Sedona, Arizona

sedona_senery
I was talking to a friend about places to go in Arizona to get out of town. She lives in Phoenix and sometimes she gets tired of being in the city. I was thinking about some of my favorite places when I lived there.

sedona_agave

When I think of my favorite places, Sedona always comes up. There is a little place inside a box canyon called Enchantment Resort, and I have stayed there several times.

It’s a tucked away outside of town in a box canyon, and it’s just such a peaceful, stunning place to take a vacation.

sedona_church_in_the_rock

It doesn’t matter what time of year you go. I think Fall is best because the hiking trails behind the resort have some trees that change color.

sedona_rocks

However, it’s a wonderful place to go any time.

Sedona has a wonderful arts scene, and there are lots of galleries to enjoy. There are pink jeep tours, and nature trails all over the place.

sedona_close_up_of_rocks

Plus, I think the red rocks are some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen, of all the places I have been on Earth.

sedona_cholla

Of course, not having a DSLR, my humble cell phone pictures can’t begin to convey how beautiful it really is. Even with a real camera, it’s not the same as seeing it in person.

sedona_red_rock

All I am saying is, if you are in Phoenix and need a break, it’s an amazing place to take one.

sedona_random_rocks

 

 

Flagstaff’s Best Spot to Hike

I went home for a visit recently. While I was there I took a few majorly awesome trips. The best of them was the trip to Flagstaff. June is such a great time to go to Flagstaff because it’s so nice out. It’s 80 degrees and sunny nearly every day.



The Kachina Trail, surrounded by ferns and aspen trees




Of course, the reason I went to Flagstaff was for the hiking. The Katchina Trail, on the mountain just below Snowbowl Ski Resort, is one of my favorite places in Arizona.



Josh and Ashley in the trees



Myself, Jamie, Josh, and Ashley explored the forest a little slowly, due to all of us being a little short of breath at that elevation. 7,000 feet is nothing to mess with, and it’ll make you dizzy if you’re not used to it. I forgot just how much thinner the air is, since I’ve been living in Korea at sea level for 18 months.



Looking up into the aspen leaves




Another thing I forgot was the beautiful ferns and forests in Arizona. I tend to only tell people about the cactus, since that’s all the ask about or expect to hear. Yes, I come from a desert. However, it’s a short drive to much greener pastures. (Well, Josh thought 2 hours was a long drive- so perhaps it’s a matter of opinion.)



Josh contemplates a fern




I think the sound of the wind in the aspen trees is something everyone should hear. Josh had never heard it before, and wasn’t even sure which ones were the aspen trees. For the record, they’re the ones with the circle leaves.



A really great spot, in my humble opinion



Northern Arizona really is a great place to visit if you want to enjoy nature. There are ferns, like in many forests. However, unlike in most forests, there are very few bugs. I don’t know if it’s the dry air or what, but you just don’t get bitten by a lot of mosquitoes in Arizona. Since I’ve been away, I forgot how much I appreciated that.



Jamie in the trees



So if you feel like escaping to a really lovely place, let me recommend Flagstaff. And if you do go to Flagstaff, let me suggest that you head up to the Kachina Trail on the mountain. It’s a great hike, and a fairy easy trail. (It must be since we survived it.)



Me in the ferns

Taking the 89A through AZ

The 89a is a highway that takes a wandering path through arizona and connects seveal neat places to stop and enjoy.

The open road heading out of town
The open road heading out of town

 

I know you’re supposed to get your kicks on Route 66. But in Arizona, it’s the 89A that hits all the best spots. Don’t think I’m knocking Route 66, because it’s fun too. But the 89A is my favorite! This blog details a 6 hour road trip (accounting for stops to eat and hike) that you’ll love.

 

You can pick up the 89A in Wickenburg. You just take the US 60 out of town, and hit the 93 through Wickenburg, and you’ll see the signs for the 89A. It’s not far from Phoenix at all. While you’re in Wickenburg, stop at the Tasty Freeze for a snack and check out this adorable little western town.

 

The next town you come to is Prescott. There are a lot of cute shops in Prescott, and an old car dealership with some really beautiful classic cars. Stop and check out the many coffee shops and boutiques.

 

On the streets of Jerome
On the streets of Jerome

 

Jerome will be your next stop. This little town was founded as an artist’s collective, and it’s still mostly art galleries and craft shops. In Jerome you will find paintings, jewelry, and leather work that is unique and fun. Some of the stuff has a western feel to it, but most of it is just neat stuff.

 

Art in a Jermone shop
Art in a Jermone shop

 

You’ll also see a lot of rocks for sale. Mining turned out to be a great source of revenue for Jerome. It has done some unfortunate things to the country side. But then, so much of Arizona has copper pits and strip mines that I am almost used to the colorful slag heaps left behind as a legacy to what is underground here in AZ.

 

Leaving Jerome and the mining area
Leaving Jerome and the mining area

 

I passed right through Cottonwood. I am sure you could stop, but I was eager to get on to Sedona. Something about those red rocks calls to me. The landscape in Sedona doesn’t even look like it belongs on this planet. It’s like some otherworldly scene you have to see to believe.

