Sedona is a scenic two-hour drive from North Scottsdale. One of the prettiest towns in Northern Arizona and home to the famous red rock mountains, some named according to the image they conjure up such as Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock.
Visitors to Sedona are sure to leave better than when they arrived, if not on account of it's healing powers from the Vortex it is said to be - a swirling center of energy conducive to healing, meditation and inspiration. If the Vortex doesn't uplift or recharge your spirit, the sheer beauty, clean fresh air, good food and hospitality of the locals will not disappoint.
Here's how Sedona provided everything two shopaholic, hiking diva, food junkie midlife women could possibly want in 24 hours... minus anything Gucci!
First stop, check in at our hotel, the Best Western PLUS Arroyo Roble in the heart of uptown Sedona with magnificent views of the red rocks on one side and the main thoroughfare of shops and restaurants on the other. We needed to work up an appetite and what better way than to go shop!
We walked along the main shopping street to the arts and shopping village of Tlaquepaque nestled beneath the shade of the sycamores on the banks of Oak Creek. The atmosphere is reminiscent of Europe although it's fashioned after a traditional Mexican village, with cobbled walkways, fountains and flower beds, Spanish style buildings with wrought iron gates and tiled stairways. We went in every single shop, we don't discriminate! There's high-end art and sculptures, jewelry, sensible walking shoes and candles that smell of everything known to man. Curiously these candles held our attention for a very long time, try as we might to find one that didn't smell as it was intended. Every candle nailed it, from the roasted coffee to gasoline!
There's shopping and then there's shopping. Sedona didn't get the Gucci memo... be warned! A $300 Salomon Trail Runner is Sedona's equivalent to Jimmy Choo... and a wax candle doesn't go amiss!
All this candle sniffing works up quite an appetite! We continued our walk further out of town to a Mexican restaurant called Elote Cafe which has quite the reputation... it is VERY popular! I have never seen a queue this long for Mexican food which was almost to the street. When we finally reached the hostess, there was still a wait of more than an hour for a table, so we decided to try it next time!
We went instead to The Hudson, an American eatery with a chic atmosphere, a large central bar, great wine and very good food. We were not disappointed, our change of dining venue may have been a blessing of the Vortex!
Yes, sorry for the half-eaten dessert photo, when this dreamy delight arrived, we became all unnecessary and had to dive right in! Or was it the extremely handsome young man that took up residence next to me that made us go unnecessary... either way, it was all good!
Glad of the long walk back to the hotel to work off some of the scrumptious dinner and prepare us for an early night before the hikeathon the next morning! We battened down the hatches and spent the rest of the evening binge watching The Real Housewives of New York, I had a lot of catching up to do!
the next morning
After a delicious buffet breakfast included in the hotel rate, we were packed up and on our way to the first trail head at 8.30 am.
A Red Rock Pass must be displayed in your car windshield in order to park at any of the trail heads. These can be purchased in the town at various stores, tourist information office, or via vending machine at the more popular trail heads. It's just $5 a day or $20 for an annual pass. It's a small price to pay for washroom facilities and well-kept trails.
There's a hike for every palate in Sedona, from wooded trails along Oak Creek Canyon running alongside the creek itself to more advanced levels involving steep and arduous rock climbing for those seeking more thrill and adventure.
We planned on two hikes, first the short but challenging Cathedral Rock. The stunning beauty of this rugged red (more like orange) country can be seen for miles throughout the ascend to the top. It will take your breath away if not from the climb itself, but the magnificence of the surrounding country.
The rock is smooth hardened sandstone built up in layers. Cathedral Rock is a 1.2 mile hike out and back but rated as difficult due to some steep areas that for me, required climbing on all fours!
I highly recommend gloves for the climb, my wedding ring took quite the beating! Also recommended, wear your least favorite pants because there's a number of areas where slithering down on one's butt is the safest option, and red rock dirt doesn't come out of clothes easily!
Heights affect me differently depending upon where I am in relation to said height. Reactions run the gamete from stomach drop pains to full on hyper-ventilating... I'm not overly keen! So, this hike was a challenge, especially as there is no trail per say rather, rock climb after rock climb!
There were a couple of borderline terror moments... specifically a part of the climb where I'd managed to get part way up a slope several feet high, only to find myself clinging on paralyzed with fear. A gentleman on his way down asked if I needed help. Frozen in position I responded with "I'm scared". He said that was okay and it was better to be scared than to be foolish. Somehow, this gave me the confidence to propel myself up bringing me to the safety of the next flat surface. I was decidedly worried about how I was going to get down, but quickly discarded those concerns as I had no idea what still lay ahead!
A jutting boulder narrows the pathway to this ledge and must be negotiated in order to enjoy the exhilarating photo opportunity! People wait in turn to risk life and limb. I made it; I am now officially a rock hugger!
My friend and I were up at the trail's end for some time as we became surrogate photographers for all the Billy-no-mates (British term meaning person with no friends, in this case solo hikers)! Sound travels well between the spires of the Cathedral Rock. One lady took advantage and was doing all kinds of yoga poses whilst her photog snapped away mindlessly. I think she heard us when we said, "Enough already, there's a time limit!" Well, we needed Billy on the ledge so we could finish our work and begin the downward journey!
I was surprisingly deft on the way down, perhaps due to having faced my fears head on and lived to tell the tale! My butt served as an additional stabilizer on more than one occasion, but once at the bottom, I brushed myself off, and in true British pompous style said, "Piece of cake, where next?"
We went on to do Bell Rock, getting our fill of those Vortex vibes in the 24 hours! We were expecting an easy trail, but lost the pathway and began the ascent to the top... again. Bell Rock is more of a free for all, no markers to show the best route and it becomes more difficult and dangerous the higher up we went. We called it a day... a grand day!
I hope you enjoyed this short travel and hiking blog. Feel free to leave a message if you have any recommendations in Sedona or other parts of Arizona. I would love to hear from your experiences.
You can shop my hiking outfit below via the thumbnail links.
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Karen Serino is a life and style blogger, sharing fashion, fitness and fun for youthful women in their forties, fifties and beyond.
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Click the picture below to see my interview with the lovely Jonet Wooten from Fabulously Chic Over 50