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Sedona – Hikes, Views and Vortexes

Sedona, Arizona is billed as one of the most beautiful places on earth. The town is surrounded by a stunning landscape perfect for hiking and trail walking.

Red Rock State Park is nearby with its red rock vistas, rust coloured pinnacles and sandstone columns set against cobalt blue skies. We couldn’t wait to set off on some Sedona hikes and trails.

View from Vortex area, Boynton Canyon, Sedona
Sedona viewpoint

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There are three National Parks in Arizona; the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Saguaro. Red Rock and Slide Rock are Arizona state parks but there’s more to Sedona than its red-hued views, state parks and hiking trails. The area is also known for what you can’t see – its spirituality, vortexes, and energy fields.

It is also one of the best places in USA for beautiful sunsets. We saw some absolutely stunning sunsets in Sedona.

Sedona Hikes, Views and Vortexes

Sedona was the last stop on our southwest US road trip. Of all the things to do we were looking forward to exploring its rugged wilderness, natural beauty and connecting with nature. Expendng some energy on the Sedona hikes and trails was high on the itinerary.

After leaving the kitsch of Seligman and Historic Route 66 we made our way south, driving through Coconino Forest, before rolling into Sedona.

If you’re heading to Phoenix from Sedona then check out these Phoenix family resorts.

Sedona in the Movies

Some Sedona hikes and vortex hunting were planned for the next day so first we set about exploring the town. We walked up Main Street from our hotel taking in the views and signs which documented Sedona’s role in the movies.

Hundreds of films were shot in the area including The Angel and the Badman starring John Wayne and Gail Russell, Jimmy Stewart’s Broken Arrow and Stagecoach. The breathtaking scenery makes a perfect backdrop for a cowboy film or western.

Plaque of John Wayne Movie in Sedona
Sedona featured in many Westerns and cowboy movies

Sedona Art and Crafts

Art and craft is big in Sedona, its first artists etching their rock-art petroglyphs into the sandstone thousands of years ago. Nowadays the town is abundant with galleries and influences from native

American communities such as pottery, art, jewellery and crafts. New-age art sits side by side with contemporary art giving varied dimensions to the town’s art scene.

Native American Dream Catcher
Sedona crafts – dreamcatcher

Church of the Holy Cross, Sedona

Surprisingly, you’ll find some contemporary architecture in Sedona. Check out The Church of the Holy Cross just outside of town. The slim rectangle shaped building with its clean lines contrasts starkly with the natural ruggedness of the rock.

The Roman Catholic church was designed by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright and completed in 1956.

The church is located a few minutes drive south of Sedona on Highway 179. You could incorporate a visit during your vortex hunting trip like we did – you’ll find it between Airport Mesa and Cathedral Rock. There’s a handy map at the end of this post.

The rocks in this part of Sedona reminded me a lot of the Valley of Fire state park in Nevada.

Church of the Holy Cross, Sedona
Church of the Holy Cross, Sedona

Where to stay in Sedona

You need to pick a good spot for Sedona sunsets and sundowners. Luckily our hotel rooms at Cedars Resort in Sedona had balconies overlooking Oak Creek and its lush vegetation which made a stunning contrast with the red buttes, mesas and pinnacles of the landscape beyond.

Rooms were spacious and there was a small pool and jacuzzi overlooking some beautiful scenery which we took full advantage of. We sat with a beer or two and watched as the colours of the rock changed from rusty red hues to burnt umber, ochre and glowed brilliant orange as the sun sank into the Sedona horizon and the moon rose.

Check rates and availability at Cedars Resort, Sedona

Sedona Sunset
Sunset on the red rocks of Sedona

Breakfast next day was at The Coffee Pot Restaurant who offer a choice of 101 omelettes on their menu in a Mexican style setting. Fuelled up and fit for a hike we set off in search of a vortex or two to see what all the fuss was about.

If you’re looking for Sedona restaurants with a view you’ll find some excellent choices.

What is a Vortex

Energy centres or vortexes (they’re not called vortices in Sedona) are sites where it’s believed that the earth emits a spiralling shape of subtle energy. It’s not magnetism or electricity but does leave traces of magnetism in the strongest areas.

The energy absorbed can have an uplifting or positive effect and resonates with the person experiencing it for days afterwards. We visited two vortexes and I’ve got to say I didn’t feel anything but at Bell Rock the other Mrs Jones had an overwhelming experience.  There are four vortex areas in Sedona.

Balancing Stones, Boynton Canyon, Sedona
Seeking out a Sedona vortex

Boynton Canyon Vortex, Sedona

We started our first Sedona hike at Boynton Canyon the furthest North from the town. It’s said there are two vortexes at Boynton Canyon. We hiked the trail for about 40 minutes (one way) up to two tall red rock formations.

Balancing Stones, Boynton Canyon, Sedona
Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, Sedona

One formation is known as Kachina Woman and the other is unnamed. The Juniper trees had twisted spiralling branches which is caused by the tree growing towards the direction of the energy.

This is the only site where you can walk around the vortex. The views in all directions were fabulous here and well worth the effort.

