Sedona, Arizona is one of the few places that has both struck and stayed with me (in fact, the only others I can think of are Stonehenge and Estonia). It is said that the reason so many people have a similar experience at Sedona is because of the vortexes and ley lines. There are allegedly 4 well-known vortexes (places in nature that are extremely “alive” with energy) with ley lines intersecting throughout them. They are: Airport Mesa Vortex (not an actual airport), Boynton Canyon Vortex, Cathedral Rock Vortex, and the Bell Rock Vortex. I did not know of these vortexes when I went to Sedona, and yet I found myself smack dab inside of one (Bell Rock Vortex), almost as if I were drawn to it.
I went alone, because I was in the Phoenix area visiting a friend, who just before I came got a new job which required her to work weekends during the day. So, it was either be stuck alone in her house all day, fart around Phoenix (not super-duper interesting), or drive the 2 hours north to Sedona, a place I’ve dreamt about visiting. It was a no-brainer for me, and I didn’t mind going alone (everyone should go places alone from time to time- you learn a lot about yourself, as well as build independence). The drive to Sedona from Phoenix is *relatively* easy; not much traffic, but it wasn’t a clear road either. There are only so many highways that run throughout the state of Arizona, connecting the various hot spots (like Sedona, Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Tombstone, etc), so usually there is some traffic. It took me roughly 2 hours to get there.
I had no clear plans when I arrived in Sedona, so I just drove through town and out towards the trail areas. I found myself being pulled towards two rock formations in the distance, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, which are right next to one another. The parking lot was packed, with people circling around like vultures, waiting for a spot (I lovingly call this “The Hunger Games” when people do this). But as luck would have it (which is rare for me), a spot opened almost as soon as I arrived in the small parking lot. I’m telling you, it was like this place was working in favor of me or something. I sound crazy trying to explain it, but hey, we’re all a little crazy sometimes.
The initial paths around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte start off extremely easy, wide, and smooth, packed tight with red dirt. They were clearly man-made with the purpose of offering easy access without requiring you to break a sweat. The farther into the wilderness that you go, the narrower the path gets, as well as rockier and more tumultuous. Instead of the wide, flat path, it starts to dip and rise, requiring some uphill hiking. It’s not an expert-level hike by any means, but those with leg or breathing issues might experience some difficulty the farther they get.
I eventually found myself close to the bottom of Courthouse Butte, with Bell Rock behind me and slightly to the side. I climbed up through the rock hill and onto a large, flat rocky area. I was well above the path and could see out for miles. I did bring some devil’s lettuce with me, so I can’t say if what I’m about to explain next is a result of that, or if Sedona’s vortexes ARE real and were in full effect, but nonetheless, shit went down.
I had the closest thing to a spiritual experience I think I will ever have. It sounds absolutely insane, and even as I type this, I’m thinking, “No, leave this out, you sound cray”, but it’s my truth and you gotta speak your truths, people. I was 100% alone the entire time I was in this spot, and nobody even walked by on the trail. I heard absolutely nothing expect nature – the wind, birds, animals, and the natural silence in between. It was surreal, yet so relaxing at the exact same time. I never wanted to leave, and lost track of time while I was there. I can’t tell you how long I sat there – 20 minutes? 30 minutes? 45 minutes? I honestly don’t know.
The only annoyance and break in the silence was the sight-seeing helicopter that would periodically zoom by (there are multiple helicopter tours you can take, with prices ranging from $120 to $395 per person). They would zoom by quickly though, disappearing behind the rocks, taking the sound with them. If you have the money to splurge on these pricey helicopter rides, then do it, but if you don’t have those kind of funds (I certainly don’t), don’t fret. You can experience Sedona in all its wondrous glory with your feet firmly on the ground.
If you want to stay in Sedona, you’re in luck, because the number of hotels here is unprecedented. Depending on your princess level, you can find hotels from $80 to $830 a night. While this place is magical and mystical, that also means it’s heavily trafficked with tourists, New Age groupies, and those into mystical healing stuff. The hotels look at them with dollar signs in their eyes, ready to take advantage of that. It is also a mecca for desert lovers, who want to be pampered while surrounded by the epicness of the surrounding rocks, and the resorts are certainly ready to deliver.
Full discretion, while I absolutely love Sedona and think it’s literally a magical place, this trip to Sedona was hampered a bit by the fact that I was not supposed to go to Sedona this time. I didn’t make a 9-hour drive to my friends’ sisters’ cabin in Munds Park (7 hours to Phoenix due to an overturned semi-truck and then 2 hours north to Munds Park) to visit Sedona. Nonetheless, our fate was completely out of our hands when our planned trip to the Grand Canyon ended, after the weather decided to be a freak and snow/sleet/rain/ice when it was almost June.
While it seemed that the entire area of Northern Arizona was getting smashed with an oddly late winter storm, Sedona seemed to be one of the least-hit areas. It still got hit with some rain, but it was slight, and thankfully there wasn’t any snow or ice. Combine that with its beauty and amazing hiking trails, and Sedona was quickly picked as option #2.
We chose Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte simply because we both had hiked there before, so we sorta kinda knew the territory, and you want to be somewhere you know if the weather turns bad. I’m pretty sure I included this in my first Sedona blog, but in case I didn’t or if you didn’t read that one, you must pay to park at this trail. Maps online will tell you that you don’t, but when we got there, there was a big sign right near the entrance that said a pass was required. If you don’t have an annual Arizona park pass, you will have to go to one of the various locations in Sedona or Oak Creek to obtain a day pass. These locations are easily found on Google.
Last time I was at Sedona I did the Courthouse Butte trail, which begins easy enough but turns into a hillier and rockier trail. Both my friend and I were still pretty sore and worn-out from our previous day of hiking (I ended up doing a total of 8.57 miles that day), so we wanted to take it easy. I didn’t get to do the Bell Rock Pathway last time I was there, so we gave that a whirl.
This quickly turned into a regrettable moment because almost immediately the Bell Rock Pathway became very rocky, tumultuous, and required a lot of energy. It’s not that it was difficult, just that we were too tired for it, plus it was rainy and wet, and the rocks were very slippery.
We got almost about ½ a mile in and turned around, deciding to walk along the Courthouse Butte Trail until it became rocky.
When you get to the point of the Courthouse Butte Trail that becomes rocky and hilly, there is another trail that splinters off called the Baby Bell Trail. I really liked this trail because it had enough variation to be interesting, gave a great lookout point to the Sedona desert, had rocks you could climb (if you chose), and went in a loop so there was no getting lost. If you cut across the rocks, the trail is about 2 miles long; however, it can go much longer. I highly suggest it.
Even though I have been twice, there is still so much to see and experience here, that I must go back. I’ve never given a lot of thought to vortexes, ley lines, and all that other natural geographical phenomenon stuff, but Sedona started to change my mind. I really do feel that I left a piece of my heart and soul there, and not because Sedona “took it”, but because I purposely left it there… guaranteeing that I must come back and retrieve it.