My good friend Rachel moved to Sedona 4 months ago after a year on the road in her RV. You can read more about her adventures in the blog posts, Life on Wheels. I hadn’t been able to make it out to visit Rachel on her RV journey, so I decided to journey to Sedona for a week to catch up and enjoy the beauty of her new dwelling. My friend Jenna decided to join last minute and we road tripped along highway 40 to find some peace in Arizona. It was a much needed escape from the big bad city and into such a beautiful and calming environment. Rachel was a gracious host, letting us lug our big screen monitors along so we could work from her lovely creekside abode on Oak Creek Canyon. We explored and meditated, rode ATVs and attended a shaman breathworks ceremony. It was an eye opening experience in a magical and mystical city filled with red rocks.
Road trippin' to sedona
Elmer’s bottle tree ranch is just off highway 40 on Route 66. It’s a plot of land filled will artistic trees made from old collected bottles and found objects. Elmer inherited these bottles from his father who collected them and other antiques. He turned this junk into over 200 art installations free for all to explore.
Indian Gardens in a cute little cafe near Oak Creek Canyon, even more north of uptown Sedona. It's got the southwest chill vibe and a large back patio that's surrounded by gorgeous trees and mountains. It's a 5 minute walk from Rachel's house, so we went 4 times over the course of our stay. The breakfast burritos are the best, iced chai lattes are fab, and their hot sauce is so good I stocked up on three bottles to bring back home with me to L.A.
There are some great campgrounds here and a trailhead here, but we just stopped in for a quick view before heading to hike Bell Rock.
Bell Rock Hike
Bell Rock is among the many towering mountains and vistas of Red Rock State Park. We met up with Rachel’s friends Michelle and Nita and started the 3.6 mile hike from the village of Oak Creek. It was hot and stagnant when we began the hike around 3pm, but about 45min to an hour later it was the perfect temperature outside. As we got closer to Bell Rock, there were amazing views of the burnt umber colored mountains and forest green trees below. We climbed up to the top, and meditated for 10 minutes. It was completely silent with a slight breeze, and felt really energizing. This was my favorite moment of the trip. It was absolutely stunning!
- Wear shoes with good grip, there isn’t a marked trail climbing to the top
- Bring plenty of water, it’s dry heat
Amazingly, there is a gorgeous 3 mile loop right next to Sedona’s airport. Jenna and I arrived in the evening after work, just as the sun was setting. During this hike you can see the Red Rocks from the north, opposite the view from Bell Rock. As the sun set it blanketed the mountains in soft light and the cactus needles radiantly glowed. We were trying to complete the loop before it got dark, but kept pausing to take in all the beauty. Along this hike, there were large patches of green cactus, a stark contrast to the red rocks. Complimentary colors harmonious in nature. We barely made it back to the car before the sky turned pitch black. Sedona has laws set for no light pollution, so the city gets very dark at night and you can enjoy a sky full of stars and a proper night’s sleep.
Jerome ghost town
At one point in time Jerome was the 5th largest city in Arizona. It flourished because of its copper mines. Now it’s a ghost town of only around 500, and it’s ghost town status brings in tourism to the small strip of bars and restaurants owned by locals. We met yoga instructor Amber the previous night, whose boyfriend, Dave, was playing open mic night at the Spirit Room. We joined them at sunset for dinner at a local restaurant called Grapes. I had the burger which was recommended by Dave, a local Jerome resident. It was served on sourdough bread and super delish! Grapes also has a great wine selection (obvi!). It was a nice evening out when we sat down, but suddenly the mood shifted and there was thunder and lightening that lit up the skies in purples and pinks. It was our very own spectacular show! Then the heavens opened up and poured buckets of sideways rain. We snagged some trash bags from the restaurant and ran across the road.
We arrived at the Spirit Room, and there were five people there. A guy doing open mic, his girlfriend, a guy playing drums for open mic, his girlfriend, and the bartender. We had doubled the crowd when we arrived. A few more bodies trickled in, but mostly bandmates. It was like joining a jam session, and it was an amazing private show. Jenna got up and played some guitar and sang, we drank and were merry. It was one of those impromptu special nights one can never plan for.
Anahata shamangelical ceremony
Rachel invited Jenna and I to a breathworks workshop before we arrived. We both signed up not really knowing exactly what to expect. I imagined it to be really serene and spiritual, a relaxing meditation using the breath. What we got in the end was much more, an intense and healing practice using the breath to oxygenate the body and take you into a deeper thought process. I’ll leave it at that, because it’s a different experience for all, and one that is quite powerful. I highly recommend signing up for one of Anahata’s workshops while you are in Sedona. She is a wonderful shaman but also very relatable for a skeptical L.A. girl like me.
Rachel took us to an animal sanctuary to “volunteer.” Volunteering turned into a really amazing tour of Billy’s 5 acre property filled with over 200 animals that he cared for and helped to rehabilitate. Billy specializes in birds but also had several other animals like sheep, an alpaca, wallabies, a donkey, and some lemurs. We got to feed the lemurs, but left the hawk feedings to Rachel. Dead mice guts, no thanks.
hummer tour: colorado plateau
The Hummer tour with Sedona Jeep Tours was a bumpy journey learning more about the history of Sedona. It felt like an Indiana Jones ride. I was hoping for less bumpy and more peeling out on smoother trails, but nonetheless it was fun to take in the views and learn about the city in a kick ass vehicle.
Uptown is the tourist area of Sedona, filled with shops, tour companies, restaurants, and wine tasting. While I recommend you should spend most of your time in nature or away from this strip, it’s still nice to at least spend an afternoon here if you're looking for some southwest items or want to try Arizona wine. Jenna and I went shopping at Earthbound Trading, then grabbed margaritas at 89 Agave at sunset. The prickly pear margaritas were delicious. We also went wine tasting at Oak Creek Marketplace, and poked around checking out all the leather and pottery goods. I got myself a cute pair of Minnetonka moccasins.
offroading: buggy rental
We rented a buggy from Sedona ATV on our last full day in Sedona. We rode together so it also made it easier to navigate over having our our ATVs. Sedona ATV provided us with a turn by turn map to follow with images of the markers to follow specific trails. Our first rail led us to Palatki, site of Indian ruins and pictographs etched into the red rock walls. The trails are really amazing, and not too crowded. We zoomed through the trails, and went slower though some more technical sections. If you have no previous experience off-roading it’s intimidating. It was intimidating for me at times even though I have done my fair share of off-roading. It made it all the more fun tackling these challenges. We moved along to Boynton Pass, where we zoomed through the colorful canyons, red rock pinnacles, and high mountains. I highly recommend getting off road in Sedona!
Road trip Sedona > Los Angeles
Below: Photos in Danby, CA along Route 66. Now I can say I’ve been to Danby, CA.
Ghost towns have always been a fascination of mine, they are such interesting places to photograph. Amboy, California was once slightly more populated due to it’s location on Route 66. Roy’s motel and cafe was a nice stopping point for those traveling long distances. Once highway 40 opened, people chose this route over 66 and bypassed Amboy, leaving Roy’s to turn to ruins. The gas station has been reopened for tourism. You can stop and grab a bottle of route 66 root beer or some snacks. Occasionally the old motel had art exhibitions as well. On this particular trip the motel was empty and void, which remnants of a more flourishing time for the tiny city in the middle of the desert.
Amboy Crater is a 6,000-year-old cinder cone volcano that rises above a lava field. I loved seeing all the plants spring up from the black lava forms. New life sprouted from the darkness.