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Sedona’s Red Rock Country
About 4 million people are drawn to Sedona, Arizona each year. Many come to experience the stunning red rock formations, such as Cathedral Rock:
And here is white-tipped Wilson Mountain (on the left), next to Schnebly Hill:
Sedona is also known as a place for spiritual rejuvenation and artistic inspiration. The small downtown area had at least several public sculptures on each block.
This girl was outside a shop that offered home-made ice-cream:
“The Dance” by artist James Muir:
Some whimsical creations outside the “Life is Good” store:
An amusing scene with a sculpted girl taking a photo of a cowboy painting the landscape:
And of course there were quite a few romanticized figures of Native Americans. Here is one example:
During our travels, we have found that some cities like to have a painted “theme” sculpture—e.g., bison in Custer, South Dakota; giant hearts in San Francisco; and moose in Talkeetna, Alaska. In Sedona, the theme was the javalina, a piglike mammal found throughout southern and central Arizona. Genevieve collects pigs (the nonbreathing kind), and she searched out the javalina sculptures.
“Mamacita de las Flores” by artist Susan Kliewer:
“Have-Aloha” by artista Andrea Smith:
And “Hairalina” by artist Liam Herbert:
Downtown Sedona also had two separate groups of outdoor musical instruments, which Sebastian used to project his harmony out into the world:
Although Sedona offers a variety of high-end luxury resorts and spas, we were on the opposite end of the budget spectrum with our $15/night camping spot in lovely Oak Creek Canyon.
Getting to the campground, we followed the road along Oak Creek, north of town. Looking back toward Sedona, from a bridge crossing the creek:
And looking forward into Oak Creek Canyon:
The canyon had beautifully layered cliff walls:
Our campground was nestled in the pines along Oak Creek, and offered quiet solitude from the Spring Break crowds in town:
One of the exciting features of Sedona—indeed, a major enticement for our family—was the abundance of single track mountain bike trails. We spent 3 glorious days here riding some awesome trails.
We started with some intermediate/advanced trails--a 15-mile series called the “Long Loop,” leading from Dry Creek Road. For those familiar with these trails, our route was Lizard Head—Chuck Wagon—Long Canyon Road—Long Canyon Trail—Deadman’s Pass—Aerie—Cockscomb—Rupp—Gardner—Two Fence.
Here are Genevieve and Sebastian, starting out on Lizard Head Trail:
Portions of these trails have recently received new signs, making them easy to follow . . .
. . . except for the first couple of miles, where the trail had been diverted and no longer matched our handy-dandy (but apparently inaccurate) trail map. A bit of retracing our steps (and some head-scratching), and we stayed on track for the most part.
Genevieve and Sebastian love single track as much as Ben and I—must be genetic! There is something about a thin ribbon of dirt that puts a big smile on each of our faces:
Portions of the trail were open, with some loose step-ups:
We had to watch out for the spine-covered cacti on the side of the trail (I think we all had to pluck some spines out of our bodies at some point during this ride).
Connecting with Long Canyon Trail:
We could not have asked for a more perfect day.
Here is Sebastian dropping down a rocky section of Deadman’s Pass:
More gorgeous scenery:
Genevieve, starting down the Aerie Trail:
Sebastian practiced his balancing act during a water break:
The trail eventually climbed part way up Doe Mesa, the small mountain behind Genevieve below:
Winding upwards on Doe Mesa:
Looking up at the top of Doe Mesa:
Continuing onward, past more cactus:
Our trail eventually wound past a rock formation known as the Cockscomb:
Our last bit of fluid smoothness before reaching Rupp Trail:
Rupp Trail and the first part of Gardner were old jeep roads with up and down sections completely covered in a sea of loose rocks. We all got to practice our hike-a-bike technique. A lot.
We decided to take a “short cut” (you know, one of those shorter lines on the map that seems like a good choice at the start), and practiced more of our hike-a-bike skills on Two Fence Trail. During a riding portion, we happened upon this critter:
He didn’t want to budge. We didn’t want him to get run over by other bikers, so I took a long stick and gently lifted his tail to encourage him to move. He took some convincing but finally slithered off into the bushes.
For our second ride, we chose a more mellow set of trails that wove around Bell Rock and Courthouse Mesa. For those who want trail names, we rode Big Park Loop, the Single Track ByPass, single track around Little Bell, and part of Bell Rock Pathway.
Ben had to pump up his tire first—we think a cactus spine from yesterday was causing a slow leak.
Genevieve, waiting, with Courthouse Mesa in the distance:
Bell Rock and Courthouse Mesa sit next to each other. In front, there are some looping single track trails that are just pure fun.
Pausing on the side of Courthouse Butte:
Heading toward Bell Rock:
Closer to Bell Rock:
We dropped down into the Single Track ByPass (steeper and rockier than it looks, and a lot more fun going downhill than uphill—we did the trail both ways):
We also took a single track trail that disappeared once it reached the slick rock portions on the side of a smaller hill called Baby Bell. We had to skirt the edge of some narrow ledges, with drop-offs (don't look down!), and sail across to the other side. Then we dropped down to the main trail:
One thing that amazed me was the amount of plant life that was growing on top of the red rocks.
Here is a closer look at Bell Rock, with its many plants:
This brilliant patch of cacti was growing on the western side:
For our final ride in Sedona, we selected a 10-mile set of intermediate/advanced trails called Carroll Canyon Loops, with a series of up-and-down hills and some slick rock thrown in for good measure. (Our route was Ridge Trail—Secret SlickRock—Chavez Ranch Road—Secret SlickRock again—Ramshead Trail—Old Post Trail.)
Ridge Trail had some fun drops and climbs. Here is Sebastian dropping down before pedaling back up some rocky steps:
More photos from Ridge Trail:
On the Secret SlickRock trail, Genevieve spied a heart-shaped cactus, to her right in the photo below:
Then we entered a wide expanse of slickrock, which overlooked Crescent Moon Park and the distant Cathedral Rock:
The path back might appear to be dirt and rocks with some scrubby bushes:
But if you look real close, you will find some beautiful little surprises:
Bicycles proved to be a grand way to explore different regions of Sedona, allowing us to cover a lot of territory and feel an intimate connection with the land.
Some people say that Sedona is one of the most beautiful places in the world. They might just be right.
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