By Dr. Cynthia Payne

Less than 300 miles from Las Vegas is the picturesque escape of Sedona, Arizona. Famous for its beautiful red rock formations, film festivals, New Age shops and mystical vortex locations, this town has a population of only 10,000, but plays host to over 6 million tourists every year.

The Sedona Canyon is best known for its breathtaking views of rock formations such as Cathedral Rock, Elephant Rock, Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Snoopy Rock, Airport Mesa, and Coffee Pot Rock. Known as a “geological wonderland,” the red color comes from the heavy composition of hematite (iron oxide or rust) in the largest visible layers of the formations.

The area was originally settled by the Sinagua culture. This was a cliff-dwelling civilization that lived in Sedona and the Verde Valley from about 500 to 1450 AD. The Palatki Ruins are a preserved World Heritage Site located in the Coconino National Forest surrounding Sedona. Visitors are limited, and tours are recommended. Pink Jeep Tours is the original tour company and maintains trails to the site.

To view the Verde Valley, the Verde Canyon Railroad offers a four-hour trip through the canyon and rock tunnel showcasing the rock architecture, history, wildlife, and old mining company. On our trip, we saw a Sinagua dwelling in the cliffs, a bald eagle and a black bear.

Sedona offers many outdoor activities with mountain biking, hiking, and hot air balloon rides being the most popular. Many come to Sedona to visit the vortexes and experience the unique energy that nature has created in these areas. Vortex areas are thought to have been created where earth’s energy swirls or electromagnetic energy converges. Juniper trees are commonly twisted when they grow near vortex areas.

The most visited attraction in Sedona is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This is a small Catholic chapel that was built in the Sedona red rocks and gifted to the Roman Catholic Church. The architecture of the church is a work of art.

A destination shopping area of Sedona is the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. The Old Mexico style center houses around 45 shops and restaurants. It was planned not only as a place for artisans to sell their artwork, but to also showcase their studios. Visitors can watch many of the artisans create during a visit to Tlaquepaque.

Over 100 movies have been made in Sedona since 1923’s “Call of the Canyon” by Zane Gray, including many well-known John Wayne movies. Sedona currently hosts the International Sedona Film Festival.

Elote Café is one of the more popular restaurants for tourists visiting Sedona. It is a fusion of Southern Mexican food and American Southwest. The chef-owned restaurant features a menu created with fresh, organic products and an extensive tequila selection. Elote Café does not accept reservations and is only open from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. Hopeful diners start lining up at around 4:00 p.m. for a table.

Sedona is a destination escape from Las Vegas. Whether you are seeking outdoor activity, stunning nature views, history, artisan crafts, delicious food, or a powerful area to recharge and explore your energy, Sedona will intrigue and provide.