Our next stop was the beautiful Arizona town of Sedona, famous for its flaming red sandstone rocks, steep canyon walls and pine forests. Sedona is instantly recognisable, since it has provided the backdrop for nearly all Wild West cowboy films. The small town is nestled between thousand-foot-high walls of stone in lushly forested Oak Creek Canyon and the wide open space of the Verde Valley, and it was this diversity of the unspoiled landscape that made it such an ideal location to shoot outdoor scenes.
The Native Americans regarded Sedona as sacred and so the area is also known for being an intensely spiritual place for many people. It attracts spiritual seekers, artists and healers, as well as day-trippers from Phoenix trying to escape the oppressive heat. Many New Age types believe that this area is the center of vortexes that radiate the Earth’s power, and so it was Sedona’s combination of scenic beauty and mysticism that we were excited to experience.
As we drove into town, we had to manoeuvre down the road into a 10,000ft canyon, where the rocks slowly turned from standard grey to a glorious bright red. Once we had reached the bottom of the rock, we drove alongside a pretty little stream which marked the start of the Red Rock National Park. Although we were planning on lots of walking and exploring for our day in Sedona, we didn’t have much information about the town itself, so stopped at the visitor’s centre just as on the outskirts of town. In fact, the visitor’s centre was little more than a roadside stand – but we met a lovely woman called Denise who chatted to us for a while and passed us her mobile phone number in case we needed anything. As we left, she advised us to visit one of the town’s vortexes, calling after us, “Sedona is filled with magic!” Just by the visitor’s centre, there were a few market stalls where the Native Americans were selling arts, crafts and jewellery. I bought a beautiful silver necklace with a feather charm and turquoise stone from an old man there, which I’ve worn pretty much every day since.
As we drove through uptown Sedona, we went down a classic American small-town high street, with some attractive shops and restaurants. We were making our way downtown to the Bell Rock Inn at Oak Canyon, where we staying overnight. The accommodation was a self-contained house, which we loved. Every group of houses had its own pool in the centre, so I spent the rest of the afternoon resting in the sunshine, sweating buckets and then cooling off in the pool. The boys went off on a mountain bike ride through the rocks, which they went on to say was one of their favourite parts of the holiday. Mum went to the supermarket and brought back lots of American treats and a huge bottle of Dr Pepper, so we had a mini party at home before leaving for the evening.
That evening, we all regrouped to drive up the rocks to watch the sunset. Many people had also had the same idea so, it was en masse, that we watched the sun go down, behind the red rocks, on Sedona. There are many rocks to stand on in Sedona and therefore many places from which to watch the sunset; it is most certainly worth watching while you there – although you can hardly miss it! The rock formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun, and it’s easy to imagine the natives and the cowboys watching the same sun go down as they crossed the desert under these rocks many years ago. That night, we went for dinner at the Open Range tavern and grill in uptown Sedona, and I had my first ever salad!
The next morning, Dad got up early to watch the sunrise. Luckily, for those who were too lazy to get out of bed, he said that we hadn’t actually missed much. William went on a bike ride, while Mum, Dad and I decided to climb a rock and see if we could find one of these magical vortexes. It was boiling hot, so we knew we couldn’t go far – we headed towards Summit Point which is just a fifteen minute walk up. Really, a vortex isn’t like a hot spring or a deep well – it is just the energy from the red rocks, so to benefit from it, you should just sit and meditate and soak it up. Even if you don’t necessarily feel inclined to become energised from a magical vortex, it is still worth climbing the rocks for the amazing 360° views of the mountains and Sedona town. We spent a while just sitting on the rock, admiring the view and thinking of the history of this beautiful place. The rest of the afternoon was spent by the pool, chatting to a lovely older couple from California.
On our way out of Sedona, we stopped at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Situated between spectacular, statuesque natural stone columns 3 miles south of town, this modern 1956 Roman Catholic chapel soars from the rock like a slice of the land itself. It was constructed in 1956 and rises 70ft out of the 1,000ft redrock cliff – definitely worth visiting for the amazing panoramic views.