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11/8/18-11/15/18 Rancho Sedona, Sedona AZ

Highlights: Hiking, scenery (red rocks), shopping..

Campground: Site 37 (Pull-thru); W/E/S/CATV; Good Cell Coverage; Unusable Wifi; Laundry; A propane truck comes to the park weekly.

The highlight of this campground is the location. A short walk from the epicenter of Sedona and within walking distance of the premiere and picturesque spanish-style shopping village of Tlaquepaque. Two moderate level hiking trails are also within a short walk.

I don't know how, but we managed to snag one of the two pull-thru sites on the inside of a small intimate loop with abundant trees that make a pleasantly wooded setting, and giving an air of privacy. There is another larger area with all back-in sites. The wide gravel road between rows and the wooded atmosphere again provides a nice peaceful setting. A stream runs behind one of the rows.

The staff/owner is a mixed bag. When making reservations, they insist that you go to your site first and then check in. Our site, while easy to find had an unconventional point of entry which meant going counter clockwise in a loop. A groundskeeper actually had us go in the wrong way when I asked directions. When I went to check in later, they told me I should have grabbed the map on a post outside the office first, which I didn't see because I went to our site first as they directed. They reminded me that they tell you to go online before coming and download a camp map (which would not have helped with going what seemed to be the wrong way).

Like a few parks, they are on the firm side when going over their rules - which are not unlike other parks with the exception that they strongly emphasize that all sewer hoses must have an elbow and be off the ground – two things that seem like common practice to me.


It is apparent that Sedona takes its hiking trails seriously. They are all well-maintained, well signed, though parking is not sufficient for most in relation to the demand. Some of the popular trailheads have large lots that still overflow to the approach streets. An annoyance is that a park pass is needed at some locations (with pay stations available). I just had to pay at the West Fork trail, but $10 seems high and wrong to have to pay to hike. I've seen these usage fees at some national park sites, but they are usually a few dollars. And, I suppose if it supports people to maintain these great open spaces, then it is worthwhile.

With Sandy having a bad knee, we try to keep it to easy and certain moderate trails. The campground and others recommended Fay Canyon, Doe Mountain, and the Huckaby Trail. Devils Bridge is the most popular trail in the area, but seemed too steep for Sandy. I had time to do that on my own.

Fay Canyon Trail: This 2.4 mile “easy” round trip (RT) hike has an unnoticeable elevation gain on a sandy trail until the very end. There it climbs most of the 192 trail feet to a ledge with a nice view back from the canyon. Unfortunately, this short steep and loose trail was too touch for Sandy so she waited for me to scramble up and take a few photos. If you don't make the climb some of the better views are early in the hike as the rest of the trail is quite wooded with a few peeks of red canyon walls. All in all, I would call this a boring hike and only good if you can't do much else.

Devils Bridge:This is listed as a 4.2 mile RT hike, but you have to add 2.4 miles RT to reach it via the Chuckwagon Trail. You reach the Chuckwagon Trail from a parking area on Long Canyon Road. It is a really pretty and easy trail with a rise that gives a nice view of the surrounding red rocks on three sides. Once on Devils Bridge trail, it got busier with people coming from FR152 (high clearance vehicles), and started rising steadily steeper. The last ¼ miles is very steep with high rock steps. There is a nice rock outcrop that many people used for selfies with a beautiful background. The actual bridge is below you and was pretty neat, but there is only a small place to view it and that was pretty busy when I was there. The “thing to do” there is to walk over the thin bridge itself and have your friends take photos of you. Not for me and most of the others.

View from the trail.

View to one of the areas' private communities.

This shows the limited view of the bridge from the top of the trail.

Once down the steep top section, there is a side trail that takes you to the bottom of the arch. This is actually a nicer view to me and to another hiker I met on the trail who recommended it to me. I was all alone there and got a couple photos off.

As I returned down the Chuckwagon Trail, the clear blue sky to the north was being replaced by a gray cloud. I suspected smoke coming from wildfires in California. A passing hiker thought it more likely to be sand. That made more sense after thinking about it, because we saw something similar passing through Flagstaff earlier in the week.

The following two photos show a before and after from a similar position on the trail.

At 1 PM

Smoke or sand? 3PM

Though this was a pleasant hike with a few really nice views, the number of people (while not terrible), and the underwhelming arch at the end, left me rating this just an average hike for enjoyment.

Marg's Draw: With just 2 hours to kill before sunset, I hiked this short gem. The only problem was that the campground people say the trailhead is just a short walk up from the campground. Ya, if ¾ mile uphill is a short walk before you hike. The trail leaves Schnebly Hill Road to the right and immediately goes down into a draw before rising up about the same amount and traverses the north and then west facing hillsides below a beautiful red rock butte. There are great views of Sedona and red rocks to the north and west . I followed this trail to a connector that went down to AZ-179 just south of the Hike House and walked back via the sidewalks due to the late time. I just made it back before sunset. Unlike the previous hikes, this under-promoted trail left me excited to try another.

West Fork: After reading the Hike House hiking guide, I really wanted to do this. Many people list this as easy, and I would agree though the book says moderate. The only difficulty lies in its length 6.4 miles, and its 13 stream crossings – whose difficulty will depend on water levels. I found the crossings really easy with hiking poles. Without them one or two crossings could cause a wet foot, but the water was no more than ankle deep in most places.

This is one of the most popular hikes in the area – especially in warmer weather – and parking was overflowing when we passed it over the weekend. I hiked it mid-week.

