Staying & Playing In Sedona

In the middle of a Scottsdale Golfing Vacation, where over a 7 day period we played 150 holes of golf, we needed to take a break, get golf off our minds, and try some other fun adventures. So we headed 125 miles north to Sedona and decided that we would not talk or think about golf for at least 36 hours. We had booked ourselves into the best resort in Sedona, made a dinner reservation at a highly recommended restaurant, scheduled an off road jeep tour, planned a scenic drive north of Sedona, and planned to cool off and slide down Oak Creek.

The red rocks of SedonaStunning rock formations

Ballooning over the mountains in SedonaKnown as “Red Rock Country” Sedona is in backdrop of some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and is surrounded by beautiful mountains and monoliths of a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes with names or resemblances like Coffeepot, Cathedral, Thunder Mountain, Chimney Rock, Rabbit Ears, Cow Pies, and even Snoopy. Blessed with near perfect weather year round, Sedona is playground for everyone and as such tourism is the economic generator for the 11,000 residents. Regardless of what you like to do, you'll find it in Sedona:

  • miles of hiking and mountain biking trails that lead to high elevations with commanding views, hug winding creeks, or traverse through the beautiful terrain - lots of choices from easy to strenuous and Red Rock Crossing at Red Rock State Park is a beautiful way to see the view of Cathedral Rock while having a picnic creekside
  • Biking in the mountains of Sedona
    or off roading (jeeps, ATV, and motorcycles are available for rent) on a variety of wilderness trails
  • several choices in lodging from 5 star resorts to B&Bs to all the well known hotels plus RV, tent, or primitive camping
  • rock climbing (try one of the 20 red rock spires to get you heart pumping) or canyoneering
  • yoga and meditation amid mystical vortexes
  • fly fishing or birding or horseback riding
  • site seeing options - museums, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Oak Creek Canyon, Schnebley Hill road and visit, Montezuma Castle National Monument, Africa Wildlife Park, and lots more
  • pueblo's, ruins, and cliff dwellings
  • scenic drives - rent a Harley, a jeep, or Vespa and take a scenic drive or tour of the city or backroads
  • kayak the cool waters of Oak Creek or the Verde River
  • Enjoying the view in SedonaRV or primitive camping
  • Sedona Trolley tour
  • wine tasting and tours
  • horseback riding or jeep off road adventures
  • helicopter, biplane, or hot air balloon rides
  • spas with every known treatment available
  • power shopping for high end art, crafts or jewelry or t-shirts and souvenirs - visit Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village which is well known for its architecture, beauty, amazing restaurants and first class shops and galleries
  • arts, culture, and special events and festivals - First Friday’s at the Galleries with free trolley transportation has become quite a local scene and a hot spot for visitors
  • Golfing in Sedonaplenty of restaurants in every price range and offering a variety of cuisine
  • some good golf courses

Regardless of what time of year you visit, you'll find plenty to keep you busy for a week or more. As soon as you get in town, stop at the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau to get some information and brochures on things to see and do. Also visit the Chambers website and the Sedona Tourism website for lots of good info. Also check out 102 Things To See & Do In Sedona.

In addition to all those fun things, in less than four hours from Sedona you can be snow or water skiing, houseboating on Lake Powell, rafting down the Grand Canyon, gambling in Las Vegas, or shopping in Scottsdale. We hated to leave and I'm still working on convincing my wife that we should move to Sedona for a couple years - she's willing if the kids and their family will join us - stay tuned!

A Fantastic Stay at Enchantment Resort

Enchantment Resort tucked into the valleyWe were stunned when we arrived at Enchantment Resort to check into our room for the night. First of all the drive into Enchantment Resort is stunning - winding tree lined road up and down the hills with magnificent views of the multi-colored mountains. The Resort and Spa is tucked into the trees and surrounded by the majestic red rock formations of Boynton Canyon.

The resort has done an excellent job of preserving the natural landscape and blending the structures into the natural terrain. When the sun rises or sets and reflects off the mountains we were in awe! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or drinks and appetizers on the deck provide mesmerizing majestic vistas.

