Our First Visit To Sedona
The next stop on our travels in Arizona was a visit to Sedona in October. When we planned our trip to Utah and Arizona, the stop after our stay in Page was going to be Flagstaff. But a little research convinced us that Sedona would be a better place to explore. And we were so glad we made this choice!
The red rock valley enticed us at all times of the day. There were so many things to do in Sedona. And adventures to be had. We enjoyed every minute. But we definitely need to return.
After a great boat trip in Page, we headed south for a visit to Sedona. And totally mis-judged the time it would take. As we drove south on 89A, we dipped lower and lower into the valley as the sun set. The single lane road twisted around the mountains. And we saw the first of many stunning rock faces on our visit to Sedona in October.
Staying In Sedona, Arizona
Most of the hotels on our travels through Utah and Arizona were booked at Marriott properties to help build our travel points and status. The Marriott Courtyard Sedona was a great surprise on the outskirts of town. Like most of the buildings in Sedona, it was designed to blend right into the natural landscape. The outdoor pool and hot tub were a great treat after so many days touring in Utah and Arizona in the fall.
On our days around Sedona, we came to love the constantly changing landscape of rocks as the sun created colour and shadows.
Our hotel had a patio that was great for sunrise views. And for seeing the early morning hot air balloons in the Sedona Valley. We were disappointed when we found that the hot air balloons were all booked while we were in Sedona. But it looked like the sunrise views from the balloons would be amazing.
We knew that a visit to Sedona in October was the perfect time to enjoy the outdoor beauty.
Wandering In Downtown Sedona
One day we went downtown to stroll through the older part of town. We wandered in search of the the Red Rock Balloon office. Unfortunately we learned there were no spots available during our visit to Sedona. We put our names on the wait list. But high winds were forecast which would also mean some cancellations. Our hopes did not get set too high.
We passed several of the local tour offices. Every day we saw long convoys from one or more of the tour groups that headed out on the roads. We originally planned to do a jeep tour in Sedona. But our amazing off-road Jeep adventure in Moab spoiled us for this trip.
The downtown was busy even on a visit to Sedona in October. A local trolley was available. This might help avoid having to find parking in town.
When it was time to leave downtown, we had a tough choice. There were many gelato spots in town. But we finally found one that met all our needs.
As we wandered around Sedona, we were interested in the wide variety of art we found. When we looked in the shop windows, we found that new age spiritual trinkets were popular. Sedona was considered a highly spiritual place with 4 vortexes found around the valley – at the Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and Boynton Canyon. These vortexes were swirling arrays of energy used for healing and meditation.
We found much to see and do on a visit to Sedona.
A Cultural Stop At The Chapel Of The Holy Cross
On our travels to Utah and Arizona, we were overwhelmed with the beauty of the countryside. We saw so many of the iconic natural attractions. So when we reached Sedona, we chose to start with a glimpse at the cultural scene in Sedona. We were directed out along Hwy 179 to the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
It was immediately obvious that this church was built to be in harmony with the natural beauty of Sedona. Built into the side of a butte, the church stood high above the ground.
The design for this church began in 1932 by Marguerite Bruswig Staude. It was originally to be built in Budapest in conjunction with Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright). But when war broke out, the project searched for a new home. After many years it was finally finished in Sedona.
The inside was quite stark. Although the central cross with Jesus was stunning as the light streamed in.
From this height, we got great panoramic views out around the Sedona Valley. We wondered if this would be another great spot for sunrise or sunset views.
A stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross reinforced the strong linkage to the natural beauty that we found on a visit to Sedona in the fall.
Panoramic Views Of Cathedral Rock And The Sedona Valley
The Red Rock Loop was an 8 mile (13km) loop from and to Hwy 89A. From the loop we could visit the Red Park State Park. There were several areas marked as trail heads for hiking in this area.
We followed the Red Rock Loop just before sunset one night on our way home from wine tasting in Sedona. As we moved from north to south, the image of Cathedral Rock teased us. Several times we thought we had the perfect view.
But then another pullout provided yet another great view out over the Sedona Valley as the light faded. At our last stop, we got the most stunning image of the Sedona Valley at sunset.
When we looked at our photos later, we just caught a glimpse of the almost-full moon as it peeked out above the rocks. So the next night we made sure to go back to Red Rock Loop to catch the moon rise. It was a stunning sight as the moon crested the rocks.