View from Boynton Canyon, Sedona, AZ
Sedona, Arizona

Airport Mesa Vortex, Sedona

Even if you’re not seeking out a vortex you should visit Airport Mesa for the views alone. This is the closest Vortex to the centre of Sedona located along Airport Road. Take the drive up to the lookout and feast your eyes on the views which seem to go on forever.

There are lots of trails around but you’ll need to climb down to find the vortex. The shot below looks across to Thunder Mountain.

View of Airport Mesa, Sedona
View over Airport Mesa, Sedona

Cathedral Rock, Sedona

From The Airport vista we carried on south taking the road past Cathedral Rock. We didn’t drive right up to the creek to search for the vortex but stayed on the road and stopped off at a couple of lookout points. There’s a link to a map below if you want to find the vortex site and one of Sedona’s most photogenic spots.

Read more South West road trips posts: Whale Watching in Monterey Bay, Biking the Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam, Driving Death Valley, A Day in Yosemite and visiting the Grand Canyon West Rim.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona
Cathedral Rock, Sedona

Bell Rock Vortex and Courthouse Butte, Sedona

Bell Rock was the last stop on our Sedona tour and without doubt the place that affected our group the most. The energy is said to be powerful for a large area around the rock and noticeable as soon as you get near. I felt nothing so I guess I must be spiritually dead! We mooched around taking in the views but didn’t hike any of the trails as we needed to hit the road and head to Phoenix and our flight back home.

Courthouse Butte, Sedona
Courthouse Butte, Sedona

Sadly, it was all too soon time to get back to the car but the other Mrs Jones wasn’t having any of it. In fact, she was having a bit of a moment and had been completely overcome by feelings she couldn’t explain. She was sobbing and in floods of tears which was totally out of character.

There are a few possible explanations a) she didn’t want our road trip to end, b) the thought of another two hours in the car with the rest of us was just too much or c) the power of the vortex was at work. You’ll have to make your own mind up about that one.

Tips for Visiting Sedona’s Vortexes

Parking – At some of the parking sites you’ll need to pay $5 per car for a Red Rock Pass. Weekly and annual passes are available too and you can buy these in advance or on site. There are various free weekends throughout the year. More info can be found here.

Wear good hiking shoes – You’ll need good walking shoes for scrambling up trails and inclines which can be slippery with gravel and dust. Merrell Moab hiking boots are comfortable and will protect your feet.

Bring water – It gets hot in Sedona so bring water. You’ll find water bottle filling stations at some of the visitor centres but not along the hiking trails or the scenic drives. Ensure you have plenty of water with you, especially on longer hikes. At least take an insulated water bottle to keep your water cool. Choose one with a wide enough mouth to take ice cubes which’ll keep your water extra cool – I love my bright yellow Hydroflask.  Another option is a daypack with a built-in reservoir. The CamelBak Aurora (70 oz) is excellent and I also like the CamelBak Aventura (100 oz), and the Osprey Raven (100 oz).

Sunburn – Avoid sunburn by applying (and re-applying) sunscreen, and wear a wide-brimmed hat.

Insurance – Finally, please don’t forget to protect yourself and your trip with travel insurance 

Sedona Vortex Map

This Sedona Vortex Map highlights scenic routes, viewpoints, vortexes and other useful info for your stay in Sedona.

Pin it for later…


Wednesday 31st of July 2019

I'd been searching for some posts about Sedona for an upcoming trip and really loved everything about the vortexes! How interesting! Now I can't wait!

Suzanne Jones

Thursday 1st of August 2019

The vortexes were fascinating - I tried to feel something but it didn't happen for me!


Monday 27th of June 2016

That image of the moon in the blue sky above the red rusty rock is fabulous!

Suzanne Jones

Monday 27th of June 2016

Thanks Brooke, that's one of my favourites :)


Thursday 14th of April 2016

Sedona has one of the coolest settings of any town, for sure. The dark red rock juxtaposed with the green trees makes for some amazing views and photo ops. I love the little contemporary church...I never saw it when I visited!

Suzanne Jones

Friday 15th of April 2016

The green vegetation really make those red rocks pop and the sunsets were epic.


Tuesday 12th of April 2016

Loved Sedona – it was one of the places I've visited that I found it hard to drag myself away from (maybe it's the vortexes...) and would love to go back to – those beautiful views and colours were just stunning.

Suzanne Jones

Wednesday 13th of April 2016

I loved hiking through those landscapes and would go back in a heartbeat...

Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

I've never travelled anywhere in the world that looks like this Suzanne - it just seems utterly breathtaking and so vast just looking at the photos so I can't even imagine how it must look in person! I'e been a bit fluey and ill this weeks so could do with being around one of the vortices for some of the positive uplifting energy but seriously, you found a restaurant that does 101 types of omelettes - how on earth did you pick one?!

Suzanne Jones

Tuesday 12th of April 2016

It was a first for me Shikha and that landscape was absolutely stunning. Everything seemed so crisp and vibrant. I was a little peeved that I didn't get any vortex vibes but they probably did me some good without me noticing (positive thinking!) We spent a lot longer choosng our omelettes than we did eating them! :)

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