Not far from Flagstaff at the southern end of Old Creek Canyon is one of Arizona’s most underrated tourist attractions: the city of Sedona and its surrounding natural area. Sedona itself is perched at 4,350 feet on a high-altitude desert mesa. Although it was only founded at the beginning of the twentieth century, the region has been occupied by human civilization for maybe around 10,000 years. Before the Spanish arrived in and then departed, this central area of Arizona supported the needs of thriving communities of hunter-gatherer peoples.
The history of Sedona is a fascinating tale, but in the eyes of many, it is surpassed by the incredible landscapes to be found in the surrounding area. Stark red-rock formations and desert landscapes give the impression that one has stepped far back in time, providing some incredible photo opportunities and the chance to breathe in some of the crispest and cleanest air anywhere in the country.
In this article, we give readers a few tips on unmissable things to see and do on your upcoming trip to Sedona – enjoy!
- Hike the Devil’s Bridge Trail
Not for the faint of heart but easily accessible to the inexperienced walker, the Devil’s Bridge Trail is one thing that should not be skipped. A short round-trip of just 1.8 miles will take you to the remarkable sight of a natural sandstone bridge which towers over 50 feet from the floor. If you have the fitness, you can scramble your way to the top and take some jaw-dropping pictures of yourself atop the bridge against the backdrop of a desert landscape that looks like it has been taken straight from a Hollywood movie.
- Visit the Sedona Heritage Museum
No trip to Sedona would be complete without a short visit to this gem of a museum. Once the homestead for the Jordan Family, the Sedona Heritage Museum is today funded by Sedona Historical Society with the help of the local community. There is no better place to get in touch with the story of the pioneers who arrived in the area in the 1870s. You will gain an insight into how the settlers lived from the land and how they sourced their water needs from Oak Creek. You can also enjoy a virtual visit to Arizona’s first commercial winery.
- Camp at Oak Creek Canyon
If you love to spend a night camping under the stars, there is no better place to do it than at Oak Creek Canyon. With its dramatic cliff walls, rock formations and lush forests, the canyon is loved by local residents, both human and animal, for its beautiful scenery. There are a number of campsites scattered along the spectacular 16-mile cut into the earth. You can stay here for a few days as you explore the amazing walking opportunities in the area before settling down under the painted heavens of the starry night sky.
- Check Out the Verde Valley Wine Trail
When it comes to American wine, California seems to attract the lion’s share of the attention. But although it is less renowned for the quality of its grapes, Arizona has some excellent wines of its own. If you rent a vehicle and fancy yourself as a bit of a wine connoisseur, you would be a fool to miss out on some of the fantastic wineries scattered across the Verde Valley. You can start in Sedona, where there are some local producers, and visit multiple local towns in the area to sample the local varieties.
- Be Amazed at Palatki
Before the Spanish arrived, beginning the modern era of the United States, this area of Arizona was populated by a mysterious group of people known today as the Sinagua. These people no longer exist today, and probably died out due to drought sometime around 1350. But while the people have disappeared, they left behind some striking remnants of their civilization.
Not far from Sedona is Coconino Forest. In this forest, you can find the remains of human constructions built into the cliffs. Known today as Palatki, the site is today recognized by UNESCO for its historical and cultural importance.
If you are traveling to Sedona in the near future, be sure to add at least a couple of these activities to your itinerary so that you know what you are going to be doing as soon as you land at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport.
Note: For those people coming from Europe, it is important to remember to apply for the ESTA visa waiver scheme if you want to secure hassle-free entry on arrival. Check out this handy ESTA guide to see if you qualify and for information on how to apply.