Fossil Creek Waterfall – A Pretty Hike to a Scenic Cascade

November 2022 – The Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona’s Verde Valley is a scenic cascade at the end of a pretty hike through the woods. It’s especially beautiful when there’s a bit of fall color!

Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona a pretty hike to a scenic cascade

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The whole Fossil Creek area was closed for several years due to wildfire erosion damage. When it reopened, lots of people jumped at the chance to hike in this beautiful area once again, and we were among the the very first who showed up the day it opened!

The trailhead is accessed via Fossil Creek Road. One end of this road intersects with AZ Route 260 about 8 miles east of Camp Verde and the other end rolls into the west side of the town of Strawberry.

Arizona Delorme Atlas

Coming from the west, Fossil Creek Road is a dirt road, and since we were unsure what condition it might be in, we thought it would be fun to drive our Polaris RZR side-by-side instead of our truck. The road turned out to be well graded and the drive was easy, even for a passenger car.

Riding a side-by-side to Fossil Creek Arizona

The RZR made getting to the trailhead a lot of fun!

The area near the trailhead had sustained quite a bit of damage. Fortunately, another pair of hikers who knew the area well were parking their car just as we arrived, and they helped us find the start of the trail to the Fossil Creek Waterfall.

Buddy, our little Trail Scout, was excited to lead the way after that!

Dog on the trail at Fossil Creek in Arizona

Buddy loves his job as Trail Scout!

It was autumn and some of the trees were wearing their finest fall colors.

A tree lights up with fall color on the Fossil Creek Waterfall trail in Arizona

Quite a few trees were outfitted in their Fall Finest.

We walked slowly and savored the pretty autumn colors around us. It wasn’t as dazzling as the fall foliage along Colorado’s San Juan Highway or in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but it was lovely nonetheless.

Fall foliage at Fossil Creek in Arizona

We saw some yellow…

Fall color at Fossil Creek in Arizona

…and some red.

Arizona Highways Scenic Drives
Autumn leaves in Arizona

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The trail was a little rocky in some spots and there were a few small water crossings too. Someone had built a bridge across the creek, although it was probably easier to hop over the thin stream of water since it wasn’t very high!

The trail took us across a small bridge

It was easier to jump over the tiny creek, but I took the rickety bridge instead!

Suddenly, we heard rushing water in the distance ahead of us. Some hikers who had done the hike before noticed us staring at it hopefully as they passed. “That’s not the waterfall!” one said with a wink.

We spotted the first cascade at Fossil Creek in the distance

We spotted a small waterfall in the distance.

This little cascade was very pretty, though, and we hung out for a while, sitting under the canopy of trees listening to the sounds of the water tumbling over the rocks.

Fossil Creek Arizona has many waterfalls

We found ourselves in a lovely grotto next to the rushing water.

Fossil Creek Arizona waterfall cascade

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Buddy found his happy place up on a rock and watched us as we took photos.

Beautiful dog at Fossil Creek in Arizona

Buddy surveyed the scene from up on a rock.

We finally tore ourselves away from this lovely little oasis and continued our delightfully shaded hike.

Hike to the Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona

The hike to the Fossil Creek Waterfall has plenty of shade.

Fossil Creek Arizona in autumn with fall foliage

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The sounds of the little cascade faded away and were soon replaced with the growing roar of the Fossil Creek Waterfall ahead of us.

Suddenly, the waterfall came into view. Wow!

Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona in autumn with fall color

And there it was…beautiful!

A small group of people arrived shortly after us. Some jumped in the water for a swim and made their way over to the waterfall, clambering up on the rock shelf beneath it and going behind the spray to peek out from behind the wall of water.

Swimmers dive into the water at Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona

Fossil Creek is a popular swimming hole!

Swimmers stand behind Fossil Creek Waterfall in Arizona

They made it!

We sat down for a while, enjoying the pretty surroundings while hikers and swimmers came and went. We learned that Fossil Creek is so popular in the summertime that you have to get a permit and only a small number of permits are given out each day.

We felt fortunate because it was the off-season and the area had just opened (without fanfare), so we didn’t have to get a permit, and there weren’t any crowds.

Fossil Creek waterfall in Arizona

Seeing Fossil Creek Waterfall is a great reward at the end of this pretty hike.

If you find yourself in Arizona’s Verde Valley, and Fossil Creek is open, we highly recommend you do the hike to the waterfall!

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Dead Horse Ranch State Park + Tuzigoot and Clarkdale

February 2023 – Back in mid-November we spent the better part of a week at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in central Arizona and used it as a home base to visit Tuzigoot, Clarkdale and the Arizona Copper Museum. We’d known about this state park for many years but this was our first time visiting. What a delightful stay we had!

DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK – LAGOONS and TRAILS

The first thing we noticed after we got our campsite set up was the trio of beautiful lagoons that are the centerpiece of the park.

Rich fall colors at Dead Horse Ranch State Park Arizona

Autumn splendor at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in central Arizona.

The name “Dead Horse Ranch State Park” seems strange, but it has a fun origin.

In the late 1940s the Ireys family of Minnesota was looking for a ranch to buy in the southwest, and they visited several prospective properties. At one of them the kids noticed a dead horse. After two days of driving all over the dirt roads of Arizona ranch hunting, the dad asked the kids which one they liked best. “The one with the dead horse!” was the reply!

The Ireys named their ranch, “Dead Horse Ranch” and they lived and worked on the property until the 1970s. When Arizona acquired the ranch, the Ireys made retaining the name one of the conditions of the sale. Dead Horse Ranch State Park officially opened on June 1, 1977.

The lagoons in Dead Horse State Park Arizona

The lagoons are a highlight at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

Many people think that the desert regions in Arizona don’t have four seasons. However, that’s not entirely true, despite winters being warmer than elsewhere!

There is a distinct Fall season, complete with brilliant autumn colors, that arrives about a month or two later than the northern states, and Spring brings lots of wildflowers. Summer is, well, a lot like being in an oven!

Trees near the lagoons at Dead Horse State Park Arizona

Under the golden arches.

We found some wonderful hiking trails that meandered under the canopy of trees that grow alongside the Verde River. Buddy loved exploring these trails ahead of us and then dashing back to tell us what he’d found!

Fast dog sprints in the woods

“You wouldn’t believe what’s up there!”

TUZIGOOT NATIONAL MONUMENT

As comfortable as we were in our spacious campsite inside Dead Horse Ranch State Park, we ventured beyond the park’s borders a few times too.

Tuzigoot National Monument, a site of ancient Indian ruins that were built by the Sinagua people in between 1050 and 1380 AD, is quite close by.

The ruins consist of a series of rooms defined by stone walls that were built onto a hillside.

Tuzigoot National Monument in Arizona

Tuzigoot National Monument is a 110 room ancient Indian ruin.

It is believed there were 87 first story rooms and 23 second story rooms in this community and that it housed about 225 people. The rooms were terraced and entry and exit from each room was through the roof.

Tuzigoot National Monument in Arizona

Tuzigoot’s rooms are all adjacent. It is thought the residents climbed in and out of each room by a hole in the roof!

A paved path took us to the top of the hill where there were 360 degree panoramic views, and we could look down at the rooms of the ruins below us.

View from top of Tuzigoot National Monument

The hill that Tuzigoot is built on has panoramic views that go on forever.

Heading back down to a lower level, we were able to go inside a room that had been reconstructed with posts and beams to show what it was like when these rooms were occupied and were enclosed with full height walls and ceilings.

Inside Tuzigoot National Monument ancient Indian ruins

A reconstructed room interior.

Mark noticed a mortar and pestle up on a ledge.

Mortar and pestle at Tuzigoot national Monument

This mortar and pestle were originally found at the site.