Cathedral Rock towers above Sedona. Several times as we drove around town we got a glimpse of the rock structure. But on our visit to Sedona in October, we found the best views from the Red Rock Loop.
Plan To Hike The Airport Mesa
The hike around the Airport Mesa was about 3 miles. We had this on our list of things to do. When we did our research, it appeared that there was a parking lot at the beginning of the trailhead. From there you went one way to start the loop or the other way to experience the airport vortex. Every time we went past, this very small parking lot was packed with people double parked as they waited for a spot.
We continued up the hill and found another parking lot at a viewpoint. There was a nominal $3 charge for parking. We debated parking here and hiking down and back up. This was also apparently a great spot for sunset. But we chose instead to head to Red Rock Loop for the moonrise.
When we kept going up the road, we came to the Sedona Airport perched at about 4000’ above sea level. We got distracted by our next adventure. And never did make it back to hike the Airport Mesa. Another great reason to return for a visit to Sedona in October.
A Bird’s Eye View Of Sedona
When we saw the Guidance Air Helicopter Tours sign at the Sedona Airport, we could not pass it by. There were four different tours available. It took us no time to book a 30 minute Cathedral Tour.
We saw the most amazing views on our helicopter ride over the Sedona Valley. The towering rocks of Sedona from a bird’s eye view were stunning. The helicopter dipped into the canyons. And we even saw ancient ruins.
We were sad we missed a hot air balloon ride in Sedona. But our helicopter tour of the Sedona Valley more than made up for it. We were so glad we did this on our visit to Sedona in autumn.
Wine Tasting In Sedona
We did wine tasting all over North America in 2019. So when we heard that the Verde Valley (Green Valley) by Cottonwood had a number of wineries, we took a day to wander this area.
We stopped at 3 wineries on our Sedona tour – the DA Ranch, Javelina Leap and Chateau Tumbleweed. We tried some interesting new varietals. Some of the grapes came from the local area. But many of the grapes came from the Willcox area located SE of Tucson. We certainly planned to visit the vineyards in the Willcox area when we did our stay in Tucson.
The wineries were all very different in ambiance. And in the engagement during our wine tasting.
It was good to discover a new wine region on our visit to Sedona in the fall.
One Final Stop At Montezuma Castle National Monument
When we visited the Cottonwood area, we saw a sign that pointed to the Montezuma Castle National Monument. We checked our offline map and saw that this park area was over on Hwy 17. So we left this as a stop on our travel day south to Scottsdale.
We did not know what to expect when we headed into the park. But we were delighted to find that this National Monument was covered on our National Park Pass. There was a smallish parking lot but turnover was pretty quick.
The Visitor Centre provided background information on the Sinagua people that lived in this area between 1100 and 1425 AD. The “castle” turned out to be a multi-storied cliff dwelling. It was a great walk through shaded paths to see the facade of the Montezuma Castle. Information sheets and a model showed how this dwelling was used.
The rocks were fascinating. In places they looked a bit like Swiss cheese. We walked further along the path and came to a wall with many carved-out areas for other dwellings (Castle A).
A stop at the Montezuma Castle National Monument provided a fascinating look back in time when we were in Sedona this fall.
We Enjoyed Our Visit To Sedona In Fall
It was now easy to understand why people put a visit to Sedona in the fall on their travel wish lists. We were overwhelmed with the beauty of this rock valley. Whether we saw it from the ground hiking, on the mountain loop overlooks or from the air on a helicopter tour.
There was so much to do in the area. We loved the chance to go wine tasting in the Verde Valley. And to experience the beautiful Chapel of the Holy Cross. The old town offered art, food and shopping when we strolled through.
We were so glad our visit to Arizona included a few days in Sedona. But a few days was definitely not enough. Just one more of the stops on our tour of Utah and Arizona that deserved a return visit.
Have you done a visit to Sedona in October? What was the favourite part of hour visit?
