A Weekend in Sedona, Arizona

A geological marvel … one of America’s most beautiful places … multi-hued red rock formations jutting upwards from the high desert floor creating a mesmerizing setting … ah,yes … I’m talking about stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona Arizona

Sun faded prayer flags contrast against the red rocks

Red Rock Country is unique and exudes a sense of spirituality along with a mood that changes hourly with the light. It’s no wonder this majestic place attracts 2 to 4 million tourists a year. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, visitors to Sedona have easy access to plenty of outdoor recreation, but Sedona is equal parts rugged, equal parts resort.

With such an abundance of public land access, the availability of experiencing this amazing landscape is endless. There are trails for hiking and biking, along with plenty of 4×4 gravel/dirt roads perfect for scenic Jeep tours or ATV excursions. Meandering in the back country among red rock pinnacles, spires, buttes and domes is an absolute must for any visitor, and yet, you’re never far from the conveniences of town.

back country near Sedona Arizona

Exploring the back country near Sedona, Arizona

A birthday weekend …

It was the third weekend in September, and although a few weeks past my actual birth date, it was a great time of year to visit Sedona and celebrate my birthday together with family. This trip was actually all planned by my children as part of a gift … awe!

Since our daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all had to work that Friday in Phoenix, we didn’t check into our double-suite condo like lodging until 7:00 p.m., but that still left us a few hours for some socializing over cocktails and snacks before it was time to head off to bed. Sedona is less than a two hours drive and about 116 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. We stayed at a lovely resort called Sedona Summit.

Saturday morning, my daughter and I were out the door by 8:00 a.m. with cameras in hand. As many times as we’ve visited Sedona, there’s always something new on our list that we look forward to exploring.

Sedona Arizona Spiritual journey

Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park, Sedona, Arizona

First stop, spiritual enlightenment

Located near the base of Thunder Mountain is a place for meditation and spiritual renewal.  Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park offers its visitors spiritual transformation and healing through the fascinating architecture and geometry of the stupa. Stupas are one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture and Buddhist practitioners have built them to promote spiritual deepening, healing, prosperity, and peace.

Filled with hundreds of prayers for peace, sacred relics and ritual offerings, the Amitabha Stupa is a vortex of enlightened presence and blessings.

Stupa Sedona Arizona Buddism

Ashton and I were fascinated with this Buddist park, but then again, anything associated with Nepal or the Himalayas seems to captivate our attention and that includes all the Prayer Flags. During her college days, Ashton and her roommate had prayer flags hung around their tiny dorm room. The prayer flags belonged to her roommate and were actually bought in Nepal during a family trip.

My daughter and I share a secret interest in someday traveling to Nepal – a land far away. In reality, I think this Sedona peace park or the time we went to Disney World and experienced Expedition Everest is the closest we’ll ever get to Kathmandu, and in reality, I’m okay with that … but shhh, don’t tell my daughter 😉

(To enlarge photos, click on any image in the photo gallery)

Discovering ancient history

Next on our agenda was heading into the back country in search of ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. We originally wanted to visit the Palatki Heritage Site, but hikes are done via a tour, and since Ashton and I were already running a little late, we opted to visit the less popular Honanki ruins where you’re able to stroll without a guide.

After the split in the road (one way to Palatki and another way to Honanki), the road to the Honanki Ruins gets a bit rough in spots, and I was glad to be driving a vehicle that handles these rough roads perfectly. We did see the occasional car, but we mostly saw Jeep Tours or ATV’s. Here’s a quote from the National Park website about the road condition: “Those with high-clearance vehicles and/or a sense of adventure can turn ….. the compensation for abusing your motor vehicle are wonderful views of the red rock formations that Sedona is so famous for“. Alrighty then!

A final note on the road conditions. Older publications will tell you the route to the Palatki Site from Dry Creek Road is rough. Road conditions have improved substantially within the past year. The Enchantment Resort has brought new development to this end of Sedona and the road is now paved beyond Fay Canyon and Doe Mountain Trailheads. Once the pavement ends, the gravel road is still easily accessed by most vehicles all the way to the Palatki Heritage Site. However, you might want to check with the National Park Service for the latest up to date road conditions.

Once at the Honanki site, we enjoyed a short hike to the cliff dwellings and slowly toured the area taking in the ruins and interesting rock art. Could the ancient cliff dwellers be telling us that Yeti, the abominable snowman, did exist? Another connection to Nepal?

The Honanki cultural site is relatively small and my daughter and I spent less than an hour exploring the area, but we were glad we made the long, bumpy trek out to the site. The drive was all part of the adventure and taking in the beautiful landscape.

