Instead of the romantic, red rock vista we envisioned, your first view of Sedona is a bustling, tourist trap. But, let’s back up and start with the trip down.
We chose Scenic Route SR89-A, and it was definitely scenic. Just before starting the descent through the canyon, the rest stop, Oak Creek Canyon Vista, offers panoramic views of the valley, and a chance to shop with the many Native American vendors who set up in the open air market along the path. Most were selling jewelry or pottery.
Winding down through Oak Creek Canyon, the road descends more than 2500 feet rather rapidly.
If you look closely in the following photo, you can see 3 different sections of the road’s switchbacks down the mountain.
At the end of the canyon drive, the Midgley Bridge carries you into Sedona.
The first, one of the most popular tourist stops, is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Conceived by Marguerite Bruswig Staude in 1932, it was finished in 1956. The design inspiration came to her while observing the newly constructed Empire State Building. When viewed from a certain angle, a cross seemed to impose itself through the very core of the structure. Mrs. Staude wanted to build such a structure that would glorify her Creator and in thanksgiving for all that her family had received. She traveled throughout Europe looking for the ideal location. She returned to the United States and while her and her husband traveled through Sedona, she was struck by the beauty of the area and decided that this chapel should be built here. .. “This would be a monument to faith…".
Built on a twin pinnacled spur about 250 feet high, jutting out of a thousand foot red rock wall, "solid as the Rock of Peter" the building of the Chapel was completed in April 1956. Just the physical construction was a physical miracle, overcoming difficult conditions to construct this chapel.
No longer used for regular services, it is open daily to the public.
Visible from the chapel, at the bottom of the hill is what some consider an eyesore, while others marvel. A veritable mansion sits on grounds surrounded by beautiful gardens. Owned by some “mystery person involved in the medical field” it was once offered for sale for 29 million.
The Red Rock Loop Drive is through the famous red rocks of Sedona,
This one is unique. The little girl taking the photo is part of the statue.
But nothing thus far had fit the image I had of Sedona in my mind. In years past, we used to work a lot of jigsaw puzzles. So many of the puzzles pictured beautiful garden fountains surrounded by Spanish tile and flowering bushes. Always, the caption was just “Sedona, Arizona”. Where had these photos been taken? I finally had my answer when we entered Tlaquepaque (pronounced Tla-keh-pah-keh), Sedona's Arts & Crafts Village.
Authentically fashioned after a traditional Mexican village, Tlaquepaque, means the "best of everything". Its vine covered stucco walls, cobble-stoned walkways and magnificent arched entryways makes it seem a world and time away from the rest of Sedona, and provides a refreshing oasis from the crowds. Here I found the Sedona I had been looking for: