Check out my IG for more photos through my recent 4-day adventure to Sedona, AZ. Follow me at Spark Fire Swan.
Brace yourselves, for this is a long one!
Valleys, Vortexes,& Visions.
Vibes are everything to me. You probably have caught on by now, but I consider myself a positive-vibes enthusiast. As someone who also loves to travel, I know that not everywhere I go will always vibe with me on that deeper level. Travel is still an experience, no matter what may happen, but some places will just resonate with you in a more unexplainable way.
I’ve always considered myself a straightforward beach person. Sure, I grew up camping a lot and going on a few mountain related trips with family, but the Ocean and the beach was always my #1 calling, no question.
Over the past few years, things have changed, and now I find myself in love with new places. Last year I went to Denver, CO with friends and have been low key in love with the Rockies, and uber determined to check off more National Parks from my list (such as Banff, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and so much more.) A few years ago we drove through Sedona on our way from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon (West), but we really didn’t have much time to explore and get to know the area. This year I got a (random) strong yearning to go to Sedona, AZ again, and that’s it, game over – I’m obsessed with the Desert.
There is just something truly special about Sedona. It was honestly all I could think about this Spring, just chomping at the bit to plan an adventure here again. I really can’t even explain it, I’ve just been so drawn to it. It just felt so right to think about, like I needed to go there ASAP. To add fuel to the fire, I recently learned about the four big energy vortexes here, and then that was it, I was obsessed.
Have you heard about these?!?
All of Sedona itself is said to be vortex, but there are 4 main energy locations where there is more intensity. This energy can interact with anyone near that area and will resonate and strengthen you on a spiritual level. The energy can be best felt within half a mile of each location. People come from ALL over the World to check out the Sedona vortexes, and there are informational STORES (and tour companies) about them around every block. Sedona is literally known as a spiritual power location because of all of the subtle vortex energy in the area.
What is a vortex? A vortex is basically a funnel shape that is created by some sort of whirling effect, either fluid or energy. Common examples would be whirlwinds, water going down the drain and tornados. Essentially, a vortex is made up of anything that flows. The vortexes in Sedona are coming directly out of the surface of the Earth, and the energy literally leaves behind measurable magnetism in the places it is said to be the strongest.
Vortex energy can be thought of just like the energy that is already inside of you. If you are a sensitive person, much like myself, you may be more susceptible to feel this energy than others. The energy can be felt as a positive and uplifting experience, for may days after. [Hence why I was on cloud 9 after returning home from here and was caught in a strong daydream about my experiences.]
For more information about these energy vortexes in Sedona, check out my accompanying post HERE. [Exploring Energy Vortexes: Sedona, AZ]
I went into this adventure with the expectation that it would be a new spiritual experience, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The energy here is potent. Very strong. It’s there, around every street corner, ever red rock peak, every place you eat, every hiking trail, everywhere!
So let’s break it down a little further and unpack my 4 days spent in Sedona.
Where we stayed: Arabella Hotel, off of main highway 179 (located on right). This is the highway you will enter Sedona if you are driving up from the South or from Phoenix.
- Amenities: Pool, bicycles, views of courtyard and nearby red rocks, sunset view uptop hill, and a HUGE free continental breakfast (totally a selling point for us and VERY WORTH IT). Also a small ‘trading post’ inside the lobby to purchase snacks, beverages and last minute hygiene amenities. There is also a restaurant on grounds, Elote Cafe, but it’s only open Monday – Saturday, and has limited seating and doesn’t take reservations. The line was wrapped around the pool every night, and we heard people say they were waiting for 2+ hours for a table. Apparently it’s worth it, because everyone said so, but we never got the opportunity to give it a try. [According to the front desk boy, it’s ‘world renowned’, and people come from all over to eat there…]
- #BalconyLife – and cable! Dude we had CABLE, lol, we are not used to that. Adam and I become fastly addicted to the show Naked and Afraid….
Breakdown of the area: Sedona is sort of shaped like a Y for all your main access to places to eat, places to stay, things to do, shopping, etc. It’s also broken up into West Sedona, Uptown Sedona, and what I’m decidingly calling ‘South Sedona’.
Weather: Sedona in May is nothing short of spectacular. It wasn’t too hot, or chilly. It was a bit windy while we were there but I’m not sure if that’s always, or just was during that time. Sedona is a higher elevation than Phoenix, so it trends significantly cooler. During the time we were there Phoenix was scorching near 100 degrees! It was only low 80s or so in Sedona and it cooled off a lot at night! (I was still cold, because I always get cold, ha!) But we had nothing but absolutely sunshine and blue skies! It is seriously one of the sunniest places in the U.S. you guys, with an average of 300 sunny days a YEAR!!
