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Cool in Red Rock Country: Sedona, Arizona

When I was a senior in high school, my family took an Arizona vacation. It was the height of summer, and my parents were able to get an amazing deal on a fancy resort in Phoenix, since it was 114-degrees outside and no one in their right mind would want to vacation in an oven. So we spent our entire time in Phoenix in the hotel swimming pool. And, after that, we went to visit the red-rock town of Sedona, which was a relief at about 20 degrees cooler, and which leaves an impression on me to this day.

Sedona stands as sort of a spiritual center for the region. Drive into town and you’ll notice dreamcatchers hanging in windows and on rearview mirrors, large displays of crystal jewelry, a preponderance of candle shops, celestial-themed galleries, and people walking around with yoga mats. Part of the reason why Sedona attracts so many new-age seekers and dreamers is that it’s believed that there is a special, concentrated energy in some of the town’s rocks—this energy concentration is also called a vortex. There are a number of jeep tours that will take you to Sedona’s vortices where you can determine if you feel a special tingle in your spine, a healing vibration, or the presence of some sort of higher power.

Even if you don’t get a thrill up your leg (sorry, Chris Matthews), the sandstone rocks in and of themselves are a thing of beauty, and a photographer’s dream. Depending on what time of day you go, they take on different shades of red, which are heightened by the region’s spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

I don’t remember getting much of a special feeling from the vortex (we went to Cathedral Rock, but each vortex has its own spiritual properties), but the tour we took was pretty fun, going up and over the rocks of Oak Creek Canyon, tasting pine nuts picked fresh from the trees, and learning about the area’s flora and fauna. At night, the plentiful stars knocked our jaws open and lent an otherworldly glow to the martian-like landscape.

Even if pan-flute music, astrological charts, and the hippie go-to scent of nag champa gives you the heebie jeebies, all the new-age noise is pretty easy to get past in Sedona, where nature looms large enough to remind you and your brethren that you’re pretty small. Even when you’re a skeptical senior in high school. It was a place that restored the “cool” factor to our summer vacation in Arizona, in more ways than one.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Moira126


My name: Rachel Berg.

Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.

View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.

Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.

Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.


Chris Harris

Hey, this is something that I could relate to, even I went to Arizona for vacations, truly a great place..
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