How in heaven’s name have I lived here in the desert for almost twenty years and have never spent time in Sedona? (just a little over two hours away).
I always like to ask for hikes for my birthday. It seems like a good ploy to hit my family up for that kind of gift since they’re suckers for birthday ideas. This year when Dave kept asking what I wanted I told him I wanted to hike in Sedona. And he ran with that idea. The two of us went up just for overnight and packed in three incredibly gorgeous hikes up and over and through all that red rock and the “energy vortexes” Sedona claims.
Wow, that place is incredible, filled with all kinds of wonders.
Ok but back up for just a second, because we made a stop en route to the red rock.
A Quick Guide to Sedona, Arizona
Montezuma Castle National Monument
What is Montezuma Castle National Monument?
Well, it isn’t actually a castle and has nothing to do with Monetzuma). It is a dwelling from hundreds of years ago (between approximately 1100 and 1425 AD), built right into a cliff wall. It was incredible to think of the people who lived there (the Sinagua people), especially the mothers and babies and kids scaling those walls to get water and maneuver through their days.
Can you imagine being the first person to come around the corner and BAM! There’s this amazing architecture built right into the cliff??
Below on the right is the next-door-neighbors…it used to have a similar building built into that “wall,” but has eroded through the years:
Let’s get a closer look at that puppy:
I have a fascination with dying leaves. I know, weird, but don’t you think this is just so beautiful?
Even it’s shadow is beautiful. Gosh our world is so incredible.
From there we drove a little further and started having these views out our windows:
We went straight to our first hike, one we read online would be beautiful for sunset:
Cathedral Rock hike
And they were not kidding around.
Hiking Cathedral Rock at sunset
Here we are at the start, excited to get up there:
Climbing up that red sandstone I seriously couldn’t stop smiling. Was it the energy vortex that was supposed to be there or was it just being in all that beauty, hiking up to those huge pillars of majestic red rock that looked out on the valley below?
At the top:
We had a little bit of time before sunset so we hiked up a little hidden trail to find this incredible pillar:
Then hiked back down to the main panorama view.
Here we are soaking in that incredible vista:
We waited for as long as we could to watch the sunset, but it was cloudy and getting dark so we headed back down.
This was the view from the other direction:
And THERE’S the sunset from below:
The next morning we got up before sunrise to head to our next trailhead.
How to skip the crowds at Devil’s Bridge, Sedona
The beginning of hint of morning light hitting the tips of the red mountains in front of us stopped me in my tracks as we maneuvered our way with flashlights through the beginning of the hike.
When it got light enough we ran the path to try to make it to the top for sunrise, bounding up all these sandstone red rock boulders for stairs (well, as much as a non-runner can really run, but we sure had some adrenalin pumping!)…
…to reach this most incredible natural sandstone arch that you can walk across (scary!).
Usually there are hordes of tourists waiting for photo ops on the bridge but we had it all to ourselves for at least thirty minutes (after the first two hikers took our picture and hiked away). It was incredible to watch the sun spread out from the tips of the mountains to fill up the whole valley sparkling below.
These pictures don’t do justice to how tall that arch was…
This one shows the scale a little better:
(Yes it scared me to death to see Dave out there like that!)
We explored a little higher up:
Nothing like the sun coming up gradually creeping over all those rock crevices.
We took a little break after that, got some breakfast (Pump House Eatery…it was good!), still so wowed by the views right outside our car windows:
And then we headed to our last hike…(another 4.5 mile one, Dave is the best sport):
Hiking (and finding the cave) at Soldier’s Pass
We hiked past the “seven sacred pools:”
Yeah, they’re up there, see those pools up there on the bottom left? Yeah, I think they are more flowy after a good rain. Dave was a little under impressed but check out those columns in the background:
Those suckers are impressive.
We also passed by “Devil’s kitchen” which is a huge sink hole. The pictures can’t quite do it justice:
But that last one does capture my husband who never complained at all the pictures I took and listened to me gasp about the gorgeousness 739 times, and enjoyed it right along with me and even carried my camera in the harder parts.
It was the best birthday gift ever.
The greens against the red backdrop taking my breath away.
You have to look really carefully on this hike to find the cave at the end. Other hikers told us to look for the tree with “cave” carved in it to point the way so we sure examined every tree that came our way. Finally we found it (below left):
And we climbed, carefully maneuvering up to the top of the double-cave. See the double cave up there above on the right? Below you can see Dave up in that top little perch looking out on the valley:
It was a little scary to climb up there…I didn’t get a very good angle to show the sheer drop behind.
There was another cave with a double sandstone arch:
It really was so incredible.
We drove away from all that red rock, home looming again ahead of us, sore and tired but filled right up with all that beauty.
I’m already planning when we can go back.