Every time we have a tour that goes west anywhere near Flagstaff, whether to Tucson or Palm Springs, I try and find a way to take my travelers to Sedona.
The red rock country of Sedona lives up to all its hype. If you are coming from Flagstaff, for scenery rather than driving the interstate, you should take Oak Creek Canyon Drive to get there.
The journey along Oak Creek Canyon road is half the fun! It is one of Rand McNally's Top Five Scenic Drives in America and the road truly beckons with its immense beauty and incredible landscapes. At the top are large Ponderosa Pine trees (and if you sniff the bark of these trees you can get into an argument with others whether you smell vanilla or butterscotch–I definitely go for vanilla!). As you begin your descent, you will wind around curves in the canyon that are only 15 or 20 mph. On your way down you lose the Ponderosa Pines and begin to see Pinon Pine and Juniper trees. The canyon road is about fourteen miles long and sometimes Oak Creek is on your right and sometimes on your left as you make your way down to the Red Rock country.
However, before you descend on your journey down through the canyon, there is a rest area up top. Native Americans sell their authentic jewelry there or you can simply stroll the walkway to incredible sites overlooking the canyon to take photos. (Remember if you are coming from Phoenix area, you can drive this road in reverse from Sedona up to Flagstaff).
As you get closer to the town, you will begin to marvel at the giant monoliths–a single rock shaped like a pillar or statue. These rocks have been created in this dusty, semi-arid topography and take on shades of color from bright red to pale sand depending how the clouds pass or the sun shines on them. Since most of the rock is sedimentary, like sandstone, they are constantly eroding and changing shape.
Some of the buttes and pinnacles have names like Bell Rock, Steamship Rock, Chimney Rock and Coffeepot Rock. There is even a Snoopy Rock and there is a café in the center of town with a balcony out back where you can sit and have a drink and watch Woodstock on Snoopy's nose.
There are 4-wheel jeep rides you can take out into the Red Rock country. I have never done this because I am usually only in town for a few hours, but they tell me the shapes are even more noticeable if you are riding out among the rocks and can see them from all four sides.
Also on the south side of town is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a stunning church that emerges right out of the red rocks and sits on top of a sandstone ridge. Originally the chapel was going to be built in Budapest but because of World War II it was built and opened in Sedona in April of 1956.
And, guess what you see nearby? Some Red Rocks that look like two nuns praying.
There is a long history of humans living in the area. The first residents were the ancient cliff dwellers probably around 1130-1300 AD. There are still two cliff dwellings you can visit with a number of pictographs in the shape of animals, people and designs.
The miners came next but did not find much of value and moved on. One of the first settlers to the area, T. Carl Schnebly, helped to give the town its name. In 1902 he wanted to create a post office and submitted several names, including his own. But the names were all turned down. Finally his brother suggested Carl's wife's name and it stuck.
There are a lot of movies that have been made here and because of the natural beauty of the scenery, the town is a haven for artists, sculptors, pottery and jewelry makers. Also many spiritualist live here and you see many shops that specialize in New Age Medicine and spiritual tours.
The area is supposed to be the home of several vortexes—specific fields that emit energy upward from the earth. These energies are thought to energize and inspire. I don't know whether it is true or not but one time I was staying overnight and one of my passengers had cancer in the final stages. He told me he felt so much better while in the area and he was thinking about coming back that winter for a month.
I often wondered if he did do that. If that is something that interests you, I have been told there are two other areas in the U.S. that have vortexes. One is Alamosa, CO and the other Mount Shasta, CA.
So whether you go for the vortexes or natural beauty of the Red Rocks, put Sedona on your bucket list.
Editor's note: To read in depth about the Seattle, WA area, check out Kileen's book, “Journey Beckons.” You can order it through her website (as well as preview the first few chapters) at www.kileenprather.com or you can order it through Amazon either in book form or the kindle edition.
Happy to say that Kileen has been very busy. Her latest book, “Journey To Port” is now also available through Amazon/kindle, and it's also in book form through Amazon. Also, on her website (www.kileenprather.com), you can both preview a few chapters as well as order the book.
Have questions? Kileen would be happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.