A couple of weeks ago my mom and I went to Sedona, Arizona. If you have not been, I highly recommend it. We spent 4 days hiking the desert to see the famous vortexes. Our journey began on Monday when mom decided that a 6 am flight would be great. I however am not a morning person. This meant waking up at 3 am to give us time to drive to the airport. We got pulled over not 10 minutes into the rainy excursion because mom only had on her running lights, not taillights. Good thing the police officer was looking for someone else and didn’t have time for us two sleep deprived women. I’m blaming it on lack of caffeine. We make it the airport about 15 late, but got through TSA with no problem (I definitely suggest getting TSA Pre-Check…worth every penny).
Day 1: After a layover in ATL, we arrived in Phoenix around lunchtime. We then rented a car and drove through the armpit of Arizona to get to Sedona. It was incredible to be looking at nothing but bland desert, then round a corner and BOOM! Red rocks. Red rocks as far as the eye could see. Our first stop was to the Visitor Center to get a parking pass for all the hiking spots. Located right behind the visitor center is Bell Rock Vortex.
Our first day we kept it low key, mostly due to pure exhaustion. We got acquainted with the town and it’s many roundabouts, looked at the Oak Creek Canyon, settled in hotel and ate dinner. After dinner we went to the Airport Mesa Vortex to take sunset photos. Mom is deathly scared of heights, so me hopping up a few “layers” of rock face didn’t suit her. I did get her up to the level I was on, finally. We assumed the sunset in front of us would be the show, but in actuality, it was what the sun was setting on behind us. After taking photos we were beat. Bedtime.
Day 2: We woke up early, grabbed a quick breakfast and hit the Bell Rock Vortex trail early. It was an approximately 5 mile trail around Courthouse Rock and then ended up at Bell Rock. There were several trails to other rocks and hoodoos, but we did not have time for that. We had a kayak adventure scheduled later that day. All the trails are clearly marked and of course being in the desert, they are flat. Sunscreen is a must in these parts. Even though the heat is completely different of that in Arkansas, it’s still hot. The walk around Courthouse Rock seemed to take forever, but the scenery could not be beat.
Right down the road from this trail was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We stopped here for an impromptu photo op. Parking looked like it was at the bottom of the hill, so we parked here and trekked up the hill. Little did we know, there was plenty of parking at the top….and it was full of tourists.
Afterwards, we took off to Cottonwood for our water to wine kayaking adventure. We met the shuttle bus at the Alcantara Winery first. Upon arrival it looked as if we would be the only ones on this Tuesday that would be kayaking. Boy were we wrong. We went to check in with the bus driver and he asked us if we were the party of 16….16?! Um, no. All of a sudden two extended SUVs pulled up and 14 mid-20s adults hopped out with their Coachella T’s and camelbacks. They were on a company retreat with 150 other employees and were able to pick what activities they wanted to do, so 14 chose this. They were all friendly I must say. We cram onto the bus and get shuttled downstream on the Verde to the kayaks. We then had an hour and half tour through the river back to the winery. Once we were back at the winery, mom and I chose to do a wine tasting with a cheese plate. The scenery was gorgeous and made for a great time unwinding after a long hike and kayaking. We headed back to Sedona and prepared for Day 3.
Day 3: Today we decided to tackle Cathedral Rock. Ha! To reach the summit, it is a 3/4 mile straight up rock scurry. With mom and her hate of heights, we made it halfway up. Which is progress. No man left behind, so I decided to head down with her and we took side trails to find this one spot I have seen photographed so many times.
Once we reached the base we followed a trail that ran alongside Oak Creek. I knew from studying the photos before that we needed to be on the other side of the creek….somehow. We walked several miles behind the rocks and found where we needed to cross. A nice shallow, calm spot. We took off our shoes and walked across, no problem. Lo and behold, we found the photo spot! It was beautiful. Unfortunately, by this time it was around noon and the reflection in the water was subpar at best. We walked about 1/2 mile up creek and found a small fall that was perfectly situated behind the rocks.
Once we left here we walked a couple more miles upstream to find the vortex. Found a lot of cairns and assumed that was probably the spot. We knew we needed to cross the creek again to get back to our trail. This time the creek wasn’t so calm. There was a definite current you could see and the creek was much wider. I decided to pack up my camera, take off my shoes and start across. I was fine until I hit the current and my next step was on my butt. The first thing I saved was the camera. However, my shoes and socks got soaked. I tossed them to the bank a little discouraged knowing I would have to walk several more miles with wet socks and shoes. I made it to the other side and tried to help mom. She got to the current spot and started to wobble so I told her to toss me her shoes so she wouldn’t have to endure the sogginess as well. This did not work out as planned. Somehow she threw the first one behind her and upstream. Good thing, because it just floated back down to her. She tried again and again did the same thing, only this time it got stuck in a beaver dam. I army crawled my way to it and rescued the soggy shoe. Thankfully the other shoe made it to the bank. I was so wrapped up in the chaos I didn’t realize I bruised my tailbone. And not an internal bruise….a giant, purple bruise. Right under my tailbone. We then hiked the last several miles uphill with about 5 switchbacks with wet shoes and clothes. But we conquered that trail. All 8 miles of it.
We found a back way to the reflection photo spot that we could literally drive up to, so around sunset that night mom and I went back. This time a slew of photographers were there to get the same shot. We all had our tripods lines up waiting for that perfect moment.
Day 4: Our last full day in Sedona we went to the last vortex, Boynton Canyon. This was a 6 mile hike into a box canyon. The first half of the trail is beautiful and stayed between the rocks and an odd resort called the Enchantment. We called it the Encampment. It looked very cultish. Hopi music played over all the loudspeakers outside and it was heavily fenced and gated. We start seeing signs for bears and what to do if you encountered one. I couldn’t imagine bears being in the desert, but then we descended into a dry creek bed trail that greatly resembled what you would see in Arkansas. Green, lush, humid. Bear-like. Now I understood the signage. Thankfully we did not come across any forest creatures. After a slow uphill trudge the entire way we came to a straight uphill, boulder climbing portion. I went ahead and found the trail’s end. It was absolutely breathtaking. A hoodoo called the Kachina Woman stood tall. This is supposedly where the vortex was. I didn’t feel anything except out of breath.
On the way out was a completely different scene than going in. Now we were seeing what was at our back. Once we made it out of the Arizona jungle and back to the rocks, it was phenomenal. We came back up by the Encampment and saw an odd circle of crosses that faced the rocks. We weren’t really sure what it was all about, but made for some cool shots. We were exiting the park when mom and I met this extremely nice older gentleman who carves rocks from vortexes into hearts. He was passing them out to everyone on the trail. I really wish I would’ve gotten his name and picture…it was a great way to end our Sedona adventure.