Sedona is one of Arizona’s premier tourism, recreation, resort, retirement and art centers. Located at the mouth of scenic Oak Creek Canyon and at the center of the state’s legendary Red Rock Country affords breath-taking panoramas, a mild climate, plenty of sunshine and clean, fresh air. The area is the second most visited site in the state after the Grand Canyon.
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Established in 1902 and incorporated in 1988, the community was named for Sedona Schnebly, an early settler. Sedona spreads across the boundaries of two north-central Arizona
counties, Coconino and Yavapai. It sits at an elevation of 4,500 feet, 3,200 feet higher than Phoenix, which is 120 miles south, and 2,600 feet lower than the rim country of Flagstaff, 30 miles to the north.
Tourism forms Sedona’s economic base, with the National Forest Service estimates that more than 3.5 million people visit the area annually. Sedona’s small-town character is preserved by
a preponderance of small owner-operated businesses serving visitors and the community. Visitor interest during the past decade has stimulated retirement
and vacation home acquisition and construction, creating one of the most viable real estate markets in the nation.
Sedona has something for everyone–world-class resorts and small family-run motels, quaint bed and breakfasts, fine restaurants, outstanding shops and diverse art galleries. The beauty of
the area makes sightseeing and hiking popular; golf and tennis are almost year-round activities. Visitors can take a jeep tour into the backcountry or view the red rock monoliths from
horseback or hot air balloon. Red Rock Crossing has been featured in many motion pictures. Other attractions include Slide Rock and Red Rock State Parks, Chapel of the Holy Cross, the
Sedona Arts Center, and Tlaquepaque, a Mexican-style arts and crafts village.
Highway 89A through Oak Creek Canyon is the state’s first designated Scenic Highway and was named by Rand-McNally as one of the most beautiful drives in America. Sedona is a hub for visitors to Northern Arizona. Many visitors sites, including Indian ruins, the Grand Canyon, Jerome, Meteor Crater and Sunset Crater are just a day trip away. The U.S. Forest Service administers many campgrounds in the area. Several are on or near Oak Creek, which is stocked with trout from Memorial Day to Labor Day. For information on Forest Service campgrounds, contact the Sedona Ranger Station,P.O. Box 300, Sedona, AZ 86339, phone (520) 282-4119. Information on private campgrounds and picnic areas is available at the Chamber of Commerce.
When you begin to talk about Sedona, you need to go back 350 million years. Sedona is known for its strikingly beautiful and colorful rock formations. These were created long ago from oceans, deserts and volcanic eruptions that have occurred in this spot. All of these geological events resulted in the gorgeous sights we see today. Nature’s forces have cut through the layers of rock exposing the different colors and formations.
In 700 A.D. the Hohokam Indians moved to the area and used irrigation for their crops. Then the Sinaguan Indians resided in this spot. The word Sinagua means “without water”. These people relied on rainfall. In 1066 A.D. the Sinagua left because of a volcanic eruption.
Later, the Anasazi Indians built multistoried dwellings. But in 1300’s something happened and the Anasazi’s disappeared.
It wasn’t until 1583 before a European took a step into the area. Antonio de Espejo came to in search of gold. After discovering nothing, he left. Finally, in 1876, John “Jim” Thompson built a cabin along Oak Creek. He became the first permanent white resident. Eventually, C.J. “Bear” Howard, an escaped convict from California, also set up residence in the canyon. In 1901, Theodore and Sedona Schnebly moved to the area and bought 80 acres. Growing vegetables and fruit was their mainstay. The Schnebly’s would haul their produce up to Flagstaff and return. They also wanted to establish a post office. The Schnebly’s sent off their request for a post office but were denied.
The name they had chosen, “Schnebly Station” was too long. Theodore’s brother, Ellsworth encouraged Theodore to use the name “Sedona”, in honor of his wife. The town was officially named Sedona in 1902. Sedona became popular in 1923 when Zane Grey wrote the book “Call of the Canyon”. Then later, the story was filmed in the book’s actual setting, Sedona. The silent film was a hit and many other movies decided to use Sedona as the sight to do their filming. As a matter of fact, many Hollywood stars have made films in the red rock country such as Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Gene Autry and Robert DeNiro.
In the 1950’s several artists and writers made Sedona their home and soon the Cowboy Artists of American was founded. In 1965, Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye, John Hampton and Robert MacLeod created the group to perpetuate the memory and culture of the Old West. Sedona continues to grow today. Tourism helps the town survive. The town wasn’t incorporated until
Things To See & Do
Red Rock State Park
Red Rock State Park includes 286 acres of wildlife and plants. The park has a diverse riparian habitat, which is enhanced by Oak Creek flowing through it. Visitors will see ravens, jays, and Gila woodpeckers. There are also migratory birds that come to the park in April and November. There are a variety of trees throughout the park. Sycamore, Cottonwood, and elders can be seen growing naturally.
