Sedona Red Rock Spring Break

Sedona, AZ is one of the most scenic locations in the United States and Spring is the best time to be there. Thus, it stands to reason that I would want to spend my Sons’ Spring Break there. Sedona Red Rock is at its most glorious state at that time. Also the weather is perfect for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. It’s the outdoors that’s Sedona’s strong point. It’s also the busiest time of year there so if you are planning on going in Spring you need to plan.

This was my third trip to Sedona. The first one was in October for the Sedona “Jazz on the Rocks Festival”. Fall is the next best time to visit Sedona since the weather can be similar to the Spring.

My second trip was in August just because that was the only time I could go that year. Though the weather in the summer is more moderate than Phoenix it is still hot. This time of year you need to get your hiking on in the mornings or late afternoons.

This trip we flew into Phoenix just list most people heading to Sedona from out of nearby states and made the two-hour drive to Sedona. We arrived in Sedona in time to check-in and check out “A Taste of Provence” which was a French festival held in the on site Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. The festival took place from 4pm to 8pm and included three outstanding free bands, a master glass worker, painting demonstrations, artwork to buy, and delicious French wines and food.

We stayed at the Los Abrigados Resort and Spa which is a timeshare resort in which I own a week at the Stonehouse property. The Historic Stone House is the most unique unit at this resort. It is a separate house across from the Main pool. It is the Schnebly’s (founder’s of Sedona) original home. It has been restored and updated to today’s standards.

The house has two master bedroom suites with spa tubs. The larger master has a huge spa tub and a separate setting room with library, flat screen TV and wetbar. It also has a huge Great Room with a working stone fireplace (wood provided free!). In addition, the unit has a full kitchen, patio, gas barbecue grill, washer & dryer and skylights galore!

You can rent a week at the Los Abrigados Stonehouse from me on the VRBO website. Just remember that I only have one week per year and it is next available in 2018.

The star of this place is the Sedona Red Rock. After getting a good nights sleep after a long travel day it was time to see the sights:

This was a cultural day which started with a trip to Tuzigoot National Monument. This monument is about 30 minutes from Sedona. It is a small national monument where the remains of dwellings of the 12th century Sinagua Indians are preserved. Tuzigoot comprises a cluster of buildings, on top of a small sandstone ridge close to the Verde River valley.

After walking around Tuzigoot and learning about the Sinagua, we headed to the Cliff Castle Casino’s Mountain Springs Buffet. At this point we were thirsty and ready to eat! This was an all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch which cost $14 per person. Besides the buffet and gambling, the casino had an arcade, bowling alley, gift shop, hotel, and live entertainment.

Montezuma Castle
Montezuma Castle

After feeding our belly we were ready for the nearby Montezuma Castle National Monument. From Wikipedia: “Montezuma Castle National Monument protects a set of well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings near the town of Camp Verde, Arizona, United States. The dwellings were built and used by the Sinagua people, a pre-Columbian culture closely related to the Hohokam and other indigenous people of the southwestern United States, between about 1100 and 1425 AD. The main structure comprises five stories and twenty rooms, and was built over the course of three centuries. Neither part of the monument’s name is correct. When European-Americans first observed the ruins in the 1860s, by then long-abandoned, they named them for the famous Aztec emperor Montezuma in the mistaken belief that he had been connected to their construction (see also Montezuma mythology). In fact, the dwelling was abandoned more than 40 years before Montezuma was born, and was not a “castle” in the traditional sense, but instead functioned more like a “prehistoric high-rise apartment complex”.

Next it was off to the Village of Oak Creek to check out the outlet mall there. Unfortunately we found out that the mall was purchased by a developer who was planning on building a hotel and retail shops. Most of the mall shops were already closed and the remaining ones were closing in two weeks. The Village of Oak Creek is still a great town to visit an it is only about 15 minutes from Sedona. You can get a nice picture of both Bell Rock and the nearby Courthouse Butte rock formation in a single picture from this scenic stop.

On the way back to Sedona we made a quick scenic stop at Bell Rock to take pictures. Bell Rock is on the most iconic Sedona Red Rock formations in the area. As the name implies, it is shaped like a bell and sits just north of the Village of Oak Creek and south of Sedona.

The last stop on this long touring Sunday was at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman

Chapel of the Holy Cross
Chapel of the Holy Cross

Catholic chapel built into the buttes of Sedona, Arizona, run by the Diocese of Phoenix, as a part of St. John Vianney Parish in Sedona. The chapel is a very spiritual place and they actual hold church services and other events here. In the back to the right they have a table full of tea candles are kept lit during opening hours. You can light one yourself if you wish. It was very busy when I got there which was somewhat surprising since it was getting close to closing time (maybe that’s why it was so busy). This is one of the must stops in Sedona even if you are not a religious person. The engineering to build this structure in the Sedona Red Rock is worth seeing in its own right and its a very scenic structure. Get there early if you can though because parking could be an issue during very busy times of the year. There are two parking areas though. One at the bottom front of the structure and one up the hill a bit leading to the back entrance. Tip: It’s best to park in the upper lot because you will be closer to the entrance and you don’t have to walk of the relatively steep hill from the bottom lot.

After this very long day we ate a quick light dinner at our unit, rested a bit and went to bed.

After a very long Sunday  we slept in a bit Monday morning and cooked breakfast in our unit. After breakfast we drove to the Sedona Visitor Center in Uptown Sedona. We could walk to Uptown in 15 to 20 minutes but we drove because we wanted to shop in Uptown afterwards.