As with most Indian ruins in Arizona, lots of incredible artifacts have been found in these ruins. A museum on site houses a large collection of pottery that has been carefully pieced back together again. What a treasure trove of handiwork made by the ancients!

Pottery found at Tuzigoot National Monument in Arizona

Pottery found in the Tuzigoot ruins are on display in the museum.

CLARKDALE and COPPER MINING

On another day we took a drive over to the village of Clarkdale. We’d bypassed this town of about 4,200 people dozens of times over the years and never stopped in to see what was there. It is tucked away off the main highway but has a delightful main street and downtown area.

Despite its small size, it is home to one of Arizona’s most famous museums: The Arizona Copper Art Museum which is housed in the old high school building.

Clarkdale High School now the Copper Museum in Clarkdale Arizona

The old Clarkdale High School is now the Arizona Copper Art Musuem.

In years past, Arizona school kids learned about the “5 C’s” that made their state special: Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate.

The Arizona Copper Art Museum celebrates the first C and is situated in the heart of the old Verde Mining District where the twin mining camps of Jerome and Clarkdale grew up around the United Verde Mine which was owned by William A. Clark.

Bucket of copper ore at the Copper Museum in Clarkdale Arizona

Copper was a huge industry in the Verde Valley at the turn of the last century
as it is elsewhere in Arizona today.

The United Verde Mine and Clarkdale mining camp were just one part of William Clark’s extraordinary holdings. He was a man of vision, energy and drive, and it seems no project was too big or difficult for him to take on.

Besides the copper mine and mining camps he’d built in the Verde Valley, he owned three mines and two banks in Montana, controlled several newspapers in Montana and Utah and owned a sugar plantation in California!

Before he built the United Verde Mine in Jerome, the copper vein there was considered too remote to ever be profitable. However, William Clark managed to make $60 million from his mine! Yet getting the ore out of the ground was just part of the challenge. He also needed to build a railroad to get the ore from the mine in Jerome to the smelter in Clarkdale and from there out to the world. So he built a railroad.

Needing a place to service his trains, he bought a ranch in Nevada and brought in employees to live and work there. That little train maintenance camp and yard is now the city of Las Vegas…in Clark County, Nevada!

And if all that weren’t enough, he then became a US Senator for Montana.

Outside the Copper Museum in Clarkdale Arizona

William Clark was a busy and massively successful man. We kinda like the quieter life!

We had fun roaming around the outside of the museum where we found a large bell, a barrel of monkeys and a huge chess board.

The museum wasn’t open yet, however, so we decided to return to explore the inside of the museum another time.

Barrel of Monkeys at the Arizona Copper Museum in Clarkdale AZ

Who are these guys??

Chess game in Clarkdale Arizona

Buddy ponders his next move.

Clarkdale has a pretty park shaded by several huge trees, and these trees were all in the peak of fall color. Every time the wind blew, a flurry of vibrant yellow leaves would flutter to the ground. A blanket of yellow leaves surrounded the base of each tree.

Autumn color in Clarkdale Arizona

Golden leaves were falling everywhere, leaving a thick blanket of yellow on the ground.

Down one street we discovered Saint Cecilia’s Mission Catholic Church, and we learned later that mass is held here in Latin! If you are visiting the area and want to experience a Latin mass, Saint Cecilia’s is the place to go!

St. Cecilia's Mission in Clarkdale, Arizona

Saint Cecilia’s Mission holds mass in Latin!

Down another street we came across a vintage gas station that is still intact and is a wonderful throwback to earlier times.

Classic historic gas station in Clarkdale Arizona

Clarkdale’s old gas station evokes an earlier era.

An old gas pump served many customers over the years.

Old gas pump at a historic gas station in Clarkdale Arizona

An old gas pump.

A woman came over to chat with us, and we found out she owns a 50% share of this gas station. She told us it was originally built in 1942 and it served gas right up until 2014.

At that time the government gave all gas stations an ultimatum: upgrade the underground tanks or they’ll be removed (for free). The station had been struggling against more modern competition out on the highway, so they opted to have the tanks removed.

Even though gas is no longer sold there, the original gas price sign was still advertising some very appealing prices!

Historic gas prices in Clarkdale Arizona

Old gas prices!

VERDE CANYON RAILROAD

Automobiles weren’t the only way to get around back in the day or even now. The Verde Canyon Railroad takes tourists out along William Clark’s original train tracks that he’d built to transport copper ore from his mine.

The Verde Canyon Railroad is a very popular train excursion that goes through some red rock scenery as it chugs through the Verde Valley, and they have lots of different specialty rides, from starlight rides to chocolate, wine and beer rides to fall color and spring flower rides and a magical ride at Christmas.

Again, we have wanted to do this train ride for a while, but they don’t allow pets, so this particular trip wasn’t the right time.

Verde Canyon Railway in Clarkdale Arizona

The Verde Canyon Railway takes tourists on the tracks that were built to haul copper ore.

VIOLETTE’S BAKERY

But we still got a train ride (of sorts)! In the heart of Clarkdale stands an antique train car that is now home to Violette’s Bakery. Violette specializes in French pastries along with specialty coffees, as well as yummy breakfasts and lunches. We stepped right up to the train car window and put in an order!

Violette's Bakery Cafe in Clarkdale Arizona

Violette’s Bakery is in an antique train car.

Buddy was delighted to order puppaccino. It totally made up for him not being allowed on the Verde Canyon train!

Puppaccino at Violette's Bakery Cafe in Clarkdale Arizona

Buddy orders his favorite treat.

Puppaccino!

Puppaccino!

We really enjoyed our few hours in Clarkdale and will get back another time to see the Copper Art Museum and take the Verde Canyon Railroad ride.

Street lamp in Clarkdale Arizona

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In the meantime, Dead Horse Ranch State Park was calling us back with its its lovely campground and beautiful lagoons wearing their Fall finest.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park Lagoon in Arizona

Fall color at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.

Fall colors at the Lagoon in Dead Horse Ranch State Park Arizona

View from the water’s edge at the lagoon.

RV camping at Dead Horse Ranch State Park Arizona

We enjoyed our stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park — and we’ll be back!

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Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, AZ – What a Hike!

May 2019 – One of the most popular trails in Sedona, Arizona, is the Broken Arrow Trail. There are actually two trails called Broken Arrow that run more or less parallel to each other: a narrow path for hikers and mountain bikers and a wide 4×4 jeep road for motorized vehicles.

Broken Arrow Trail Hike and Jeep tour in Sedona Arizona-min

Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona, Arizona, is great for hiking, biking, horseback riding and motorized buggies too!

We set out early in the morning and the light was beautifully filtered through the trees.

Early morning light hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Shafts of light fill our view in the early morning.

Lovely wildflowers were blooming.

Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona early morning puppy hike in wildflowers-min

Buddy pauses in the wildflowers

Wildflower in Sedona Arizona-min

Such a rich color, and so delicate too!

After a brief section going through the woods and climbing a little, the views began to open up in spectacular fashion.

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

A short climb through the woods brought us to some breathtaking views.

Hike Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

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The hiking trail and the jeep road criss-cross every so often, and when we climbed up on a plateau we could see a side-by-side down below.

UTV on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona Views-min

Which is more fun, a buggy ride or a hike? Undoubtedly best to do both!

But at this early hour the hiking trail was quiet and we enjoyed the wonderful peace and serenity of being by ourselves in the woods greeted by happily chirping birds as we walked.

Hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Peace.

Sedona’s hiking trails are incredible because you never have to walk very far to get an eye-popping view, and this trail was full of them.

Views on hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Views, views, views!

hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona Views-min

I’m not sure if Buddy was more captivated by the views or the lizards!

