When people think of Arizona vacation spots, the typical idea is to see the Grand Canyon, the golf resorts of Scottsdale, or even the old OK Corral in Tombstone. Few think of Sedona, Arizona – we think of it Arizona’s best kept secret. As Arizona natives, we promise that if you take a trip to Sedona, it will be one of the most memorable vacations you will ever take. The possible experiences, attractions, and tours are endless. Whether you are looking for a relaxing place to unwind, some fantastic photo opportunities, or to become closer to nature and learn more about yourself, Sedona holds the key to everything you are looking for in a vacation. Rich in history and culture, you will learn and relax all at the same time. Knowing a little more about its history will ensure that you fully take advantage of all this area has to offer, as well as prepare yourself for the experiences you are interested in. Nature lovers will fully be in their element here.
Sedona is nestled in Arizona’s high desert, situated under the towering Southwestern rim of the mighty Colorado plateau. It is perfect as a travel destination because it usually has four mild seasons with plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and natural beauty. The annual average high and low temperatures tend to be 74.7 and 45.7 degrees respectively. The city of Sedona straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of Arizona. As of 2010, the U.S. census states that the population is a little more than 10,000. The main attractions bring people from all over the world to experience the historic natural beauty and rock formations year after year. Sedona stands as one of our nation’s most natural, breathtaking beauties and a national landmark we should be proud to call one of our own. Atypical of some “tourist traps”, Sedona is full of hospitality, one of the best traits of one of its founders.
Geologically speaking, most people know that Sedona is full of color and contains rock formations like nowhere else in this nation. But most people do not realize that Sedona’s history dates back about 500 million years when it began to form. Over a period of about 300 million years, it is said that the land was ocean bottom and coastal plain. It was then that sedimentary layers of sandstone formed. Geologists and paleontologists explain that between 200 and 65 million years ago, dinosaurs used to roam this very land. From 65 to 20 million years ago, there were major uplifts in southern Arizona, as well as down faulting and wind erosion on northern Arizona. From 20 to 12 million years ago, volcanic activity was found to cause the Verde Valley to down fault into a deep basin with many lakebeds, creating what we know today as the Mogollon Rim. About 3 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau uplifted too. Since then, erosion by wind, rain and snowmelt has created Oak Creek Canyon and exposed the layers of sediment (Schnebly Hill Formation sandstone) to form the amazing red rock formations. Vegetation and wildlife evolved and migrated as a result. This very process still continues today, however very slowly and the shifts are not visible to us.
Are you a history buff? Well, human prehistory began here about 4000 years BC when hunter-gatherers roamed and settled in the Verde Valley and Prescott areas. Between 900 and 1350 AD, a more advanced civilization began building pueblos and cliff houses as many of us remember reading about in the history books. Known as the Sinagua people, they were successful in farming, actually had an understanding of astronomy, and made products such as baskets, pottery and jewelry. They also created trade routes with the people of the Pacific coast, Mexico and even Central America. Archaeological evidence in Sedona’s immediate area is few and far between, but a few fine pots, some stone tools and baskets have been found nearby. (The pueblo builders had moved on by 1400 AD according to historians, which was about the same time that the Yavapai and Apache peoples began to move into the area.)
Closer historically is the story of how Sedona itself came to be. According to historians in the area, it was named after Theodore Carl Schnebly and his wife, Sedona, who moved to the Sedona area from Gorin, Missouri. A few families living there convinced T.C. to create a post office out of his home, which already had become the community’s hotel. He may have suggested initially to the government to name the post office Schnebly Station or Red Rock Crossing. However, he was told the names were too long, and following a suggestion by his brother, Dorsey Ellsworth Schnebly, he submitted his wife’s name, Sedona. And so it was known as such. It was also said that this woman, Sedona, was a very hospitable woman.
