Missing the Vortex, Maxing the Hiking in Sedona

Humans are funny creatures, constantly distracted by imaginary phenomena while failing to focus on the even more intriguing reality that surrounds them. Sedona, Arizona, is a case in point: people flock to a tourist-driven downtown packed with charlatans claiming to put you in touch with an “energy vortex” or heal your ailments with rock or simply the old standby; foretell your future by peering at your skin. For a price, of course.

Then they stand on the sidewalk next to a line of cars crawling along Highway 89A, raise their phones to take a picture of distant rock cliffs, and go eat. The more “adventurous” pay to be driven in a noisy open-air vehicle on a dirt road to view the scenery, while the wealthier pay hundreds of dollars to take in the view from a helicopter.

Or you can simply get out of your car and walk. For free.

Fortunately for those who wish to feel the red rock beneath their feet, smell the junipers, and feel the river-washed stones in the creeks, there are many miles of trails around Sedona and, if you chose with care, not overcrowded.

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The various rock formations you see in the Sedona area are between 265 to 340 million years old.  The most prominent feature is the Schnebly Hill Formation red sandstone, colored by hematite (iron oxide) and spectacular at sunset. It was likely formed at the bottom of a shallow sea which repeatedly filled and then dried leaving sand dunes before filling up again. The region is part of the Mogollon Rim escarpment that has experienced heavy erosion for hundreds of thousands of years, creating the amazing cliffs and canyons we enjoy today.

From our campground at Rancho Sedona RV Park, a two-minute drive up Schnebly Hill Road and we’re at the Munds Wagon Trail trailhead. Following that trail for two miles we took the Hangover Trail which loops around a 4,500 ft ridgeline of beautiful buttes.

Our campground is great, with well-spaced out campsites, 30A and 50A electrical (so we can charge the car and keep the trailer plugged in) shaded by enormous Arizona Cottonwood trees. In mid-March they don’t have their new leaves out yet, which is fine because the sun provides welcome warmth.

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More Sedona hiking: The Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness: Hiking Long Canyon

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