When we were researching places to visit on our trip, we found the results of an on-line poll that had been conducted by a travel magazine. Sedona had been voted the most beautiful place in the United States. That’s a lot of pressure to stand up under. We went in skeptical, like walking into a theater to see a good move that’s been over-hyped. Little Miss Sunshine, here we come!
On our way towards Sedona, we could see what was to come- tall red pillar like mountains. We turned first into the Red Rock State Park, just outside of Sedona. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go in because they don’t allow dogs there. That was one of our first experiences in that area- putting some doubt in our minds about the place. Making our way to the next stop, we could see some great views, but stuck right in the middle were houses, built all throughout the area and right up to the mountains. In Sedona itself, every house in even the most crowded subdivisions had views of the beautiful red mountains around the city. Even the Burger King looked like it had a view that would rival the Space Needle’s. You can tell that this town is all about the real estate. Flyers and banners and signs all over tell you who to contact about real estate there, and a large number of houses were for sale.
The other major industry in Sedona appears to be “vortexes”. Sedona is believed by some people to contain numerous vortexes, or places of power that enhance a person’s spiritual experiences. There were more than the average number of psychics and spiritual shops in the town, and a number of “Vortex Tours” are offered. You can pick up a pamphlet in any tourist office. Personally, we did not experience any kind of spiritual uplifting while we were there. Perhaps all those dollar signs are clogging up the energy flow.
Our next stop was at the Crescent Moon Recreational Area. We drove to the entrance and were told it was $8.00 to get in. We asked, “What can you do here?” “Well”, said Shirley Sue, the ticket office attendant, “Most people come in to take this here picture.” She pointed at a picture of Cathedral Rock, taped in the office window. “We have trails that will take you back to the creek, but they’re closed up due to the floods.” An $8.00 picture- well that sounded tempting, but since we’d been able to take a picture of Cathedral Rock while stopped on the side of the road earlier, we told her that we would pass, at least until the floods subsided. She told us, “You know, there’s another way. If you don’t want to pay the $8.00 to get in here, you can get in if you have a Red Rock Recreation Pass. You need that to park anywhere around here anyway, so you might as well buy that. It’s $15.00 for three days and you can get into this here park and a bunch of others.” That explained all the signs we’d been seeing along the road saying that we couldn’t park without a pass. We talked it over and decided we’d probably need one. “Okay,” we said, “we’ll take one of those.” “Oh no, I can’t sell you one of those”, said Shirley Sue, laughing. “They don’t trust me with those. You’ll have to go the visitor center up in Sonoma, or they sell them at the Safeway, or at the Circle K.” They don’t trust Shirley Sue with them, but you can buy them at the Circle K. That’s just sad. We went to the visitor center and we bought one so we were legal to park on the streets. We did go back to Crescent Moon the following day and were able to walk to the creek and take pictures of Cathedral Rock from the park. When we went in we asked if we could get a brochure for the park. “I’d like to give you one, but I have to charge you $1.07 for it.” Forget it. By the way, Cathedral Rock is believed to contain a vortex. We experienced deep but brief religious feelings when almost slipping and falling in the 3 inches of mud that covered the trails, but that was about the extent of it for us.
We did end up finding some really neat places in Sedona by traveling up “Historic” Hwy 89A, where you can get away from all the real estate signs, “psychedelic mariachi” advertisements and such. Once you get out into nature, things are always better- your mood lifts and, yes, you can actually see how people would find this to be one of the most beautiful places they’ve ever seen.