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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