 

Driving into Sedona and seeing red rocks
Driving into Sedona and seeing red rocks

 

The shopping in Sedona is out of my price range. But if you like western art and you can afford it, Sedona has got what you’re looking for. In addition, there are the pink jeep tours, which give you a great view natures sculptures in red. The formations were formed from wind erosion over millions of years, but it only takes an hour to tour them and get an up-close look.

 

The Sedona street, with scultures and art galleries
The Sedona street, with scultures and art galleries

 

Leaving Sedona on the 89A you find yourself driving through Oak Creek Canyon. This is a wonderful place to stop and hike. If you’re there in the summer, you can check out slide rock, which is a natural water slide formed by the creek flowing over the sandstone. It’s a refreshing stop for a dip.

 

Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon

 

As you’re leaving Oak Creek Canyon and heading for Falgstaff, there is a senic outlook. You want to stop. It’s a nice view, and the Apache Tribe sells some great art there.

 

Me checking out the view
Me checking out the view

 

Last stop in Flagstaff. Part mountain town, part college town, Flagstaff reminds me of a low-key version of Telluride or Aspen. It’s classy, and funky, and a great place to end your drive and stay the night. (And if you have had enough driving after 6 hours on the 89A, don’t worry! Take the I-17 back to Phoenix and you’ll be there in two hours.)

 

Mural in old town Flaggstaff
Mural in old town Flaggstaff

 

While you’re in Flagg, check out the town with its interesting murals and neat little shops. And of course, there is great hiking! Try snowbowl for ferns, aspen trees, and beauty like nowhere else in Arizona.

 

Hiking in snowbowl
Hiking in snowbowl

Heading North

Northern Arizona has a lot to offer anyone heading out of town.

Jennica on a rock
Jennica on a rock

I apologize for the picture quality in this blog. I forgot my camera at home, and had to buy a disposable camera on my way up. I forgot how bad the pictures are from those.

 

In the forest
In the forest

Hiking in Northern Arizona is beautiful any time of year. It’s particularly beautiful in summertime to me because I love ferns and the sound of aspen leaves in the wind. I took my friend’s daughter hiking just outside Flagstaff in Snowbowl, which is a ski resort in the winter, but in the summer it’s criss-crossed with wonderful hiking trails.

 

The two of us
The two of us

We did a moderate trail, and we didn’t run into any people. It was very peaceful and quiet. I would definitely recommend Snowbowl for hiking.

 

Jennica and her dad
Jennica and her dad

After I returned a very tired Jennica to her dad in Cottonwood, I headed back to Phoenix. My favorite stop was always Sunset Point, but it has been closed for years. I was excited to see it open again, and completely remodeled.

 

Sitting area at Sunset Point
Sitting area at Sunset Point

There are observation decks, spacious bathrooms, and places to relax and sit. They really did a wonderful job with Sunset Point, so make sure to stop there the next time you head north.

Observation patios
Observation patios

Payson

If you’re looking for somewhere nice to walk around that’s less than two hours from Phoenix, Payson is the place for you!

 

Rim Country
Rim Country

 

Payson and the Mogollon Rim country in general have always been favorite hiking spots of mine. Just the drive from Phoenix to Payson is beautiful. As you come up onto the tops of the hills, the sky gets bigger and bigger. The world seems to fall away and become nothing but clouds.

I try to find the spots near water for hiking, because that’s where you find the best plants and the coolest shade. To that end, I have done many hikes into the Tonto Natural Bridge (now closed to the public) and into Fossil Creek (which is thankfully still open!)

 

Fossil Creek
Fossil Creek

 

On my last hike, I was searching for something else. I hadn’t been there in years. It’s the kind of spot where teenagers go to get in trouble. It was off the Beeline Highway, and it was a long road that wound to cliffs with deep, clear pools of water below them. I had been there several times with friends back when I owned a truck and did a lot more camping, and I wanted to find it again.

 

End of the public road
End of the public road

 

I took a right on what I think was Flowing Springs Road, just outside Payson but not yet into the town of Pine. It’s not a long drive to the end of the road. All of a sudden you reach a place with huge signs that say “Private Property” and “No Trespassing, Keep Out.”

 I was devastated when I got to the end, because I had been sure it was the right road after driving past several things that I thought were familiar. I wanted to leave the car at the end of the road and keep walking, but I was with Rob, and he is one of those people who only break the laws he doesn’t like (and the trespassing law is not one of the ones he doesn’t like.) I can only assume I was on the right track and the land beyond what was public had been sold. It always makes me sad to find public land turned private and opportunities for exploration cut short.

 

Muddy Water
Muddy Water

 

But we got out and walked around anyway, and the part that you can still walk around is nice. The water isn’t clear anymore. It’s been damned up to make fishing holes. But it’s still pretty country, and there’s nothing quite like the sound of a babbling brook to sooth a person’s soul. I always feel like I didn’t even know I was holding my breath until I get up to the rim and let it out. *Sigh* What a great place!

 

The Local lizzard "Horney Toad"
The Local lizzard "Horney Toad"

 

So if you get the chance, head up to Payson. It’s still hot there, so bring lots of water and don’t expect it to be chilly. It’s Arizona in the summer, and it gets hot. And please, if you are a smoker, bring something to put your butts in. As Arizona becomes more well-traveled and crowded, I have been sad to see cigarette butts on a lot of my favorite hiking trails. So, as the guy in Jurassic Park says: “Hold onto your butts.”