Sedona: Red Rocks and Sunsets

Genie Davis September 24, 2015 No Comments

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Sedona is all about the color red. There are the red skies of sunset, the beautiful red rocks, the red dusty soil that is, let’s admit this right up front, going to get in your kids’ socks and shoes, your car, your accommodations. It’s also red from the blush of pure pleasure you and your family will get from spending time among the trails, viewpoints, and sunshine of this charming town.

Family Property

We stayed at the Wyndham, which is a time share resort. Yes, they do try to entice you into listening to a presentation about the property with the promise of a gas card or American Express card and breakfast; but there’s no reason to comply, unless you want that credit card. A quiet setting with a nicely uncrowded pool that tops off at 5 feet deep, one of the best things about this property was having a full kitchen and a washer-dryer. The two-bedroom suite is big enough for any family; small balconies offer slices of the dramatic views that you’ve probably come here to enjoy. If you decide to make a meal or two, several national chain groceries – including a Whole Foods – is just down the road.

Sunset Watch

The hotel is close to one of the premiere attractions in Sedona: a spectacular sunset. At Airport Mesa just a few minutes away, there’s ample, flat viewing space to see the sun kiss and set below red rock hills – yes, there’s the color red again. One of the most popular viewing spots at twilight, there’s still plenty of room to stand and gawk; a jubilant mood and easy just-across-the road parking makes this a good family spot. If the kids are a little older, take them out to Crescent Moon Red Rock Crossing which boasts a view of the famous Cathedral Rock as red as a burning ember in the last of the sunlight.

Grand Views

During the day, Boynton Canyon offers several easy and appealing hikes, including Vista Point, where the trail meanders pleasantly along a sandy path before a bit of mild rock scrambling to get to the vista. Parents of very small children may want to carry or strap them in to carriers, but it’s doable and lovely. You get a sense of the desert vastness and a grand view of monuments and valleys. The Chapel of the Holy Cross also gives a stellar view, and this architectural wonder is nestled so firmly in the rocks that it seems to have sprung right out of them.

You can’t visit Sedona without hearing about its energy vortexes, reputed to provide health benefits and Zen moments. Two of the most famous are also a part of incredible views and great climbs:  Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock. Cathedral is challenging to all but the most intrepid of climbers, not a spot for young children unless sure-footed parents don’t mind carrying them along for the ride.  Bell offers an easier trail to the top. But even from the base of these gorgeous rock formations there is plenty to see, and kids will be fascinated by finding the vortexes – a sort of cosmic energy treasure hunt – as well as being captivated by the idea that they exist. Do they? Up to you to decide, but we certainly felt more positive and relaxed after a few days exploring them.

We took a hike about a third of the way up Cathedral Rock, to the point where the trail can be challenging for kids. From this cairn-guided stopping point, we nonetheless had a sweeping view of other rock formations, all a rich red in the sunlight, so picture-perfect against blue sky you’d think you’d imagined it, except for the climb back down.

If you’re not into hikes or even strolls, a cruise along Oak Creek in the car is one option, and a pleasant way to enjoy the red rock views and tree lined canyons. Another option:  jeep tours. A variety of jeep tour options abound in Sedona, and offer a great way to bounce pleasantly along the back-country and rocky trails without hiking. If you do stay at Wyndham, and you do get the sales pitch, discounts on jeep tours are also offered, along with the credit card incentive.

Beyond the Rocks

Looking for something more civilized? Then take the kids to the shops and galleries of Tlaquepaque, a graceful, tree shaded Spanish colonial-style shopping plaza. There are over forty shops; galleries feature locally produced art. Also on site is the Oak Creek Brewery, offering up cold micro-brews for parents and a bright, pleasant dining room. Kids will enjoy burgers, ample cheese and fruit plates, and sweet desserts. If you’re after some kid-friendly souvenirs, check out Mother Nature’s Trading Co. with eclectic kids’ items and objects of art.

A good spot for dinner is Javalina, inexpensive and tasty Mexican food served up both on a commodious patio overlooking outdoor sculptures and indoors. See if the kids can spot the miniature javalina in the fountain off the patio; don’t miss the crispy fish tacos.


Just outside of town, Slide Rock State Park is a place not to miss in warm weather. The park’s name comes from a natural water slide created from, what else, slippery rocks in Oak Creek. A great place for water splashing fun, above it are grand and rocky views, and alongside are lovely, shady trees. The park also includes a working apple farm, which, in autumn, provides yet another type of Sedona red.

 

 

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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