Uptown Sedona is a great blend of history, shops, galleries, activities and tasty treats for everyone and is the main hub of visitor activity. There are many shops on Sedona’s “Main Street”, along with great dining options, hotel possibilities and loads of local tour and activity companies – all within easy walking distance.  You can easily devote a day to strolling down the pedestrian walkways to discover galleries that specialize in modern, contemporary and southwestern fine art.  Additionally, you may take some time for souvenir shopping to take home as gifts”.

At the visitor center I picked up copies of the Sedona Superpass book, Sedona Vortex map, Sedona Public Art map, and Sedona Peace Tour map. After our Uptown shopping we headed back to Los Abrigados for a Scientific Vortex information talk. This was an hour and a half detailed talk on the science behind the Sedona Red Rock area vortexes and their locations. The talk was free for those of us staying at the resort but cost $15 for everybody else.

Devil's BridgeNext we were off for a hike. My plan was to hike the Boynton Canyon trail but I decided to do the Devil’s Bridge trail first. The hike to the top of Devil’s bridge gets pretty steep so I was going to take the path to the bottom of the bridge which also had good picture opportunities. When I got to the turnoff for Devil’s bridge I realized that having any old SUV was not enough to tackle the unpaved section of the road. The rocks and potholes are very large and the shocks on my lowly SUV was not up to the challenge. I went as far as I could but had to pull over and walk the lion’s share of the road. When we got to a sign pointing right for the bridge I went straight thinking that would take me to the bottom of the bridge. After 20 minutes of walking and not seeing any other people I decided to go back because I wasn’t sure we were going in the right direction. So we doubled back and took the road where the sign was pointing. As I suspected thought, this path took us to the top of the bridge and it was not an easy climb!  All along the way though people leaving told us we could make it and we did.

After the Devil’s Bridge hike we decided to give up on the Boynton Canyon hike and call it a day. Back to the resort to relax and have dinner.

Pluto TelescopeToday was Grand Canyon day. We ate breakfast in the unit, loaded up some snacks and overnight bags and off we went.On the way we stopped at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff for a tour. We listened to a very interesting talk on Clyde Tombaugh who discovered Pluto. Clyde was interested in Astronomy at a very early age but he could not afford to go to college. Long story short the observatory allowed Clyde to work there for no salary doing odd jobs. After seeing some of his maps and because the in-house astronomers didn’t have time they had Clyde search for Pluto with the Pluto telescope. Clyde eventually went to college and earned his PhD. It’s a great story. You should read about it if you can’t get to the observatory. There were four of us so for just $10 more I got a Lowell Observatory membership pass which not only gave me free admission to Lowell Observatory for a year but also all the other participating science related center. There is a large list of participating sites throughout the United states so the extra $10 was well worth it.

Grand Canyon SunsetWe arrived at the Grand Canyon around 2pm and were able to check into our unit at the Yavapai Lodge which is inside the Grand Canyon Village. We then hopped on the free trolley and started hitting all the Grand Canyon viewing spots. Around 6:30pm it was getting close to sunset so we decided to go straight to Hopi Point to view the sunset. It was getting cold so I was glad I had packed for the occasion. It was a cloudy day so we weren’t sure we would get the sun. Finally just above the horizon the sun popped out.

By the time we got back to the Yavapai Lodge it was around 8:30pm so we had dinner at the on site restaurant and walked back to the unit for the night.


WatchtowerThe next morning we had breakfast at the Yavapai Lodge restaurant which was included with our room rate. After breakfast we checked out and headed east toward the East entrance. We had two stops to make on the way out: The Watchtower and the Tusayan Ruins and Museum. Taking the steps to the top of the Watchtower wasn’t as difficult as I thought because there weren’t as many steps as I thought but some people still had to take a break on the way up. At the top you have a nice view of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River below.Colorado River

The Tusayan Ruins is an 800-year-old Pueblo Indian site located within Grand Canyon National Park, and is considered by the National Park Service to be one of the major archeological sites in Arizona.

We got back to Los Abrigados in time for dinner at the resort and relaxed for the night.

Bell RockAfter another long day at the Grand Canyon we started off the day slow. Some of us went to the on site gym and we enjoyed the resort for the morning. We then headed out for a hike to Bell Rock. There are two places to park for the Bell Rock hike and we parked in the lot farther away. The hike from this place was long and it was hot enough that it took awhile to get to the foot of Bell Rock. Unless you really want to do a long hike I would suggest parking at the lot closest to the Village of Oak Creek. My son and hike hiked back to our car but I had my two sisters to wait for us at the closer parking lot so there would not have to make the long hike back to the car. After getting back to the car we drove to the closer lot and picked them up.

That was it for tours on this day. The rest of the day we enjoyed the resort and Tlaquepaque next door.

Last day in Sedona Red Rock country! It has been a very busy week and I always like to end my week of vacation taking it easy. We did some last-minute shopping in Uptown Sedona and enjoyed the sights and sounds of this spiritual and scenic place. The food was good, great company, nice historic accommodations, lovely resort, art, etc. Sedona has it all.

We ended the day with clothes washing, relaxing and discussing all the weeks fun activities.

Checkout time. Since my flight back home departed at 11:15am from Phoenix we had to get up early and leave the resort at 7:30am to make sure we got to the airport in time to return the rental car and make the flight. Everything went well and I got back to the Baltimore airport at 9pm that night but I still had a two-hour drive to get back home in Virginia. I was glad we could sleep-in and had Sunday to recover before heading back to work on the following Monday.

Another good trip to Sedona Red Rock country!