Places we ate/drank:
- Daily breakfast onsite at hotel – Everything from eggs, meat, & potatoes, to fruit to baked goods, and great coffee!
- Sound Bites Grill – This place is perched on a hill at the intersection of 179 and 89A, overlooking Oak Creek and other spectacular red rocks in each direction. It’s located in a main ‘uptown’ shops and restaurants area, also near many places to book excursions. Great views, seriously … GREAT views. Also great veggie/vegan menu!
- Cowboy Club – Also located near many shops and restaurants in ‘uptown’ Sedona, this place has a lot of history to it. The food was not the best, and they have limited seating, but it was fun to check out!
- History Lesson 101: In 1946 Sedona was nothing more than a tavern, post office, and wood building. When people wound their way through Oak Creek Canyon, the tavern was the social place to be. Locals, cowboys, ranchers, and Jerome coal miners would stop here. As Sedona grew in size, the tavern stayed historic, even with more than 50 movies being filmed here and major celebrity movie star visits.
- Hideaway House – We went here for happy hour the first day and I totally dig this places vibes! It gives off like a hippy vibe throughout the whole venue and even with the employees. They had a great happy hour selection and huge menu, but we didn’t end up eating anything here. The real kicker was we sat on the patio overlooking Oak Creek and so many beautiful red rocks and it was so peaceful and gorgeous. We would have went back here again for their wine and pizza special but just didn’t have enough time!
- Open Range Grill & Tavern – Dude, the views here! KILLER. (Not that there really is a bad view in Sedona, BUT STILL.) We ate here after our long day of over 10 miles of hiking and were absolutely famished. I also wanted some great happy hour margaritas to rehydrate, so we ate in the bar area, but it was still solid! The only complaint I have is that our food took a long time and we were dying.
- The Hudson – I definitely can’t say ENOUGH good things about this place, it was absolutely spectacular. It was honestly walking distance from our hotel, and tucked in an upper parking lot, which was neat because it made it seem secret and secluded, like a hidden gem. The wait was ridiculously long so we just sat at the bar and made friends with the barkeep, but the FOOD. #Droolz. We went all out on ordering because it was our last night and that is kind of our ‘thing’, but I had the Salmon and Adam had the Pork Chop and we were both just moaning the whole dinner. Worth EVERY penny.
- Circle K Convenience Store – Also within walking distance from the hotel we had a gas station convenient store that we frequently purchased snacks, bottled water, and alcohol from! Came in handy for sure.
- In and Out Burger [Phoenix] – This was my first experience and I was pleased! I even got the lettuce burger version, but still definitely enjoyed it a ton! Double double, protein style, and animal style fries – that was the way to go my friends!
Night life: I’m sure a lot of the ‘bars’ and restaurants become more popular at night, and you can definitely take an Uber pretty much anywhere, but we didn’t really explore night life at all. We choose the route to pick up alcohol and hang out on the balcony, and our hotel was full of a lot of people hanging out in the courtyard each night. There was also live music, which was quite entertaining!
[Day 1] Arrival Day
- Depart Minneapolis at 7:00 am. Arrive in Phoenix at 8:00 am. Shuttle to rental car facility. Check in hotel after 4 pm.
- Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park – We just roamed around, maybe like a half mile of walking.
We flew into Phoenix because it makes the most sense and was the most reasonably priced place for us to start our adventure coming from Minneapolis.
It’s a little less than a 2 hour drive to Sedona from Phoenix, and once you get out of town it becomes quite scenic. The large cacti fade away into huge mountains and valleys and eventually the red rock bliss starts to take form. It’s also an upward climb, as Seonda is several thousand feet higher elevation than Phoenix, but that’s good news for everyone because it means more breeze and cooler temps! [Phoenix can be quite hot and miserable and actually isn’t really my cup of tea in Arizona. There’s so many better cities out there! … No offense Phoenix!]
Upon arriving to Sedona I wasn’t able to focus on anything but it’s sheer beauty, shouting repeatedly from the passenger seat, things like, “OMG!” … “OH MY GOODNESS.” … “DUDE!” … “OH MY FUCKING GOODNESS.” … Completely overcome with emotion and appreciation for this place, I was already fully satisfied. On our way to find somewhere to eat we made a quick stop at the first scenic overlook near the trails for Bell Rock. This is one thing I regret not being able to explore further, as I would have loved to climb to the Bell Rock vortex and explore the nearby trails. [But that’s the problem, there is just SO MUCH to do and see that you really have to just keep coming back!]
