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Sedona Adventures - EAZ Fall-Winter 2012

Top 5: Sedona Adventures (Fall-Winter 2012)

The Top 5 Sedona Adventures — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village

336 State Route 179,
Sedona, AZ 86336
(928) 282-4838
tlaq.com
Tlaquepaque, the “Art and Soul of Sedona,” offers more than 40 specialty shops and exclusive galleries. Shopping becomes a joyful revelation of art treasuries and distinctive gifts.


Cathedral Rock

Off SR 179, on Back O’ Beyond Rd.
wildsedona.com
One of many energy vortexes in Sedona known to empower and energize those who step foot upon the rock formation, Cathedral Rock is not only an awe-inspiring sight to see, but it consists of a short, steep hike to the base of the rock. At the end of the hike are 360-degree views of Sedona; you’ll even spot Oak Creek.


Chapel of the Holy Cross

780 Chapel Rd.,
Sedona, AZ 86336
(888) 242-7359
chapeloftheholycross.com
Sitting atop and among the red rocks of Sedona, built on a twin pinnacled spur about 250 feet high, located not too far from Cathedral Rock, is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a destination for world-wide visitors. Designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, this architectural attraction was completed in 1956 and is a Roman Catholic chapel.


Barlow Jeep Rentals

3009 W. Hwy. 89A,
Sedona, AZ 86336
(888) 928-JEEP (5337)
barlowjeeprentals.com
Take a Jeep tour on one of the many scenic drives in Sedona — but this time, do it on your own terms; go where you want to go, when you want to go. This is where Barlow Jeep Rentals comes in. They’ll not only provide the Jeep, but also trail maps, driving tips, area information and operating instructions. Get behind the wheel, and hit those trails!


Evening Sky Tours

P.O. Box 463,
Sedona, AZ 86339
(866) 701-0398
eveningskytours.com
Spend the evening under the stars with an evening of stargazing guided by the professional astronomers of Evening Sky Tours. Explore planets, galaxies, star clusters, double stars and other objects, while relaxing among the red rocks.

Experience AZ Fall-Winter 2012

 

West Fork Trail

An Adventure on the West Fork Trail, Sedona

The rising sun illuminated the vibrant reds, greens and purples that paint the canyon. The crisp morning air carried the fresh aroma of Arizona Cypress. I, along with my companions, took our first step onto the West Fork Trail and began our adventure through Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona.

Start of the hike at West Fork Trail in Sedona. With me were my great friends Alyssa, Lance, Mike and Si’on. As full-time students at ASU, it is not often that we can indulge in our love of the outdoors and our desire to explore. We could not, however, surpass the opportunity to hike in the Coconino National Forest; and so, we embarked from Tempe on an early Saturday morning in September.

The two-hour drive up Interstate 17 passed quickly as we surveyed the morning desert transform into a red-rock mountain wilderness. A few miles up State Route 179 North stood Sedona’s awe-inspiring Bell Rock — a triumphant red-rock formation, home to twisted Juniper trees, and vivid green and yellow agave plants.

Numerous turns up the mountainous road of highway 89A disoriented the group. Considering the possibility that we had already passed the trail, we stopped at a convenience store for directions. When asked where the West Fork Trail was located, the clerk’s smile alluded to the commonality of the question. “It’s actually just a half-mile up the road,” he replied. Sure enough, in a half-mile we arrived at the trailhead lot. Parking cost $9 in the lot, which is guarded and maintained by park rangers. The lot was littered with walking sticks used by past travelers. We each selected our respective walking stick, grabbed our gear (lunches, water and a camera) and began our journey through the canyon.

A small bridge guided the group over the creek and onto the West Fork Trail. My curiosity was sparked at a peculiar site on the outskirts of the canyon. An old, brick structure lay in shambles next to a small cave carved into the red rock. The site was once home to the Mayhew Lodge, home to tourists and travelers in the early 1920s. As we sprinted toward the ruins, I was overcome with a sense of nostalgia. My childhood dreams of being an adventurer in the wild were being fulfilled.

As we journeyed further along the trail, the tranquil sounds of the creek grew nearer. We had reached our first, true creek crossing. A trail marker sat across the water, but this time there was not a bridge to leisurely stroll across. Being accustomed to such circumstances, due to his years spent backpacking, Lance guided the group across one by one, jumping from one stone to the next. Our first crossing was a success; our hike would consist of over 10 more.

West Fork Trail streamAt every chance possible, we climbed the massive, fallen rocks, which, for many years, have rained down the mountains to the bottom of the canyon. Each rock surmounted grew larger and increasingly difficult to climb until we finally met our match. “Let’s eat lunch up there,” Alyssa said as she pointed to the top of a 40-foot, rock cliff.

After contemplating the possibilities, Lance disappeared behind the cliff, determined to find a way up. Minutes later, he appeared atop the rock, triumphant, and again guided the group to the summit. I couldn’t help but smile as we enjoyed our cliff-top picnic.

Descending the rock was quite easy for everyone, except me. As I scaled down, I lost my footing and quickly grabbed onto a protruding branch. Knowing it wouldn’t hold for long I signaled Mike who stood on the ground below. The branch finally gave way, and I slid down; Mike braced for impact and broke my fall. We couldn’t help but laugh as we dramatically retold the story to the rest of the group of my treacherous five-foot fall.

Soon after, we arrived at what many would have considered the end of the trail. A pool of water filled the middle of the smooth canyon walls. Before I even had the chance to take off my shoes, Mike and Si’on ran straight into the creek bed; Alyssa, Lance and I followed. With the sun beating on our back, we waded through the cool, waste-deep water. I paused for a moment and gazed into the air; I sighed in contentment.

Surrounded by nature’s green giants and enclosed by the canyon’s massive red walls, I couldn’t help but feel at peace. Just for a day, I hadUpward gaze escaped the stresses of day-to-day life. For a day, I had escaped into the wild, carefree, with four of my greatest friends. It was now time to make the journey back.

After wading our way out of the creek, we grabbed our gear and returned to the trail. Passing by the familiar sights of the trail, we recalled the events of the day as if they were distant memories.

At last, we emerged from the canyon. We signed our names in the trail log, returned our walking sticks to the ground, and began the drive home. As we drove away, I turned and watched my walking stick disappear. I smiled at the thought of the next adventurer beginning his or her journey, choosing the same walking stick I had chosen.

For more information about the West Fork Trail go to sedonahikingtrails.com