Puppy hiking Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

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The rising sun warmed the rocks and we breathed deeply in the soft air. Sedona is beloved by everyone who goes there, and mystics and psychics have been drawn to it for a long time. They feel a spiritual power in the red rocks, and no wonder. It is easy to feel a deep connection to life and nature while soaking in these sublime views.

View on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

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Posing puppy Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

Does our little companion feel the power of the vortex?

Dramatic red rocks Broken Arrow Trail hike Sedona Arizona-min

Nature’s skyscrapers!

As the morning progressed we saw a few mountain bikers go by.

Mountain bike on Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona_-min

We shared our hike with a few cyclists. It’s a memorable trail no matter how you do it!

Broken Arrow is one of the top jeep destinations in the Sedona area, and before long the first Pink Jeep Tour of the day showed up.

Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

A Pink Jeep rolled into view.

The drivers love to give the passengers a few thrills along the way, and we watched several pink jeeps come out of the woods and then climb over the wide rocks at crazy angles. The passengers whooped and hollered the whole while.

One driver yelled to his passengers, “It’s my first day. I don’t really know what I’m doing!” as he swerved all over the place on the flat rocks.

Pink Jeep Tour Sedona Arizona-min

The drivers are all great entertainers and they love to give their passengers a thrill.

Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

What a fun way to experience the Broken Arrow Trail!

Of course, there are stunning red rock hikes all over several western states, but what impresses me about Sedona is how the residential communities and the hiking trails have somehow managed to blend into each other without one treading on the other too much.

View from hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

Even with homes so close to the trails, we found each hike to be a total immersion in nature.

There are multi-million dollar homes tucked right up against the trails and some trailheads are down neighborhood roads. Those lucky folks can walk out their back door onto a world class hiking trail every morning. Yet while you’re on the trail, the busy world falls away, especially if you join the rising sun and commune with the waking animals at an early hour!

Unusual plant Sedona Arizona-min

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You could spend many months in the Sedona area and hike three to five miles every day and still not tick all the trails off your list. We loved our stay this year and were fortunate that the spring of 2019 was a cool one in Arizona so we could relish this gorgeous landscape a little longer than normal!

In the Light Broken Arrow Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Broken Arrow is a gorgeous trail. But, then, every trail in Sedona is gorgeous!

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Hiking the “Pig Trails” in Sedona, AZ – Breathtaking! (oink oink!)

May 2019 – The hiking trails in the area around Sedona, Arizona, are so spectacular that they are worth many return visits. The thing is, the trails never look the same because the views and the air and the feeling change as the weather changes.

Sedona Arizona Pig Trail Hikes in red rocks on an RV trip-min

The hikes in Sedona’s red rocks are glorious in any weather.
Here dark clouds loom over the views from the “Pig Trails” hikes.

We decided to explore the trail system that is known collectively as the Broken Arrow system, and specifically within that system we wanted to see what could be seen from the various Pig Trails.

The what?

Well, whoever named these hikes must have seen a lot of javelina rooting around here, because quite a few hikes have pig-related names.

Javelina (pronounced “have-a-leena” despite being spelled a bit like the Greek throwing spear) are not pigs at all, but they have a piggish look about them from snout to tail.

They eat prickly pear cactus pads (ouch!) and leave very fibrous poops behind.

Dead tree and red rocks in Sedona Arizona-min

A dead tree and dark skies — what a delicious morning on the trail in Sedona!

So, the trails we wandered around on had names like “Pig Tail Trail,” “Hog Wash,” “Peccary,” and “Hog Heaven.” How funny!

We got started on our hike a little before 6:00 in the morning on a blustery and overcast day, and the trail was damp from rainfall the night before. We breathed deeply in the crisp fresh air.

I especially loved the smell of the wet creosote bushes. It is a pungent smell that somehow evokes the essence of the southwestern desert for me. That unique creosote smell is especially thick in the Phoenix area during “Monsoon Season” in the summertime.

Buddy didn’t say anything about the smell of the wet creosote leaves, but he barreled around the corners in sheer delight.

Puppy runs on hiking trail-min

Buddy flies around a corner to tell me what’s up ahead!

There was a little archway between the trees on the trail, and we took some fun pics of each other with the red rock spires in the distance.

On the hiking trail in Sedona Arizona-min

Two Happy hikers.

Another happy hiker!

The gloomy clouds made the views particularly dramatic, and with each turn in the trail we got a different glimpse of the distant spires in a natural frame.

Sedona Arizona red rock pinnacles with storm clouds-min

Distant red rock spires framed by dark clouds and darker hills.

As an aside, we just saw the article I wrote that offers a few of our photography tips in the June 2019 issue of Trailer Life Magazine, and it is truly eye-popping.

The editors kindly set aside six full pages for the article — all without ads — and called it, “Shoot to Thrill.” How perfect!

Some of our favorite pics appear in the article along with some notes about things we think about when we take photos in our travels.

I don’t know if they’ll eventually post the article on their website or not, but for those who subscribe to the magazine, please keep an eye out for it! The article talks about framing, among many other things that are all very straight forwar, even with a smartphone camera, and we used an example of the framing technique from Arches National Park since we hadn’t yet taken these photos in Sedona!

Red rock pinnacles with storm clouds Sedona Arizona-min

We kept seeing these cool framed images as we hiked.

Sedona Arizona red rock spire-min

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As we rounded a bend, the trees that had been partially blocking our view disappeared and our jaws dropped as we looked out at the fabulous stormy sky hovering over the red rock peaks.

Sedona Arizona red rock view with stormy sky and puppy-min

Wow!

Sedona Arizona red rock view-min

Will the storm clouds break?

Suddenly, we heard a clap of thunder in the distance. Uh oh! That was it for hiking! We hightailed it outta there and ran for the safety of a coffee shop in town where we enjoyed a latte and a muffin while it rained.

Storm clouds over Sedona Arizona-min

The storm clouds got darker and then thunder sent us scurrying off the trail!

Storm clouds continued to swirl around the Sedona area and dump rain now and then for a few days. One afternoon we saw the most amazing cloud form over our rig.

Fifth wheel RV under storm clouds in Arizona-min

What a cloud!

Then the sun set in brilliant color right over some blooming cactus flowers.

Cactus flowers at sunset-min

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Sunset with cactus flowers Sedona Arizona-min

Cactus flowers give the sunset a nod.

While the skies did the wild thing above us, we spotted some spring wildflowers blooming at our feet. Beautiful!

Pretty wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

More pretty wildflowers.

Red cactus flowers-min

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When we were out and about around town we saw some gorgeous views as the skies slowly cleared. That’s the unusual thing about this area: even driving around town you’ll see awe-inspiring views!

Red rock views Courthouse Butte Sedona Arizona-min

As the storms began to give way, we saw some gorgeous view around town.

We decided to check out the pig-related hiking trails once again on another morning, and this time, as day dawned out on the trail, there was sun in the sky.

What a difference that made. The subtle coloration on the distant peaks became washed out and the sky was a beautiful blue but not too exciting, so our focus shifted a bit.

We quickly teached the point where we had turned around before and kept going to see what was ahead.

Puppy playing in the red rocks-min

We hit the Pig Trails on a sunny day and the features that captivated us were completely different!

We came to an open area in the trail where we could prowl around on huge wide flat rocks. Buddy sat down to take it all in and wait to find out what was next on our hiking agenda.

Puppy in the red rocks of Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy takes a break and enjoys the view.

The rain had created puddles in places where there probably aren’t any most of the time. There was a narrow ribbon of a stream flowing along a crevice in the rocks.

Sedona Arizona hikes are great for photography-min

Our focus shifted from the distant views to the trickle of water and puddles near our feet!

Mark spotted me with my reflection, and after yelling to me to stand still so he could get a pic, we both started to look around for reflection images. You have to get low for these. Buddy is already low, so he helped out in the search.

