After 33 years of being a homegrown Cajun from Louisiana my wife and I decided it was time for a move. Her career aspirations were aggressive and after doing some digging she learned Arizona was exploding, particularly Phoenix, and in 2000, we found ourselves in our new home in our new state. I preferred to run and loved running trails which I did when I raced. You'd be hard-pressed to find amazing single-track in SouthWest Louisiana so the move to Arizona was a great fit. Fast-forward to 2022 and I can say I have scoured Central and Northern Arizona via trail running, camping, exploring, overlanding, and mountain biking.
Arizona has no shortage of epic places to visit with epic travel in between. The Grand Canyon (duh!), Mogollon Rim, Flagstaff, San Francisco Peaks, Crown King, Senator Highway, Perkinsville Highway, Jerome, Prescott, Payson, and the list goes on. One of my favorites is Sedona. Entering Sedona via AZ Hwy 179 the Red Rocks hit you as you round a corner just south of Oak Creek Village. From there the views just get more spectacular.
As with most visitors, they have a limited amount of time to explore the area. Most are only visiting for a day or two as they navigate to other areas of the state. To help with some of the decision-making Gear Werks has put together a list of top 5 things to do whilst visiting this incredible area. With the exception of two in this list I have done all of the others. For the remaining two, friends and family have participated in those and left with nothing but fabulous memories and experiences. So, what's in this list?
Pink Jeep Tours
Pink Jeep has been around Sedona for a long
Camping near the top of Schnebly Hill Road with Sedona in
time. I've watched them grow from a small base in Sedona to offering a plethora of experiences and services. Not just in Sedona, but in other locations as well. I had family members enjoy one of their tours and they raved. But why Pink Jeep? Well, there are other tour operators but if you want to see Submarine Rock and Chicken Point, there the only outfit that can take you on your tour of this area. You can get more info here.
It's really cool that when talking about top US Mountain biking trails in the US Sedona is front & center. On my first trip to ride there I was every bit a novice, but some of the guys in our group were extremly capable riders and I let them convince me to ride Hiline with them. Oh, geez! If you like exposure, as in a narrow trail with a rock wall on one side and a sheer drop on the other then this one's for you. Depending on what your plan is flats are my choice for the more challenging and technical trails. If you have a climbing day in store I prefer clipless. On another trip I rode up Schnebly Hill Road while eating the dust of Jeep tours and side by sides. Coming down I jumped onto Hangover and had a great time descending back into Sedona.
Choose your trails wisely. If it declares it's an expert trail, it is! In fact, Hiline and Hangover are rated "Professional" in some reports. The app, mtbproject.com is a valuable tool to help you decide.
If you find yourself in need of a solid mountain bike to rent stop in at Sedona Bike & Bean. They'll get you fitted and out the door in no time.
Drive AZ Hwy 89a
Whenever friends & family pay us a visit they'll often make their way north. Of course, Sedona is on their list or, they'll visit Flagstaff. Either way I suggest they take the meandering 89a which leads north out of Sedona and back to I-17, or catch it south of Flagstaff and back into Sedona. It follows the beautiful Oak Creek Canyon with tight switchbacks on the northern end and beautiful views of the creek. To catch it in Sedona it's easy to find as you make your way through the touristy downtown area. Just follow the signs. If you're Southbound from Flagstaff you'll take the Ft. Tuthill exit west and follow the signs.
Cornville, AZ Wineries
For our 25th Anniversary the wife and I made Sedona a long weekend and just south of there is the community of Cornville. She had explored Cornville, AZ once before and wanted to take another peak. After an easy Saturday morning we splurged on a car service that took us to several wineries there. It's a sleepy, two-lane road with plenty of opportunity to see Oak Creek and explore. Our still favorite winery is Page Springs Cellars. With a glass of Pinot Noir in hand we walked the grounds and enjoyed the overlook purpose-built near Oak Creek on their property. The place is very inviting with friendly staff.
Rent a Jeep
You can't come to Sedona and not experience the trails in a rugged 4x4 Jeep. If you choose to drive one yourself Barlow Adventures is where you can do just that! Instead of a scheduled tour, create your own! Take your time on Schnebly Hill Road, Broken Arrow, or Soldier's Pass all on your own schedule! And with excellent Jeep Rubicon rentals and knowledgeable staff you're guaranteed to walk away with great memories.
I could go on & on about staying busy in Sedona. From hiking, visiting The Chapel of the Holy Cross, experiencing a Vortex, food, festivals, and so on you just can't go wrong. I've listed my top five. Drop a comment to offer your best experiences!