I had the pleasure of visiting sunny Arizona not long ago and found that I simply couldn’t put my camera down. I spent time in Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon and finally Page. I took so many photos that I’ve actually decided to create three separate blogs. Yes, that many!
Sedona’s beauty actually surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to expect and had done a bit of research, but until you see it first hand, it really is hard to believe just how naturally beautiful the area is. It’s surrounded by the well-known Red Rocks and is an outdoor person’s dream. The higher elevations (~6200 ft above sea level) keep the spring temperatures very comfortable and the sun simply didn’t stop shining. I flew into Phoenix and made the 2 hour drive north, arriving rather late at night. The funny part was that I had no idea what I would see when I woke up and looked out my windows. I was shocked at the enormous red rocks and how gorgeous they are!
My early morning hot air balloon ride was cancelled due to high winds, but I found my way on a few different trolley rides, exploring the area. I managed to sample some great homemade ice cream at the Black Cow (try the prickly pear ice cream!). I also ventured out on the Broken Arrow off-road Jeep tour with “Pink Jeeps”. Their Jeeps have the right modifications and their guides are highly trained and very knowledgeable about the details of the area. Later in the evening after shooting sunset at Airport Mesa, I found my way to Elote Cafe, which just so happens to be the #1 fine Mexican restaurant in Arizona, #2 in the USA. It was sooooooo good! I sampled the Smoked Pork Cheeks and the presentation was gorgeous, but the flavors really won me over. Even better, the chef and owner, Jeff Smedstad actually served it to me! Of course, their margaritas were quite tasty too. If you visit, be sure to order the restaurant’s namesake, elote, for the appetizer!
The following morning I ventured out on a run (which was more difficult than I had planned with the higher elevation and heavy winds!) and then checked out of my hotel, making my way downtown to catch some coffee and check out a few galleries. I highly recommend a visit to Lou DeSerio’s gallery, just down from the official visitor’s center. He studied with the famed Ansel Adams years ago and his photography of the area is stunning. He also offers half or full day private workshops. After the gallery visit and a stop by the visitor’s center, I made my way out to a few different stops, including a hike at Cathedral Rock. I finished out the day as I made my way up to Flagstaff with the scenic drive up 89A with the switchbacks, cliffs and cozy cabins along the way.
What an amazing part of the world. If you have the opportunity, even if it’s just for a day trip from Phoenix, I highly recommend a visit to Sedona. As you can see from my photos below, its beauty will win you over in a heartbeat.