Red rock reflections in Sedona Arizona hike-min

Seeing my reflection, Mark gave us both an idea to look for other reflections in a cluster of small puddles!

Photo op in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven trail-min

Buddy kept an eye out for lizards while we scouted for reflection images!

Wow, what fantastic reflections we found! For my birthday a few months ago, Mark had given me a Nikon 12-24mm wide angle lens, and this jewel of a lens creates jewel-like images!

Red rock reflections Hog Heaven hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

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Reflected Red Rocks in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven hike-min

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Of course, sometimes just as I get a cool shot lined up it gets photo-bombed by our four-legged friend.

Red Rocks in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven hike-min

Oops! Photo bomb!

The little puddles made some beautiful images and an hour quickly passed while we crawled around on our hands and knees peering at the distant red rocks with our faces and cameras just above the water.

Puppy leaps across the red rocks-min

We loved crawling around these shallow puddles, and so did our furry friend.

Puddle reflections in Sedona Arizona on Hog Heaven trail-min

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Interestingly, we ended up on this trail a few days later and the puddles were all but gone!

Mountain bikers love riding the trails in the Broken Arrow system, no doubt because they are very challenging! In some sections you ride on an exposed sandstone ledge — not for the faint of heart!

Fortunately, we had hit the trail so early in the morning that we didn’t see a soul until the final few hundred yards when a mountain biker approached.

Mountain biker in Sedona Arizona-min

At the very end of our hike we saw the first person on the trail — a mountain biker!

We’ve begun to realize that if you are lucky enough to get to Sedona, Arizona, whether with an RV or without one, you can’t go wrong on any of the hiking trails.

Some trails have funny piggy names while others are named for features in the landscape, but either way, they are all fabulous and they are all worth doing!

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Top Sedona AZ Hikes: Little Horse to Chicken Point + Templeton Trail (Cathedral Rock)!

May 2019 – Sedona, Arizona, is a hiking and biking paradise, and during our stay we set our alarm for an early hour on many mornings so we could hit the hiking trails before the crowds.

The National Forest surrounding the Sedona area is filled with a fabulous network of trails, and each morning we started at a different trailhead to explore and experience the beauty for a few hours.

Best Sedona Arizona Hikes Little Horse Trail Cathedral Rock Trail-min

Two great hikes in Sedona Arizona:
Little Horse to Chicken Point and Templeton Trail around Cathedral Rock.

The Little Horse trailhead lies a few miles south of downtown Sedona and made a wonderful jumping off point to get into the incredible red rock views, but we weren’t sure at first if this trail would look its best as the sun rose.

Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike-min

An early morning hike on Sedona’s Little Horse Trail

The trail wandered east through scrubby woods for a while and the red rock formations ahead of us were backlit as the sun rose, so it seemed we wouldn’t get the spectacular images that Sedona is famous for.

However, the red rock slabs and sand under foot made a great canvas for playing shadow puppets once the sun rose a little way. We looked down off a ledge and saw a cartoon caricature of ourselves!

Playing with shadows during a red rock hike in Sedona Arizona

Who’s that down there?!

Cactus flowers were blooming everywhere. Most were pink or yellow, but as we turned a corner we found a gorgeous clump of red ones.

Red cactus flowers Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike-min

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Above them rose an equally stunning clump of red rock spires!

Cactus flowers on Little Horse Trail Sedona Arizona Hike to Chicken Point Overlook-min

A beautiful bouquet of red cactus flowers
against a regal red rock backdrop

The Little Horse trail goes to the Chicken Point Overllook, and when the trail opened up at this glorious spot it seemed like the views went on forever.

View from Chicken Point Overlook Sedona Arizona Hike-min

View from Chicken Point Overlook

Chicken Point Overlook view Sedona Arizona Hike-min

Chicken Point is the glorious highlight of several trails

Chicken Point Overlook is one of the most popular destinations in the Sedona area, but for 20 minutes we had the whole place entirely to ourselves because it was still very early in the morning. We wandered all around the massive red rock slabs taking photos.

Patterns in the rocks Chicken Point Overlook Sedona Arizona Hike-min

Without a soul in sight we lined up all kinds of interesting images

Suddenly, as I lined up a shot, a pink jeep on the first Pink Jeep Tour of the day on the Broken Arrow Trail appeared out of nowhere. The driver backed the jeep up to a precipice and teased the passengers in the far back seat who were perched right over the edge.

Pink Jeep Tour Broken Arrow Sedona Arizona-min

The first Pink Jeep tour of the day rolls into view.

Within minutes two more pink Jeeps were parked nearby and the place was crawling with excited tourists.

On another morning we set out on the Cathedral Rock trail in the early morning hours. This trail climbs up a series of stair steps from the Cathedral Rock trailhead and delivers you to the base of Cathedral Rock where there is a fabulous view of Nature’s wondrous cathedral and of the surrounding landscapes as well. At this point the trail intersects with the Templeton Trail.

Dawn on the hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

A beautiful day dawns

Again, our early start put us on the trail two hours before anyone else, and when we arrived at the wide “slickrock” slabs in front of Cathedral Rock we had acres and acres of red rock playground to ourselves.

When I saw the sun beginning to light up the spires on Cathedral Rock I frantically hunted around for a beautiful foreground to go with it. I couldn’t find anything handy right away, but then I noticed Buddy sitting right in front of me, perched perfectly still as he watched Mark in the distance. Nice!

Puppy in front of Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona Templeton Hike

Puppy Chow made a lovely foreground when the sun suddenly lit up Cathedral Rock

As the sun glowed on Cathedral Rock I continued hunting and finally stumbled on a gorgeous bed of delicate lavender flowers.

Flowers and puppy at Cathdedral Rock Templeton Hike Sedona Arizona-min

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The air was very chilly, and balloon enthusiasts in the distance were taking advantage of the cool air to fly their balloons. One rose over the landscape. What a wonderful way to enjoy Sedona’s incomparable views by floating just slightly above the land in silence except for the occasional noise of the heater to heat the air in the balloon.

Balloons rise over red rocks in Sedona Arizona-min

A balloon soars on the morning thermals in the distance

We followed the Templeton Trail to the east around the base of Cathedral Rock. The trail took us into the woods where we had lovely views through the trees.

Dawn on Templeton Trail hiking in Sedona Arizona-min

Morning light on the Templeton Trail

After about a mile and a half we turned around. Now the red rock landscape was bathed in beautiful bright sunshine and the air was delightfully warm.

Templeton Trail Hike Sedona Arizona-min

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Slilckrock section of Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

The Templeton Trail goes along a ribbon of flat sandstone at the bottom of Cathedral Rock.

Templeton Trail is a super popular mountain biking trail, and we rode it a few years ago. It is a challenging trail with lots of rocky obstacles, but the slickrock portion that goes around the base of Cathedral Rock is flat and smooth and fun.

We still hadn’t seen a soul on the trail, either hiking or on mountain bikes, even after two hours of hiking. We rounded a bend and Cathedral Rock soared back into view.

Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona-min

Cathedral Rock.

Hiking Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona Arizona-min

Approaching Nature’s stunning cathedral

Templeton Trail Hike to Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

What a place to hike!

An evening primrose in the shadow of a tree at Mark’s feet caught his eye, and a lovely blue flower dancing before the red rock cathedral caught mine.

Evening primrose on the hiking trail Sedona Arizona-min

Four white hearts with a pretty yellow center

Cathedral Rock and wildflowers in Sedona Arizona-min

Flowers bask in the sun in front of the cathedral

The patterns in the red rock slabs were wonderful. In some places the rock was stained with white and in others there were interesting cracks and crevices.

Red rock patterns and Cathedral Rock in Sedona Arizona-min

There are very cool patterns on the ground.

