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March 15, 2013 / mws

2013 Sedona March

Red Rock Crossing in Sedona

Red Rock Crossing in Sedona

The Strayers late winter/early spring trip in 2013 was planned to include some of their favorite areas.  Sedona, Arizona was at the top of the list.  As well as having a notable reputation as an artists’ society, Sedona offers visitors a variety of trails ranging from leisurely strolls to long, challenging treks. New Age spiritualists come to the area for its famous vortex sightings and mystical sources of energy. One of the most photographed areas in the region is Red Rock Crossing, where immense sandstone cliffs are reflected in the waters of Oak Creek.  The Strayers have a few good memories of this area and were excited to return for another adventure.

March 11-12 2013  The Best Western Dulles Airport Inn provided rest for the night before our early morning flight.  We flew from Dulles Airport in DC to Las Vegas NV and arrived early in the afternoon. After renting our car, we headed southeast to Sedona.

Much of Sedona can be seen while driving, as Highway 179 offers some close up views of red rock formations such as Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. More red rocks can be seen from Dry Creek Road.  89A North, towards Flagstaff, winds you through Oak Creek Canyon and is one of the most scenic roads in Arizona.

Snow in Oak Creek Canyon

Snow in Oak Creek Canyon

March 13 2013  To start the day, we backtracked north on 89A into Oak Creek Canyon.  On our way south yesterday, Lance noticed some snow on the red rocks.  With the warm 75 degree temps, we knew the snow wouldn’t last long.  We found one of the few parking areas and strolled the Vista Trail to get our Oak Creek snow photos.  Our next stop of the day was the Visitor Center where we got maps, hiking information and our Red Rock Pass. Having researched this area, we chose The Little Horse Trail at Bell Rock.

Little Horse Trail is a 4 1/2-mile (roundtrip) trek on relatively flat ground.  Along the way there are many Sedona landmarks, including Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Cathedral Rock, the Twin Buttes, and Chapel of the Holy Cross. After a long morning of hiking we were hungry, so we went to have lunch at the local Red Rock Cafe.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

In the afternoon we visited one of Sedona’s most famous landmarks, the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is small church built into the red rocks by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1950’s. Some call this chapel an architectural masterpiece.  It certainly provides peace and inspiration to those who visit. There is free parking and easy access from route 179.

March 14 2013 Sedona 009

Hidden Arch at base

March 14 2013  Today we ventured to northwest Sedona on Dry Creek Road.  There was great scenery here and we found a hiking trailhead and decided to strech our legs.  Fay Canyon Trail was an easy trail, 2.2 miles round trip with a 150 foot elevation gain.  Along the way was an almost hidden arch, but we spied it! Fay Canyon Trail was pure scenic enjoyment with rock views in all directions. The trail ended at a massive sandstone cliff. There were lots of other hikers on the trail, including many seniors and families with young children.  This was a good hike for everyone!

Our next adventure of the day was Red Rock State Park. This park is a 286 acre nature preserve and environmental education center with stunning scenery.  There are green meadows, native plants and of course the hills of red rock.  Oak creek meanders through the park, creating a diverse habitat, a home to many plants and wildlife.

Park facilities include a visitors center, theater, gift shop, picnic tables and developed trails. We stopped at the Visitors Center and took a short stroll on some of the trails.  Several of the bridges were closed due to the high water levels.  But there was one bridge open to access all trails.

Cathedral Rock in Sedona

Cathedral Rock in Sedona

After lunch in West Sedona at the Golden Goose Cafe, we returned to the Upper Red Rock Loop for the highlight of the day. Red Rock Crossing is an American icon and the most photographed spot in Arizona.  Many artists visit to try to capture the scene in a painting. Red Rock Crossing has been featured in over 60 classic Hollywood films and can frequently be found on posters, billboards, and calendars.

Pathways lead through the park to Red Rock Crossing and follow the river upstream to a magnificent view of Cathedral Rocks.  There is a large rocky beach area where views are lovely and folks can wade in the water. We spent some time here and returned to the main area for more lovely views. After a long and wonderful day, we retreated to our Best Western room for some rest.

March 15 2013

It’s possible to enjoy the scenery at Oak Creek Canyon without leaving your car, but most people choose to stop for a closeup look at these crimson cliffs and crystal pools  There are plenty of overlooks, picnic areas, swimming holes and hiking trails all along the drive.

Midgely Bridge Trail

Midgely Bridge with the great backdrop!

We stopped at Midgely Bridge vista point with an unforgettable backdrop.  There are several hiking trails here and we chose the trail to Wilson Canyon.  This trail offers a nice amount of shade and has lots of rocks and boulders in the stream.  The trail has some up and down but isn’t too difficult.  The most difficult part is finding a place to park here.  Parking was very limited!  Just north of Midgely Bridge is a Dairy Queen. Next to the DQ we found a popular native vendor display of local gift items and jewelry. Of course, I shopped!

Cathedral Rocks from Back O BeyondHeading south on Rt 179 we turned west onto Back O Beyond Road.  At the end of this road was another VERY small parking area.  We drove through twice and were lucky enough to see someone leaving  It was a short beautiful trail that took us very close to the scenic rocks.  To end the day we drove up Airport Rd. to the scenic overlook of Sedona surrounded by the Red Rocks.

To see more photos of our March 2013  trip to Sedona, click here

“Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.”
― Lorraine Anderson

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