Just a few yards into the hike you come to the remains of Mayhew Lodge that originated in the late 19thcentury. This became a haven for the rich and famous including hosting Zane Grey in 1924 where he wrote Call of the Canyon. Others who stayed included Walt Disney, Clark Cable, and James Stewart.

The beauty of this trail was in the tremendous variety and color of the rising canyon walls. Every corner revealed a new interesting shape, sharp edges, flat faces, and angular cut outs of crashing cliff sides. All against a foreground of neck breaking ponderosa pines and a backdrop of deeply blue skies.

This must have made a tremendous crash when it came off the canyon wall.

Interesting and pretty grass that looked like bamboo

The hike alone was worth the trip, and the undefined end provided a nice rest spot. Here, the lower few feet of the canyon walls are curved in a perfect half circle. I tried to capture the canyon reflections in the little bit of water flowing through.

This is the pool that defines the end of the trail, but I walked past into the light and around the bend.

There is no real trail end. You can walk as far up the stream past the “pool” to find a nice rest spot. I was able to find a secluded rock and had a snack while listing to the trickling stream and looking at the canyon walls around me.

My resting stop past the defined end of the trail

THIS was a GREAT hike!

Chapel of the Holy Cross: This small chapel was inspired when sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude saw the Empire State Building in 1932. She ended up getting with Frank Lloyd Wright and together they came up with an idea for a modern skyscraper cathedral. A plaque at the church continues with the story, but it took years before they found a suitable site and they had to shrink down the grand scale of the original idea. This site was national land so an act of Congress needed to allow it to be built. Enter Barry Goldwater who pushed it through.

The views from the Chapel were quite nice, access is free, and it is a short ride from 89A. Also of note is that the Chapel is in a very nice neighborhood. I caught some photos of a nice little place just below the Chapel.

Nice little house. Note the water fall coming out of the base of the house on the lower left.

New Friends:

While in Moab, we had met Airstream owners David and Sandra from Prescott AZ. We figured out we would be in Sedona at the same time and sure enough, as I was pulling into the campground loop there was David standing in the road waving to me. He helped guide me to our site. David and Sandra come to Sedona frequently as it is not that far from Prescott. They have two little dogs – the female is attached to Sandra and the male is joined to David's hip. They gave us some good hiking tips, including steering me to The Hike House – a clothing/outfitter within walking distance of the campground. Really good store with a section of books, maps, energy bars, and great homemade cookies! I bought the same hiking guide David had, which was really well done with the exception that it could use some updating (The Sedona Hiking Guide Book, reg Stevenson, 2013 edition).

Exposures International Gallery: This is a destination by itself. This is touted as the largest in the area and it definitely is big (20,000 square feet). They advertise as “One of the 25 best galleries in America” and “The best in Arizona.” The quality and variety in terms of style and media (sculpture, metals, paintings, glass, jewelry, and pottery) is fantastic. I saw at least a half dozen items that I would have bought, had I been rich and if I had a house worthy enough. For example, there was wonderful pottery figures done by a Hopi woman Kim Obrzut that I would have bought had I a spare $6,400.

The gallery has a large selection of Bill Worrell sculptures, from pocket size to one standing about 20 foot tall outside the gallery. His creations are variations of a petroglyph that inspired him. Really cool. If only I had an additional $35,480.

There was also Doug Adams who works in welded steel that I loved. I don't usually go for this stuff, but some was very interesting. I highly recommend checking out their website:

Tlaquepaque [tee laki paki] Arts and Crafts Village:This was recommended as must see and we agree. It is a multi -building shopping area in a Mexican village style with little courtyards and plantings that make each courtyard seem like its own little shopping area. One courtyard was decorated with streams of lights, another had a huge fountain with flowers and fruit. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in the village that had some good parts – great sauce on my shrimp enchilada and Sandy had a good chile relleno, but the rest was average. However, the outside atmosphere was nice and the margaritas were some of the best we've every had.

Food: Pisa Lisais a great wood-fired pizza place on 89A on the west side. We were plenty hungry after skipping lunch and hiking so we had a great meat, cheese, fig, and olive antipasti, THEN each of us ordered a pizza. I had the best pizzas I've had. It was grilled eggplant and artichoke, picante peppers (hot), “on a bed of provolone-mozzarella and ricotta clouds.” Oh ya. Pisa Lisa has a nice gelato and desert counter so we had to bring home a Tiramisu! Of course we did. It was great too.

We also ate at the Cowboy Club Grille and Spirits– a very country themed bar and grill that was pretty good.

I am including our traveling road stop here:

Dates: 11/16/18 – 11/17/18 Las Colinas RV Park, Eloy AZ

Highlights: Did laundry, read books, sat in the sun, saw Gambel's Quails running through park.

Campground: Site 5 Pull Thru – W/E/S a few over-air TV stations; Cell coverage adequate for calls but slow for web.

This was a two night travel stop between Phoenix and Tuscon giving us about 2 ½ hr ride from Sedona. This park is 90% seasonal with a nice homey feel. Some huge saguaro cactus stood between sites that often were adorned with carports, porches and yard ornaments. When we arrived there was an enthusiastic shuffle board tournament going on and the calendar showed several events scheduled each day for this 55+ community.

I would give this an excellent stopover rating except for some road traffic noise from I-10 and an all too frequent train that parallels I-10. When we arrived the sun was shining bright and the temperature rose above 70 degrees for the first time for us in weeks, so we took advantage of it by setting up the gravity chairs, our books, and a cold beer. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

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