When we got back to the intersection of Templeton Trail and Cathedral Rock Trail we finally heard some distant voices. Hikers were coming up the trail from the trailhead parking lot.

When we met up with them they said they were going to head west on Templeton trail where it goes around the other side of Cathedral Rock and down towards Oak Creek. We’ll have to go that way next time!

Cathedral Rock Trail Sedona Arizona hike-min

We loved this hike and will do it again heading the other way!

Wildflowers on Cathedral Rock Trail in Sedona Arizona-min

Wildflowers lined the trail

We roamed around some more and found some wonderful puddles reflecting the beauty of Sedona.

Cathedral Rock reflections in Sedona Arizona-min

Mirror image in a puddle

Colorful reflections in the water-min

We just love these kinds of reflections

Reflections in the water Sedona Arizona-min

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Sedona, Arizona, is a nature lover’s paradise! If you haven’t been there, put it on your itinerary. If you have been there, then you know it’s worth many return trips!

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Brins Mesa Trail & Unexpected Delights in Sedona Arizona!

April 2019 – We’ve visited Sedona, Arizona, many times, not only as full-time RVers but also before we started this crazy lifestyle, back when we were living a workaday life and looking for a getaway vacation. The scenery around Sedona is absolutely stunning, and we are always thrilled by the beauty.

RV camping and hiking Brin Mesa Trail in Sedona Arizona

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Sedona is an outdoor lovers paradise, and whether hiking, mountain biking or off-road Jeep/ATV riding is your thing, there are hundreds of breathtaking trails crisscrossing the Coconino National Forest all around town.

Somehow, though, in all our visits to Sedona, we’ve never done many of the “signature” hikes. So on this trip we decided to check out Brins Mesa Trail, a top rated beauty that appears in many Sedona hiking trail lists.

Hiking trail Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy sniffs the start of the Brins Mesa Trail

Twenty years ago, Sedona was a small town, but today it is not only a huge sprawling community but it plays host to gazillions of tourists all year long. April is one of the most popular months to visit, so we knew that if we wanted to have any kind of solitude on the trail, we’d have to be up at the crack of dawn.

The air was cool when we started, and we were glad we always carry light wind breakers in our truck, because the heat wave that had swept the area lately had left us so hot the night before, it never occurred to us that it might be chilly at 6:00 a.m. when we started hiking. So, we’d arrived in shorts!

Brins Mesa Trail hike in Sedona Arizona-min

What a glorious start. The air was wonderfully crisp and clear — and cool!

Brins Mesa Trail is 3.6 miles long and goes between the Brins Mesa Trailhead at the northwest end and the Jordan Road Trailhead at the southeast end.

There are three trails that originate at Jordan Road Trailhead: Brins Mesa Trail, Cibola Pass Trail and Jim Thompson Trail. Brins Mesa Trail intersects with other trails along its route, so you can hike for miles and miles if you like.

Our plan was to hike out a ways from the Jordan Road Trailhead and then turn around and hike back. We hadn’t thought much about where the turnaround point would be and we hadn’t read about the trail, so we had no idea what to expect.

Hiking Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

We hit the trail at 6:05 a.m.

Ours was the first vehicle in the parking lot, and we had Brins Mesa Trail to ourselves. To our surprise, a runner passed us almost as soon as we started, but he quickly vanished ahead of us, and the only sounds we heard after that were chirping birds.

Buddy was in heaven and he ran in happy circles around us.

Puppy hikes the Brins Mesa Trail hike in Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy waits for us partway up a series of red rock stairs

The sun began to light the sky behind the craggy red cliffs on our right, and we climbed up a series of natural red rock stairs. The scenery was lovely.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona hiking with puppy-min

Buddy checks in with Mark about the route.

Checking the view Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

This way.

At our feet we noticed little bouquets of flowers perched here and there as if Mother Nature had set out vases along the trail.

Yellow wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

Wildflowers were blooming in delightful little bouquets along the trail.

White wildflowers Sedona Arizona-min

Mother Nature had taken some time to get her flower arranging just right.

A thorny cactus had a single flower on the end of one branch.

Cactus flower Sedona Arizona-min

A single cactus flower.

The trail opened up on the left side to a fabulous red rock mound that begged to be explored. We wandered around for quite some time, admiring the wide flat swoopy rocks that looked a little like dough overflowing a pan, and we poked our noses into the woods here and there too.

Suddenly, we realized we’d lost track of the trail. We conferred with each other and with Buddy about where we were and where the trail had disappeared to.

Buddy is a good listener, but when it comes to route finding, he’s top notch and we find it’s best if we do the listening!

Agave plant and puppy Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy listens well, but we listen to him too!

Navigating the Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy explains to Mark which way the route goes.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona with puppy-min

“Hey you guys, it’s this way”

As we backtracked to the main trail, the sun crested the distant peaks and swept across the rocks all around us, transforming them from cool shade to warm sun in an instant. Mark caught a starburst through a hole in the branch of a dead tree.

Starburst sunrise Brins Mesa Trail hike Sedona Arizona-min

A ray of golden sun.

Sunshine warmed the trail ahead of us and lit the distant peaks.

Hiking Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

Sunshine warms Brins Mesa Trail

We decided we’d gone far enough, even though it was just 1.2 miles or so, and we started back down to the trailhead. We knew there were some great 360 degree views somewhere, but the day was heating up and we weren’t sure how much further we had to go to see them.

Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona hike-min

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As we hiked back, we met five or six couples coming up the trail from the trailhead, and we discovered from one couple who does this hike often that if we’d gone just another quarter mile we would have seen the fabulous views. Oh well — next time (and maybe we’ll do it in the afternoon when the cliffs to the east aren’t backlit)!

When we got back to the parking lot it was around 8:00 a.m. there were only two or three parking spaces left. We were glad we’d gone early. What a lovely morning walk that was!

Views on Brins Mesa Trail Sedona Arizona-min

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This visit to Sedona was also the first time we’d had our off-road buggy to take us on motor vehicle-friendly trails to remote spots.

Polaris RZR in Sedona Arizona sunset-min

The sun sets in splendor after a fun day of RZR riding.

We bought the RZR and began triple-towing with it hitched behind our fifth wheel because we wanted to get further into remote areas that we couldn’t easily reach by mountain bike or with our truck. And sure enough, it took us to a hidden jewel on this trip to Sedona.

We took the RZR on a joy ride through some rather boring flat countryside and rode it to the end of a road where a sign stopped us: “No motorized vehicles beyond this point.” We noticed the trail continued, though, so we hopped out and hiked a little further on a woodsy trail.

As we turned a corner, we suddenly heard the trickle of water ahead of us, and then we found ourselves in the middle of a little desert oasis!

Reflections in the water Sedona Arizona-min

Buddy admires the colorful reflections in a surprise little watering hole.

Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min

Glassy water reflects the red rocks.

We arrived at the golden hour in the late afternoon when the red rock cliffs, blue sky and green trees were reflecting in the mirror-like water. Our jaws dropped. What a fabulous surprise!

Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min

We were astonished by this fun little discovery.

Reflections at Sediba Arizona-min

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Water reflections Sedona Arizona-min

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Sedona has quite a few creeks and springs, and there are beautiful hikes to reach them. We loved hiking the West Fork Trail and doing The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek hike. Both hikes led to gorgeous oases in the red rock desert.

Sedona Arizona water reflections-min

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Sedona Arizona reflections in the water-min

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The afternoon was downright summery with a high temp in the high 80s, and that water in front of us was just too tempting not to jump in! Mark took off his shirt and tip-toed in. “Brrrr!” He shouted as he splashed his hands in the water. “It’s COLD!”

But it didn’t take long for his legs to numb up so he could go in the rest of the way!

