Among the macho Wild West-style towns of the southwest USA, Sedona in Arizona attracts a more New Age crowd. The town has embraced its alternative side with a host of crystal shops, psychics, alternative therapists and vortex tours. And it’s the vortexes surrounding Sedona which have given the town its spiritual reputation. Found in among the red rocks around town, vortexes are supposed to be sacred spots, where energy flows radiate the Earth’s power and you feel heightened spiritual and emotional awareness. Even before the vortexes were discovered the area was a spiritual site to the Native Americans who lived here.
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I have to admit to being a bit skeptical when it comes to this kind of New Age stuff. But the vortex sites have the bonus of being surrounded by some stunning red rock scenery, so even if you you’re not feeling anything spiritual then they’re still beautiful places to visit. We were staying up on the hill at Airport Mesa, the closest vortex site to town and one of the best places to photograph Sedona. As the sun started to set, the red rocks started to glow in the light. Sat on the our hotel terrace with a glass of wine watching the colour of the sky change probably wasn’t the spiritual vortex-related moment the New-Agers might have been imagining, but it was one of the most peaceful and relaxing parts of my whole southwest journey.
Away from the vortexes, the landscape around Sedona also has plenty of of mountain biking and hiking routes that take you up close to the rock formations that surround the town, like Cathedral Rock, Bear Mountain, Bell Rock and Courthouse Rock. Or if that’s too energetic then there are a couple of scenic drives too. The first runs to the north of town and takes you through Oak Creek Canyon, where the road zig-zags up the steep sides of the canyon surrounded by pine trees. The other is the Red Rock Loop which takes you up into the terracotta-coloured hills around Sedona for great views of the rock formations.
Back in town, Sedona has also developed a thriving artistic community alongside its spiritual side. There are over 100 galleries and artists’ studios here as well as film, art and jazz festivals each year. Although there’s still a small-town feel to the place, the huge four million visitors that come here every year mean that it’s got a big selection of boutiques, spas and restaurants. You can eat anything from fine dining with seasonal local produce to Mexican specalities and you’re within easy reach of the surrounding Verde Valley wine region. So whether your spiritual home can be found at a vortex, on a hiking path or in a great meal or a glass of local white, you should be able to find it in Sedona.