I’ve spent very little time in Arizona, but that will hopefully change in the future. I can’t wait to go back. The environment in Northern Arizona is not what I was expecting at all. I mean, come on, if you don’t live there or otherwise know about the area, is this what you picture when you think about Arizona?
Being from the Pacific NW, I had an aversion to the American Southwest. I guess I pictured something from a Road Runner cartoon with nothing but sand and rocks and an overwhelming dryness. That turned out to not be the case, at least in Sedona.
The above images were taken at Slide Rock State Park. The next time I go there, I will definitely hike in with a tripod to take a long exposure and get the water silky smooth. Although the temperature was above 100 (F) every day, this was not the dry wasteland I had in mind.
One thing I expected that turned out to be accurate was the beauty of the sunsets. Sedona and the surrounding environs are replete with massive, beautiful rock formations that light up in the evening. I was constantly reminded of the Mull of Kintyre lyric “Past painted deserts the sun sets on fire . . . ” because around every corner was something like this view of Cathedral Rock.
Just outside of Sedona there are a few Native American ruins that are worth seeing. Montezuma’s Castle has nothing to so with the Aztec emperor (he was never at this place). It was misnamed by the Europeans who stumbled across this 5-story dwelling carved right in the side of the rock. This is in the heart of the Verde Valley, and agriculture and fresh water were abundant.
A quick drive from Montezuma’s Castle takes you to Tuzigoot National Monument. I’m not sure if the Tuzigoot (pronounced TOOTS-ih-goot) were a war-like people, but I can’t image that name struck fear in the hearts of English-speakers. Here we find the ruins of an entire community that also took advantage of the verdant Verde Valley.
There is so much amazing scenery in Sedona, that even the view from a parking lot can be cool.
Of course we haven’t even talked about the fact that the Grand Canyon is a two-hour drive from Sedona, or about the neat little town of Jerome that is just 30 minutes away. Those places will be covered another time. I’ll leave you with another shot of Cathedral Rock, set on fire by the setting sun.