Sedona is a truly magical place. Blessed with a rugged, red-hued landscape of mountains, rock formations and canyons, the awe-inspiring beauty of Sedona is best seen on foot. A morning hike in Sedona is a spectacular way to start off the day as you can watch the sun slowly light up the brilliant red mountains and the shadows dance away. Furthermore, it may be one of the few times that you are hiking alone meaning you will receive the benefit and joy of finding peace and solitude while enjoying an incredible view.

One of the best sunrise hikes in all of Sedona is the Airport Mesa Trail Loop that literally circles around Sedona’s small mountaintop airport affording dramatic 360-degree views of the city and her magnificent, unusually shaped rock formations.

The hike starts off of Airport Road and meanders a gentle 3.5 miles from start to finish. Depending upon how fit you are and how many stops you make to take photos of the breathtaking views, the hike takes a little over an hour to an hour and a half.

Arrive about a half hour after sunrise to be rewarded with the best views of the sun bouncing off the red-hued mountains. It is the golden hour and the light is magical. It is not the best time for photos as the mountains are covered in shadows however watching the sun rise as the shadows disappear is fantastic.

I was lucky that although the parking lot was full, I only saw two people during the entire hike. It was so insanely serene and peaceful that I was overcome with emotion. If only I could start every day as beautifully as this!

Here are some photos of the glorious sunrise over Sedona that I took during the hike.

7As I set off on my hike, the light was brilliant, bouncing and reflecting off the red-hued rocks. It was felt surreal. Such a calm, peaceful beauty.

5As I continued, the views of Sedona changed in landscape, topography, vegetation and of course light. The hike continued to be just as stunning as it was when I began an hour before. It was pure eye candy!

6If you go:

The trail head is located about halfway to the top of Airport Road. Note that the parking lot is very small and fits only a handful of cars. The lot is usually full from sunrise to sunset however I waited only a few minutes and a spot opened up.

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Content is provided by Minneapolis-based travel and social good blogger, Nicole Melancon, who shares her journey at Thirdeyemom


(March 2014) The Smithsonian Magazine has just named Sedona, Arizona as one of the most remarkable towns in America on its “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014” list.

Airport Mesa looking down on Sedona Arizona

The view atop Airport Mesa

Here is what the Smithsonian Magazine has to say about the splendor of Sedona: “Approaching Sedona, you will feel your jaw drop as pinnacles, hoodoos and buttes rise—crimson, carmine, burnt sienna, depending on the slant of the sun. The effect makes you want to paint a Sistine Chapel even if you can’t draw a straight line.”

View of Three Sisters behind cacti in bloom

View Cacti blooming and the Three Sisters in the background

Sedona is a four season red rock playground where families can escape, where romantic adventures materialize and where photographer’s dreams come true. Sedona offers healing and restorative therapies, the adrenaline rush of off-road tours, and it’s also a shopper’s paradise. Enjoy the cool mountain waters of Oak Creek while you’re mesmerized by the glowing red rock formations. Surrounded by stunning red rock formations and an abundance of activities for people of all ages and interests, it’s no wonder Sedona has been ranked as the most beautiful place on Earth by Good Morning America.

Chairs face Oak Creek and Red Rocks

Relax by the creek at L’Auberge

“On behalf of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, it is great honor to be placed on the Smithsonian Magazine list of “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014”. We are very proud to be recognized for our outdoor adventure, arts & culture, and rejuvenating activities that Sedona offers visitors and locals alike,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. “It’s recognition like this that helps position Sedona as a premier destination in the United States. Kudos to the businesses recognized for top-notch service and world-class products and services.”

The other towns listed on Smithsonian Magazine on the “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2014” list include:

1. Chautauqua, NY
2. Healdsburg, CA
3. Williamsburg, VA
4. Steamboat Springs, CO
5. Woods Hole, MA
6. Marietta, OH
7. Beaufort, SC
8. Sedona, AZ
9. Nebraska City, NE
10. Lanesboro, MN
11. Spring Green, WI
12. Havre de Grace, MD
13. Columbia, PA
14. Mount Dora, FL
15. Ketchum, ID
16. Montpelier, VT
17. Harrodsburg, KY
18. Silver City, NM
19. Decorah, IA
20. The Dalles, OR

 


Guest Blog Submission from Arizona Travel Writer Roger Naylor

Hear that sound? It’s the soft knuckles of spring rapping on the window. It’s the signal that the coast is clear. Winter’s gone and you are wanted outside.

The fin

Don’t try to resist. Sedona never has much winter to recover from, just a sweater-worthy chill, but it’s enough to make the balmy days of March utterly seductive. Wildflowers splash across meadows and the woods echo with birdsong. Buttery sunshine swabs the landscape and even the red rocks seem to blush redder. If spring has an address, it is Sedona, Arizona. Wish you were here.

Green Wisteria grow free on this pathway to Page Springs Vineyards & Cellars

If you do nothing else on your springtime visit to Sedona, take time for a picnic—an old-fashioned sit-outside-and-eat picnic. Remember those? They used to exist when life moved at a slower pace. While there’s no way to be certain it’s a pretty safe bet that Sedona has more prime picnic real estate than just about anywhere.

Bear mountain

Spread your blanket among the historic orchards of Slide Rock State Park with the fruit trees wrapped in spring blossoms. Or at Red Rock Crossing along the banks of Oak Creek as majestic Cathedral Rock rises overhead. Or sit atop Airport Mesa while waiting for the bruised-peach sunset to settle on the horizon.

LAuberge_Chairs_RedRock

Or perhaps you prefer to pick a quiet spot, a private spot, known only to you and your loved ones. Somewhere amid the cluster of rising stone formations where you can relax for an afternoon amid scenic splendor and eat, drink and breathe. Take deep breaths. Smell that perfume? That’s the fragrance of a perfect spring day.