mostly of Americans. His energy was bountiful and when I mentioned how much I enjoyed his stories he did mention that each tour’s outcome is slightly different depending on the feedback he gets from the group that he’s guiding. Luckily that day we were quite an intrigued bunch. He happily obliged and answered all the questions as he took us on a scenic drive from Scottsdale to Sedona — an approximately two-hour journey. Along the way, he pointed out the significant history of the Hopi, Navajos, Apaches as well as other Native American cultures that helped shape the area and the culture. There was no sugar coating or skimming of history but straight facts. This was refreshing since my first tour 15 years ago where facts were accommodating to please tourists. Things have come along way and it was good to have a guide who acknowledged the history that may have not been taught in schools.
En route to Sedona, we stopped at Montezuma’s Monument – a village that was once inhabited by the local Indigenous people. This was home to several multigenerational working families in the area. A stunning piece of history where people of the land carved life right into the Sinagua cliff dwellings that date back over 1000 years. It was hard to not take hundreds of photos as Mike walked us through the national treasured area. A quick stop at the gas station on the reserve also was a hidden gem for perhaps one of the best low-key coffee stops in the state. “You won’t be disappointed if you’re a coffee lover,” said Mike. Of course, I grabbed two take away cups for me and Mike. He was right. A quick inquiry and I had learned that this middle of nowhere pit stop was been bringing in the coveted authentic Kona coffee beans from Hawaii. He claims is the only place to get it along the stretch of land.
When we hit the road again Mike told stories of the legendary Seguaro Cactus a sacred species found in the Sonoran Desert with a lifespan of upwards of 200 years. The cactus is believed to hold the spirits of the land according to the T’ohono O’odham Nation.
Mike pointed out where the terrain changes from lush green to dry desert. We learned that Supima Cotton was harvested only from the region. He points out man-made and natural landmarks.
As we approached Sedona area we had our first look at the dramatic Cathedral Rocks and made several stops to take in the natural wonders. A visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross gave us an overview of just how grand these natural wonders remain. The church itself is not that large but a draw for many. It’s open year-round and welcomes everyone. But the Catholic faith is not the only one in town. Sedona is a mecca for many from old world testament believers to new age seekers, there’s a place for everyone. You can find a place of worship here.
Every tour will make a pit stop at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. Built in 1970, the quaint village has become a landmark in Sedona and a place to stretch your legs. Art galleries featuring Arizona artists are plentiful and so are shops and cafes in this cobblestone walkways. A labyrinth of paths lead visitors to pretty courtyards and sculptures worthy of a photo or two.
Of course, one doesn’t go to Sedona without bringing back a few crystals — affordable souvenirs that are fun conversation pieces. A visit to the Sedona Crystal Vortex store located on the main strip is where I spent a good hour exploring their extensive collection. Here you will find gems of all shapes and sizes. Their healing properties are listed but I suggest going with your gut feeling if you believe in this stuff and the staff does as well. If you’re looking for something for yourself then go with what draws you in. The staff here are more than happy to assist. I did go in wanting to purchase a few gifts for a few friends who I thought would appreciate the positive energy or protective eye.
If you’re interested in exploring the rugged nature, you can also book a guided JEEP tour through Detours American West where they will ensure you get to the location on time and safely. But for me, I wanted to just breathe in the surroundings.
One of my favourite souvenirs isn’t necessarily trinkets and cookbooks. Many times it’s the people I meet and the memories we share together. Strangers that come together over a course of a few hours spent together and being on a tour made that happen once again. It took no time for three other solo travelling women and myself to connect and come together on this day-trip. We are all still connected to this day.
One woman was on a trek to cross over the US border over to Mexico for her annual church mission. Another woman was, for the first time, doing something for herself as encouraged by her husband and grown kids. The other woman like me was on a mini-vacation and taking a break for ourselves. It was a blast! We took each other’s photos – I may have changed their life there as I shared some of my favourite iphoneography tips. We all bought crystals and had a fun-filled lunch — some of us may have had a drink or two. Heck, none of us had to drive ourselves back.
As we went were returning to our hotels Mike asked if anyone felt different in any way while we were in Sedona. I had a mild headache the entire time we were there. It could have been the elevation. It could have been the vortexes. Not sure but I felt at peace and slept most of the way back. I looked at my collection of crystals. There was a soft pink stone that I was told would open communications to the angels. I took comfort in that one. I discovered the healing properties of Sedona once again, not just in the surroundings and making new friends but I also found the healing within myself. Take time for yourself whenever and however you safely can.
For more information on this incredible day trip visit www.detoursamericanwest.com