Sunday, March 17, 2013


I was in Phoenix for a conference in February, and decided to make a mini-vacation out of it. My conference was Wednesday through Friday, so my mom and Allyson flew in Friday night and we decided to head up to Sedona first thing Saturday morning. I'd been here once before, but that was almost 20 years ago. All I can say is, what a tremendous place! Could have stayed much longer to enjoy all the great hiking, spas, restaurants, and generally positive energy!

You won't find the Saguaro cactus in Sedona. But they are all over in Phoenix. Interesting fact: it can take up to 75 years for a Saguaro cactus to grow one arm. 

The drive up to Sedona is an easy one from Phoenix. It takes about 2 hours and it's a straight shot. My favorite part of the drive is when you get off 17 and head towards Sedona on Hwy 179 or the Red Rock Scenic Byway. It's amazing how quickly you come upon the red rocks scenery. And it's so big and beautiful!

We got to Sedona around lunch time and ate lunch outside at Taos Cantina. The food was good and it was nice (although a little cold, they had heaters) to sit outside in the sun. Then we headed a few miles back down Hwy 179 to the Cathedral Rocks trailhead. The trailhead can be found easily on Back O Beyond Road and is less than 15 minutes from "downtown" Sedona. This hike is short (1.5 miles out and back) but super steep and requires a lot of scrambling. My mom went some of the way with us and then opted for just enjoying the energy (no doubt from the vortex near by!) and views.

Look carefully and you can see a guy on a mountain bike on the ridge. Lots of great mountain biking out here if that's your thing.

Cathedral Rocks

After Cathedral Rocks, we had appointments for massages at Sedona Rogue Hotel and Spa. This was a really nice way to spend the late afternoon. After massages we stuck around in the lounge and then used the private jacuzzi surrounded by bamboo. Perfectly relaxing. After the massages, we decided to have a casual dinner in the hotel so we stopped at the Safeway and got together food and wine for the night.

Our hotel was wonderful and what a deal! We stayed at Orchards Inn, which is right in Uptown with incredible views of the mountains. So you are walking distance to tons of restaurants and shops, but you also have just incredible views of the sunrise. There's a great little pool and jacuzzi which no one was using (fair actually started snowing while we were using the jacuzzi). The room was nice and it was literally under $125 a night. You can't go wrong with this hotel!

Sunrise from hotel balcony

The next morning was brutally cold (in the 20s) but nice and sunny, so we headed out for another hike. Our friends, Kayla and Michael, had recently gotten engaged at a place called Devil's Bridge so we decided to see what this natural bridge was all about. So glad we did! We got to the trailhead and it was blocked off, but there was a sign directing us to an alternative trailhead. We found our way to the Chuck Wagon trailhead by taking Dry Creek Road and turning right on Long Canyon Road. The trailhead was about 0.3 miles down that road on the right hand side. The best thing about this hike is you have great views for the entire hike. It's another hike that requires some scrambling (less so than Cathedral Rocks) so it isn't just a wander down an easy trail. 

I'm not going to outline the trails you need to take because the signage is really good. Basically, follow the signs to Devil's Bridge! 

It had snowed a few days before we got to Sedona, and there was some snow remaining. It made getting out on to the bridge a little terrifying but Allyson and I made it out there by sticking close to the side and using our hands. 

Devil's Bridge

Not that warm out on Devil's Bridge

After our hike, we went back to the hotel and warmed up in the jacuzzi and took showers before heading down to Tlaquepaque Shopping Center and Oak Creek Brewery for some shopping and dinner. Tlaquepaque is a really beautiful, upscale shopping center with art galleries and other shops. The brewery was recommended to us by several people, so we figured it was a must do.

Moonrise from our balcony

We headed back down to Phoenix on Monday morning, but first stopped at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We were told by the receptionist at our hotel that the chapel was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but it was actually designed by one of his students. Anyway, pretty cool chapel. Fits right in with the scenery around it. I do wish that the ridiculously huge mansion with the waterfalls right below the chapel wasn't there. It takes away from the simplicity of the chapel and the beauty all around it.

See huge mansion in lower right corner of picture. 

We stopped for a late breakfast in the Village of Oak Creek at Red Rock Cafe. Totally delicious and a good plan to stop there, because there is very little between here and Phoenix (not to mention at least our terminal at the Phoenix Airport had zero good options for food!)

Really enjoyed our mini-vacation and hope we make it back to Sedona soon. It got me excited for our adventures in Santa Fe, NM later this summer for Allyson's clinical rotation.

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