Everyone and their mothers are looking to find a place to cool off in Arizona during the summer. We were among them last weekend when we day-tripped up to Sedona to explore, do some shopping, and escape the city for a while. Sedona is known for its small town vibe with magnificent views in 360 degree directions.
Waking up early to drive from Scottsdale, we headed up the I-17 and passed through Cornville entering Red Rock Country. It took us a little over two hours to reach Crescent Moon Ranch around 8:40 am. Crescent Moon Ranch is home to several swimming holes and the access point to Cathedral Rock trailhead.
Crescent Moon Ranch
Arriving at Crescent Moon Ranch early is a necessity. This is a well-established day-use area that lots of families come for the entire day to grill and swim. It costs $11 or requires proof of the Grand Annual Red Rock pass. You'll receive a map upon check-in with the main hotspots like Red Rock Crossing, Buddha Beach, and Cathedral Rock trailhead along with some buildings like the Water Wheel.
If you take the .5 mile trail from the parking lot, you'll end up at a massive swimming hole overlooking Cathedral Rock. It is called Red Rock Crossing and quite popular for its family friendly vibe, insanely beautiful views, and swimming holes.
If you're like me, you'll want to explore all the possible coves and river spots. At Red Rock Crossings, look for a trail that leads on the left and right side of the river. After .5 mile or so more, you'll discover Buddha Beach. Buddha Beach is known for its rock stacks on the sand fronts with rocks to swim up on all over.
Buddha Beach is considered still less-known and a secret treasure. You really wouldn't know to go past the Red Rock Crossing swimming hole unless someone told you to head the other way. There is a vortex that originates at Cathedral Rock that can be felt near Buddha Beach.
Afterwards, we did a makeshift photoshoot in front of a random sunflower farm we found near the trail to Buddha Beach. The trail to get back and forth between the parking lot and the river is green and lush. Cathedral Rock is a spectacular background and we couldn't let this opportunity to go to waste.
Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village
After our swimming hole excursion, we explored the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village located in uptown Sedona. This shopping center is straight out of a scene from Naboo in Starwars with looping vines, massive trees, fountains, and the friendly artists popping in and out of their stores.
The concept behind this shopping village was to create a true artist community. As they say on their visitor page:
It's not uncommon to venture upon a well-known sculptor working on his or her latest piece right in one of the Tlaquepaque galleries.
If you want to book an official photoshoot here, you must pay a photographer's fee. We spent our time walking around and browsing the stores that were open. I got lucky in running around the plaza shooting videos without knowing this rule. The permits start at $100 and depend on circumstance. Click this link to learn more about the photo permits.
Coffee and Lunch
Right across the way from the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, you'll find The Hideaway restaurant and a cute coffee store next door. Not on this trip, but on a prior trip, I ate lunch at the Hideaway and had a great time overlooking the creek and admiring the red rocks in the distance while I ate my chili and sipped my glass of wine.
There is a coffee shop next door that serves killer organic lavender macadamia nut milk lattes that you should try. The barista told me to frollick away from the fairies. To say the least, it is a true Sedona coffee bar. They use local coffee bean maker RattlenHum that distributes throughout the Sedona valley!
Chapel of the Holy Cross
Overall, Sedona is a fabulous city to explore and appreciate in little bits. With our day trip starting so early in the morning, after lunch, we headed back to Phoenix! The drive itself is jaw-dropping as you watch massive red rocks fade away slowly. On our way out, we noticed the Church of the Holy Cross easily seen on the cliffs ahead and had to make a quick detour.
I was so delighted to discover that this Sunday there happened to be a parking spot available towards the top. Typically, I have never found a parking pass and always just admire from afar. Completed in 1956, the Chapel of the Holy Cross sits high atop the red rocks in Sedona Arizona. The chapel was inspired and commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude.
Ok, checked off the list and truly as amazing as I could've hoped. Hope you enjoyed hearing about our day trip to Sedona and hope you are inspired to make a trip out there soon!
xx - Lacy + Team Wildjoy