photo by Devon Balet
HARMONIC CONVERGENCE: BMC TRAIL CREW RIDERS BRICE SHIRBOCK, DEREK BISSETT AND ADAM SNYDER FIND END-OF-DAY ENLIGHTENMENT ON SEDONA’S HIGHLINE TRAIL.
Escape the winter blues with a jaunt to Sedona, Arizona. This four-season, red rock playground is famed for its out-of-this-world rock formations, spiritual vortices and trails that wind through it all. No matter your age, interests, speed or sport forget the cold, avoid the crowds and soak up the sun while enjoying some of the best climbing, hiking and mountain biking in the Southwest.
Surrounded by fun, flowy trails and slickrock on all sides, Sedona draws mountain bikers of all stripes. Beginners and families can enjoy a cruise through the red rocks on the Bell Rock Pathway while intermediates will enjoy the Soldiers Wash Trails, a system of stunning singletrack in West Sedona. These trails include Adobe Jack, which delivers a giant sinkhole at the top, Coyote, Javelina, Jordan, Powerline Plunge and Grand Central, a trail that rewards riders with breathtaking 360-degree views. Every rider will want to hit Slim Shady, which travels through a wash complete with rolling berms, slickrock and a fast flowing descent. For an even more extreme mountain bike adventure, check out Hangover, a steep, techy ride with scary exposure, tough rocky climbs, high-speed descents through tight trees and unmatched views. Knowledgeable staff at Sedona Bike & Bean (bike-bean.com) can provide rentals and information about trails.
There’s no shortage of hiking options in the area so lace up your boots and take to the trails. One of our favorites is the short and direct climb to the saddle of Cathedral Rock. Though only 1.7 miles round trip, this climb is steep and largely on rock so you’ll use hands and feet in some spots and will have to wiggle your way though some cracks to reach the top. It’s worth the effort, since you’re rewarded with peace, quiet and sweeping views. For a longer jaunt, try the 4.2 mile round-trip Devil’s Bridge Trail which wanders through the desert to a spectacular bridge-shaped geological formation, or enjoy feeling tiny as you meander along the towering cliff walls that line the 6-8 mile West Fork Trail through Oak Creek Canyon. Of course, no Sedona trip is complete without a visit to a vortex, an energy center that facilitates meditation, healing, prayer and, well, whatever else you want. The beautiful trails that provide access to the four main vortices in the area are definitely worth the time: Boynton Canyon, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and Airport Vortex (find info at lovesedona.com/01.htm) Visit the Hike House (thehikehouse.com), a café and one-stop shop.
Many of Sedona’s crazy sandstone spires and formations make for some incredible rock climbs. For instance, Courthouse Butte (5.6 or 6 pitches of 5.10c depending on route), Bell Rock (5.8) and Oak Creek Spire (III 5.9) serve up sandstone that should please all ability levels. The rock can be soft and inconsistent, but the weather and scenery make the area a favorite among seasoned climbers. Get all the beta you need in Sedona Rocks! A Climber’s Guide by David Bloom and online here: mountainproject.com/v/sedona-area/105787793.
If you eat only one place in Sedona, make it the Mariposa (mariposasedona.com), a Latin inspired grill offering big patio views. The gazpacho is spicy and delectable. The quesadillas melt in your mouth and are topped by the best mango salsa and guacamole we’ve ever tried. And the desserts—we tried the sorbet and the chocolate torte—provide the perfect ending. The Sound Bites Grill (soundbitesgrill.com), a music-themed restaurant with incredible views of canyon country offers all-natural, fresh food including standards like burgers and steaks, as well as unique concoctions like the fresh mozzarella salad topped with toasted pistachios! Great for lunch, dinner or late night dining and dancing, this spot has Sedona’s best happy hour.
For an upscale experience, L’Auberge de Sedona cannot be outdone. With a variety of luxurious cottages and rooms in varied serene locations, including creekside, hillside, garden and spa settings, staying at L’Auberge may be dangerous since you may never go out and you’ll definitely be reluctant to return home. Indulge in creekside dining at L’Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek (lauberge.com) and take advantage of on-site yoga classes, massages, facial treatments and meditation. For a different experience, try Garland’s Oak Creek Lodge (garlandslodge.com), composed of 17 rustic cabins on 10 creekside acres in peaceful Oak Creek Canyon. Wood burning fireplaces, porches overlooking the creek, organic gardens, yoga, massage, tennis and access to hikes make this one of the most wonderful spots to spend your vacation. Enjoy a cooked-to-order breakfast, a cozy afternoon tea and an elegant dinner complete with homemade breads and a different entrée each night.
Plan your sedona trip to coincide with these events.
A month-long celebration of the earth and being thoughtful about our use of resources…one step at a time.
Sedona Winter Musicfest
Five days of classical chamber musical activities.
Sedona Marathon Event
Features a 5K, 10K, Half, and Full Marathon.
Sedona International Film Festival February 20–28
Nine-day celebration of the best independent films from around the world.