Panoramic views from the Casas at Enchantment ResortTucked under the trees and into the hillsides on over 70 acres are the spectacular casitas and haciendas. You have several choices on southwestern style lodging - one or two bedroom Casa Suites with a full kitchen, Haciendas with one or two bedrooms plus a 1400 square foot studio for larger groups or families of 12 to 14, 600 square foot Casita Studios, with one or two adjoining bedrooms, or Junior Suites. We stayed in a one bedroom Casita Studio that was fantastic - casual elegance, very roomy, comfortable, and tastefully done in southwestern decor and included: center living room with log beamed ceiling, beehive kiva fireplace, bathroom, an oversized queen pull down bed, well equipped kitchenette and dining area for four, two balconies with furniture that offered serene and majestic views of Sedona's Boynton Canyon and the resort and unbelievable stargazing; comfortable furniture, coffee maker, complimentary high speed internet, in-room movies, Nintendo, bathrobes, and an outside gas grill. They don't get much better than that - we could have stayed here a month. And the service and attention to detail was unbelievable.

Unbelievable views at Enchantement ResortCasitas at Enchantment ResortView from our Casa at Enchanted ResortOur living room and balcony at Enchantment Resort

When you get up after a resting sleep in the very comfy beds, you have to make some decisions on "what do we do today" and there are several choices:

  • grab one of the mountain bikes, pick up a map of the trails, and start peddling on one of the 7 (over 9 miles) mountain bike trails that range from moderate to difficult
  • get in a couple sets of tennis, some croquet on the championship course, ping pong, or bocce ball
  • sign up for some of the daily activities, some of which include: fitness walks, water aerobics, cardio tennis, yoga, lectures and demos (creative photography, makeup, cooking, Apache teachings, pottery, and many more), Tai Chi, meditation, stargazing, and lots more
  • hike the red rocks or walk to the ruins and pictographs- take a picnic lunch with you and enjoy any of the 11 trails, most of which are into the wilderness area and run up and down the mountains and along streams and range from easy to strenuous
  • spend time in a comfy lounge chair sipping a cold drink at the main pool and hot tub or any of the small pools near your room
  • practice your short game on the nine hole par 3 chip and putt course

Tennis and Crochet courtsOne of the Enchantement Resort PoolsOne of the golf holes at Enchantement Resort

For the kids, Camp Coyote offers children's programs the introduce the 4 to 12 year olds to the wonders of the art and culture of Native Americans and the Old Southwest. Plus they have outdoor activities, arts and crafts, and chats with the Nature Ranger.

Pool at the Mii amo spa at Enchantment ResortAfter all that exercise, hit the Mii amo luxury spa to work out the kinks or relieve some of stress. The Mii amo spa is unbelievable and offers a wide array of services for men and women including facials, massage therapy, spiritual healing treatments, health and nutrition consultation, aquatic bodywork, and psychic massage. If you're not into spa treatments, you should still head over to the spa to use the steam room, sauna and whirlpool, indoor grotto pool with fireplace, outdoor lap pool and deck, or to grab a bite in the cafe. Just walking into and around the spa we felt the tension start to leave - its peaceful and quiet. The daily resort fee ($12 in 2009) includes access to the spa facilities and participation in all fitness classes, guest lectures and other activities.

View from the Yavapai dining room at Enchantment ResortEnchantment resort has several dining options including: the Yavapai fine dining restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with wonderful views of the mountains and winner of Wine Spectator Magazine's Best of Award of Excellence in 2008; the casual and relaxing Tii Gavo restaurant; or the Mii amo Cafe for contemporary, eclectic cuisine. Unfortunately, we only had time to have breakfast in the Yavapai restaurant - the Eggs Benedict were outstanding and watching the sun rise over the red rock mountains was amazing - we could have sat there for a couple hours enjoying the view.

I could ramble on and on about how special Enchantment Resort is and how we wish we had planned to stay for a couple more days to truly relax and enjoy all the amenities. We are planning a way to get the kids and their families back for a longer stay and to enjoy all there is to do at the resort and in and around Sedona. Rack rates are a little pricey, so save your money and treat yourself to something very unique and special. A number of packages (Spa Tranquility Package, Suite Romance, Family Package, Modified American Package, and more) can save you some money.