Swimming hole Sedona Arizona-min

“Come on in, the water’s fine!”

Swimming at Sedona Arizona-min

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I finally put down my camera and joined him!

Buddy waded along the edges of the water, got a big drink, and then leapt back on the rocky shore to chase lizards.

The heat wave in the Sedona area brought fabulous stormy skies each afternoon with Arizona-monsoon-like clouds. The sunsets were just divine.

Sunset on a dirt road in Sedona Arizona-min

A classic Arizona sunset over a lonely stretch of road.

We had planned to stick around the area for two weeks or so, but the heat was getting intense and the winds began to pick, making the dust fly. So, our planned list of things to do in Sedona will probably have to be shelved until our next visit!

RV camping Sedona Arizona-min

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Jerome, Arizona – A New Year’s Getaway in the Snow!

January 2019 – Most people come to the Arizona desert in January to get out of the snow and ice and enjoy some balmy weather. But when snow and ice blew into central Arizona on New Year’s Eve this week, we jumped at the chance to get out on New Year’s Day to enjoy the fluffy white stuff while it lasted.

Snowy highway I-17 to Jerome AZ-min

We drove north on I-17 to see the snow!

We headed north on I-17 which takes travelers from the Sonoran Desert in Phoenix at about 1,200′ elevation to the ponderosa pine forests of Flagstaff at about 7,500′ elevation in just two hours of highway driving. Not far from the northern boundaries of Phoenix we began seeing patches of snow along the highway.

Snow on the rocks in Arizona-min

The rocks on the side of the highway were all capped in snow.

Snow had collected on the rock formations and in the forests by the side of the highway as we climbed higher and higher in elevation.

Snow in the trees in Arizona-min

Soon we saw woods filled with snow-covered trees.

Our goal had just been to go see some snow, but we soon realized our afternoon New Year’s snow drive needed a destination.

We wanted to see a quaint town full of holiday cheer along with ice and snow, so we cut off from I-70 onto Route 260 and 89A to go to the historic copper mining town of Jerome.

Hotel on the way into Jerome AZ-min

Rounding the first switchback on our way up Mingus Mountain to Jerome.

Jerome is perched halfway up towering Mingus Mountain, and it clings to the hillside with tenacity as it looks out over the valley below. The views are vast, and when we arrived storm clouds and golden sunlight were taking turns shading and lighting the valley.

Light and shadow in the valley view from erome Arizona-min

Light and shadow played hide and seek across the valley.

The town was built along several steep switchbacks in the road that crosses Mingus Mountain, and houses and shops stand at several different levels on the mountain road. A few staircases take shortcuts between each level, leading from one road up to the next.

Old stone stairway Jerome Arizona-min

The town of Jerome is multi-leveled and has lots of stairways.

Jerome is something of a rediscovered ghost town, and there are ghostly themes all over the place. We noticed a skeleton was about to join a family eating outside on a restaurant deck.

Eating on the deck with a skeleton Jerome Arizona-min

Dinner with a view — and a surprise guest!

Another skeleton was climbing the sign at the Haunted Hamburger.

Haunted Hamburger skeleton sign Jerome Arizona-min

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Jerome is a really popular destination in the summertime because it is an easy drive from baking hot Phoenix, and the temps are cool and refreshing because it lies halfway up a tall mountain. But it makes a delightful wintertime destination too, especially around the holidays. Christmas decorations were everywhere.

Icicles and Christmas ornament Jerome Arizona-min

If you don’t feel the Christmas spirit in the warm desert, come to Jerome for real icicles and ornaments.

Spiked peppermint hot chocolate sign Jerome Arizona-min

What could be better than this after a cold walk in Jerome on a wintry day?

Walking the streets of Jerome, we saw beautiful views across the valley. The red rocks of Sedona were nearby, and they lit up in the distance as the sun began to sink lower in the sky.

Red rocks of Sedona Arizona-min

The red rocks of Sedona glowed in the distance.

All the buildings were covered with a layer of snow, which made for a fun change of scenery after weeks in the dusty dry deserts of New Mexico and Arizona.

Valley view from Jerome Arizona-min

The views went on forever and were especially lovely as the sun went down.

We followed the switchbacks to the top of town.

Curvy uphill street Jerome Arizona-min

The streets were quiet, and the town was as quaint as can be!

The Jerome Grand Hotel stood proudly overlooking the valley.

Jerome Grand Hotel Arizona sunset-min

The Jerome Grand Hotel is haunted.

Inside the lobby of the Jerome Grand Hotel we read some of the guests’ hand written ghost stories that have been collected in a notebook. All kinds of things go bump in the night at this hotel, and visitors have some hair raising tales to tell. Just ask the person at the front desk if you can see the guestbook of stories about this haunted hotel!

Jerome Grand Hotel Arizona-min

We read a few of the guests’ ghost stories…sleep with one eye open if you stay here!

The sun set in pastel shades of peach and pink and blue as we walked back down into town.

Streets of Jerome Arizona at sunset-min

We’ve loved Jerome at warmer times of year, but the snow and cold gave it a special kind of intimacy.

Pink and blue sunset Jerome Arizona-min

Pink and blue sunset.

As we made our way back to the parking area at the bottom of town we saw lots of Christmas lights on the houses.

Christmas lights Jerome Arizona-min

Christmas lights came on all over town — very pretty!

All the trees in the small town park were decorated with lights, but it was the lights on the ground blinking under the snow that caught our attention.

Christmas lights buried under the snow-min

In the town park Christmas lights blinked under the snow!

Jerome is a cute town and a lovely spot to for a change of pace from the desert, especially during the holidays when it snows!

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Sedona Arizona – Brooding Skies at Sunset in the Red Rocks

March 2016 – During our RV travels to Sedona, Arizona, we were eager to capture a gorgeous sunset over the red rocks. We had seen some lovely sunsets, and we had enjoyed lots of time hiking and biking in the red rocks, so it only made sense that we should be able to get some photos of a magical sunset casting a pink and orange glow across the unique Sedona landscape.

We checked what time sunset was, got all our photography gear together, and headed out at the Golden Hour just before the sun went down.

Golden hour Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

The “Golden Hour” (an hour before sunset) on Bell Rock Pathway in Sedona AZ

We had everything we needed to capture the ethereal light of sunset. We hiked well out onto the Bell Rock Pathway to the big flat boulders in the middle where you get a wonderful 360 degree view of the majestic red rocks all around you.

Bell Rock Pathway Golden Hour Sedona Arizona

Would the brooding sky grace us with a beautiful sunset tonight?

Well, a daytime sky full of clouds doesn’t always translate into an evening sky full of pink and orange colors.

Golden sky Bell Rock Pathway Sedona AZ

Dark gray and pure white clouds striped the sky.

I had found an awesome spot to capture a vividly colorful sky with a craggy old tree framed by the red rocks, but as the minutes ticked by after the sun was gone from the sky, we both finally had to admit that this evening’s sunset was a total dud. Oh well.

Bell Rock Pathway views Sedona Arizona

Despite all the good looking prospects beforehand, the sunset never materialized.

We packed up our gear and went home. As we drove, we bolstered our rather dejected spirits with hopes for a stunning sunset tomorrow. After all, Nature would have to put on a vivid display the next night. There couldn’t be two dud sunsets in a row, could there?

So, after a day of other activites and much anticipation, we packed up our camera gear once again, hopped in the truck, and drove out to the Bell Rock Pathway for the Golden Hour a second time, our spirits high and hopeful.

Photography in Sedona Arizona

Tripods at the ready, we had everything we needed for a great sunset, provided Nature cooperated!

We had expected to see big crowds at the trailheads at sunset, but instead there were just a few vehicles. Some kids in a rental RV were climbing on the roof to get a shot of Bell Rock. They flashed peace signs at me and gave me a thumbs up.

