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Sedona boasts the kind of beauty that stirs the senses and moves the soul
Sedona boasts the kind of beauty that stirs the senses and moves the soul
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Sedona Spotlight

From nature-lover to luxury-seeker, Sedona offers something for everyone

By Elissa Richard

January 23rd, 2007

When every passing sunray transforms the color and character of Sedona's red-rock formations, it's easy to see why visitors are awed by its grandeur. Sedona boasts the kind of beauty that stirs the senses and moves the soul: radiant red rocks carved out by canyons and creeks; green forests and desert vegetation blanketing hills; and brilliant blue skies juxtaposed against one of Mother Nature's most magnificent geological creations. It's really no wonder that spiritualists flock here – if beauty indeed awakens the spirit, Sedona is the alarm clock for the world.

But long before the tourists came, Sedona was home to the ancient Sinagua tribe and the setting for some of the most sacred of regional Native American ceremonies – a culture that still permeates the area today. Though established as a small town in 1902, Sedona remained relatively unknown as a tourist destination for much of the 20th century, although Hollywood discovered its allure as early as the 1920s and starred the town's Wild West landscapes in a series of westerns. Artist collectives soon followed, lured by the surreal desert scenery and ample natural light, and, in the early 1980s, Sedona was put on the map as a New Age mecca after mystics determined the area to be pulsating with "vortexes" – energy fields with the power to energize, enlighten, and even heal those who encounter them.

Today's Sedona is a town of just over 11,000 residents – a hodgepodge of artists, mystics, token celebrities (Al Pacino keeps a residence here, and it's Michelle Branch's hometown), outdoorsmen, and well-off retirees – that attracts some four million visitors a year. They come for the resorts, eclectic shops, and fine dining; for spiritual enrichment; for its gateway to some of the United States' most remote and untouched settings (think the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon) – and, ultimately, for the inspiring landscapes that promise incredible vistas and adventures in this greatest of great outdoors.

We recommend staying here for at least three nights and spending the bulk of your time on the area's numerous trails, whether on foot, horseback, or wheels – indeed, don't miss an off-road jeep or Hummer tour. Spoil yourself with a spa treatment, pop into local art galleries, and spend some time shopping in Uptown Sedona or in Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. Also set aside time to drive through scenic Oak Creek Canyon and spend an afternoon hiking its phenomenal West Fork Trail. Five days is more ideal, and will allow you to tack on a hot-air balloon ride or bi-plane tour over Red Rock Country; to visit a couple of the small museums in the Uptown area; to spend an afternoon fishing, golfing, or mountain biking; and to go for a swim at Slide Rock State Park. You might also take some time to explore Sedona's (and your own) spiritual side by experiencing a psychic reading, a Reiki treatment, or some simple meditation on a professed vortex site. You'll also be able to visit neighboring attractions like the ghost town-cum-artists' enclave of Jerome or to head out along historic Route 66. A week is better still, allowing for further excursions into northern Arizona, including the nearby Navajo and Hopi reservations, as well as the Grand Canyon. If you're looking for a sublime sensory experience and are a lover of the great outdoors, Mother Nature has blessed you with Sedona, Arizona.

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