A region of stunning beauty, the Verde Valley encompasses sandstone monoliths, the shaded waters of the Verde River, seven state parks and several prehistoric sites. The stunning town of Sedona sits amid this colorful landscape, ripe with art galleries, spiritual retreats and exquisite fine dining selections.
Road to Sedona
Sedona sits in the lush Coconino National Forest of northern Arizona at an altitude of just over 4,000 feet. It’s about a two-hour drive north of the capital city of Phoenix on Interstate 17 and just under an hour south of Flagstaff on State Route 89A. The region is characterized by stunning, crimson-hued Red Rock buttes and is bisected by Oak Creek, a gentle waterway that runs through town and continues southwest throughout the gorgeous Red Rock State Park. The climate here is considered semiarid and is mild compared to other parts of the Southwest, with high desert terrain and highs in the mid-90s in summer or mid-50s in winter.
For a stunning example of architecture that blends with its natural surroundings, the Chapel of the Holy Cross overlooking Sedona is a must-see. Built in the 1950s by an informal student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the structure sits atop a sandstone bluff, with a large cross supporting its wall of windows. And although it stands out as a striking edifice, the building nicely complements its accompanying rock formations.
The Verde River provides ample water for floating, fishing or rafting to your heart’s delight. The river is a designated Wild and Scenic River, and fly-fishing along its banks is guaranteed to produce dinner if you like trout. For splashing pleasure, several swimming holes await along Oak Creek.
The Verde Valley seems tailor-made for horseback riding enthusiasts. With several ranches scattered throughout the hills, riders will find terrain to suit any skill level and trails fanning out into remarkable landscapes.
Exploring the Red Rocks
With hundreds of miles of trails, hiking and mountain biking have become the most popular ways to explore Red Rock Country. And many trail buffs enjoy the challenge of off-road tours to experience the region. Outfitters in the area help visitors get started on adventure.
Sedona is reputed to be home to several areas of exceptional energy, or vortices, making the town a destination for metaphysical studies and experiences. Spas and resorts in the region offer a wide variety of retreats, and a hike to Bell Rock is on the agenda for the seekers of views and enlightenment.
Cool Camp Verde
Located just 27 miles south of Sedona, Camp Verde sits on the banks of the Verde River and is home to rafting, fishing, bird-watching and enough hiking trails to keep the outdoors enthusiasts in the family happy. The Out of Africa Wildlife Park ranks high among the most distinctive wildlife experiences in the country, with the beasts of the Serengeti on display.
About 25 miles south of Sedona, Montezuma Castle is one of four national monuments scattered throughout the Verde Valley. Built 90 feet above the ground into a limestone cliff, this pueblo village with 20 rooms dates to A.D. 1100. It once served as a bastion and home to the Sinagua people for more than 400 years. Today visitors can tour the ruins.
Hiking in the Valley
The valley is threaded with ample scenic trails for hiking, from the Bell Trail, which was originally built to move cattle, clear up to the remote Bull Pen Trail, a 7.5-mile canyon trail that passes along the lovely West Clear Creek.
Sedona and the Verde Valley enjoy a longstanding agricultural tradition, with farmers markets throughout the area along with restaurants serving everything from sushi to Tex-Mex.
Wine tasting is big here, and the Verde Valley’s rich soil and ample sunlight make it an excellent place for grape cultivation. Popular spots include the Page Springs Cellars and Cottonwood’s Burning Tree Cellars.
For More Information
Sedona Verde Valley Tourism Council
Arizona Office of Tourism