20211009_153345Panoramic view from the Chapel of the Holy Cross (October 2021)

Last October, I had the opportunity to travel again. After two years of nothing (thanks, COVID-19), I was able to return to long-term travel. I spent a week road-tripping with my dad across three US states– Arizona, Nevada, and Utah– where we hiked and explored the natural parks to our desire. Although it was short and domestic, this trip was special to me, as it was my first since the pandemic– it reminded me just how much I loved (and needed) travel, and how much I missed it all of these years.

This trip came two months after I passed my year-long probation at work. Given that I was *finally* able to use my vacation days, I decided to use some of them for my road trip. It was my reward, as I’d spent that past year working hard, and I desperately needed a break. I put in my time off and soon enough was on the road.

My dad and I decided to rent a car and drive over to Arizona, our first destination. While we could’ve cut time and just taken a plane over to Phoenix, we weren’t comfortable flying just yet, as we were still worried about COVID-19. The drive over from Los Angeles took nine hours and although we were exhausted at the end of day, it wasn’t too bad.

20211009_102717Crossing the California-Arizona border

Much of the drive was along an isolate stretch of Interstate-10, in the middle of the southwest US desert. There were parts after the Arizona border where we saw absolutely no cars and driving past rural, pocket-size towns (population: under 800) definitely gave off wild West vibes. As the area was so isolated, we were concerned about running out of gas, so we made sure to stop at the first gas station we saw to fill up. Once we entered the Phoenix, then Flagstaff metropolitan areas, we felt more at ease.

20211009_135425Cacti everywhere!

We reached our first destination, Sedona, around 15h00. It was still fairly early, so we decided to visit some of the sites before checking into our hotel. We were also lucky that we’d opted to enter the natural park northwards from State Route 179, as we were going against traffic (which was ridiculously-congested from the opposite end). Sedona sees hundreds– if not thousands– of tourists every day, as it’s actually a very-popular spot not just for out-of-state visitors, but also for native Arizonans who come for a quick weekend trip.

It’s important to note is that Sedona isn’t the name of the natural park, but rather it’s the name of the town that’s inside of the park itself, called the Red Rock State Park. However, people commonly say “Sedona” for convenience. The town is home to about 10,000 permanent residents, but of course sees a massive influx of visitors who come to hike and explore the red rocks all throughout the year. Sedona is right in the middle of the Red Rock State Park, so to access the trails and points of interest is advantageous, as opposed to driving from outside to enter. As it’s not a national park, there’s no admission fee to visit.

20211009_153856Close-up of red rocks

My dad and I hit a few of the famous red rocks that afternoon, starting with Bell Rock, the Courthouse Butte, and Baby Bell. It was then a matter of heading up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, literally wedged into the side of a cliff, for spectacular views of the aforementioned rocks (as well as Twin Buttes). The chapel was small and packed with visitors, so we only stayed inside for a minute before heading out to avoid the crowds. Overall, incredible scenery overlooking the essence of Sedona.

20211009_155018Chapel of the Holy Cross

20211009_153521Inside the chapel

Our next stop was at the Sedona Airport Scenic Overlook for more views. We paid $3 in order to park at the designated lot (pro-tip: there are free spots, albeit limited, at the base of the hill, if you’re willing to hike up 10-15 minutes to the site) and took the time to admire the sweeping valley and the town of Sedona from above. Whereas the views from the Chapel of the Holy Cross were of red rocks and canyons, those from the Sedona Airport Scenic Overlook were very green and full of vegetation. It was very surprising, as I’d imagined that Arizona was all dry, barren desert!

20211009_162651From the Sedona Airport Scenic Overlook

Aside from the half-dozen red rocks we saw that first day, we also stopped at Coffee Pot Rock for a quick photo on our last day in town. Goes to show that there are plenty of unique red rocks in a park aptly known as Red Rock State Park!

20211010_123312Coffee Pot Rock

It was around 16h30 that we decided to head into town, first to get an early dinner before checking into our hotel. We went to a small, Mexican restaurant and we were lucky to get the last seat inside– despite arriving before 17h00, the place was PACKED. Those who arrived after 17h00 had to wait outside for seating, which thankfully, we did not.

20211009_170608Sopes de lengua with chicken fajitas

I ordered a sope de lengua (cow tongue), which was pretty good: the sope was thick and lightly-crispy and the cow tongue was tender with a subtle chew. Meal was very affordable and just enough to be filling, but not overly so. We then headed to our hotel to check in and pass out for the rest of the evening– we’d been up since 5h00 that day to make the drive over, and we needed to recharge as we would be waking up super early again for some hikes the following day.

