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A Short Stop in Sedona

Starting last Saturday, I went on a 1,500 mile road trip over the course of five days from Santa Fe to Sedona to Las Vegas to Boulder. I had a work event in Las Vegas on Monday and Tuesday and I was living in Santa Fe. Rather than driving up to Denver and flying out of there, I figured I could drive and stop in Sedona on my way. I'd never been and it seemed like a great opportunity to see what the hype is all about.

Little did I know at the time of making this plan that I would have someone special caravanning with me, and that I'd be grateful we'd have another 36 hours together, which we wouldn't have had I chosen to drive back to Denver. 

So we took off from Santa Fe (in separate vehicles) on the 6.5 hour drive to Sedona. We lingered in Santa Fe for a bit and got a later start than planned, but we were still able to stop at a few interesting sites along the way. The first was the Petrified Forest National Park. Unfortunately, all the petrified trees are on the south side and we were on the north side and didn't have an extra hour to drive down and back. But we still got in a lovely walk and I realized, in looked at the brochure, that I had been there before. I don't remember exactly when, but it must have been at some point when I was living in Denver.
Then we stopped in Winslow for a famous photo opportunity. I grew up on this music, so I sent this picture to my dad, who responded Been there, done that, but I'm still jealous. Jealous mostly because of the sunshine and the fact that I was in a tank top. This brief reprieve from the cold was most welcome. (The dog in the photo belongs to the special someone I referred to above, but I'll keep him anonymous for now.)
Then we came up on Flagstaff. At this point, when Sedona was an hour south off the route to Vegas, I was kind of kicking myself wondering why I didn't just choose Flagstaff to explore since I'd never been there either. Why add on more driving? But when we made the turn off the highway and headed down 89A through Oak Creek Canyon, I had no regrets. What a drive! The descent into the canyon, the canyon drive itself, and then driving through the town of Sedona - I have no words to describe how incredible this was. Really, my only regret was the I had no time to explore it more and would have only 18 hours or so actually in Sedona. Plus, hiking in Flagstaff would have been cold and we would have needed microspikes and gear.
Although we got into Sedona late, we had time to hike the Mescal trail. And our timing was perfect because most people were wrapping up their outdoor time for the night and we had the trail almost entirely to ourselves. We hiked slowly because I couldn't stop looking around in awe. The Sedona landscape is surreal.

That trail turned out to be the only one we did. The next day, we got a late start again and by the time we got out, the crush of humanity was overwhelming. I know it was a holiday (President's Day) weekend, but holy schmoly. The crowds in Sedona are unreal. The trail I wanted to do turned out to be accessible only by a shuttle system, which is automatically a no-go for me. I know it's better for the environment and the neighborhood, but I cannot stand the inconvenience and inefficiency.

Then we went back close to where we were the previous night, but the roads were lined with cars for miles, which meant the trails would be packed and we had zero interest in being around that many people. 

My companion, who had been there before, decided to take us past the main hiking area into the OHV and camping section. We parked the car in a turn out and wandered back into the wilderness where we had a nice desert picnic together in isolation and the relatively warm air.
Sadly, I had to split ways with my travel partner at 1:30 and we didn't get in nearly as much hiking as planned. He stayed and did some mountain biking, while I rallied across Arizona and into Sin City. I'd like to go back to Sedona, but I'll do some serious research first to find out when the low season is (if there is such a thing) and plan to be on the trails before 6AM.