The red sandstone rock formations of Sedona, Arizona have beckoned people to the area for generations – whether to tap into the nearby spiritual (or are they magnetic?) vortexes, to be rejuvenated by the desert air, or to explore the natural beauty of the region on hundreds of miles of mountain biking trails.
It’s a land of excitement and calm; rigor and relaxation; hard stone and soft sand. But no matter what you seek, you’ll have to contribute something as well. Because the red rocks don’t share their secrets unless you bring your energy.
‘Ride the Red Rocks’ at Enchantment Resort
There are few places on earth as well-suited for mountain biking as Sedona. Experienced bikers talk reverentially about the hundreds of miles of pristine single-track runs, rugged washes and stunning views of millions of years of Arizona geology. The spectacular diversity of the terrain is the attraction for bikers, with rocky technical sections, smooth and 'flowy' slick rock runs, and something for every experience level.
Enchantment Resort’s ‘Ride the Red Rocks’ event is the perfect introduction to the area’s bike trails. The resort offers four days of tours, guided by local experts, for riders of any skill level. Each ride is interspersed with elevated experiences, such as restorative yoga or sunset excursions. Be prepared: even at introductory levels the climbs can be lung-burning and you need to keep your momentum to get up the rocky ascents. But once you see those views spread out below you and feel the wind in your hair on an exhilarating downhill run, the climb is worth it.
Outside of the event, the resort offers rentals, classes and activities for additional fees year-round. If you choose to tackle the high-desert trails and the prickly pear cactus outside of a guided tour, you’ll have to make a lot of your own preparations. A full-suspension mountain bike is an absolute must, or you won’t get up the first hill. And while creeks and other water features might not be your first concern in the desert, a heavy rain can easily make a previously rideable section of trail all but impassable. Ask at the many local bike shops for maps, advice and gear.
Bring your energy: You’ll need every ounce of power, motivation and intensity you possess. And probably some padded shorts. Enchantment has partnered with Pivot Cycles to provide full-suspension mountain bikes to riders at its event and the expert local guides will help you tap into reserves you didn’t even know you had.
Good vibrations at the Sedona vortexes
After its world-class mountain biking, Sedona might be best known for its mysterious vortexes – places where global ley lines cross and many say they feel a convergence of energy. The region claims four vortexes: Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock and Boynton Canyon. And whether those energies are spiritual, magnetic or electrical, believers say there’s a direct connection to power. There's no science backing the ideas, but there's also no harm if you want to explore these vortexes for fun.
Robert Sechrengost is one of the believers. At least once a day for more than seven years he has climbed to the top of Warrior Rock (a source of masculine energy) and faced Kachina Woman (another rock formation and source of feminine energy) in Boynton Canyon. From there he plays his flute for the canyon, its notes reverberating off the layered walls. He also carves palm-sized hearts from the nearby sandstones as symbols of unconditional love and gives them to anyone who crosses his path.
“This is a magical place,” he says. “Every day I come out here, I’m here for lots of people. And I’m also here to be with lots of people because each one of them gives me [their energy]. This is the key, is realizing that I’m connected to everything and everything’s connected to me. When I give, they receive, and they always give back to me and I get to receive that.”
Bring your energy: You get out what you put in. While the science is dubious, some experiences are more for the heart than the head. As Robert puts it, when you’re in your heart you’re in heaven on earth. But if you allow yourself to be trapped in your head, then that can definitely be hell on earth.
Pure relaxation at Mii amo spa
When Mii amo destination spa was constructed, it was built around the crystal grotto, a 12-foot diameter circle of bare earth that was never covered with concrete or wood. Sitting under the dome in that heart of the complex, with your bare feet kneading the sand, you can begin to slowly unwind. From there a personalized treatment regimen, or ‘journey’, awaits.
There’s a dizzying array of treatments ranging from massage and meditation, to fitness and skin care, but it’s with their Native American inspired therapies that Mii amo’s luxurious attention to detail really shines. Therapies are built around honoring the four directions, recreating the sensation of a sweat lodge, or supporting a heightened awareness. With hypnosis treatments, the spa also offers an exploration of your past life memories – again, this is something traditional science doesn't support, but it's something the Sedona area is particularly known for offering. There’s also the standard array of whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms and lap pools, plus an organic café and an on-site juice and smoothie bar.
Bring your energy: Two of Mii amo’s treatments are built around the cycles of the moon. The Spirit of the New Moon is about manifesting, and you are encouraged to bring “your deepest desires and wishes.” The Spirit of the Full Moon is about releasing, and you are urged to let go of “whatever no longer serves us.” Whether or not you (or medical science broadly) buy into the importance of moon cycles, the spa does and you should schedule your visit accordingly: each therapy is only offered at the corresponding point of the moon cycle.
More to explore
Mountain biking, vortexes and a desert rejuvenation might be Sedona’s major calling cards. But if you’ve brought your energy this far, there are even more connections to experience. Want to explore the stars? The city is an international dark sky community (an area with minimal light pollution), so you can see much more of the heavens than usual. The passion of husband-and-wife team JD and Karen Maddy of Iridium Sky Tours is obvious as they walk you through the edges of the Milky Way – and beyond.
Want to learn more about the local indigenous traditions? Aaron White is a local Native American musician who will share stories of his people through ceremonies that highlight his flute and guitar. Or, if it’s more of the natural wonder of the region you seek, just strap on some hiking boots and take to the hills – Cathedral Rock is one of the most famous rock formations in the world and is just waiting to be explored. But no matter what you’re looking for, this journey requires you to take the first step.
Lonely Planet writer Ben Buckner travelled to Sedona with assistance from Enchantment Resort. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.