RV motorhome at Bell Rock Sedona Arizona

Some Asian kids with a rental RV get shots of Bell Rock from the roof.

Just behind us, a girl in a beautiful pink gown was posing for a photographer. How fun!!

Photo shoot at Bell Rock Overlook Sedona Arizona

A pink gown and Sedona’s red rocks — what a great combo!

Mark posed for me too, although his outfit wasn’t quite as stunning, and the skies began to go gray above us. We stared at the darkening, mottled sky wondering how this sunset would go. Hmmm.

Bell Rock Pathway dark sky Sedona AZ

Mark models for me before we head out on the
Bell Rock Pathway trail.

Well, maybe a sunset would develop. We hoisted our tripods over our shoulders and trekked out onto Bell Rock Pathway once again.

To get a good sunset, there has to be some kind of small opening in the sky at the horizon where the sun can shine through and light up the clouds as it slips away. We watched with disappointment as the entire horizon filled with dark, dense, gray clouds, obliterating any chances the sun might have had to peek through.

Night sky Sedona Arizona

Very cool clouds, but no sunset.

We had our trusty radios with us, and we kept each other entertained with banter while we waited, even though we were on opposite sides of the huge rocks.

Eventually, the clouds and nighttime won, and the last shafts of light from the sun flashed across the sky. The sky went black, and our spirits went the same way. We couldn’t believe our luck. Two days in a row!

Stubbornly, we stayed put out on the trail until the trail itself was impossible to see, as if by remaining out there we could make the last half hour replay itself, this time with bright color and a vivid sunset.

Cathedral Rock light in the sky Sedona AZ

The sun splashed across the clouds for a split second before darkness fell.

We were very quiet in the trailer that night as we sorted through our photos. Would we give it a try again tomorrow? The third time’s a charm… but then, bad things come in threes. Oh goodness.

The thing was that these nights were COLD. We each wore three jackets when we hiked out onto the trail, and the wind always found its way through our clothes, even when we snugged our hats and hoods around our ears while waiting for the sun to do its magic.

Cold nighttime photography Sedona Arizona

Staying warm at sunset in Sedona in early Mark takes a lot of layers!!

On the third day there were puffy little idyllic happy clouds in the sky all day long. Huge platoons of them marched across the sky, and they promised us they’d still be marching come nightfall so we could photograph glorious shades of magenta and orange suspended over the red rocks.

But no.

Cathedral Rock stormy sky Sedona Arizona

Clouds streak over Cathedral Rock.

By sunset the clouds had banded together into massive blankets of gray that streaked across the sky.

Wild Skies at Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona

The streaks over Cathedral Rock take on a wild look.

They swam from horizon to horizon, and even when the sun was able to cast its warming glow for a split second, the clouds hung heavy and dark.

Views from the Bell Rock Pathway Sedona Arizona

Sun lights the sky for a fleeting moment.

Mark got creative, though, and caught them in the act of coming directly towards him over the cliffs in the distance.

Bell Rock Pathway night views Sedona AZ

A spray of clouds.

But the color just wasn’t happening. The gods of the Sedona skies had decided not to give us any orange or pink brilliance for the third night in a row.

Suddenly, just as we were giving up hope and talking about packing it up so we could go home and get warm, we turned around and saw fire lighting the sky beneath the dramatic clouds hanging over Cathedral Rock.

Cathedral Rock at sunset Sedona Arizona

The sky is on fire at the base of Cathedral Rock.

“Holy cow. Do you see THAT?” I called on the radio.

“YES!” Mark answered. And we both leaped into action.

Sunset Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona

Wow!

At last we had our colorful sunset skies over the red rocks in Sedona.

If you are traveling in your RV to Arizona’s red rock country in Sedona, try to get out on a hike during the golden hour for sunset. Even if you don’t get a wildly colorful sky, you will still see a lot of beauty. And who knows, at the very last moment the sun might do something magical!

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Each of the three nights we ventured onto Bell Rock Pathway from a different access point. The three trailhead parking lots can be found on Google Maps at this link.

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The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek (Bell Trail Hike), Sedona, AZ

March 2016 – We really enjoyed mountain biking the Bell Rock Pathway during our RV travels to Sedona, Arizona, and one day we got chatting with young neighbors in an RV nearby about where the good mountain biking and hiking spots were around Sedona. They knew the area really well and asked if we’d ever been to The Crack at Wet Beaver.

Mark raised an eyebrow.

“No, no, not that!” They said. “It’s a really cool gorge on Wet Beaver Creek. It’s a great hike, and if you take your bathing suits you can swim there!”

Bell Trail Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

“The Crack” at Wet Beaver Creek

The next morning dawned sunny and warm, so we took off on the Bell Trail to hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness to find this infamous Crack.

Beginning Bell Trail Hike Sedona AZ

The beginning of the Bell Trail hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness goes through open grassland.

The Bell Trail is named for Charles Bell who built the trail in 1932 for moving cattle, and a sign at the trailhead indicates it is still used for that purpose today. It is about 3.5 miles from the trailhead to The Crack. The trail goes deeper into the Wilderness, but we figured 7 miles out and back was plenty for one day.

At the beginning, we hiked through open grasslands and under a canopy of trees alongside Wet Beaver Creek. After about two miles, we came across a red rock cliff soaring into the sky with a tree on top.

Hiking the Bell Trail Hike Sedona AZ

A red rock cliff with a tree on top juts into the sky

For the next mile or so we walked through gorgeous red rock scenery as the trail hung onto the edges of bright orange hillsides and zig-zagged under exotic red rock formations.

Hiking Bell Trail Sedona Arizona

How’s that for a cool trail?!

We were hiking in the morning, and the sun felt good on our skin, but later in the day this desert landscape would become very hot.

Bell Trail Hike Sedona Arizona

Desert plants, like ocotillo cactus and prickly pear, abound.

We could hear the sound of rushing water ahead of us, and soon we saw the creek splashing noisily over river rocks to our right. What a nice spot for a picnic!

Bell Trail Hike to Wet Beaver Creek Sedona Arizona

We stopped for lunch in a quiet spot where the water rushed over river rocks.

The whole area was filled with leafless deciduous trees that must bring true magic to the landscape in the fall. And what a great spot to do some flowing water photography!

Bell Trail Wet Beaver Creek Sedona Arizona

Wet Beaver Creek polishes the rocks in its path.

We hiked just a little futher on and suddenly the landscape opened up to massive shelves of boulders stepping down to sheer cliffs that plunged into the water below. This was The Crack!

View Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

“The Crack” is like a red rock quarry with huge flat slabs of sandstone and water far below.

Our friends had described crystal clear water that was a lovely shade of blue, but the creek was running fast from the snow melt and had swelled so much that lots of debris had been stirred up as the water tumbled down from the mountains. The water was murky and filled with foam from the crashing waterfalls upstream.

This made for some neat slo-mo photos!

Swirls Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

The fast moving water from the snow melt created cool foam swirls

The Crack is a stunning spot that is so unexpected in the dry dusty desert.

Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

The canyon walls were steep and the surface of the water was foamy!

The huge flat boulders are really inviting, and we scrambled around on them for quite a while.

Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

I just love that tree growing out of the crack in the rocks.

Photography at Wet Beaver Creek The Crack

This little oasis was such a surprise after the dusty, dry hike to get here.

We had the place to ourselves. Other than the distant sound of rushing water, it was quiet and still.

Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

We had the place to ourselves…for the moment!

I ventured out onto a cool looking precipice hanging out over the water and Mark got my photo.

Diving platform Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

Little did I know that this is a favorite diving platform!