The goal of Red Rock State Park is to educate others on ecology and preservation. The visitor center should be your first stop. The nature center, as they call it, has a multitude of interesting activities inside. There are presentations, exhibits, videos and guided tours on the wildlife, flora and fauna in the area. Visitors will have the opportunity to take bird walks and hikes. There are solar-powered toilets with fans located along the trails. A guided hike is offered every Saturday at 8:00 am, during the months of May to September and at 9:00 am, during the months of October to April. This hike ends up at a terrific overlook called Eagle’s Nest.
Red Rock State Park is open every day from 8:00 to 6:00 pm, during the summer and 8:00 to 5:00 pm, during the winter. The visitor center is open every day from 9:00 to 5:00 pm. The admission cost is $5.00 per vehicle (up to four persons per vehicle) and $1.00 per pedestrian. If you would like more information, call 520-284-3214 or 520-282-6907 You can get to the park from Sedona, by taking State Highway 89 west out of town. After traveling approximately four miles, you will come to Lower Red Rock Loop Road where you will take it south to Red Rock State Park.
You can reach the park from Flagstaff by taking State Highway 89 south out of town. Continue traveling on State Highway 89 through Sedona, until you come to Lower Red Rock Loop Road. Take Lower Red Rock Loop Road into the park. You can reach Red Rock State Park from Tucson or Phoenix by taking Interstate 10 north out of town past the town of Camp Verde. When you get to the exit for State Highway 179, take it and continue heading north up to Sedona. Once you arrive in Sedona, take State Highway 89 west through town to Lower Red Rock Loop Road. When you get to Lower Red Rock Loop Road take it and follow it to the park.
Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park began as the Pendley family’s homestead, which included an apple orchard. It is nestled in the lush Oak Creek Canyon and is what many consider Mother Nature’s Playground. Today, the 43-acre Slide Rock State Park contains Oak Creek Canyon’s most amazing feature. A 30-foot natural rock water slide worn in the rocks winds through the creek and gives visitors an exciting thrill ride. If you are interested in taking the plunge, make sure you come prepared. Bring along a pair of denim shorts for the slide and be ready for the cool 65-degree water flowing down the canyon. The park does have other activities for its visitors. You may fish or do some nature watching.
Picnickers will enjoy their meal within the canyon’s red rock walls and pine forests bordering Oak Creek. Visitors will also find picnic tables, grills, a snack bar and hiking trails. The new expanded parking area and facilities are a great improvement. Due to the park’s popularity, these upgrades were a necessity. Visitors will discover the original apple orchard still growing nearby. There are several varieties of apples growing in the orchard. If you are interested in some cider or caramel apples, you should visit the snack
Slide Rock State Park would like to protect the wildlife and plant life in the area. In order to do so, the park does not allow glass containers or pets. The hours depend on the time of year. During May through September, its hours are 8:00 to 7:00 pm. Then from October to November and the month of April, the hours become 8:00 to 6:00 pm. For all the other months, the park is open 8:00 to 5:00 pm. The cost of admission is $5.00 per vehicle. If you would like more information on the park’s hikes or guided trails, you may call 520-282-3034.
You can get to Slide Rock State Park from Sedona, by taking State Highway 89 north out of town. You will need to look for the signs directing you from the highway. It is approximately 5 miles outside of town. You can get to the park from Phoenix or Tucson by taking Interstate 10 north out of town, past the town of Camp Verde. When you get to the exit for State Highway 179, take it and continue heading north up to Sedona. When you get to Sedona take State Highway 89 north up through Oak Creek to the park. If you are coming from Flagstaff, take State Highway 89 south out of town. You will go through Oak Creek Canyon along the way you will see the signs for the park.
Slide Rock State Park is where I spent many of my Saturday afternoons during my college day. The Park as come a long way from that time. The development of the park has greatly improved and protected the area. The park is very popular, so plan on visiting when the weather is cold. Early spring is ideal; when the snowmelt is active and the creek is flowing.
Schnebly Hill Road
Theodore and Sedona Schnebly created Schnebly Hill Road in 1901. They moved to the area and bought 80 acres. Growing vegetables and fruit was their mainstay. The Schnebly’s would haul their produce up to Flagstaff and return. Thus, the Schnebly Hill Road was developed. Today you can follow its path.
If you are heading off Interstate 17 down to Sedona, the Road passes by a lake and through tall pines. Then you will come to a vista where you can see the red rocks of Sedona down below. This is a great photo stop.
As you proceed down the hill, you will come to the most spectacular sight. From this advantage point, you will see a breathtaking view of the Verde Valley and a vast panorama of the rock cliffs where there the contrasting reds, pinks, orange, purple and golden colors form one of the most brilliant scenes in Arizona. This spot is often used as a motion picture location because of its beauty. You will discover that many of the Jeep tours departing out of Sedona come to this place. The rest of the ride down to Sedona is dotted with wonderful views of rock formations and of the land below.
I would suggest taking the road from the Interstate 17 down to Sedona although; you can take the drive out of Sedona. If you are heading out of Sedona you will need to look for the signs to Schnebly Road in downtown Sedona. I prefer the drive down from Interstate 17. This way the views are constantly opening up in front of you, instead of you having to turn around and look back as you climb the hill.
