Here are just a few of the vacation possibilities available in the Sedona area:
- Sedona. Although not a metropolis, Sedona offers galleries, trading posts and shopping options as well as fine dining. The community is divided in two, with the older "Uptown" commercial section, at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon, somewhat retaining the flavor of a few decades ago. West Sedona, up a hill beyond the central "Y" intersection of U.S. 89 and Arizona 179, is where you'll find the contemporary shopping centers and fast-expanding subdivisions. The airport is on a bluff overlooking the town, and the hill offers excellent views of the town and the surrounding cliffs and pinnacles. Airplane, helicopter and hot-air balloon tours and four-wheel-drive and horseback jaunts can be arranged in Sedona.Other worthy stops in the vicinity include:
- The Chapel of the Holy Cross, which attracts visitors because of its cliff-hugging location and striking architecture. The Catholic church is southeast of Sedona just off the highway to Oak Creek Village.
- The Sedona Arts Center and Tlaquepaque, the latter an arts and crafts plaza modeled after a Mexican village.
- Red Rock Crossing Park, which has picnic sites, walking paths and great riverside views of Cathedral Rock, one of Sedona's most-photographed landmarks (and a reputed energy vortex). The site - currently a source of controversy over plans to build a bridge over Oak Creek there (it once was a ford, hence its name) - is accessed via Upper Red Rock Loop Road, southwest of town.
- Red Rock State Park nearby is a 286-acre day-use wildlife and nature preserve and environmental education center. It has hiking trails, picnic areas, a visitor center and a gift shop. The park's telephone number is 1-520-282-6907, and its Web site (www.pr.state.az.
For more information about Sedona, call 1-800-288-7336 or 1-520-282-7722. The Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Chamber of Commerce Web site is (www.
arizonaguide.com/sedona), and there are many other sources to be found on the Internet.
- Oak Creek Canyon. Old U.S. 89 - Arizona's first designated scenic highway - winds between Flagstaff (elevation: 7,000 feet) and Sedona (elevation: 4,500 feet) via Oak Creek Canyon. Ponderosa pines dominate the plateau above; large-leafed sycamores, oaks and other deciduous trees border the pretty creek that feeds into Se-do-na. The highway offers access to home and cabin communities, trailheads and a few cafes and markets. A major attraction is Sliding Rock State Park, a historic and recreation site where, in the warmer seasons, fun-lovers enjoy doing just what the place's name suggests: They hop in the river and slip with the flow down smooth slick-rock chutes.
- Hiking, walking and biking. The canyons and cliffs near Sedona offer dozens of excursions, including trailheads in Oak Creek, Long Creek and Boynton canyons. Guides are available from the U.S. Forest Service and the Chamber of Commerce, and there are more extensive books on the subject. The folks at Sedona's information center say there are something like 120 hiking trails in the area, some formal paths maintained by the Forest Service, while others are better described as "social trails."
- Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot national monuments. A farming people now called the Sinagua (from the Spanish, for "without water"), who lived in the Verde River Valley from about A.D. 800 to 1300, left behind many stone homes and villages. These two national monuments are among the most spectacular. Montezuma's Castle ("It's not a castle and Montezuma was never here," notes the National Park Service's Web site) is among the best preserved ruins in America, a five-story, 20-room complex perched in a cliffside alcove. It is just off I-17 near Camp Verde, Ariz. Tuzigoot, farther west on Highway 260 near Clarkdale, is a two-story pueblo of 110 rooms perched on a stony ridge overlooking the Verde River.
For more information about Montezuma Castle National Monument, call 1-520-567-3322. The National Park Service Web site is (www.npa.gov/moca/). For information about Tuzigoot National Monument, call 1-520-634-5564. The Park Service Web site is (www.nps.gov/tuzi/). At both monuments there is a $2 fee per person, with those 16 and under admitted free.
- Jerome. Once the rowdy "Billion Dollar Camp" from the 1880s and well into the 20th century, Jerome verged on a ghost town after its copper mines shut down. Today the colorful and well-preserved community has become a tourist haven and artist colony. The mountainside town on old U.S. 89 clings precariously to Cleopatra Hill. The Jerome State Historic Park, a museum, is housed in the stately Douglas mansion. Call 1-520-634-5381. One Web site is (www.pr.
- The Verde Canyon Railroad. Based in Clarkdale, this rail line that once served the mines and mills of the area links the Verde Valley, via a lovely canyon, with railheads to the north. For reservations, including packages offering accommodations, call 1-800-293-7245. The local number is 1-520-639-0010. A Web link is (www.verdecanyonrr.com/).
- The Grand Canyon and Flagstaff. Flagstaff is about 40 miles north of Sedona, via Oak Creek Canyon, and the Grand Canyon's South Rim is about 110 miles away. This region is rife with options, including facilities like Museum of Northern Arizona; the San Francisco Mountains; Sunset Crater National Monument and much, much more.