Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Sedona - home of the beautiful red rocks in Arizona. Even if you've never heard of it, you've probably seen pictures of the quintessential red rock formations. I remember hearing about it for the first time from a teacher at my massage school, as she spoke about her travels there and the beauty and serenity all around. While Curtis and I have traveled all around Arizona together, we had never even driven through Sedona before this weekend, though I would always put it on the top of the list of places to visit while we are in Arizona.

When my mom started planning her vacation to come see us, we immediately thought of taking her to Sedona. While Tucson's mountains have their own distinct beauty, we wanted to show off more of Arizona and still have a new adventure ourselves. We knew that it didn't matter how long or short, easy or hard a trail was, we would definitely have great views that you can't find anywhere else. Also, my mom was coming down for 6 days - that meant we could still show her around our home, and fit in a little weekend adventure!

The highway to Sedona

We drove up on a Friday afternoon, all piled into Yeti. I found a hotel called Beaver Creek Inn in Lake Montezuma, AZ, which is about a half hour away from Sedona itself. It ended up being a great find - off of the I-17, away from the tourists in a small quiet town, inexpensive, and very neat and cozy. Oh, and dog friendly too! Even Charlie approved. :)

Montezuma Well at 8:15am

On Friday night, we enjoyed dinner at the Vintage Grill. We chose it because it was likely the only spot open in town, but it turned out to be delicious - especially the bread basket. :) The next morning, we went up the road a bit to visit the Montezuma Well. It was early in the morning and chilly, but such a beautiful, peaceful spot. When we started the short loop trail, there was no one else around, but by the time we returned to the parking lot several more people had arrived. 

My beautiful mother and I!

We loved the reflections in the water, the morning sun highlighting some areas, and the small pops of fall colors around the well - just beautiful!

Charlie couldn't even look away from the well for a picture! ;)

Down by the side of the Well

Charlie leads the way!

This weekend, we were thankful for dog friendly trails and a dog who loves adventures. Charlie was thankful for completely new smells to follow and many new people to love. This was her first long road trip and vacation, and she did so well with it!

Cliff dwellings

View at the Visitor's Center

After visiting the well, we continued on the highway to Sedona. Almost right after driving West of I-17, the red rocks started appearing! We stopped at the visitor's center and learned about the best trails to do that day. Charlie gladly welcomed all the other tourists to the building, and got many belly rubs in return. :)

The sun shining on the Courthouse Butte

Bell Rock on the left, Courthouse Butte on the right.

Looking back at the parking lot full of selfie-takers!

We started with hiking about 2 miles on a loop trail that takes you up close to Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. The parking lot was filled with tourists and selfie-takers, but once we started on the  actual trail, it was a mostly quiet walk. While you can see the rocks and mountains from the parking lot, getting the up-close perspective and walking through the red dirt is so worth it. Take a hike, people! ;)

As the day progressed, Charlie's fur turned more and more into the color of the red dirt. 

Panorama with Bell Rock in the spotlight

Family picture in front of Bell Rock!

The 3 girls :)

We hiked up closer to Bell Rock, then followed the trail along the side of Courthouse Butte before taking another trail back to the parking lot. It was all mostly flat and a very easy and enjoyable hike. There were some areas in the trail where the red dirt was more sandy, and whenever Charlie came to it she would take off running through it - I think she liked the way the sand felt when she dashed through it. It was adorable!

We were probably out here enjoying the hike for almost 2 hours. After this, we decided the lunch cookies we had with us were enough to tide us over, so we continued driving through until we were on the Northwest side of Sedona, and ready to take on another hike. 

Highway 89, heading West into Sedona

Beginning Briggs Mesa trail

From 89A we took Jordan Road to a parking lot where there are several trailheads. We decided to go up the Briggs Mesa trail and come back down Soldier Pass Trail, making a 5 mile loop. This parking lot was also full, but the hike was still quiet and very pleasant. 

For the first mile or so, the trail was mostly flat and we walked along the trail, up and down through washes. The trail then started ascending over the next mile to the Mesa. Having Charlie provided us with many opportunities to stop and say hello to other hikers. Besides being her poky little self, she really did great with the whole hike and walked most of the way.

The beginning of the trail had us walking through the "forest," with views of the other  rocks  peeking through the trees.

I love how the green trees contrasted with the red rocks!

It was cloudy, but we enjoyed seeing the sun highlight different parts of the mountains around us.

We made it to the Mesa! The views got better and better as we got higher, and the steeper hiking at the end paid off with a great look at Sedona from up above.

All of us - including Charlie - enjoyed some peanut butter cookies before moving on. We walked across the Mesa to the other side and began our descent. 

Seven Sacred Pools

For part of the way down, we walked along a forest road until we came to 7 Pools. I didn't get a great picture, but I would assume that it looks pretty impressive during monsoon season. There were several places where I can imagine have cool waterfalls throughout the summer, but this wasn't the season for that! There were lots of people around that area, but once we started on Soldier Pass Trail back to the parking lot we were the only ones out there.

Charlie - who is as red as Sedona's dirt and has a belly full of cookies!

Another impressive sight along the way was Devil's Kitchen. It's a sinkhole, and you can walk up to the edge and see the ground that caved in.

Devil's Kitchen

The Sphinx Rock Formation

Pretty sure we tried to get Charlie in on this one, but she was just done with pictures. :)
We didn't end up doing anything in the main area of Sedona itself. It's very artsy and would be fun to walk through, but Curtis and I much prefer being in nature than around other tourists. However, at the end of our hike, it was around 4:30 and we still hadn't had a real meal for the day. We hadn't researched places to eat in Sedona, but knew our options would be limited with Charlie. We ended up driving to Cottonwood and eating at a Sonic. We called it a day and went back to the hotel to relax.

Sycamore trees

The next morning, we packed up and left early, but stopped to see Montezuma Castle before driving home. Curtis and I had visited last June, but it's such a interesting and fun stop along I-17 that it was worth showing my mom. We also enjoyed seeing the colorful Sycamores all around the area - it was much warmer last time we were there!

Montezuma Castle

And that was our weekend adventure! Check back later to see what else my mom and I did together over the week. :)

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