If you are coming from Interstate 17 look for exit 320. Exit 320 is just past Camp Verde and before you get to Munds Park. Once you take exit 320, you will turn onto Forest Road 153 and head west.
It is a dirt road. The first part of the road is good, but it does change as the road continues into Sedona. It would be advisable to be in a vehicle that can withstand big bumps.
It takes about three hours to make the drive because you will want to stop and look at the sights. It is a definite must do.
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive
The scenic Oak Creek Canyon Drive is one of the most amazing drives in the state of Arizona. This road was Arizona ‘s first designated Scenic Highways. Rand-McNally named it one of the most beautiful drives in America. The beautiful plant life set against canyon makes this a ride one you will always remember.
Long ago, the road started out as a cattle trail. Then it was used as a wagon road. It was the shortcut to Flagstaff. Today, the road crawls along Oak Creek through the lush riparian environment, following the canyon walls. Then, it ascends upward rapidly to the high forests of northern Arizona and Flagstaff. It is a winding, thrilling drive. The scenic drive goes between the town of Sedona and Flagstaff. It is approximately 28 miles long. A portion of the drive follows Oak Creek, which is set at the bottom of Oak Creek Canyon. This 16-mile canyon gorge has streams and waterfalls. The best time of the year to make the drive is during the fall. In autumn, the leaves turn to vibrant shades and the color of the canyon rock make the scene complete.
You will start your scenic drive from Sedona by taking State Highway 89 north out of town. You will travel along the highway until you reach Flagstaff, where the scenic highway ends. You can make the drive from Flagstaff by taking State Highway 89 south out of town. You will travel along State Highway 89 until you reach Sedona, where the scenic drive ends. You can reach the scenic drive from Phoenix or Tucson by taking Interstate 10 north out of town past the town of Camp Verde. When you get to the exit for State Highway 179, take it and continue heading north up to Sedona. Once you get to Sedona, take State Highway 89 north up to Flagstaff. The scenic portion of the drive is from Sedona to Flagstaff, through Oak Creek Canyon.
This is a drive you won’t want to miss. You feel like you are in a faraway place, as you wind your way down the canyon. As a native Arizonan, this is one of my favorite drives. I love to get away from it all and roll down my windows and let my senses take it all in. Take the drive.
Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a modern Catholic chapel. It rises 200 feet from the ground and is set in between two large red rock formations. Marguerite Brunswig Staude, who was a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, designed it. The chapel was built in 1956 and uses a ramp for its entrance.
As visitors approach the chapel, the 90-foot white cross on the front of the structure can be spotted easily. The best time to make your visit to the chapel is at sunrise. You will see the sunlight traveling through the large stain glass window at the front of the chapel. It is a glorious sight to behold.
There are no regular services at the chapel. However, it does provide a relaxing spot for reflection.
Visitors will be able to enjoy their mediation with soft music and wonderful views of light. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is open every day from 9:00 to 5:00 pm. There is no entrance fee. If you would like more information on the chapel, you may call 520-282-4069.
You can get to the Chapel of the Holy Cross from Sedona by taking State Route 179 south to Chapel Road. Then take Chapel Road up to the structure. It is approximately two miles south of Sedona.
You can get to the Chapel of the Holy Cross from Phoenix or Tucson by taking Interstate 10 north out of town, past the town of Camp Verde. When you get to the exit for State Highway 179, take it and continue heading north up to Sedona. Just before you get into town, you will see Chapel Road. Turn right and travel up the road to the chapel. If you are coming from Flagstaff, take State Highway 89 south out of town. You will go through Oak Creek Canyon and into Sedona. Then take State Highway 89 south heading out of Sedona. When you get to Chapel Road, take it up to the chapel.
Tlaquepaque is a small upscale shopping and restaurant area with a unique twist. Tlaquepaque is a replica of an 18th-century Mexican village, reminiscent of a place in Guadalajara, Mexico. It is the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day of eating and browsing. Tlaquepaque is pronounced “T-laca-pocky”. Tlaquepaque is an Indian word meaning “the best of everything”. You will find this statement to be true, as you stroll through the quaint courtyards and gaze at fountains. Specialty shops, galleries, and restaurants are located in the tranquil village setting. Tlaquepaque is open every day from 10:00 to 5:00 pm. If you would like more information on Tlaquepaque, you may call 520-282-4838.
You can get to Tlaquepaque from Sedona by taking State Route 179 south to the bridge. Here you will see the village. You can get to Tlaquepaque from Phoenix or Tucson by taking Interstate 10 north out of town, past the town of Camp Verde. When you get to the exit for State Highway 179, take it and continue heading north up to Sedona. Just as you get into town, you will cross a bridge by Tlaquepaque. If you are coming from Flagstaff, take State Highway 89 south out of town. You will go through Oak Creek Canyon and into Sedona. Then take State Highway 89 south heading out of Sedona. When you get to the bridge, you have arrived.