More of my adventures in Sedona are coming soon. Stay tuned!

— Rebecca

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44 thoughts on “Destination: Sedona, Arizona (The Adventure Begins!- Part 1)

    1. I agree! I think it was especially busy last year, as the pandemic was still around and people were erring on the side of caution with international travel, ergo choosing domestic travel, particularly to natural parks. Sedona was busy, but still beautiful!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. All this time, I thought the name of the park was Sedona! Thanks for clearing that up. I love the red rocks and how that cross is just wedged in there. Looking forward to reading more about your road trip! 🌡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Darlene! Yes, I also had the same impression regarding the name of the state park, incorrectly thinking it was called Sedona. All the same, it’s a beautiful place to visit. More of my road trip is coming soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like the scenery here is nothing less than stunning, with unbelievable views from every corner – I very much love the beautiful red rock mountains, buttes, and canyons. When it comes to food, in Latvia, one of our local delicatessens is pigs tongue, with some people even being happy munching away on their ears too! Thanks for sharing and have a good day πŸ™‚ Aiva xx

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    1. Sedona is nothing short of breathtaking, that’s for sure! We also have pig’s ear in Chinese cuisine, and I enjoyed eating them as a kid (and now)! Thanks for reading, and more of my road trip to come soon!

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  3. I actually remember your Instagram post when you set off on this trip. A year ago! I can imagine how wonderfully freeing this adventure must’ve felt after those rough, rough COVID years. Looks like you were rewarded well, with blue skies and stunning, cinematic landscapes. What an amazing chapel with a killer location, right up my street. And trust Rebecca to find the best food, I would definitely give cow tongue a try. As for Chicken Fajitas… duh.

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    1. Haha, yes, I’m finally getting around to publishing my road trip from last October! Writing it brought back the memories for me…Sedona was nothing short of stunning, and I’ll be recapping the hikes I did there very soon…as well as more distinctive, but delicious food to be had!

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  4. That is wonderful you got to go on a road trip when things got better last year. It did sound like Sedona was really busy given that people were probably eager to get out and about. I did know Sedona is a town, but I didn’t realise that some might have thought it was the name of a park! It is nice to see it isn’t all dry and barren, but it looks like plenty of trees around and sunny so I think maybe wearing a hat is a nice idea. So scenic.

    Oh so interesting to hear the Mexican restaurant was packed. Cow tongue is such an adventurous choice! Great that you tried it and that it went down quite well πŸ˜„

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    1. Indeed! Sedona really surprised me with its lush greenery, in addition to its dry red rocks. Goes to show that Arizona isn’t all just desert! I’ve had cow tongue before, but as I don’t have it often, it was a treat to get. Stay tuned for the upcoming posts, where I try bison!

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  5. I absolutely love the American Southwest; there’s something magical about the vast, open desert and the fascinating rock formations. The state park reminds me of Canyon Red Rock in Nevada. Love the chapel too. And how lovely to spend it with your dad! Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the US Southwest, too! The vast openness of the landscape offers an isolated, yet mystical experience. It was great traveling with my dad for a family trip! Never been to Canyon Red Rock, but one of these days, I’ll have to go!

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  6. What a wonderful adventure to share with your Dad – and Arizona looks incredible. I totally hear you about needing travel, I feel so much better mentally than I did in the pandemic, purely because I can travel and be free.

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  7. What a fascinating place, and I think it’s really cool that you did this road trip with your dad; despite the long distance, I’m sure it was a great experience. Look forward to hearing more.

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  8. I visited Sedona with my family 11 years ago on a road trip and fell in love with the unique landscape and desert colors. 9 hours is a lot of time on the road, but I bet it was worth it. I’d love to go back and actually hike out there someday! Can’t wait to see what else you did on this trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed Sedona back then! There’s something mystical about the place that really captures those who visit it. I’ll be recapping my hikes in the next few posts, so stay tuned!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sedona is a nice city. There are quite a few cool places in az. I like tiny towns, lol. Oatman is a town that has lots of donkeys running around. Has shops etc but it isn’t glamorous… it is fun, they do a cowboy shootout ; which is fun to watch. People are friendly, the town let’s the donkeys go anywhere they want & you can feed them.

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