With freezing rain showers predicted we got a little hiking in between storms (sort of). Hans and I have visited Sedona several times, even spending a month in this area in 2014 so we've found dozens of fabulous hikes, but this time I found something new: the Amitabha Stupa.
A stupa is considered to be the living presence of the Buddha and one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture on earth. It's a peaceful place of reflection nestled in Sedona's red rock beauty.
|Walking loops around the stupa in mindful meditation.|
|Estella and Martin.|
Our hike up Doe Mountain included a rain storm that gave us some amazing cloud and sun interaction over the surrounding landscape.
|As various storm cells passed through the region shafts of sun would break through and light up the rocks.|
The storms finally moved on and we had a glorious day to hike from Sedona's Broken Arrow trailhead.
|Strolling Submarine Rock.|
|Chelsea hitches a ride from Estella.|
We had the most wonderful thin crust pizza at The Anvil Pizzeria in Cottonwood on their dog friendly patio. They use high quality ingredients and house made mozzarella, good local beers on tap too!
We moved down to Dead Horse Ranch State Park for a few days and another San Diego friend, Kathryn, joined us for a hike on the park grounds. Tavasci Marsh trail was easily accessible from our campsite and provided great views of Tuzigoot National Monument as well.
|Tuzigoot National Monument from Dead Horse Ranch State Park.|
|It was neat walking through the almost leafless mesquite forest in the Verde River flood plain |
with a carpet of brilliant green grass thanks to recent rains.
Our last Sedona hike for this stay was the Soldiers Pass/Brin's Mesa Loop, which we've previously hiked in 2014. I love this loop, especially adding the half mile spur trail to the top of Brin's Mesa where you get fantastic Sedona views from a neat red rock vantage point.
We were extra fortunate on this day to see a pack of javelina at the top of Soldiers Pass. We suspect someone is feeding them because they were not afraid of us at all and a couple were even walking slowly towards us as if expecting treats! That was a little scary!
|A few of the Seven Sacred Pools along the Soldiers Pass segment.|
|This handsome devil watched us for some time before moving off the trail.|
|Mama and young.|
|If you take the Brin's Mesa spur trail to the top of the mesa you get fantastic views of red rock spires...|
|...from atop a dramatic rock pile!|
|I believe Mt Wilson is rising behind me.|
Last but not least a trip to the Sedona/Verde Valley area would not be complete without a weekend visit to Jerome and a stop in the Spirit Room for some live music.
|Kaleidoscoped photo of us from the awesome Nellie Bly kaleidoscope store in Jerome!|
Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ is an excellent location for exploring the Verde Valley, Sedona and Jerome. Roads and sites are paved, each site has a picnic table and fire pit with water/electric hookups. There are restrooms and showers in each camping loop. We had good 4G Verizon without needing to boost the signal.
We loved having a trail right from our site and there are many miles of trails throughout the state park. They may not be the glamorous red rock trails of Sedona but whenever we wanted those it was just a 20 minute drive away. We'll definitely return to this state park.
|Excellent site #61 in the Red-Tail Hawk Loop,|
|View of Cottonwood and the Mingus Mountains from our site.|
|Looking down on the Red-Tail Hawk Loop.|
That's it for the Verde Valley for this year...we LOVE this area and we WILL be back!