As much as I love traveling abroad and exploring new places, there's still so much of America I haven't seen. I've been all along the two coasts but I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to everything in between. That's why every year I try to make it a point to visit a new city or state in the the country. Last week my boyfriend and I took a road trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Salt Lake City, Utah to explore two states we haven't been to. We spent two days in Sedona and it absolutely blew me away - if you have the chance to spend some time there I highly recommend it.
You'll find Sedona nestled among the stunning red rocks it's known for about two hours north of Phoenix by car. We stayed at the Sedona Real Inn and Suites which I was happy with considering the moderate price, clean room and close proximity to restaurants and hiking trails. Compared to Phoenix, the weather in Sedona is more forgiving - the air is still really dry but it's not nearly as scorching during the afternoon.
We knew hiking would be a big part of this trip so as a novice hiker I made sure to do a lot of research ahead of time. I looked at trail descriptions and reviews from several websites because what is easy to one hiker may be moderate-to-difficult to another. The Hike House, a local store in Sedona, has a very comprehensive blog and I've read reviews stating the staff are really helpful though I didn't have a chance to drop by. The Lovely Escapist also had some good tips (and very inspirational photos).
A couple of weeks before the trip, I bought my first pair of hiking boots and I'm so glad because it helped a ton in terms of protecting my feet and preventing accidental slips during hikes. My boyfriend and I went to REI to try on various boots and I ended up going home with the Oboz Sawtooth Low Waterproof shoes. They're pretty awesome since they required no break-in time and were comfortable from the get-go.
On our first day we tackled Cathedral Rock, one of the most iconic formations in Sedona. The Cathedral Rock Trail is a relatively short hike which spans only one mile but it's mostly uphill so be prepared to use your hands to scramble in some areas. Getting down also required a lot of sliding down hill on my butt but if you're more confident on your feet, you probably won't need to do that as much. I have a fear of heights (looking down from the third floor of a mall will cause my legs to turn to jello) but found this trek totally doable. Once you get to the top you're greeted with sweeping views of the valley. It is incredibly stunning and totally worth the short hike.
On day two we embarked on the Devil's Bridge Trail, another one of Sedona's more popular hikes. This is a longer hike than Cathedral Rock but most of it is walking along flat land so it's pretty easy. The end of the trail culminates at the trail's namesake: Devil's Bridge. While my fear of heights initially made me wary of this natural arch, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to take a photo on it. All of the hikers we met on the trail were really courteous and friendly. We took turns taking photos for each other and it was a lot of fun watching people scamper across the bridge - one guy even did a handstand!
If heights are really not for you or you have trouble navigating uphill, there are other trails that offer great views of Sedona. There are companies that offer off-road tours that let you see more without the physical strain. I've seen good reviews for the Pink Jeep Tours but didn't get a chance to try one of their adventures for myself.
We didn't find a ton of great eats on this trip (full disclosure we had In-N-Out twice while in Utah) but I really enjoyed the dinner we had at The Hudson. The bruschetta combinations were delicious and the portions for the appetizers and mains were extremely generous. They also have outdoor seating which I imagine would be awesome during the day time. We also grabbed a quick lunch at Wildflower Bread Company and the strawberry spinach salad was a very satisfying healthy option.
Sedona is also known as a wellness destination so I splurged on a couple's massage at New Day Spa. It has by far the best reviews online and it just so happened to be a block away from our hotel. I booked an hour long deep tissue massage for the two of us and it really nice. It was my boyfriend's first time getting a massage and only my second so we don't have a lot of other experiences to compare it to but we were both really relaxed afterward. We were offered complimentary mimosas and a cheese plate after our services and there are lots of snacks and beverages to choose from before and after your treatment. They also had an outdoor jacuzzi that we were lucky enough to have all to ourselves as well. Do keep in mind that it's a really small spa - they have only one changing room and shower so it'd probably be a little difficult to come here in a group larger than three.
To cap off any day in Sedona, finding a serene setting to enjoy the sunset is a must. Sunsets are breathtaking wherever you see them but they're especially beautiful in Sedona. Drive up to Airport Mesa and you'll get a great view of the setting sun illuminating the red rocks. There's a parking lot at the top of the hill that you have to pay $3 for but it's worth it. It gets pretty chilly when it gets dark so I recommend bringing a hoodie or cardigan with you.
Sedona is one of those places that's great whether you're passing through for the day or staying for a week. There are definitely enough nature activities to keep you busy but there are many opportunities to relax and unwind. Have you been to Sedona or is it on your travel bucket list? Would love to hear about your memories in Sedona if you've been before!