Referred to as “one of Earth’s most beautiful places,” Sedona, Ariz. will knock your socks off. And when it does, your socks – and your shoes – will be coated with the dust of sandstone rocks and erosional wilderness from the sun-drenched trails. 

It’s a breathtaking arrival into this geological wonder, with endless vistas of copper rocks and ruddy buttes encircling you. You simply don’t know where to look. It’s as if each pillar and peak screams “Look at me!” It’s a touristic, visual whiplash of awe everywhere you lay your eyes. It could be the aura of a destination uniquely named after the wife of Theodore Schnebly, the city’s first postmaster. Reportedly, when he needed to name the post office, he was told his surname “Schnebly” was too long, so it was suggested he name it after his wife, Sedona. Viewing the rock formations and imagining how the Sinaguan tribe once existed there is astounding. “Sin agua,” meaning “without water” in Spanish, is an accurate description of desert survival. 

Fitness

Hikers gather along the numerous trails of ferrous, red earth as they venture into the wilderness toward various summits of natural bridges, caves and mesas. Reportedly, geomagnetic points create a surging energy radiating from the Earth and iron rocks. A burnish of crimsons, corals and mauves stratified among the boulders and outcroppings dance off the glint of a radiant sun. Sunrise hikes motivate you to start your day early to avoid the heat. Although it’s 20 degrees cooler in Sedona than other Arizona cities,  and it’s a dry heat, your activity level causes you to warm quickly. 

The emotional oasis in this desert harbors a leisure-adventure vibe. It’s the balance between ambitious sunrise hikes with sunset-viewing zen. Unlike the instant gratification of museums and sightseeing, Sedona’s hiking trails offer a different tourism pace – it’s quite the opposite. Patient treks through miles of nature lead one to the summit of undulating valley views. The free trails provide your daily excursions. Wildflowers and palettes of maroon and straw florals soften the rugged scenery and cactus blooms. 

Culture

Fitness satisfaction in solitude or among the community of hikers rewards you until sunset when you find yourself eager to stroll through Uptown Sedona. As the sunset curtseys over the quaint “uptown,” people linger with their refreshments or al fresco dining. Art galleries, spirituality classes, crystal shops and boutiques stimulate you and represent art imitating desert life. This all culminates into the soul-nourishing relaxation of Sedona.

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Recommendations

Plan ahead: Plan accordingly by choosing months which suit your climate preferences. Avoid spring break crowds or holidays which create traffic and difficult parking at the trails. Rent a car or pre-plan transportation tours like Pink Jeep Tours, ATV rentals and Trolley Tours, which provide trail access and photo spots. Ubers aren’t readily available and restaurant reservations are encouraged. Roundabouts keep the horizon uncluttered from traffic lights … but they can create traffic.
Dining: Try cactus fries and Tajin salt-rimmed margaritas at Cowboy Country restaurant for lunch and dinner at Mariposa or Steakhouse 89.
Lodging: From Enchantment Resort to Hilton’s Hampton Inn, you’ll mostly be outside enjoying vistas and only be a short drive away from various iconic trails.
Art crawling: Tlaquepaque outdoor artisan village is a must-see for its cobblestone paths, ornate architecture and live music. RC Gorman Navajo Gallery in Uptown Sedona is also impressive.
Hiking: Devil’s Bridge and Fay Canyon are moderate trails. If searching for an energy vortex, the latter allegedly lies within the Boynton Canyon and peaks at 5,000 feet. You’ll experience a hands-and-knees crawl through a crevasse and sun flares penetrating shady, wooded areas.