Patio, excellent wait staff, wife, and brother enjoying our meal at Silver SaddlePerfectly cooked lamb at Silver SaddleA number of people had recommended that we have dinner at Silver Saddle in Sedona, so we did and really enjoyed it. We sat on the patio and started by trying something very different and unique - the appetizer sampler which included Buffalo Brochettes, Cactus Fries, Snake Brochettes, and fabulous Flatbread plus a variety of dipping sauces - all of which were very tasty. That was followed by a very good Tortilla Soup, Wedge, and Caesar Salad - now we are starting to get full and still have the entree! Service was impeccable and we really enjoyed chatting with our waitress. But after Crispy Roast Duck (outstanding), Rack of Lamb (mustard brushed and pink peppercorn crusted - cooked to perfection), and another first of Elk Chops (juniper marinated and served with peppercorn cream sauce - excellent) we needed a break and after dinner drink before we dove into our scrumptious vanilla-bean creme brulee. After all that we waddled back to the car (I had to move the seat back to accommodate my full tummy) and were too tired to check out the Sedona nightlife.

Silver Saddle is smack dab in the middle of town and rich with history. The Silver Saddle adjoins its sister restaurant and tavern, Cowboy Club, and the tavern was the original meeting place, pool hall, grocery store, and saloon for the folks in the area. Over time it was frequented by cattle buyers, cowhands, Jerome Mine workers, some of Hollywood's biggest movie stars including: John Wayne (I sat on the same bar stool that was warmed by his butt), Burt Lancaster, Jane Wyman, Burl Ives, Robert Mitchum, Glen Ford, James Stewart, Rock Hudson, Gene Autry, Joan Crawford, and more. All were there to star in one of the over 50 movies that were filmed in Sedona. Today, the spirit of the Tavern lives on with the hospitality of the Old West coupled with the contemporary and delicious high desert Southwestern cuisine.

A Fun Trip with Pink Jeep Tours in Sedona

Some of the views with Pink Jeep ToursOn Wednesday morning we reluctantly and sadly packed our bags, checked out, and departed from the wonderful Enchantment Resort - promising to return for a longer stay - and headed to Sedona to start our off-road adventure with Pink Jeep Tours. Pink Jeep is the original Sedona jeep touring company and started offering award winning off road adventures over 50 years ago.

They offer a variety of excursions that focus on off road adventure, culture and history, scenic sightseeing, or nature and geology. Some of the choices departing from the downtown Sedona location include:

  • trips to the awe inspiring Grand Canyon
  • jeep tours through the rugged back country or to the top of Mogollon Rim for panoramic views
  • excursions to explore a 700 year old Sinaguan cliff dwelling or petroglyph sites
  • hikes to learn about the flora, fauna, history and geology of this special area
  • special tours for groups, retreats, reunions, or weddings

Down the steep trail with Pink Jeep toursWe selected the 4 hour combo jeep tour which included the Scenic Rim tour and the Broken Arrow tour. We were impressed with how organized and efficient Pink Jeep was - I guess that comes natural after having done it for over 50 years. After checking in, within 5 minutes we were seated in our 8 passenger specially equipped jeep to start the Broken Arrow tour. Because Pink Jeep has been doing this for so long, they have been granted special permission to explore specific and unique wilderness areas. After a short drive through town, we were off road taking a wide variety of steep, winding, and narrow trails up and down the red rocks surrounded by majestic canyon walls and mountains of a variety of colors, shapes and sizes with resemblances and names like Submarine Rock, Elephant Rock, Snoopy, and Chicken Point. The geology, vistas, and panoramic views are unbelievable.

In addition to the magnificent scenery, part of the enjoyment is the thrill of the jeep ride. We traversed some narrow tree lined rocky trails, ascended and descended some severe slopes, and went down the unbelievable "Road of no Return" - all of which evokes some oh's, awes, awesome's, and wows as well as oh no not that! In the middle of the trip, we stopped and explored an area affording views for miles. Unfortunately, before we knew it we were back on the pavement heading to the Scenic Rim tour.

