travel & recreation
If you haven't driven through Oak Creek Canyon on your way to Sedona, you should head north of town:
To have lunch at a national forest picnic table;
To sun on, and slide down the rocks at Slide Rock State Park;
To see the Indian Gardens, the site of an abandoned farm of the Yavapai tribe, later made into a ranch by settler John Thompson (in 1876);
To hike on one or more of the 10 forest trails which climb up to and along the rim of the canyon;
To camp in a choice of six campgrounds -- the largest being Cave Springs with 78 sites, 11 of which are available by reservation (call 800-283-2267)
To hook your trailer or RV to services in a shady RV park; to fish for trout in the creek -- it's stocked regularly during the summer months and fish are guaranteed every day at the Rainbow Trout Farm;
And to shop in one of a steady line of boutiques as the highway enters the built-up Sedona area. There are several motels plus fine bed and breakfast homes in this same area, at the north end of town.
Also in Oak Creek Canyon, Slide Rock State Park offers family adventure including sliding down the park's natural rock chutes in Oak Creek. Walking trails take you along the creek, and the park offers picnic areas and an interpretation center.
The Sedona Ranger Station, located on Brewer Road (call 602- 282-4119) is open weekdays and is a good place to obtain information on Forest Service facilities including trails and campgrounds in the area.
The prime red rock views are best seen by taking the Red Rock Loop Road, off Hwy. 89A, just south of town. You can access the area by taking either the upper or lower roads. Lower Red Rock Road is the paved portion, leading to Red Rock State Park. The park sits in the midst of the red rock peaks with the creek flowing below the park information center which doubles as an environmental education facility. There are picnic areas and trails, open during daylight hours.
Golfers will find four courses within a short drive of town. Oak Creek Country Club and Sedona Golf Resort are 18-hole championship courses, both open to the public. Poco Diablo Resort and the Canyon Mesa Country Club have 9-hole executive courses.
Art shows are held at almost any time during the year. The Sedona Arts Center holds a changing schedule of shows, including exhibitions by members of the Artists & Craftsmen Guild in the center's Upper Gallery. The Hopi Artists Gathering is an annual event, showcasing Hopi Indian art and crafts. There's a theater wing in this same building, staging performances during the summer months and from October through April. For Arts Center information, call (602) 282-3809. There are 40 commercial galleries; most are geared to western and contemporary tastes.
There are several popular music festivals, including Jazz on the Rocks, held each September, and two classical festivals: Symphony in the Park, with performances by the Flagstaff Symphony, and the Sedona Chamber Music Festival. Tlaquepaque is a Spanish/ Mexican-inspired shopping and eating complex, at the north end of Sedona. It is also the scene of theatrical shows and several annual festivals including the Fiesta del Tlaquepaque, a Mexican festival (October) and Festival of Lights (December).
Jeeping has become the thing to do while visiting Sedona. More than a dozen tour operators will rent you a 4WD vehicle or take you on a trip through the red rock canyons and high country. Some of the most popular tours are arranged by Pink Jeeps -- call 800-8-SEDONA or (602) 262-5000.
Sedona Adventures (800-888-9494 or 602-282-3500) also has Jeep tours of the area, including their Vortex Quest trips through the Coconino National Forest and a Sedona night-life tour.
Other tours are available -- by horseback, in hot air balloons, and also on fixed-wing airplane and helicopter flights.
The Verde Valley
Fort Verde State Historic Park is southwest of Sedona in Camp Verde. It's located off Interstate 17, via Arizona Route 260. This fort was occupied by General George Crook and his troops during the Indian campaigns in the 1870s. Now restored, it provides a look into the military history of the area. For information call (602) 567-3275.
There are two Indian ruins open to the public and in the same general area, 35 miles south of Sedona. Montezuma Castle National Monument is one of the best preserved Indian cliff dwellings in the Southwest. For information, call (602) 567-3322. Tuzigoot National Monument is a prehistoric ruin, occupied by the Sinagua Indians in the 1200s. Its location is between Cottonwood and Clarkdale, south of Sedona via Highway 89A (602-634-5564).
Verde River Canyon Excursion Train
While the canyons near Sedona are accessible by car, the Verde River Canyon is not. However, a scenic railroad pulled by diesel locomotives makes the trip through the canyon from the depot at Clarkdale. The line runs past the red cliffs, over high bridges to Perkinsville. It was originally built to transport ore between the mines at Jerome and the Chino Valley. The train leaves Clarkdale at 1 pm and returns around 5 pm. During the summer, it departs at 10 am, returning at 2 pm. During April, May, and October, there are two trips per day: at 9 am and 2:30 pm. The depot is 25 miles from downtown Sedona via Highway 89A. For details and reservations, call (602) 639-0010.
Where to Eat
Except for Santa Fe and Scottsdale, Sedona has the Southwest's best eating. There are fine restaurants in the resorts including Enchantment, L'Auberge de Sedona, and at Poco Diablo Resort. Some of the most adventuresome places to eat in the entire West are in and around Sedona. Oaxaca is a very good Mexican restaurant on Hwy. 89A, at the north end of town ($$). The breakfasts here are particularly enticing. Tlaquepaque, the Spanish colonial shopping complex, has two excellent restaurants: Rene and Rincon del Tlaquepaque. The former serves French and American cuisine. Rincon serves Arizona variations of standard Mexican cuisine; the patio is wonderfully shaded by sycamores. Both restaurants are in the $$ to $$$ range. Orchards Grill, uptown on Hwy. 89A, serves an array of "southwestern" dishes, ranging from duck sausage pizza to Cajun seafood. From the treed entrance to the crisp tablecloths and attentive service, this grill does it as it is supposed to be done ($$ to $$$). Bell Rock Inn, 7 miles south of town at 6246 Hwy. 179, serves American cuisine in a setting offering fine red rock views. A patio and lounge complement the main indoor restaurant ($$). Page Springs Bar and Restaurant is a casual steak, soup and salad place, beside Oak Creek, via Hwy. 89A and Page Springs Road ($ to $$).
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