Suddenly, we heard voices coming down the trail. Two young couples appeared and set up beach towels right on that same rock precipice I’d been standing on and then stripped down to their bathing suits to get a tan.

“Are you going to jump in?” One girl in a bikini asked me.

I looked down at the murky water doubtfully. Diving into the its depths had not been on my agenda today!

Sunbathing Wet Beaver Creak The Crack Sedona Arizona

Sunbathers stretch out on the diving rock.

Then, I watched in amazement as she made her way down to a lower rock and jumped in. Brrr!! Then the other girl did the same.

“The water’s great!” They yelled out to me.

Well, I was happier taking photos of them than swimming, so I let them have all the fun in the water while I stayed warm and dry on shore.

They debated jumping off the rock precipice where they’d laid their beach towels, but because they couldn’t see the bottom — which they said you usually can — they decided not to. You never know what kind of submerged log might be lurking just below the surface.

Flying leap Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

The water was too murky to dive from the upper rock, but this intrepid gal jumped in from lower down.

The bathing beauties climbed out of the water using a rope that someone had secured in the rock, and they settled in on their beach towels for a while.

We left them and began to make our way back along Bell Trail. The trail had gotten really busy, and we were amazed that the silence of the early morning was completely gone now, shattered by the continual voices and footsteps of other hikers making their way to The Crack on this warm Friday afternoon.

A snort and a whinny up ahead alerted us to horseback riders coming down the trail. What a neat sighting at the end of a very enjoyable hike.

Horseback riding Bell Trail Sedona Arizona

A pair of horseback riders greeted us on the trail going back.

If you spend some time in Sedona, whether you travel there by RV or some other means, a hike on Bell Trail to The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek is a really nice change of pace. More info and links below.

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More info about Bell Trail and The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek:

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Sedona, Arizona – Great Beer, Coffee, Red Rocks & Psychics!

March 2016 – When we brought our RV to Sedona, Arizona, even though we had been there many times before, we still hung our heads out the windows of the truck saying, “omg omg omg OMG!!!” We’d forgotten just how stunning the towering red rocks cliffs are.

RV travel to Sedona Arizona red rock country

Driving into town, we were totally awed by the red rock scenery.

We were utterly mesmerized as the road carved beautiful sweeping turns through these monoliths. We just drove around for a while, taking it all in, and marveling at the views out the windows.

RV road trip and scenic drive Sedona Arizona

Anywhere you drive in Sedona, the landscapes are breathtaking.

RV adventure in Sedona Arizona and scenic drives

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White flowering trees were in bloom all around town too. What a great combination these made with those incredible cliffs behind!

Sedona Arizona red rocks and flowers

White flowering trees were in bloom.

Sedona Arizona rock cliffs and white flowers

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Sedona is a funny mix of dramatic natural landscapes, upscale trendy shops, and outdoor pursuits, all overlaid with a mystical, New Age flair. The Hyatt Regency has a fancy resort hotel in the middle of it all, while the main drag is dotted with psychic readers, mountain bike shops, art galleries, hiking stores, elegant bistros and souvenir shops.

Restaurants Galleries Shops Sedona Arizona

For many, Sedona is all about shopping, artsy stuff, and eating great food.

It is a vacation playground for people from “The Valley of the Sun” (Phoenix) about 100 miles away. Bustling shops selling homemade ice cream cones are lined up against a breathtaking backdrop of bright orange cliffs where tourists go on joy ride jeep tours into the rugged pink and orange desert landscapes.

Uptown Sedona Arizona

Gorgeous natural landscapes beckon just outside of town.

And every few minutes a snazzy sports car or vintage car rolls by.

Sports car in Sedona Arizona town center

Some folks travel here in style.

Fancy vintage car in Sedona Arizona

Exotic car sightings are the norm in Sedona.

It’s a fabulous town to stroll around, and we love the sculptures that grace the sidewalks.

Horse statue Sedona Arizona

Sedona is an artsy town with creative sculptures decorating the sidewalks.

Sedona Arizona T-shirts

No problem finding a souvenir t-shirt in this town!

The town was founded in 1902, and camera buffs have been stopping in at Rollie’s Camera Shop for camera gear and supplies since it opened in 1961. We dropped by three times to visit our friend Tom Kelly who works there and also sells his beautiful photographs.

How funny it was when a pair of tourists came into the shop to buy film. “Fuji Film or Kodachrome?” Tom asked them. They took the Fuji Film, but gosh, I never thought I’d hear those words again!

Rollies Camera Sedona Arizona

The back door of Rollies Camera where photographers have bought gear since 1961.

Of course, part of vacationing in a place like Sedona is relaxing with a glass of wine or a good microbrew beer after the sun has crested its peak in the sky. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, though, and partiers occasionally wind up regretting last night’s wild party the next morning. We passed a hilarious sign showing a fish that…well… drinks like a fish…

Murphy's Country Store Sedona Arizona

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And where do you find the biggest selection of beer — at the best prices — in this oh-so-trendy and pricey town? At the Chevron station in the Village of Oak Creek!

Really!!

They have shelves and shelves of unusual microbrew beers, all at very modest prices, and best of all, you can build your own six pack. On Thursdays they knock even more off the price of the build-your-own-six-packs. So, if you plan your week out right, Thursday is the day to go stock up on beer.

At Chevron!

Chevron Station Village of Oak Creek Sedona Arizona

This place has the best selection of craft beer (and at the best prices) in town!

Why does a gas station have the best beer selection in a fancy dancy town like Sedona? Because it’s run by a very cool guy. Tony Pugliano is a young, entrepreneurial mountain biker who owns not just this Chevron but a 76 station over in Cottonwood too. His gas station in Cottonwood is even better. It has craft beers on tap!!

Now that’s the way to bring customers in and make them happy at your gas station!

We met Tony two years ago when we brought our RV to Sedona, and this year, while stopping at the Sedona Bike and Bean bike shop to get a part for Mark’s mountain bike, who walked in but Tony! He was picking up some parts for his bike too.

Sedona Bike and Bean Sedona Arizona

Mark recognized Tony at Sedona Bike & Bean right away. What a perfect place to run into each other!

While we chatted, I got a latte. And why not? This bike shop is the Sedona Bike and Bean, afterall. When you walk in the front door of the shop, the first thing you notice — before the bikes, and bike jerseys and bike repair stands — is the huge coffee bar where you can order any kind of fancy coffee drink you can imagine.

That’s the way Sedona is. It is a haven for lovers of gourmet coffee, great beer, and the outdoors. If you are clairvoyant and/or rich, you’ll fit right in too!

Gypsy Jenny's Sedona Arizona

Sedona is a great place for reflections — in store windows and introspectively too!

Another fun place to go for a beer is at the Oak Creek Brewery. The brew master was busy making one of our all time favorite beers when we stopped by, their Nut Brown Ale.

Oak Creek Brewing Company Sedona Arizona

The Nut Brown Ale is as fresh as it can be at the Oak Creek Brewery in Sedona.

When we cruised out of Sedona to the west, we found even more stunning scenery.

Red rock scenery in West Sedona Arizona

Even under cloudy skies, the scenic drives in West Sedona are jaw-droppers.

Pink Jeep West Sedona Arizona

Pink Jeep Tours are everywhere. What a fun way to get into the more rugged areas out of town.

The red rocks and towering mountains just don’t quit!

West Sedona Arizona scenic drives in the red rocks

Sedona is in the heart of Arizona’s red rock country!

Sedona is an awesome place for RVers to settle in for a week or two.

Truck and fifth wheel trailer RV at sunset

Mark catches a pink sunset over our truck.

If you have a hankering for an RV roadtrip to red rock country, Sedona is one gorgeous spot, and the climate is ideal in spring and fall! There are more tips and links and info about Sedona below.

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More info about Sedona Arizona:

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