This descent got some WowsOver the top of some beautiful scenery with Pink Jeep ToursSteep descent

We went back through town and then took a winding scenic half hour drive on a rocky dirt road up 2000' to the top of Mogollon Rim. Out of the jeep, we played mountain goat and climbed to the top of a huge outcropping for amazing panoramic view for what seemed like hundred of miles. You can see the lowland deserts, the tall majestic red rock mountains, the cow pie formation, and the Ponderosa Pine forests and hills with a variety of colors and hues. A true Kodak moment.

If you take either one of these trips, make sure you bring lots of film or an extra memory card - I had to force myself to stop clicking so I could take in the wide angle view without the camera. What made our trip enjoyable in addition to the scenery and bouncing up and down the trails, was our guide Karoline. Yes, a women off-road jeep driver - I was a tad nervous at first until I saw her put on her driving gloves, shove it into four wheel drive, and expertly negotiate the twists and turns, steep inclines and declines, and around the trees, rocks, crevices, and boulders! As a jeep owner, I was impressed! In addition to being a very skilled driver, she made the trip fun, informative, and educational. She was very knowledgeable about the geology, history, culture, wildlife, and anything to do with the surrounding area. Ask for Karoline if you want a fun ride.

Patio at Barking FrogAfter all that fun, we were ready for lunch and a cold beer. We were tempted to head back to Silver Saddle but "been there, done that" took over so we headed to their recommended sister restaurant, the Barking Frog Grill. Again we were pleasantly surprised - great service from a very friendly and outgoing waitress, good food, excellent Bloody Mary's, cold beer, and a nice cozy patio. Barking Frog Grill is an American restaurant with a Southwest Bark!

Yes, there really is a barking frog that lives in the outcrops and caves on the rocky slopes of Southeastern Arizona and is known for their distinctive loud barking calls practiced for only two to three nights following the first heavy monsoon storm of the season - see, you learned something new that you can share with your friends! We had a scrumptious lunch (the prime rib sandwich, soups, and buffalo burger are fantastic), a perfect spicy Bloody Mary, and outstanding service from Morgan. Well worth the stop before heading out to Slide Rock State Park.

A Secnic Drive To Slide Rock State Park

Midgely Bridge Vista PointView from Midgle Bridge - playing in the creek belowThe scenic drive from downtown Sedona to Slide Rock is fantastic and supposedly it is on Rand McNally's Top Five Scenic Drives in America. The road sidewinds its way through Sedona's Red Rock Country, often called a "museum without walls" and along Oak Creek, which over the years has caved steep walls into a valley about a mile wide from rim to rim and about a mile deep.

The stunning red faced rocks and cliffs are a backdrop for the golden foliage of oaks interspersed with evergreen pine. We stopped at the Midgely Bridge vista point for a number of Kodak moments. If you have time, along the way are campgrounds, trout fishing, amazing hiking trails, swimming holes, and more to explore.

Slide Rock State Park is 43-acre historical apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon and has one of the few homesteads left intact in the canyon today. But tourists come here to enjoy Oak Creek and the rock chutes it has carved into the red rocks. Its a great place to have a picnic, slide down the chutes, do some cliff jumping, swim in the deep pools, or just catch some rays. On a 100 degree day, the cool water will take your breath away - but you quickly get used to it.

The same red rocks that feel so hard and hot under your hiking boots and beach towel will allow you to propel like a wet bar of soap through Slide Rock's icy chutes. We had a blast sliding down the chutes on our bottoms feet first and ending in the deep pools and then going back and trying on the fat tummy head first - I felt like a teenager again. Well worth the short trip from Sedona and it's no wonder that Slide Rock has been featured on various lists as one of America's ten best swimming holes in America. There is a small admission fee.

Cool refreshing water at Oak Creek in Slide RockDown the chute at Slide RockDeep pool at Slide Rock

After playing in the park for a couple hours, unfortunately it was time to head back to Scottsdale and continue with our quest to play 150 holes in 6 days. Here is the link to return to our Scottsdale Golf Vacation.

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