Places I’ve Been - Sedona

On Columbus Day my cousin and I made our annual trek up to Sedona for a little hiking and photography. We always say if we had more time we’d shop, but we always end up having so much fun on the trails that there is never time for shopping. Next time turns into next time turns into next time and so it’s almost like a joke to even say it anymore. We had decided to try a couple of new “easy hikes” (because you just can’t do enough of the kind of walking us city girls do to prepare you for hiking along a real trail) and hoped to visit an old familiar spot if we had the time.

first_view_of_the_rocksWe left around 7 AM and after stopping for gas and a cup of java, we were on the freeway by 7:30. Sedona is a couple of hours drive straight up Interstate 17. If you have the time, you can take Highway 89A for a winding, scenic trip through the old mining towns of Jerome and Clarkdale which will eventually lead you into West Sedona. We were trying to squeeze in as much as we could for a day trip so we took the Sedona Exit off the Interstate which is Highway 179. That road brings you in through the south and the Village of Oak Creek.

There is something about going around that curve on Highway 179 that takes my breath away every time. Up to that point, there isn’t even a hint of the magic that awaits you. The landscape doesn’t slowly ascend into heavenly red rocks and deep blue sky; there’s no rock formation here and there until they multiply into many. You come around the bend and BAM! Once you’ve been there you never forget it, but you never quite remember it either. The recorder in your brain seems to have come up short at capturing the wonder of it all, and you realize the color chart in your mind is slightly faded. At that moment, I’m certain I have seen the most beautiful place on earth even though I’m not a world traveler.

bellrock_butteWe stopped at the Visitor Center to get our Day Pass and take in the surrounding beauty. Pretty much everyone stops here to  get their passes and take the first photos of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. The weather is nice and it’s a holiday so it’s more crowded than it was when we came here last year during the first week in November. We have to pinch ourselves to make sure that we’re not dreaming because we have an entire day ahead of us with nothing to look at but this.

bellrocksignOur first stop was the Bell Rock Pathway. I’ve never seen Bell Rock from any place but the visitor center or the road as we passed by. It was sunny and the breeze was chilly, but we decided right away that we didn’t need the jackets that we brought. The path up to Bell Rock is 1.1 miles. Bell Rock looms straight in front of you while Courthouse Butte rises to your right. Once you reach Bell Rock you can take the Pathway on the left or the Court House Butte Loop to the right. We chose the path to the right and walked about a half mile before we decided we should have brought along some water. We also had so much we wanted to do that we made a mental note to hike the whole trail the next time we came back.

When we got back to the parking lot at the trail head there were a couple of tour buses stopped there with a big crowd wandering around and taking pictures. We sat there for a bit and munched on some snacks and drank water until we decided to head to our next destination on the West side of Sedona. Wouldn’t you know that the busses left just ahead of us. We followed them up the narrow and winding two lane road through the Village of Oak Creek and into town. It seems like they’ve been working on that road since the first time I visited 20 years ago. There was a lot of construction and the trek was slow. They’ve put in traffic circles up and down 179 and as you can imagine that made things interesting, but it’s hard to complain when you’ve got such pretty things surrounding you. If you’re not careful you will find your eyes wandering from the road to take in the scenery.

To Be Continued…
3 Responses
  1. Cathi Says:

    Sounds like a beautiful day....and then what happened? I want more! haha....:) XXOO

  2. Nancy Says:

    Love the photos!! Intriguing narrative also!! Great job.

  3. Kathy Says:

    This makes me almost gasp again. Going around that curve just takes your breath away! And no matter how many times you're there, it just gets more vibrant with each visit!

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