Nestled in the rolling highlands of north-central Arizona, between Phoenix and Flagstaff, the charming town of Sedona attracts thousands of visitors annually with its stunning red-rock formations. However, Sedona has far more to offer than just some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States. The town’s rich history and vibrant culture make it a haven for artists and other creative types as well as adventure seekers of all kinds. Here’s a quick list of six of our favorite Sedona sightseeing options.
1. Red-Rock Formations
Sedona is world-renowned for its impressive, red-sandstone formations. Scenic overlooks along Highways 89A and 179 allow motorists to pull off the highway and marvel at these magnificent cliffs, whose robust hue is derived from the presence of iron within the rock. Formations with colorful names such as Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock and the 1,000-foot-tall Earth Angel Spire attract rock climbers, in addition to hikers, cyclists and ATV riders. Visitors should keep an eye out for Snoopy Rock, which resembles the iconic Peanuts character.
© Kenneth Hagemeyer
2. Pink® Jeep® Tours
Founded in 1960, Pink® Jeep® Tours offers a variety of guided tours through the rugged wilderness in-and-around Sedona, giving visitors a glimpse of the region’s natural splendor. The three-hour Ancient Ruin Tour includes a visit to the Honanki Heritage Site, while the two-and-a-half-hour Touch the Vortex Tour explores the myths and legends surrounding Sedona’s natural vortexes, long believed to have supernatural healing powers. Each tour is an experience like no other.
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3. Chapel of the Holy Cross
Built in 1956 as a Roman Catholic shrine, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is one of Sedona’s most famous landmarks. The chapel’s exterior design integrates a large cross jutting out of the 200-foot-high crimson cliffs, while the relatively sparse interior is accentuated with floor-to-ceiling windows for unparalleled scenic views. Fittingly, the Twin Nuns and Mother and Child rock formations can be seen from the chapel walkway. It’s truly a sight to behold.
© Martin Ely
4. Honanki Heritage Site
The vast Coconino National Forest around Sedona plays host to the Honanki Heritage Site, a testament to the region’s rich Native American history. Originally built and inhabited by the Sinagua tribe, the cliff dwelling at Honanki later became a flourishing settlement for the Yavapai people. Pictographs and petroglyphs throughout the surrounding rocks tell the story of the Sinagua, Yavapai, and other tribes who called the region home.
© Coconino National Forest
5. Oak Creek Canyon
Just north of uptown Sedona along Highway 89A lies the 14-mile-long Oak Creek Canyon, renowned for its colorful rock formations and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can hike, mountain bike or ride on horseback along the park’s many trails before enjoying a leisurely picnic. Also within the canyon is Slide Rock, a natural water slide popular with vacationers during the summer months.
© Sean Hobson
6. Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village is a vibrant open-air market housing an array of charming shops, restaurants and galleries. Visitors to the many galleries at Tlaquepaque can admire works by Sedona’s best artists, including the exquisite Southwestern art at Navarro Gallery. Likewise, they can browse specialty shops for unique souvenirs and dine at El Rincon Restaurante Mexicano, which serves authentic Arizona-style Mexican cuisine. El Rincon’s specialty is Navajo pizza, savory sopapilla crust topped with red or green chili sauce and piled high with cheese, vegetables, and a choice of beef, chicken, or shrimp.
© Amy Meredith
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Cover photo: © Mike Callahan