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The rock dwellings are so interesting! I’m so glad you made the detour to Sedona. I was in the Phoenix area last year, and I had a friend who stayed longer to go to Sedona. His photos – and yours – make me wish that I had explored that area. It’s so beautiful! The wineries would be a definite stop for me, too. 🙂
Jennifer, We were so glad we made the detour to Sedona. It was so much more fascinating than I expected. Hope you get to visit on your next trip to the area. Linda
I’ve heard so much about Sedona and I can’t believe I haven’t visited yet! This post really gave me some good ideas and insights though. I especially love the church built into the landscape–and that rather than using stained glass behind the crucifix, they let the beautiful surroundings shine through. I am also fascinated by the cave dwellings. What an interesting study of the history of the region! And of course, the spiritual vortexes…I gotta get to those! Thanks for this inspiration to get moving on a trip that’s long been on my bucket list! (Sorry to hear about the hot air balloon ride.)
Jackie, I am so glad that this post inspired you to get planning this visit. We were so glad we made it part of our Arizona trip. Linda
Sedona is my favorite town in Arizona! I can never get bored with its fantastic red-rock formations and amazing scenery. I also love the fact that you can use it as a home base for visiting many of the Indian monuments in the area. We visited Sedona during all seasons, but fall is perhaps the most beautiful time of year, when the leaves turn red and yellow. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is undoubtedly the most picturesque place in town.
Anda, We were definitely seduced by Sedona. So many great spots to see. We will definitely go back. Maybe in a different season. Linda
OK guys, you have sold it to me and I hope to splash the cash doing it, the helicopter ride! Looks like a birds eye view needs to be done from above. My kids would love that. Also, wine! Going by what you said, looks like I need to have a few glasses. Still hoping for my dream trip to AZ to take place this year…fingers crossed 🙂
Danik, I am so glad to be teasing you about Arizona. It had been on our list for a long time and we never made it. So glad we did this time. But one trip will not be enough. Linda
I had not heard of Sedona till I read this post. I love the look of this place.The bird’s eye view have some great pictures and going by them I would probably get lost in the beauty of the place.Wonderful trip.
I am so glad to introduce Sedona to you. It was a great stop on our travels around Arizona. Linda
The beauty of Sedona comes to life through your words and pictures. The rocky landscapes posess a kind of wild beauty that is so enthralling. The pation with the sunrise views seems to be an awesome place to lose oneself in the beauty of nature. The baloons against the rocky landscape have been captured beautifully.
Sandy, I am glad to have shared some of the beauty of Sedona with you. It was such a treat to visit. Linda
Great post!! You have shot some really great photographs of Sedona. I haven’t been to Sedona yet but I do plan to visit it soon this year, so naturally your post came handy as I would love to add of the things you mentioned in my list like going for wine tasting and more. I hope I do have a great time.
Daniel, I am always glad when a blog post has timely content. I hope you enjoy your visit to Sedona. We loved it. And will definitely go back. Linda
Oh wow, the hot air balloon pics are gorgeous. Too bad you weren’t able to go for a ride, the helicopter looked amazing too. I love al the formations in Sedona, and the chapel is so special. I will check out the winery next time I visit
Sherianne, We were sorry to miss the hot air balloon. But the helicopter was a great trade off for this trip. We know we will be back. Linda
I always enjoy looking at your beautiful photos! The Marriott Sedona sounds like a great and wonderful place to stay in Arizona. Love all the art.
Fae, Sedona was very definitely an artistic haven. Everywhere we looked we found something different. Linda
It’s too bad that you weren’t able to do the hot air balloon ride. I am sure it would have been magical. Especially if at sunrise or sunset. But you are right, a helicopter ride is also a great way to see the landscape too.
We did love our helicopter ride. It was a great substitute. But still want to do a hot air balloon next visit. Linda
I’ve not been to Sedona when in the US, and I must say, it looks incredible. Your photos really do Sedona justice, and I’ve got plenty of good viewing points to add to my list! A wine tasting here also sounds fabulous, as does an outdoor pool and tub!
Lisa, I am glad that our photos gave you a great view of Sedona. It was a great surprise for us. And we will go back. Linda
I love Sedona. It is one of my favorite places in Arizona. Beautiful town with great trails and things to do. I like your photos and recommendations. I hope I will be back there again. Unfortunately, I was not able to see Montezuma Castle, because it was closed, but I see that it is worth to visit. And for sure I will back to take wineries tour 🙂
Agnes, We were glad we made the detour on our way out to visit Montezuma Castle. A great way to finish our lovely trip to Sedona. Linda
I so loved reading this post as Sedona has been on my list for such a long time now! Sorry to hear the balloon rides were all booked as that would certainly be a magical place to go on a ride. I tasted my first Arizona wines last year, and would love to try more.