We stopped for lunch in Uptown, then went out to explore Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park, spending some time with Buddha and our inner spirituality. This park was free, but asks for donations, and had a small dirt parking lot available. There are a few large Stupa’s throughout the park, and one giant Buddha. If you explore the path further there is also a large medicine wheel (with associating info), and a bunch of spiritual spindles and prayer books. The history here is amazing and I am thankful I was able to spend some more time learning about what it all represented.
Next, we explored more of the shops that line where highway 179 meet highway 89A, near Uptown. I became mesmerized by a spiritual center/crystal shop called Center For New Age, and of course had to go inside and check it out. It was FILLED with crystals of all kinds, (some as tall as me!), and packed with jewelry, household items, books, and all kinds of services like massage and psychic readings. I bought a smokey quartz crystal for my collection and when approaching the cashier she told me I was one of those energies that you could feel before you see. Literally gave me GOOSEBUMPS. She told me I have a beautiful soul, and man did I want to sit and talk with her more. She of course picked up right away that I’m an empath and told me I made a good selection in my crystal choice.
Later in the day we had happy hour with a view, stopped and got convenience store supplies to hang out on the balcony people watching everyone in the courtyard. It was so relaxing, and full of such great VIBES. Perfect first day!
- Devil’s Bridge Hike [West Sedona]- About 4 miles roundtrip.
- Boynton Canyon Hike [West Sedona]- About 6.2 miles roundtrip.
Devils bridge is free of charge, parking on the street, pretty busy trail. This trail had a lot of plateaus to stop at, and we met a lot of really friendly people along the way. Once you get to the ‘top-top’, where the ‘bridge’ is, there was like an informal line of people waiting to have a photo taken out on the ledge. I thought that was sort of neat and it restored a little faith in humanity as everyone worked together so that all that made the trek could get the photos they wanted. We definitely saw a snake here, the first snake I’ve ever seen in the wild, and it was quite exhilarating! Along the way there were people of all ages and sizes, it’s a hike for the whole family. The views are just mega you guys, like I can’t even explain it. This is a hike I would go back to for some sunrise and sunset action!
At Boynton Canyon you had to pay for a $5 ticket for your vehicle window, (this has to do with the fact that it’s National Park.) You park before the street runs into Enchantment Resort, and the trail is right in the parking lot. There are a few run off trails you can do too, but we stuck to the main trail that took you back behind the resort and into the stunning depths of the Canyon. We really went into this with the mindset of not expecting to hike the whole way, really just check it out, BUT of course we just conquered the whole thing instead! The canyon was so beautiful, and much less crowded of a trail. It did get a bit difficult at the end when you had to vertical climb to the top ledge to reach the trail end, but it was SO worth it for those views. From there you aren’t really to ‘explore’ further, but there is one more bend you can walk around for another ledge view overlooking the whole canyon you just walked through and the view is INCREDIBLE. [Be careful though, because it’s steep and there are a lot of cacti. I got some cacti stuck all over my leg and most of it I could pull out, but one was lodged in my leg until we got home and I got a tweezers.] *Be sure to pack PLENTY of water, and blockaid the sun from your skin somehow.*
- Extra excursion day trip north to Page, AZ … Spent about 6 hours in the car total.
- Lower Antelope Canyon ‘Tour’ – Probably just like a half a mile of ‘hiking’ total.
- Horseshoe Bend Hike – About 1.5 miles roundtrip from the parking lot to the Canyon.
No lie, I’ve gotten sucked down a few recent rabbit holes on Instagram looking at Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, and I was pretty fixed on taking one day to go there. It is a bit of a drive, but it was totally worth it!
Lucky for us, we can handle long road trips with each other, ha! No seriously though, we really enjoy road trips together and will frequently plan to drive somewhere while traveling to somewhere else. As long as it’ll be scenic, we are pretty down for it!
The drive to Page is sort of boring, with only specific parts of beauty, first as you’re leaving Sedona and driving the iconic zig-zag climb up the fierce mountain of CocoNino National Forest, past Slide Rock and through Oak Creek Canyon.
- Lower Antelope Canyon – Definitely buy your tickets in advance, unlike how I went about it! #Oops. I didn’t realize you had to ‘book a time slot’, so I clearly didn’t do my research up front. The tours sell out quickly and they only accept so many walk ups so plan ahead! Also, there are several different companies and areas you can end up, but we went through Dixie Ellis Lower Antelope Canyon Tours, and it was great! Our guide was so knowledgeable and personable. They kept us in groups of about 15 people and took us through. You can’t even tell when you are in the area that there is this magical beauty in the ground because everything looks so flat and desolate. The tour took awhile and you have to stick with the pace of the guide and your group, but our guide Donovan would stop and show us photo techniques and even take photos of us!
