In Arizona, we love our desert. The Sonoran Desert, which covers a vast swath of the state, is a biologically diverse landscape, teeming with plant and animal life. It’s defined by forests of mighty saguaro cacti that grow as tall as office buildings. In spring, carpets of wildflowers add splashes of unexpected color. And when it’s January and we’re hiking in shorts, or it’s February and we’re eating outside on the patio after a round of golf, all seems right with the world.
Of course, summertime changes the equation. That’s when temperatures get toasty in our desert wonderland. But here’s the beautiful part – and the secret we keep to ourselves – if you don’t like the season, there’s another one waiting just up the road.
Summer in Arizona comes with an opt-out clause. We simply head for the hills. High-country escapes can be found all over the state. Cool pine forests, mountain meadows drenched with sunflowers, sparkling lakes and shady canyons are all part of Arizona’s remarkable repertoire. A climb in elevation means a drop in temperatures – and often an increase in fun.
Spend the Summer in Sedona
One of the most popular summer destinations is the Red Rock Country of Sedona. The town nestles at 4,500 feet and sits at the mouth of towering Oak Creek Canyon, which climbs to 7,000 feet in a matter of just a few miles. Sculpted stone monoliths fringed by aromatic woodlands and clear tumbling streams make Sedona a joyous summer playground.
Sedona is a place where everyday stresses and minor worries melt away as the land rises up in welcome. Rugged mountains etch their initials in a deep blue sky. Sandstone formations in hues of red – deliciously red and scandalously red – vault hundreds of feet overhead, a vertical view that reminds us just how enticing the outdoors can be. Sedona is a land of dizzying beauty, and perhaps most importantly, it gives everyone a reason to look up. After years of staring down at your phone and tablet, just think how good it will be for your body to raise your head and gaze skyward for a few days.
Outdoor Adventure in Sedona
Plan on being active. People don’t come to Sedona to hunker indoors. Hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails crisscross the stunning terrain. Jeep and Hummer tours explore distant corners of the backcountry. Hot air balloons lift off in the early morning, and helicopters swoop in and out of canyons. Horseback rides stir up memories of the Old West that don’t seem so distant ’round these parts.
Kayakers paddle down the Verde River. Anglers, swimmers and picnickers all head for favorite spots on Oak, Sycamore, Beaver and West Clear creeks. When you’re leaping from a stone ledge into a deep blue-green pool at Grasshopper Point, riding the current through the frothy chute of Slide Rock, rope-swinging into the creek at Red Rock Crossing or just splashing in a pool you’ve discovered all on your own, it won’t seem like a dry heat at all. Days can be as wet, cool and refreshing as you want them in the verdant oasis of Sedona.
Sedona’s Cultural Scene
Bring some dry clothes, too. There are ancient American Indian villages to explore, a vintage excursion train to ride, a wildlife park filled with exotic animals to see and boutique wineries to visit. Plus, you’ll want plenty of time to simply walk the streets of Sedona. This is a pedestrian-friendly community with sidewalks, clean, fresh air and unmatched views no matter which way you turn. So take a turn around the town and soak in the sights. In Sedona, a simple stroll turns into a lifelong memory. You’ll run out of vacation days long before you’ll run out of things to experience.
When you’re ready to come inside you won’t be disappointed. Dozens of shops and galleries have made Sedona one of the country’s preeminent art communities.
Numerous spas, from world-class resorts to massage schools and day salons, are ready to soothe tired muscles if you played too hard or pamper you with a wide range of personalized treatments because hey, it is a vacation after all.
The Ideal Family Vacation Spot
A summer getaway to Sedona is about more than just beating the heat. It allows families to push the reset button on busy lives. It’s a chance to engage again without distractions. All your electronic devices will work just fine in Sedona, but don’t be surprised if you rarely use them. You’ll be too busy sharing adventures and actual conversations. Remember those?
The freedom of summer and the beauty of Sedona make for a truly memorable getaway. It’s the kind of experience you want to share with the people you love. Tumble off the world together and land in a place renowned for its startling and dramatic beauty. School’s out. Time for some fun.
(Brought to you by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau and contributor Roger Naylor, (928) 204-1123 or (800) 288-7336, visitsedona.com.)