Over the last week of October, Joe and I took a few days to get away and enjoy a change in scenery. We recently celebrated our 40th Anniversary and wanted to go somewhere beautiful but within driving distance. Sedona is only a few hours away and we found it one of the most beautiful hidden gems of the Southwest. Nestled in the Red Rock country of northern Arizona’s high desert, Sedona is surrounded by towering red rocks, flat topped buttes, and steep canyons . There are dozens of hiking trails to choose from and if that’s not your thing, you can hire tour guides that will take you to all the stunning destinations while making stops along the way for photos. There are many vacation rentals, resorts and spas available to those who like to be pampered. And I would recommend stopping at Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village for some unique shopping and art galleries. We found a comfortable vacation rental located near Thunder Mountain which was close to many of the hiking trails we had planned. Many of the trailhead parking lots filled up early so we made a point of getting up early and heading out to beat the crowds. Our mornings started out just above 40 degrees with full sunshine. After walking only a few minutes we would begin to warm up and take off a layer or two of clothing. We took our time enjoying the stunning views of the rock formations around and above us. Joe had a bucket list hikes with the Subway Cave at the top of the list. The Boynton Trail led us to the Subway Cave which was our favorite and most challenging day. There is a bit of a climb to say the least to get up to the area of the cave where you can view the stunning landscape of the Boynton Canyon pictured above. Whatever the occasion, Sedona is a place surrounded by serenity and beauty with a mild climate that provides a unique getaway anytime of year!
Day 1 . . . Devils Bridge. We parked at the Mescal Trailhead Parking area where there was only 1 space left. It wasn’t long before Long Canyon Road was dotted with parked cars to get to the trailhead. This hike is approximately 4.2 miles out and back. Here are some of the views along the way!
You might be surprised but I’ve only been to Arizona one time prior to this trip. Even though these states border each other there are subtle differences that I am now able to recognize. For instance, there are different species of cacti and succulents that I rarely see in NM. I was surprised to see so many wild Agave growing along the trailheads. Joe and I planted one earlier this year in our yard, I think they are so beautiful, especially when they grow as large as these.
This is Devils Bridge. Hikers line up to take pictures along this rock bridge. We were just happy to see all the hikers (most of them younger than us) make their way across the bridge to have their picture taken. Some shouted, others threw their hands in the air as if they were on top of the world.
Some of our more memorable sights along the Devils Bridge Trail . . .
Day 2 . . . Subway Cave. We started hiking from the Boynton & Long Canyon Trailhead. This trail is a bit longer, about 4 1/2 – 5 miles roundtrip. It’s a beautiful hike with so many colorful landscapes along the way. It’s fairly easy until you make the steep climb through the center up to the two ledges you see in this photo.
The narrow opening is where the steep rock climb will get you to the area at the back of the cave. There was a lot of discussion amongst the hikers we met there as to the best way to get up to the cave. Everyone agreed, if you are fit and able you must experience the view from the cave!
Once you get up close you can see the narrow and steep climb up to the ledges of the cave. On the left is a narrow row that is easier in that it has enough rough edges to act like stairs, however getting over to the smooth middle is a bit scary. Joe had to practically push me up that steep part. Good climbing/hiking shoes are a must. If you are afraid of heights, this is not the hike for you!
Across from Subway cave is Sinagua ruins. It’s really just a little hollow space with a rock enclosure.
Joe walking ahead as we passed the Sinagua ruins.
Day 3 Birthing Cave
Day 3 . . . Birthing Cave and Thunder Mountain Trail. On our last day we made our way to the Birthing Cave via the Long Canyon Trailhead. We parked alongside Long Canyon Rd which ended up being a shortcut. In our perspective this was not as spectacular as the other trails we hiked. The best views come from climbing a steep path to the cave where you can look out across the valley and landscape.
Day 3 Thunder Mountain Trail
Thunder Mountain Trail was only about a mile from our vacation rental. It was one of the most beautiful trails showcasing the vast landscapes surrounding the city of Sedona. Here are some of the highlights.
Chimney Rock in the distance.
These wispy clouds looked as if smoke was coming from on top of this red rock formation!
High above us on a red rock, this cactus garden grows in it’s own natural window box!
On our way out of Sedona we took a detour to the Bell Rock Trailhead to take a few pictures just as the sun was coming over the horizon! The views on this morning were stunning!