- Horseshoe Bend – Another must see, especially if you are in the area! There is free parking (for now, ha) and you simply hike to the location, but again it’s so hard to tell the beauty you are about to see before you actually get to it. It’s so well hidden in the ground! Once you get there you can freely roam about (practising caution of course), and taking photos from all the angles you would like. I think this will change in the future as someone recently fell off the edge here (about a week before we were there) and they are in the process right now of building like a walkway to overlook the area. Gorgeous colors, many plateaus to climb higher and get a good view. Quite popular, but easy to get away from people too. Another great thing is that horseshoe bend is only like 7 miles from Lower Antelope Canyon!
[Day 4] Departure Day
- Cathedral Rock – About 1.5 miles round trip, but STEEP and VERTICAL climb.
- Departure time: 5:00 pm. Drive from Sedona to Phoenix: about 2 hours. Must visit: In and Out Burger in Phoenix.
I didn’t want the last day to be wasted, it just seemed like such valuable time for one more opportunity. The night before I quickly looked up some shorter hikes for popular attractions in Sedona and was stuck on Cathedral Rock. We already visited Chapel Of The Holy Cross (quickly) the last time we drove through Sedona, and the Cathedral Rock hike was super close to that area (and said to have killer must-see views.)
Google told me the hike was only 0.7 miles one way, and so I figured no problem – piece of cake! After our audacious hikes a few days before, I was feeling overly confident that this was no big deal to add to the morning agenda.
Let’s just say the hike was basically completely vertical, and I’m not even kidding. It was honestly the most difficult hike we did, and yet it was the shortest. There are many plateaus to stop on, and there are wire wooden path finders for you to follow through your mountain climbing zig-zag (they help tell you the best path to take), bt multiple breaks are probably still a good idea. … We took many!
Once we got to the top, we were completely awestruck. The ‘saddle’ of Cathedral Rock allows you to view two sides of Sedona, and it’s quite impressive. We hung out for awhile admiring the view from all angles, before making our decent down so we could head back to Phoenix.
There was something about Cathedral Rock though, and I’m not sure if it’s because we were closest to one of the main vortexes at this point, or because it was the last day or what. But I truly felt something, that I can’t explain. Deep in my soul, spiritually, I felt a connection greater than I did at any of the other stops we made. It could have been a rush of emotions as my love for this place is so strong and the trip was coming to an end, but it was definitely a very difficult place to drive away from.
Adam and I are into seizing these long weekends away whenever we can fit them in. Due to his job, he only gets one Saturday off a month, so sometimes it can be more tricky for us, but I think that really gives us even more urge to make it happen. We have taken quite a few trips for just 4 days, Friday to Monday, and are getting really good at fitting a lot into a short amount of time. This style seems to work well for us, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
*Other popular places I still want to check out in Sedona*
- Slide Rock.
- More hiking trails, SO MANY more hiking trails everywhere.
- Red Rock State Park
- Courthouse Butte Hike
- Airport Mesa Vortex / Hike
- Bell Rock vortex and hiking trails in that area of South Sedona.
- Hiking in Oak Creek Canyon … dude it’s so beautiful in there! Like a magical unicorn forest!
- Seven Sacred Pools … we were so close to it but ran out of time!
- Crescent Moon Picnic area – near Cathedral Rock
- Chimney Rock & Sugarloaf Loop
- Jeep tours (but they are a bit spendy!)
- I would LOVE to go camping somewhere in CocoNino National Forest …
- Check out more crystal shops and energy healing centers because they are EVERYWHERE in Sedona. This place is all about channeling the natural energy already there and on educating people about it. I could have spent a whole day just going from store to store and to different healing centers.
- Schnebly Hill Road
- Ancient historic sites and ruins, ancient caves and writing – Palatki Ruins
- Adam really wanted to check out the historic town of Jerome Arizona, about 30 minutes away
… My list is so long it CLEARLY means I just have to go back … a BUNCH of times …
I connect with everywhere I travel to, on some deeper level, but it’s as if Sedona is woven right into my soul forever. I also wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the Desert, but i’ve fallen head over heels for it. Like I said in the beginning, I’ve always been a beach person you guys! This is so out of left field for me, but it also just feels so right.
Sedona, you will always hold a magical place in my heart. I sense a tattoo (or 3) coming … Might even have to get a pet and name it after you. …
Next up on the list you ask?
Well of course now I’m just incredibly passionate about the entire South West and want to immediately board the next plane to Utah. [Never in my life did I think I would become obsessed with traveling to Utah, but oh what little did I know. So young and naive I’ve been! Utah is like top of the intercontinental bucket list list right now!]
You’ll just have to stay tuned and see where else 2018 brings me. Make sure to follow me on Instagram for more!