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It’s not easy to stand out in the Grand Canyon’s home state, but Sedona is a geological wonder in its own right. Outdoor enthusiasts come from all over the world to explore the area’s expansive buttes and deep canyons whose sandstone rocks are an unusual rusty red hue. In addition to Sedona’s spectacular natural skyline, the area’s other big draw is something that can’t be seen: Its energy vortexes, geomagnetic spirals that some people believe to be healing and invigorating. That gives Sedona a distinct New Age flavor. Expect to find plenty of crystal shops and day spas alongside art galleries and craft boutiques in the low-slung, Southwestern-style buildings around town.
Sedona is a couple hours’ drive from two commercial airports, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (AZA), both of which can be reached via direct flight from many parts of the United States. A small regional airport, Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG), is about a 45 minutes’ drive away. Rent a car at the airport — you will need it to explore the parks in the area. Many visitors pair a visit to Sedona with a trip to the Grand Canyon, about 100 miles north.
Sedona’s weather isn’t quite as scorching as in other parts of the Southwest. Spring is one of the most popular times to visit, as temperatures range from the upper 60s to the 80s Fahrenheit. Summer highs are typically in the 90s — pack plenty of sunscreen — though monsoon rains and thunderstorms frequently pass through and cool things off. Autumn temperatures gradually dip back down to the 70s, and winter temperatures are typically in the 60s, with a rare dusting of snow. Pack a warm jacket for fall and winter trips, when evenings can get significantly colder.
Named for its unusual shape, this rock formation offers several ways to take in the views and the vibes — it’s also the site of one of the area’s energy vortexes. Bike or walk the easy trails at the base, or hike the moderate incline along the lower half of the rocks. If you feel like taking your hike to the next level, catch the ascending trail that leads all the way to the top of the spire. The trails are pet-friendly as long as your dog is on leash.
Of all the red rock formations in the area, this towering sandstone butte may appear on the greatest number of postcards in town. The famous rocks are situated near a 286-acre nature preserve that’s criss-crossed with trails for hiking and ATV tours. Only the most experienced climbers should attempt the steep, rugged trek to the top.
The drive along Arizona State Route 89A headed north from Sedona is one of the most scenic byways in the state, especially as you head up Oak Creek Canyon. The road’s switchbacks are intense, but your nerves will be soothed as soon as you reach the vista point and look out onto miles of red rock canyons and forests.