Most people know that Sedona, strategically situated at the mouth of spectacular Oak Creek Canyon, is a unique place. Characterized by massive red-rock formations, as well as the areas of Oak Creek Canyon, the area surrounding this beloved community is considered at least as beautiful as many national parks. The city of Sedona, one of Arizona’s most popular places for tourism, recreation, resort, retirement and art centers, was officially incorporated in 1988. Before then, it was a rural ranching community situated off the beaten path, but its impressive natural beauty and landmarks became nationally known through the motion picture industry. Today, commercials and television shows are still filmed in the areas surrounding this city due to their beauty, which is said to attract more than four million tourists each year from all over the world.
Because of this natural beauty, there is just so much to take in on your journey to Sedona. Active or not, this place will inspire you to get moving, go on excursions, and channel your artistic side. It may seem difficult to pack in all that Sedona has to offer as the attractions are seemingly endless. The area’s year round beauty means that you can visit any time of the year, working around your schedule unlike many other vacation destinations. Outdoor activities are situated in the natural beauty of the area. From hiking, backpacking, photography, or guided plane tours, Sedona has so much to offer. It would be possible to spend several weeks just visiting hidden canyons, sacred sites, or red rock trails to name just a few.
According to the “Visit Sedona” website, “In addition to enjoying the outdoors, there are many other things to do in Sedona. Sedona activities include visiting art galleries and attending shows, musical and theatrical performances, spiritual and personal enrichment activities, annual festivals and many community events.” The activities are perfect for romantic getaways, family vacations, or solo journeys. Young and old will enjoy the attractions for a weekend or weeks – it is up to you!
There are also many other nearby locales which offer additional attractions to the Sedona visitor. Due to its location, other tourist (and hidden) areas include the Grand Canyon, Page, Lake Powell, Flagstaff, and Jerome in the Verde Valley. Nearly 100,000 visitors check out the Douglas Mansion in Jerome, Arizona each year to learn about mining history and the geology of this quaint little town. The kids will be fascinated by the tours, lessons, and experiences you will share as a family. The Douglas Mansion, also known as Jerome State Historic Park, allows for breathtaking panoramic photos, historic exhibits, and an engaging video presentation for youth and older folks. The video presentation explains what life in this town was like back in the days of being a booming mining town. More than just a museum, it is also an architectural landmark on the National Register of Historic Places. When it was built in 1916, the Douglas Mansion was the most impressive house in the town, maybe even one of the most impressive historic homes in all of Arizona. James Stuart Douglas, the owner of the Little Daisy Mine, wanted a massive residence to entertain his “industrial friends and mining officials.” Kid-friendly idea? Make the visit a scavenger hunt and search for these 10 items suggested by experts:
3,100 pound azurite and malachite rock
Griffin from Great Britain’s House of Commons, which was presented to James Douglas’ son (Lewis) when he was ambassador to Great Britain in the 1940s
Fluorescent rock display
French china copa that James Douglas gave to Aurelia Gonzales
Ore-grinding arrastra, a machine that dates back to the Middle East
Photograph of the Montana Hotel, at one time the most luxurious hotel in Arizona
Three-dimensional model of Jerome in 1937, which shows its underground mines, including fault activity and dug-out areas.
Whether you are looking for active excursions among some America’s most impressive natural rock formations, or seeking personal enrichment from the culture and history Sedona has to offer, you will find whatever you are looking for in the area. Sedona actually is known throughout the world as a place of spiritual healing and global power, drawing people from all over the world here as if it really were a mecca. Mother Nature has dedicated Sedona as a place of immense natural beauty, life-transforming sites, and personal growth. The Sedona Metaphysical Spiritual Association is a helpful resource for inquiring about the spiritual side of Sedona. Hike, ride bikes, take a guided airplane tour, take photos, follow tours, explore hidden canyons, rock climb, visit a spa, play golf, horseback ride, visit a museum, attend a history presentation, and fulfill one of your life’s most memorable vacations here at Sedona.