Lara, I do hope you get to visit Sedona one day. We were certainly happy we put it on our list for Arizona on our first visit. Linda
My husband always wants to make a road trip to Arizona. We have never been there, and I knew very little about Arizona. From your words and amazing pictures, I could imagine that Sedona is a beautiful place and a must-visit if we finally go to Arizona. When the sun touches the rock formation and blue sky as a background, the beauty of the landscapes come to life. You had a wonderful trip and succeeded in telling this through your article.
I am glad that our blog post provided a good view of Sedona. We certainly loved every apsect of our visit. I hope you get to visit one day. Linda
Have never visited Sedona but your pictures make me want to visit it’s soon. The rock formations look amazing. The balloon ride must have been quite an experience. The Marriott Courtyard blends so well with the surrounding. Glad you stopped at the wineries. I would have done the same.
Pooja, I am glad that this blog post is making you want to visit Sedona. We certainly did have a great experience. And will want to head back for more. Linda
Sedona looks absolutely beautiful! On our last trip to Arizona we considered driving over there as well, but at the end we didn’t have enough time. We definitely want to return and explore more. Now I know what to expect in Sedona. The Chapel of the Holy Cross looks very interesting and especially the way it was built. Can’t wait to be by those red rocks again!
Paula, I do hope you get to visit Sedona on your next trip to Arizona. It was a real surprise for us. And I now know why so many people are drawn there. Linda
The rock dwellings are interesting! Could tourist get close to them and walk around them? It would be a nice family trip there as well. We can put it on our family’s RV road trip to the west in the coming year.
Mijia, This part of the U.S. is perfect for travelling with the family in an RV. The rock dwellings were roped off to protect them from further disintegration. Hope you get to visit one day. Linda
First of all, that photo of the full moon over the red rocks is absolutely STUNNING! I´ve always loved the American southwest, and Sedona is no exception. I hadn´t realized (or perhaps had forgotten?) that it was a big destination for hot air ballooning! I´m sure those sunrise views would be incredible and it´s a shame they were all booked out… I guess you´ll have to go back!
Erica, Thanks for the great feedback on our photos. Sedona had so many opportunities for great photos. We have lots of great reasons to go back. Linda
I have been wanting to visit this area, so this was a great overview. I just love the landscape here and the views from the Marriott are fantastic. I have never heard of that church and it’s awesome that it was built to be in harmony with the natural beauty of Sedona.
Candy, I am glad to provide you with an overview of Sedona. There is so much to see and do. Hope you get to visit. Linda
I’d love to explore Arizona one day. The weather seems perfect any time of the year. We love Marriott points too!!! We have a bunch stacked up so maybe Arizona could be our next vacation!
We certainly found a lot of options for Marriott hotels in Arizona. The weather in October was perfect. Hope you get to visit one day. Linda
We visited in November. Absolutely beautiful! We also did the Verde Canyon Rail excursion which had stunning scenery. It seems Fall was a perfect time to visit the area.
Rick and Kathie, We were so glad we planned Arizona last fall. It was indeed a perfect time to visit. We will have to try the Verde Canyon Rail excursion on a next visit. Linda
Great post! I lived in Phoenix for about 20 years and we had the chance to visit Sedona many times. You’re right that October is a great time to visit. My husband surprised me on my 50th birthday with a family hot air balloon ride there and it was spectacular! Definitely something to add to your list for next time. It sounds like you covered a lot of ground though. Thanks for sharing about your visit.
Nancy, We were so glad we planned to stay in Sedona for a few days. We will definitely plan to do a hot air balloon when we return. And we will definitely go back. Linda
Sedona is so pretty, surrounded by the red rocks. I’m glad I bumped into your post as I learned about the downtown area. All this time I read only about the outdoor beauties. No wonder my friend suggested me to stop at Sedona on our way to the Grand Canyon, but we didn’t have time. But I know I will make a stop here one day.
Umiko, I hope you do get back to visit Sedona one day. We were happy we visited the town when it was not crazy busy. We sure had no trouble finding things to do on a 3 day visit. Linda