Nestled only two hours north of the capital, deep within the Coconino National Forest, lies the beautiful red rock city of Sedona. As you weave your way out of the valley and up interstate 17, you’ll notice a minor elevation gain just over 3,000 feet. Hang a left after you take exit 298 and you’ll pass a sign on your right welcoming you to the “Red Rock Scenic Byway”- this is where the real fun begins. If your vacation only allots time enough for a drive through the city, you won’t be disappointed. Luckily for both of us, my time in Arizona allowed for so much more!
Sedona was a great escape for Danko and I. When I needed a reminder of what trees looked like, we packed up and took a day trip. We spent several weekends hiking and swimming our way through the town. As much as I love a good taco, I love hiking even more! And although it’s tough to pick my favorite trails, I would say you’re safe choosing any of the following:
Devil’s Bridge– This is easily one of the most well-known hikes in the area. I would label it moderate only due to the steep climb at the end. It has a roundtrip distance of approximately 4.2 miles, however the trailhead parking at Dry Creek Road is about a mile from the actual trailhead starting point so keep that in mind. Unless you have an all-terrain vehicle capable of handling the eroded rocky-filled road, park at Dry Creek Road. The view at the end is gorgeous and due to the popularity of this particular hike, there are sure to be a few kind individuals willing to snap a photo of you. *(this trail is dog friendly)
Midgley Bridge–This particular trail is not as popular and therefore, less crowded. I venture to say that it was Danko’s favorite as you can see from the photos below. He’s a lab mix which means he loves water so this trail was right up his alley! The perk of a crowdless trail is having your own private beach to swim leash free at. The trail is relatively short and offers hours of sun on the banks of Oak Creek.West Fork Trail– Danko and I hiked this long 7 mile trail (give or take) after the urging of a local friend who calls Phoenix home. The trail is mostly flat, nestled in between canyons offering plenty of shade from the hot Arizona sun. The trail crosses over West Fork Oak Creek several times throughout the hike so be sure to pack appropriate shoes. There is parking at Call of the Canyon but it requires a fee and you must arrive early to avoid a line. When the lot fills, hikers usually park alongside Route 89A, which is exactly what we did! *(this trail is dog friendly)
Cathedral Rock– This trail also falls into the well-known category so keep that in mind. Unfortunately I did not and brought Danko along for a hike that he was not equipped to complete. (Take notes from me and leave your pup at home for this one!) The trail, while short in length, gradually increases in intensity and at some points requires that you actually climb on all fours. It is full sun during the day so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Even though I wasn’t able to complete this hike due to my furry companion, the plateau in the middle offered a beautiful panoramic view.Now, if hiking is NOT your forte, grab your swimsuit and listen up! I typically try to avoid tourist attractions, however, Slide Rock is a must see. As you can imagine, Arizona summers can be hotter than a fireman’s calendar featuring Channing Tatum. Since he won’t be there to cool ya off, the only remedy to 120+ heat is WATER, and lots of it! Despite Slide Rock’s inevitable crowds, you can always carve out a spot alongside Oak Creek for sunbathing and friend making. If you’re a thrill seeker, take a leap into the deceivingly deep 5 by 5 opening in the creek. Things to note:
- The parking lot fills fast, forcing you to park alongside the highway.
- There is a vehicle/personal fee to enter the park so bring cash.
- Be sure to bring a cooler and plenty of drinks! (alcohol is permitted but no glass)
This local watering hole was an easy, once-in-a-lifetime pit stop I was sure to show off to all of my visitors. Stop by and check it out for yourself!
If being outdoors is not your passion, I’d suggest strolling your way through town. Sedona has numerous shops/boutiques that are sure to offer up hours of enjoyment for you and your family. There are also several jeep tours and helicopter tours to choose from, however I can’t speak to those because I never hopped aboard. Danko and I typically brought lunch with us but below are a two of my favorite restaurants in the area:
Mesa Grill: neighboring the airport has its perks! This lovely restaurant offers one of the best views in Sedona, especially at sunset. Plus, you can’t beat the delicious array of food and drinks that make up the menu.
89 Agave : Mexican – real shocker since it’s my favorite!
Sedona was a nice reprieve from the heat Danko and I experienced in the valley. I would highly encourage anyone visiting the 48th state to take a detour and experience it for yourself! Whether you choose to check out my recommendations or uncover some of your own, you won’t be disappointed with your decision to visit. Have a red rockin’ good time and as always, hit us up with comments on your own discovered hidden treasures!
Ragan & Danko