I've been to Sedona three times and always found the atmosphere casual and welcoming for a solo traveler. It's a small city in the northwest part of Arizona where red rock buttes and mesas abound. Weatherworn, oxidized layers of stratified earth romantically named Bell Rock, Coffeepot Mountain, Two Nuns, and Courthouse Butte dominate the skyline.
In February or March, my preferred time to visit, the nights are nippy, but during the day it's mild, and the sunsets over Cathedral Rock are simply stunning.
There are numerous pricey resorts in this scenic area, but I opt instead for bed and breakfast lodging. The last time I was there I stayed at A Touch of Sedona, a very nice B&B that still gets strong recommendations on TripAdvisor.com. It's in a quiet residential area of uptown Sedona, only a few blocks from the main shopping street. The six guest rooms are individually decorated in wonderful southwest decor and each offers a breathtaking view of the rock buttes.
There were eight of us sharing the large round breakfast table – two couples from New York, others from California. Our hosts, besides serving a full breakfast, graciously initiated introductions so that by the time we sat down to eat I felt quite comfortable and very much a part of the group. Conversation was full of past travel experiences.
For excellent Mexican food and colorful casa style, I can recommend the nearby Oaxaca Restaurant located in the heart of uptown. It's up a flight of stairs, and some of the windows have been removed to create an open air feeling, and you get a good view of street activity and the red rock formations. The margarita was perfect, and the server stopped to chat, so eating alone wasn't lonely in this atmosphere.
The Sedona Chamber of Commerce is about a ten-minute walk from A Touch of Sedona B&B at the corner of 89A and Forrest Road. That's the place to find out what's happening around town as well as what's new to see and do in the surrounding area. A 55-minute Sedona Trolley tour is a good way to get oriented.
Shopping is very good for locally created specialty items, and there are dozens of art galleries specializing in western art. Tlaquepaque is a large Mexican-style shopping complex worth visiting, though don't look for cheap prices.
Sedona is also a major center for New Age culture, so several shops cater to holistic healing, spiritual, and psychic phenomena interests. Just at the outskirts of town is the very special Chapel of the Holy Cross, designed by a female student of Frank Lloyd Wright. The chapel is built right into the actual rock face of a red rock crag.
Situated midway between Phoenix (113 miles) and Flagstaff (98 miles), Sedona is perfect for day trip outings either by car or tour bus. There are a number of half and full-day tours available, although I think you really need a car to see everything at your own pace. The Grand Canyon (278 miles) is a little further afield but quite doable in one day.
I did take one really memorable two-hour jeep tour guided by a local cowboy and learned more from him in two hours about the flora, fauna, climate, and Native American ways than any book could have taught. Red Rock Jeep Tours is located on the main street (301 State Route 89A), just look for the many distinctive jeeps parked outside.
Route 89A to the north runs the twisty length of spectacular Oak Creek Canyon. Along the way you pass Slide Rock State Park, a natural water park with pools and rock slides and a flat rocky area for sunbathing.
To the south is Tuzigoot National Monument, a Sinagua Indian pueblo ruin overlooking the valley, and there is an interesting museum that gives you some insight into prehistoric native culture. Further south and east is the little town of Clarkdale where you can ride the Verde River Canyon Excursion Train on a 40-mile round trip. Just beyond Clarkdale is Jerome, a historic copper mining town whose boom times remain alive in three museums.
Hiking is a big activity in Sedona with trails for all levels from easy day walking to strenuous clambering up the buttes. It's not something I did myself, but I understand that solo hiking is not out of the question, with the same safety cautions you'd take anywhere. It's probably best to stick to well-traveled trails such as Bell Rock or Red Rock State Park. For more strenuous hikes it would be a good idea to join a guided group hike. Check out TheHikeHouse.com. Also, I noticed numerous postings at Meet-up.com for group activities in and around Sedona that may welcome singles on a drop-in basis.
The hiking trails in Sedona are some of the best anyone could hope to find in the American Southwest. Beginners and expert hikers alike have a wide range of choices, from paths winding through the famous red rock formations to more moderate trails along water. And if your best travel buddy is a canine you'll be glad to know that all of the trails in Sedona are dog friendly so long as you keep your pet leashed.
First things first. You'll need to find a hotel that welcomes pets, and I suggest the El Portal Sedona Hotel. It is centrally located adjacent the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village and within walking distance of uptown Sedona. There are no pet fees, rooms come with fenced pet patios, and the hotel even provides a welcome basket that includes a blanket, doggy bags, and treats for its four legged guests. Owner Steve Segner is a really interesting guy and an encyclopedia on hiking around Sedona.
No matter your skill level there are a few things you should keep in mind if you plan on taking a four-legged companion hiking in Sedona.
>> Hiking is more strenuous than walking for dogs as well as humans, especially during the warmer months of spring and summer. January and February are the coolest hiking months both for you and your pet.
>> Avoid heatstroke. Unlike people, dogs can’t sweat out excess body heat that comes from the exertion of hiking. Dogs require resting time on the trail, a chance to cool down and pant out the heat before taking on the next leg of the hike.
>> Take plenty of water for you and your dog – make sure a dog bowl makes it into the hiking pack. Dogs sometimes won’t drink all of the water they require to stay hydrated, so be patient. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to make sure your dog is rested and watered throughout the hiking excursion.
>> If you are a beginner hiker, it's likely that your dog is too. Make sure that the selected trail is appropriate for your dog's ability level as well as your own. Hiking usually includes inclines, uneven ground, and a longer distance than walking, so keep in mind that an eight-mile hike might be a little too much for a pup who’s more accustomed to an easy afternoon stroll.
>> If a pet is not used to hiking, it’s a good idea to go in the morning or later in the afternoon when there are fewer people on the trail.
>> If you are keen on a trip but think it might be too much for your pet, no problem, the hotel will put you in touch with local doggy day cares or pet watchers who will come to the hotel.