A visit to Sedona is an adventure for the spirit and the body. It offers the outdoor enthusiast with an exhaustive list of activities to delight in while those seeking a spiritual journey arrive with a mystical purpose and a chance to experience the energy of Sedona’s vortexes.
Driving from Phoenix we watched the desert landscape change along the I-17 from a dry barren land to high mesas of golden grass and bushy pinion pines. From here we joined Highway 179 entering the Coconino National Forest, a 1.8 million acre divine wilderness of red earth and sage colored vegetation. Expansive views of large red rocks are carved into the skyline leaving first time visitors taken aback.
Uptown Sedona rests alongside the 89A, which forks from 179. At first glance the small tourist village is quaint with a modern inviting appeal. Sedona is a small town and locals are generally friendly, although at times you might be harassed walking through the shops as tour operators compete for your custom. Art galleries dot the streets; jeep tours are easily arranged with set tourist prices. We were looking for our own private piece, not marked with a price so we didn’t spend a lot of time in town.
We reserved a few nights at the Manzanita Campground, six miles outside town along the Oak Creek. It was early April and the trees lining the waters edge hadn’t fully accepted the notion of spring with most of their leaves still budding. Of course our hopes were high for warm days and cool nights this time of year. The campground sits at 5,000 feet along the roadside with about 15 campsites with little to no privacy. It’s literally more of a roadside resting stop for campers as opposed to a vacation campground. One night felt like more than enough.
After our first restless night lying below turbulent northern winds, we rolled up our tent by 6:30a.m. and headed into town for coffee to warm us up. It was here we spoke with Tourist Information to get a Red Rock Pass (required for all vehicles to park along the road) and hiking map. People are genuinely helpful and although we didn’t ask about the vortexes, we did find a great place to hike and to reflect. Several vortexes are known to exist within the surrounding land; an accumulation of spiritual energy on several dimensions, thought to aid one to a heightened sense of self-realization.
Uneasy weather surveyed the land as we drove along Airport Road to the small parking area for the Airport Loop Trail. The tourist map states this trail is easy to navigate with a steady elevation gain of 200 feet. Listed at 3.3 miles one-way, we question whether this is a 6.6 mile loop hike. The path is narrow and rocky as you traverse the red and grey patched earth. Traveling clockwise, an immense radius of the Coconino National Forest can be seen, an ideal photographic opportunity. As you walk you will notice a large basin sprouting life below the towering red rocks, leaving a page in the earth’s history along the layers of sandstone and limestone. What was once the ocean floor is now a rusty red land; the result of iron oxide from the waters receding over millions of years.
Along the loop trail we felt suddenly transported to a distant land far from the town of Sedona and civilization. Although we didn’t see much wildlife apart from the occasional wild bird, a storm joined us on our journey. We were near one of the several vortexes when the wind blew and lightening struck, followed by claps of thunder. Sleet fell, soaking our hair and legs as we ran towards lower ground. The red mud stuck to our shoes adding inches to our height. We descended towards Sedona where homes began to appear and the sun broke through a veil of dark cloud.
Ending our journey, we questioned the power of the sacred vortex after encountering something powerful atop the hill. The hike we experienced was truly sacred. We spent just two nights in Sedona; only enough to have a taste of something special.
For more on Sedona, check out this link.