Retail Therapy and Dining

Once Ashton and I returned to our lodging, we grabbed a bite to eat with the rest of the family and then the five of us headed to the Tlaquepaque Shopping Village for a little retail therapy.

I love the architecture of this place and always find interesting shops and galleries to stroll through. During a previous visit, my daughter and I enjoyed a little wine tasting, but this time, we stumbled upon Spirits & Spice. This unique shop had the entire family engaged in tasting, and it did not disappoint. I assure you, none of us left the store empty-handed.

Dining … since we had a full kitchen at our accommodations, during this particular visit, we ate in most of the time, but we did enjoy a yummy Sunday breakfast with a great view at the Wildflower Bread Company. Another fun stop for us was at The Art of Wine for a little wine tasting. My daughter ended up buying some Arizona wine.

Restaurants we’ve eaten at in the past: The Coffee Pot Restaurant is ideal for a hearty breakfast and serves up some of the best coffee. I enjoyed the coffee so much that I even bought a bag of their beans to brew back at the RV. Javelina’s Cantina is one of Al’s favorite lunch spots. Oaxaca Restaurant is another tasty Mexican restaurant if you happen to be strolling Main Street. And for those looking for specialty foods, Chocola Tree is worth checking out. Their outdoor patio is very zen with a hippie vibe.

Final thoughts on Sedona

Sedona is most definitely a tourist town and on weekends traffic can be congested and challenging, but if you can get beyond the hoards of people, you’ll discover a sense of history, beauty, and well-being like non-other.

The history of this land goes way back to various Indian civilizations as evidenced by the Honanki ruins; AD 1150-1350. The first Europeans (Spanish) explored the Verde Valley in the mid 1500’s and the first Anglo settled in the area in 1876.

And we can’t ignore the energizing vortexes which attract believers from around the world to experience these mystical forces. What is a vortex? They are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.

Whether you believe in the power of a vortex or not, I think we can all agree, Sedona is unique, and worth at least one visit. As for my family and I, we aren’t done exploring Sedona, Arizona, and are already planning our next visit. Yes Sedona, we’ll be back!

vortex energy Sedona Arizona

Top 7 things to do in Sedona

  1. Hike or bike the 300 plus miles of trails. You’ll find a trail for every level of ability, but do note, the trailhead parking lots fill up quickly. Sedona’s secret 7 hiking trails.
  2. Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross and marvel at this unique structure built into the rock. For more spiritual enlightenment, visit the Amitabha Stupa & Peace Parkand enjoy the peaceful grounds of this 14-acre Buddhist park (open to all faiths)
  3. Dine at one of many restaurants. Finding quality food is not an issue around here, and most recently, Sedona has emerged as a destination for wine enthusiasts.
  4. Shop historical uptown Sedona (also known as Main Street) or at the architecturally pleasing Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. (pronounced: Tuh-locka-pa-key, I think)
  5. Take in the incredible red rock landscape by enjoying a Jeep or helicopter tour.
  6. Visit a vortex. Regarded by Native Americans as sacred, Sedona continues to be recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal. Many come to experience the vortex centers of Sedona to tap into spiritual energy.
  7. Or simply relax around a luxury resort. Sparkling pools and rejuvenating spas abound.

Sedona Arizona

Click here for a map of Sedona.

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Prayer Flags – Traditional Five Elements Arizona: The Grand Canyon State (Exploring the States)

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78 thoughts on “A Weekend in Sedona, Arizona

  1. Pingback: Chocolate Makes Everything Better | Live Laugh RV

    • Arizona offers so much diversity that I don’t think I’ll get bored exploring it anytime soon. Thanks for the link to your site.

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  2. A wonderful post and photos on Sedona, Ingrid, and a belated Happy Birthday! I am ready to return there for another visit. Gotta say, just love that first photo of the colorful hanging laundry and vista background. Cool shot!!

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  3. It’s been years since we’ve been to Sedona. We’re planning to visit Arizona this winter, and I’m curious to see if we get to the beautiful red rocks (our itinerary is somewhat left to chance, since we do as much house sitting as possible). You’ve inspired me to return!

    I’m pretty sure we missed the Chapel of the Holy Cross the last time around. Maybe this trip!

