If you’re seeking wilderness, adventure, and re-connecting with your spirituality, Sedona, Arizona needs to be on your travel radar.

Located south of the Grand Canyon, and north of Phoenix, Sedona is found nestled in northern Arizona next to the Coconino National Forest. There are so many attractive features of the area but Sedona is certainly a hot spot because of its’ unique landscape.

Sedona is a desert town that is painted with red and orange sandstone formations (buttes). The colours don’t stop there, it’s also surrounded by stunning forest that makes you feel as if you’re experiencing the desert in a place like Oregon. What’s amazing about Sedona is that there are actual laws in place that require buildings and homes to blend into the scenery and nature of the area. You’ll find that most buildings are variations of tan and red colours.

Sedona attracts all types of travellers because of how much the town and surrounding areas offer. A local told us that it’s also known as the ‘new age capital of the world’ and you can really see this in the vibrant culture that exists in the town. I’ve never been one to give much thought to spirituality, however, being in Sedona I can really appreciate how embedded these practices are in its’s culture, such as crystal healing, wellness retreats, etc.

Though it didn’t feel like enough time, I was fortunate to be able to spend four days in Sedona and I was able to accomplish quite a bit.

Here’s what I got up to:

1. Camping

I chose to camp during my visit. I’m always drawn to sleep under the stars whenever I can, so staying indoors wasn’t an option for me while I was in Sedona. Something to consider while planning your visit is that most campsites near Sedona are first come first serve. My group and I were fortunate to easily find a campsite when we arrived. We stayed at the Pine View campground and had an amazing stay. This campground is in Red Rock State Park which is just thirty minutes outside of Sedona’s core. Many of the campsites that are available aren’t actually in Sedona, they are mostly outside of the town in the surrounding areas.

2. Hiking

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My motto while travelling is ‘the best way to experience a place is on foot’, and this certainly holds true for Sedona. It’s easy to lose yourself in the stunning scenery and mesmerizing terrain. Sedona’s sandstone formations are not only fun to walk on, but they’re truly unique to the area so they are fascinating to engage with. I was able to get four hikes in during my time in Sedona. I tried my best to be up before the sunrise and on the trail to watch the pastel colours dominate the sky and the sun illuminate light on the red rocks.

You could easily spend a season hiking in the area, but if you only have a short window, a must-do hike is Cathedral Rock. This hike was short and sweet but it really takes you on spiritual journey. Cathedral Rock is steep the whole way up but relatively easy. It is a really fun hike as there’s a “loose trail” but you basically get to climb all over the rocks. You are lead up to the pinnacles that give the formation its’ distinctive features. When you are at the top, there are several ledges that you can walk on for an amazing view of the area and immerse yourself into the landscape. It’s a great place to get some solitude as well. When I was up there, I saw several people meditating alone and it was a very peaceful experience.

For the descent, I ran down Cathedral Rock and got to my car in thirteen minutes, so its really at your own pace.

3. Watch the Hot Air Balloons Take Off From Doe Mountain

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My favourite memory from Sedona was this one. My group and I woke up at 5 AM and headed straight to Doe Mountain for sunrise. We hiked a short distance to the top and caught the sun rising. There’s a field down below where hot air balloons are launched from every morning. It was amazing having the mountain to ourselves and a hot air balloon show. The moment made for some epic photo-ops and ended up being one of my favourite days.

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You can also book hot air balloon rides if you’re fearless!

4. Food & Drink

Sedona is bustling with cafes, wineries, and world-class cuisines.Usually when I travel, engaging with the local cuisines doesn’t generally appeal to me as I save my dollars for outdoor experiences.

While we were hiking the trails in Sedona we bumped into many locals who all seemed to ask if we had tried Indian Gardens yet. We kept hearing how amazing this Indian Gardens place is and that we HAVE to make a stop there. After the fourth or fifth time that we were told about this spot we decided that we would give it a go. Let me tell you, we were not let down.

Indian Gardens Cafe & Market is an amazing historic market that features local craft beer, amazing coffee and food, and sells some incredible merchandise. The back of the cafe is a large patio that is in a garden surrounded by trees. The patio offers a really cozy atmosphere to relax, have a coffee, and have meal.

Sedona is an exceptional place for a vacation and/or outdoor adventure. There is so much opportunity for exploring in the area. Even though I was unable to do these activities, it is worth discussing some really epic things to consider including during your trip:

ATV/ 4×4 the various trails around Sedona. There are some seriously epic off roading opportunities near town. We took our Jeep and 4x4ed our way up Schnebly Hill Road where we were able to see the entire town from the top of the mountain. The views were insane. You can also pay to do a Pink Jeep Tour which we were told is absolutely worth every penny. You can rent dune buggies and other off roading vehicles and seriously have the time of your life.

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Written by Hailey Playfair

Hailey is an accomplished adventure and outdoor lifestyle photographer, she is the Co-Founder of Life Outside Studio, and is wildly passionate about the outdoors. Her work has brought her all around the globe, specifically to some of the most remote places in Iceland and Canada's North where has been tested against the extreme elements. Hailey is an avid hiker, backpacker, and explorer. When she's not outside, Hailey can be found preparing for her next big adventure by beating herself up in the gym, dehydrating plant based backpacking meals, and spreading the message of living a vegan lifestyle while pursuing a living in the great outdoors.

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