Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, ArizonaSome go for the galleries. Others seek the healing powers. And a few are searching for UFOs. But everyone who travels to Sedona ends up captivated by the magic hour. Twice a day–at sunrise and sunset–all eyes turn toward the blazing red rocks. And this little city in central Arizona becomes one of the most beautiful places in the United States.

The day begins early in Sedona. Grab a cup of coffee and head to the hot air balloon launch site. You’ll start to rise with the sun. Drift over the rocks and the canyons as the dark shadows recede. Enjoy the crisp air before the temperature starts to soar. You’ll be wide awake as you head back into town. Stop at the Coffee Pot for omelets–there are 101 options–on the patio. And decide if you’ll spend the rest of the day exploring by foot, bike, or jeep.

Sedona, ArizonaHike the Airport Loop Trail for views of Bell Rock, Coffee Pot Rock, and Cathedral Rock. Head into the forest near deep Oak Creek Canyon or the vortex at Boynton Canyon. Search for rock art at ancient ruins. Run to Broken Arrow. Climb the steep trail to Devils Bridge. The scent of juniper, eventually mixed with sweat, follows wherever you go. Cool off at Slide Rock State Park, where a natural water slide formed in the riverbed. Or in Oak Creek, as you fish for rainbow trout.

Late afternoon is time for a hot stone massage or shower and a quick nap. Things slow down during the hottest part of the day anyway. Browse the Southwest landscapes at the galleries–there are more than 100 in town. Wander around the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village for Native American jewelry, healing crystals, or Western clothing that you’ll never wear when you return home. Go to the Barking Frog for prickly pear margaritas and white shrimp tamales. Oaxaca for enchiladas and a tequila tasting. Or the Heartline Cafe for pulled pork and polenta with Zinfandel from Arizona. Yes, wine from Arizona.

Don’t miss the sunset though. The colors change quickly at Overlook Point. Rock formations turn from mauve to crimson to gold to purple, and eventually black. And that’s when the stargazing begins. And if you stare at the clear sky long enough, the colors will begin to change yet again.

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