Monday, November 9, 2015

Sharing Sedona Area with San Diego Friends

We were able to entice our good friends from San Diego, Martin and Estella (and their puppy Chelsea), to join us in one of our favorite places: Sedona. They stayed at cute Sky Ranch Lodge up on Airport Mesa, with amazing views out over Sedona and easy access to the Airport Mesa Loop trail.

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.

Sedona love!

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.

Sedona reflections.

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!

Campground Review

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!


  1. Love all those red rocks! How fun to have friends come and join you "on the trail."

  2. Great pics, love Sedona!

  3. yes we have yet to visit that area but plan to do so next year...

  4. Great pictures, Hans and Lisa. I loved the porcine family! Thanks for the reviews of new (for me) restaurants and trails. I definitely will do the Stupa for a meditation walk next time. I love Nellie Bly's in Jerome. Picked up some fabulous jewelry there last month.

  5. It's been too long since we visited that area. Your photos are beautiful and make me want to go back! We really liked Dead Horse Ranch SP, too. If you enjoy Thai food, Mai Tai in Cottonwood is excellent.

    1. Good to know, I;d heard Thai Palace was good but we've haven't tried either...yet!

  6. Wonderful to have friends to share that beautiful area. Love the love :-) And the reflection in the small pool is exceptional. Glad to see there's a good campground nearby, we were going to stay in Flagstaff and drive the Jeep in, but that looks like a much better option. Thanks again for the campground review!!

    1. Distant Drums is also a great place to stay Jodee. It's located between Cottonwood and Sedona in Camp Verde. Monthly rates are very reasonable.

    2. Jodee, Dead Horse Ranch SP is so centrally located to all the various sites around a circle. While the park doesn't have sewer, the restroom showers are decent to help extend your stay:)

  7. Your photos of the Javalina are awesome Lisa! We LOVE that area too. It's a nice stop between Tucson and Moab in our spring day, you have to drive north and do the "call of the canyon" trail. It is my favorite!

  8. You guys are always so busy! I'm tired just reading about all you've done in such a short period of time. Sedona is a place we have not yet been and I really hope to go and spend some serious time there. I imagine the energy around the stupa must have been palpable. Gorgeous rainy sky landscape photos. Not so gorgeous javalina. They would definitely be scary walking toward you. What if they decided they weren't very happy that you had no treats? I'm in for the thin crust pizza.

  9. We love meeting up with friends from home in our travels! I want to do every single thing you talked about in this post. We would enjoy the hikes and visiting the stupa. And the music in Jerome! Thanks for all of the great ideas and beautiful photos. It's been many years since we've been to Sedona, but you've shown me good reasons to return -- I think Sedona is now on our agenda when we head back west in April.

    1. Spring is a great time, we spent 3/15 - 4/15 there last year!

  10. Wow, the kaleidescopic photo wins for the most unique selfie ever!

  11. Thanks for some new trails to explore on our next visit:) Looks like you had lots of fun with friends joining you during your stay. We have always stayed at Dead Horse Ranch SP since it so centrally located. It's a very nice park. I enjoy that we can walk into Old Cottonwood from the park, also:)

    Super photos of the clouds and sun playing on the rocks! Love, love the double rainbow!!! The javelina are so cute from my seat, but I bet it was a little unnerving in person.

  12. Hmm, I know we should have spent more time there. Thanks for showing us what we overlooked and which one we ignored. More reasons to spend a little more time in Sedona/Cottonwood area. Great Picture of that mean Javelina.

  13. Love Sedona. Love Jerome. Great pics. Good times!