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  4. Ingrid. . . Thx again. I’m was able to finally change my homepage image! I chose a new one from WP—very pretty. I have a new blog draft, but need to transfer some pix to accompany it. Also, need to add my tag line—lost it along the way. I kept the same header font; it should be more legible now. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing about your RV adventures. Until next time, Patty. thoughtheflowerfades@wordpress.com

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  5. Ingrid . . . I chose your blog because of the flowers My blog is Though the Flower Fades. This may not be appropriate, but I need some technical advice. I have been in a wrestling match with WP and still haven’t gotten a simple answer to what I believe to be a simple question: How do you change the image on your homepage? I inadvertently chose a theme pix and have been trying to upload my original homepage image (a photo I took and added text) in place of the themed pix. I can’t figure out how to do it! Also, how do you get several photos in different layouts? If any of your followers can help as well, I would be eternally grateful. BTW, your photos are beautiful and so unique.
    Can you help me? Thanks so much. Patty

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    • Hi Patty – I understand your frustration. Fortunately, I had some bloggers help me in the beginning. I just sent you an email. Let me know if you don’t get it. Happy blogging!

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  6. I really enjoyed reading about your visit. That’s a nice birthday gift. Great photos as usual, I enjoyed all of them. Sedona has changed a LOT since I was last there ‘decades’ ago. 🙂

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  7. Sedona is so beautiful, even if it has been “discovered.” What a wonderful place to celebrate your birthday, and even better, to celebrate with your family!

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  8. OMG Ingrid! My first thought was “REALLY? Hanging laundry in front of my precious red rocks?” I am SO glad I read further. Thanks for the “enlightenment” and great photos.

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  9. We loved Sedona for oh so many years. In the 70’s we’d make a trip there at least once a year and enjoyed exploring many of the places that are now off limits to simple wandering. I guess it’s true that you can’t go back again, but those memories are so very dear. Thanks for letting us there in pictures at least!

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      • They did unfortunately. Sedona is still hot in the summer, but at least cools off at night. And when you have hiked most all of the trails in the area, it might be time to move on!

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  10. It sounds like you had a wonderful belated birthday celebration weekend with your family, Ingrid. Such precious moments! What did the rest of the family do when you and your daughter set out exploring and photographing on Saturday? 🙂 Mark and I have never been to Sedona, but we do hope to spend some “quality” time in Arizona later in the winter. Biking along those dirt roads to some of the rock art sites and red rock scenery sounds like the perfect day trip! Thanks for providing such an extensive and useful guide to Sedona!

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    • There’s some great boondocking in the area, but you’ll need to search out the less popular spots. 525 can get crowded at certain times of the year. While my daughter and I spent the morning exploring, my son worked on homework (masters degree), my daughter-in-law slept in and my husband worked out. Then the rest of the day was spent together Great time for all of us!

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  11. Great post and timely too…we will be in Sedona for 2 weeks in mid October. Have only been there once for just one day so thanks for all the great ideas. It’s so beautiful, can’t wait to get out on some of those hiking trails.

    Brenda
    Our38ftlife.com

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    • You’ll enjoy it. So many trails to explore, but you’ll want to get to trailheads early or even late afternoon. Parking lots are full by 9 a.m. 🙄 but seem to clear out later in the afternoon.

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  12. Perfect timing, Ingrid! I just booked a 2 week stay in Sedona next year. Unfortunately, it will likely be a bit chilly when we’re there, but maybe that will keep some of the masses away. Probably not, but I can hope. Looks like a lovely weekend!

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    • I think you’ll enjoy it more with cooler temps and the red rocks are even more stunning with a dusting of snow. So, I don’t think you can go wrong, and hopefully, cooler temps means less tourists.

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  13. Lovely captures! How wonderful you were able to be all together as a family in a gorgeous place!
    We enjoy Sedona and its beauty except for the crowds and tourists.

    We have gone off the beaten path… Schnebly Trail! We took our own Jeep and the views are Ah-mazing!

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    • Schnebly Road was on my list, but since we had only one full day, I had to prioritize and roll with the kids. We’ll be hitting it up next time for sure!

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  14. Since we lived in AZ for 20 years, we had visited Sedona several times, hiked many trails, shopped & dined….and yet I still learned about new places from this post!! Thank you!

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    • We lived in Colorado Springs for several years, and yet, out of town’ers seemed to have explored more of this beautiful tourist town than we ever did. One day we’ll return as tourists and take in some of those sights. Kudos to you – sounds like you explored more of your ‘backyard’ than we ever did 😏

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  15. I fell in love with Sedona the first time when Steve flew me there. But then that was before the crowd came to know it. The second visit was just last year and boy was it not fun anymore to go around there.

    l liked that photo of Al and the kids looking at you from behind him. I’d imagined that you had a great birthday with your family, what a treat they gave you.

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    • All the really pretty places seem to have been discovered causing areas to be congested and taking some of the enjoyment out of the experience. Oh well, now I’ll challenge myself to explore those roads less traveled. I still had a wonderful time!

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    • I used to follow Russ. Not sure why I still don’t (thank you WP updates 🤔). Thanks for sharing his link and I’m following him again. If I were younger, my daughter and I would make that trip happen, but these days, I no longer have an interest in international travel (much to my daughters disappointment). Such is life!

