Road Trip: Hiking in Sedona

sedona mainsedonaoverview

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The first time I ever heard about Sedona, Ariz., was when I had my original monthly magazine, the one that covered Warren Buffett and the charity scene in Omaha.

That magazine had a travel section that ran largely on the travels of my friends. It was the most popular part of the magazine and begat my love of travel writing. One of the five best pieces we ever published was a story about Sedona.

One of my best travel writers was going there and pitched a story to me before she left on her trip, providing minimal detail. What popped into my inbox later absolutely floored me. The photos of the red rocks and vistas in Sedona were stunning and even in our newsprint format leapt off the page.

I made a note right then and there that I had to get to Sedona one day. Well, it finally happened. And what a place it is.

Situated about two hours north of Phoenix, Sedona is a hiker’s and nature lover’s paradise. I only explored the Bambi slopes of trails there, but I enjoyed every second of it. And if you don’t hike, the drove alone to Sedona is worth it. The red rock mountains you see on the way into the city are even more awesome than the mountains surrounding it. I’ve never seen anything like it.

With a population of just under 25,000, Sedona is a perfect getaway destination. It’s a quiet and friendly place to bond with nature and marvel at a most unique and inspiring part of our national landscape.

That said, I’ll let the photos take over from here, with minimal commentary from me. Sedona is a continual feast for the eyes, and your feet the passport to one visual adventure after the next. Enjoy.

sedona second

This photo and the one above were taken in the final hour of the trip, with a storm approaching. It was incredible to watch the approaching gray-and-black clouds provide a contrast that intensified the natural color of the rocks and highlighted the mountains’ features. I was so hoping for a storm and we finally got one.


This was my hello to Sedona. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was our first stop. This famous church is situated with an impeccable view of the valley and from there you can see the rocks known as Courthouse (on the left) and Bell (on the right). I don’t know all the names, but I tried to master the major ones.


And this is Chimney Rock, which is situated close to Thunder Mountain, the biggest mountain in the valley and my new No. 1 seed of mountain names.

sedona sunset

As in California, sunrise and sunset are events in Sedona.


But unlike CA, where the sunset over the ocean is singular the visual event, there’s a 360 effect in Sedona to appreciate. There’s something to notice in every direction as the sun is setting.

red clouds

Like red clouds …


To view sunset the next morning, we climbed atop a rock and joined a group of about 20 at 6 a.m. who were appreciating and documenting the start of another beautiful day in Sedona.

train marker

The trails in Sedona are well marked and were very easy to follow. That said, we hardly attempted any lengthy or complicated hikes, as not getting lost was high on my list of hiking priorities. And, yes, we did see spiders and snakes, which we avoided entirely. Not visiting the ER was also on my hiking wish list.

overview 2

This view is from the “Sedona View” trail we hiked off Airport Road. We hiked on both sides of the city, giving us two different and completely cool perspectives on how the town is situated and the reverse view of the literally hundreds of cool patio views in the city.

cool cactus

You not only see the widest variety of cactus I’ve ever seen here, you see them growing in the coolest places, but you don’t see the giant saguaros here. Those are the closer to Phoenix and particularly plentiful off the interstate.


This is Thunder Mountain up close. From afar you have no idea it’s split, but it is. And you only realize that when you let you feet take you on an adventure. It’s amazing in how Sedona how a few extra feet can completely change your perspective and understanding.

rock stack

You see rock stacking frequently on the trails. Some of it is done just for fun, but Sedona is also a very spiritual place and some of it is done with religious intent. Be prepared to be exposed to a lot of different beliefs in Sedona and faith in mystical forces.

sunday sunrise

This was the second sunrise in Sedona, which was observed from a completely different perspective than the first. This is the sun rising over Thunder Mountain.


Thunder Mountain is the right. Fabulous contrast between the two mountains. When you venture out of Sedona, it’s an entirely different landscape, more similar to Thunder Mountain.


This was literally the last photo of Sedona on my phone. I didn’t realize until later I’d captured a rain shower. What a great way to go out and yet another wonderful way to appreciate the awesome landscape of Sedona.