Tag Archives: sedona day trips

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

 

Sedona, Ariz.

Slide Rock And Red Rock State Parks In Sedona

Sedona is known for the natural beauty of  its stunning red rocks that the locals have affectionately named and shamelessly promote. You can enjoy the natural sculptures of Sedona by visiting a vortex, drinking in the beauty of Slide Rock State Park or hiking in Sedona’s Red Rock State Park.

Experience a Sedona Vortex

Sedona, Ariz.Ask any of the locals what to do in Sedona, and they recommend watching the sunset from Airport Mesa. Airport Mesa also happens to be a vortex location. Believers of the metaphysical consider a vortex a high-energy spot, and Sedona has a handful. The vortex is a common ground for the kinetic energy to influence the life in and around a particular area. Visitors to vortexes claim a tingling sensation, a refreshed outlook and inner peace. Is there an unseen force at work? Or are these feelings, commonly reported by visitors and locals, just a state of mind?

It can’t be denied that Airport Mesa has one of the best sunset views in Sedona. The limited parking fills up fast an hour before sunset. If you aren’t an enthusiastic outdoor athlete or hiker, this vortex and scenic look out is perfect. The 3.5 mile, circular trail is not too strenuous or difficult and offers easily accessible views of other popular rock formations such as Coffee Pot rock, Courthouse rock, Bell rock and Cathedral rock, just to name a few. It may be that the crowds at this easily accessible vortex throw off the claimed energy field that is found on Mini Mesa. Maybe, to feel the energy of a vortex, you have to feel as though you have escaped the crowds, alone and absorbing nature.

You can check out the Sedona vortexes with this vortex map.

Slide Rock State Park

This Arizona state park is one of the best summer destinations that offers natural beauty and fun in one. The smooth natural rock formations of the river bed and the rushing water offer a natural water slide, while the large flat stones on the bank provide a fabulous place for sunbathing and catching up on that latest novel. It can become extremely crowded during warmer weather, so if you want to escape the crowds, hike up the river and immerse yourself in a still-water pool or observe the wildlife stopping for a drink.

Sedona, Ariz.

In the winter it may be too cold to enjoy swimming in the creek, but the hikes and the views are breathtaking especially with a fresh snowfall. The Slide Rock State Park used to be the Pendley homestead, a 43-acre apple orchard that was developed by Frank L. Pendley in 1910. The Pendley Homestead Historic District was accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places in Dec. 1991. The Pendley apple farm is one of the few homesteads still preserved in Oak Creek Canyon. Enjoy the history of the apple farm as a scenic and cinematic destination, James Stewart’s “Broken Arrow” was filmed here along with others, and hike the Pendley Homestead Trail (.25 miles), Slide Rock Route (.3 miles), or Clifftop Nature Trail (.25 miles).

Summer or winter, plan your visit to Slide Rock State Park in Sedona.

Red Rock State Park

The Red Rock State Park is located on the south side of Sedona along the 89A and had numerous trails suitable for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The 286-acre nature preserve includes a 1.4-mile stretch of Oak Creek that flows through this amazing riparian habitat.

The park also features an environmental educational center with daily activities such as a daily guided nature walk at 10 a.m. and an educational presentation at 2 p.m. The guided nature walk is lead by a naturalist who explains the ecosystem and habitat of the Red Rock State Park and Oak Creek. The walk lasts about one-and-a-half to two hours and covers the wildlife, vegetation and archaeology of the area. The educational presentation led by a park ranger or a guest speaker can be a combined indoor/outdoor activity that includes a specific, special presentation and on occasion an outdoor hike. Bring water and your camera!

Check the Red Rock State Park website for a calendar of events.

Out of Africa Entrance

An Out-Of-Africa Arizona Safari

Ever dream about a safari vacation in the Serengeti? Have your kids been begging you for a day where they can play with impalas and jaguars? (And I’m not talking about cars, you American junkie.)

Well, look no further than our own Southwestern jewel of Sedona for an African experience that’s Out of Africa … and this world.

Out of Africa Wildlife Park sits on 104 acres of land atop Mingus Mountain, overlooking the spectacular red rocks and San Francisco Peaks.arizona safari out of africa

In its 23 years, Out of Africa has held no boundaries. Founders Dean and Prayeri Harrison dreamt of a land where species could interact with one another as naturally as they do in Africa, and as their homepage suggests, “the concept of oneness is illustrated with unsurpassed majesty.”

Although I visited the park two years ago, my mother still talks about how she came to understand the expression, “you’re laughing like a hyena!” She saw them in action, laughing, well, like hyenas. My most memorable experience from the park? A giraffe steering his neck to lick pellets out of my hand; I really did feel at one with nature at that point.

Your standard jeep safari is a double-decker trolley that’s usually filled to capacity, but don’t let that turn you off; the tour-guide-slash-walking encyclopedia that knows everything you’d ever want to know about animals makes up for the crowded space. An ostrich egg, the world’s biggest egg, is even passed around to be admired — and boy, let me tell you, that thing is HEAVY. To be precise, they weigh 3 lbs on the average; that’s over 20 times the weight of a chicken egg!

arizona safari out of africa

Hope to see you soon!

If you’d like to keep it personal with your family, there are also more authentic, private tours that come equipped with a park guide and your dream jeep.

The park also has three once-daily shows. Unfortunately my family did not get there on time to watch these seemingly awe-inspiring shows. The Tiger Splash, everyday at 1:15 p.m., has Bengal and Siberian tigers playing fetch and swimming together all the while the MC teaches the audience about how various instinctual, animalistic behaviors become habits.

With the help of a stick and the fence between you, you can also feed a tiger for just $5 (daily at 2 p.m.). If you’d rather watch trainers do the feeding, every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 – 3:45 p.m., you can see just how much lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) eat as their caretakers lunge up to 800 pounds of raw meat their way in the Predator Feed.

Reptiles more your thing? The interactive snake show occurs daily at 2:15 p.m., where guests are able to touch, pet and hold the serpents as they wish. If you want to paint a big picture of the beauty of wildlife and each animals’ way of life, the best show to see is the Wonders of Wildlife, occurring Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 3 p.m. No matter what route you take, a day at the park is sure to be fun for the whole family, at any age.

The Arizona Safari park is open 7 days a week except Thanksgiving and Christmas day, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission closes at 4 p.m. Children 3 to 12 are $20, adults are $36. Seniors and veterans/active military get discounted. Annual membership is also available.