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  16. What a beautiful place and such a wonderful birthday weekend. We hope to winter in parts of Arizona and we may just have to make a trip over to Sedona.

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    • Arizona is a great state to meander around. There’s so much diversity in the landscape and weather. Let me know if I can offer any suggestions 😊

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    • Since we spent the summer in Prescott Valley, our RV Park was less than 20 miles from Jerome, and thus we visited several times. The Haunted Hamburger still remains one of our favs for lunch. It is indeed a fun place for a photographer especially in the month of October!

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  17. Your images capture a lot of good times in Sedona, a place I want to visit soon! What is the weather like in early January? Also, with all the hues of pink in this post, you could link up to today’s Sunday Stills feature (pink)!

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    • Thanks for the Sunday Stills recommendation. January weather can be iffy considering Sedona sits at an elevation of 4,300′. It’s a matter of double checking the weather before any visit. When it does snow, it doesn’t stick around long and the white adds a beauty to the red rocks. So, kind of depends on how you personally like cold weather.

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  18. Have yet to visit Sedona but looks like a beautiful spot to investigate. The Southwest is a new experience for me having just passed through last year for the first time. As you can see by my recent post we are in Moab now and even the road here was jaw dropping!

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    • Yes, if the stark red rock landscape is new to you, you will be awed. It can be a perplexing and fascinating sight that will have your camera working in overdrive. Enjoy!

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  19. Wow, what an awesome birthday present! Happy belated birthday by the way. I’m currently parked in an area with poor internet service so not all of your photos came through but from those that did Sedona looked both fascinating & beautiful.

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    • Thanks Gayle and I can certainly relate to ‘poor’ internet. I’m beginning to wonder if this lack of ‘net neutrality’ is playing havoc with me or if its my router or location. But I’ve been having internet issues the entire year in all our locations … sigh!

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  20. Sounds like a wonderful belated birthday especially with some mother/daughter time. We do love our daughter only time:) Sedona is so beautiful. I wish others didn’t feel the same way. It’s always calming to hike in the red rocks:) By the way, I have received many compliments on my hat. I do tell everyone that it was your post that introduced it to me:)

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    • I’m so glad you’re enjoying the new hat. I love hats and have to control myself from adding to my collection. And yes, mother/daughter time is the best and now that we’re back in Phoenix, I’m enjoying a regular dose 😊

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  21. Thanks, Ingrid, for getting another destination onto my bucket list – even if it’s already overflowing. 😀 But from your description here I gather that Sedonia is really worth while. We might have made it there this autumn, as we had planned to go on a road trip to the Four Corners, but then a family event [a wedding] got in the way and we had to cut this trip short. We’ll only go to Albuquerque (next week) for the balloon festival. But we’ll do the Four Corners – and maybe more – some other time – hopefully soon.

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    • You and Mary would really enjoy a visit to Sedona. I have a friend who offers an airbnb in her home in a lovely location. There are so many wonderful accomodations to choose from, and so much to see and do that you’ll want to give yourselves plenty of time to take it all in. Enjoy the balloon fiesta!

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  22. My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon in Sedona 25 years ago. We explored the vortexes, hiked and shopped a bit and tuned in to the spiritual vibes of the area. I would love to return and visit the Buddhist Center. It looks beautiful.

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    • I’m sure it has changed ‘a lot’ during the past 25 years. Perhaps you’re due for another visit for an upcoming anniversary 😊 Would be fun to return to your honeymoon locations. That’s something Al and I have been talking about doing!

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    • Thanks Jim … been thinking about doing more ‘top’ posts on certain areas. It can be time consuming to write these posts, so I’m still thinking about it!

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  23. What a nice birthday present. I love Sedona, but we haven’t been for a couple of years. Maybe this winter we can make it up there.

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    • We had a great time and Al and I drove up early on Friday to check out camping options. We were really disappointed with the way they changed up the boondocking scenario off 525. Basically, they set up a series of large areas for camping (almost like group sites) and rocked off individual areas. We didn’t get a chance to drive down some of the other roads for boondocking options. I know you wouldn’t like 525 unless you could snag the one or two smaller sites (meaning room for one or two big rigs only). The road is now beautifully graded with gravel attracting even more campers 🤨

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  24. Happy belated birthday! A weekend in this beautiful place was a wonderful birthday gift from your kids. Thanks for the tour of Sedona. Somehow we missed it in all our travels.

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    • Thanks Beth and you really need to put Sedona on your travel destination list. Did you ever make it to Jerome? We really enjoy this whole area of AZ … Sedona, Cottonwood, Jerome, Prescott, Camp Verde.

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