Although my parents have lived in Tucson for over 20 years and I’ve been a frequent visiter to Arizona, I had never made it to Sedona except for when I was a child. Last week, during a family vacation to see my parents, my husband and I decided to include a short road trip with our two kids, spending three glorious days in Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Traveling through northern Arizona made us realize what we have been missing. Stunning, achingly beautiful landscape that offers endless opportunities to hike and enjoy the wonders of the great outdoors.

We set off from Tucson in the morning with the kids happily watching a movie during our four-hour road trip. I laughed at the memory of the days when I was a child and we packed our family of five in our wood-paneled diesel station wagon during the days before electronic entertainment. All we did was fight the entire way! Despite the drawbacks, the invention of DVDs and iTouch games has had some advantages especially during travel!


First rest stop along the way to Sedona, Max smiles for the camera.

Located in the northern Verde Valley of Arizona, approximately 232 miles (373 kilometers) northwest of Tucson, Sedona is one of the most geologically diverse areas in Arizona along with the Grand Canyon. Sedona is world-renown for her awe-inspiring beauty of red and orange-hued rock formations, canyons and mesas that formed millions of years ago when iron-rich rivers dried up and left deposits of crimson-colored iron behind in the sandstone. The sensational striated canyons and unique rock formations can be easily spotted from the highway as you drive into the Sedona.

We arrived in Sedona around early afternoon and immediately our jaws dropped in surprise and delight at her surreal beauty. Sedona is like nothing we have ever seen. She is simply stunning!

Sedona Arizona

First glimpse of a gorgeous red-hued rock formation in Sedona.

Given her immense beauty, Sedona is best viewed on foot and is a widely popular hiking and mountain biking destination for visitors from all over the world. There are tons of hikes for all abilities and ages so we picked two of the easiest ones to take with children. Our first stop was to Bell Rock, a beautiful hiking area albeit rather touristy, located right as you enter into Sedona from the highway.

Bell Rock Hike Sedona Arizona

Bell Rock – Sedona, Arizona

Sedona Arizona

Bell Rock – up close

Bell Rock Hike Sedona Arizona

Even the hiking path is red!

Sedona Arizona

I loved how this white tree jumped out against the red backdrop of the mountains.

Sedona is one of the most geologically diverse areas in Arizona. The colorfully striated canyons, mesas, and rock formations that characterize Sedona geology today provide us with a visual history of hundreds of millions of years of the Earth’s continuous movement, shift, and change.

– All Sedona Travel website

Bell Rock, Sedona Arizona

Bell Rock Sedona Arizona

How it was formed

We only walked a short way as my daughter was tired and I wanted to make it to our next stop before sundown. However, it was obvious that there are plenty of hikes around Bell Rock that will take your breath away!

Our next stop was to the backside of Oak Creek near Cathedral Rock. The concierge at our hotel had told us about this little treasure of a place that is apparently only known to the locals. Once again, we were struck by the incredible beauty of our 360 views of Sedona and even more surprised to see such a lush, verdant landscape that thrived around the creek.

Sedona Arizona

Leaving Bell Rock and heading to Oak Creek

Sedona Arizona

Cars must be left behind in the parking lot and visitors must go ahead a short distance on foot to reach the trailhead and/or the creek

I was amazed by how the sun cast different shadows and colors over the mountains throughout the day. Every time I looked, the colors and shadows changed and the rocks were illuminated in different hues of reds and oranges.

As we walked, it was utterly serene and peaceful. The only sound we heard was the rustling of the water and the birds. Oak Creek would be a perfect place for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon after a nice family hike.

Sedona Arizon

Beautiful Oak Creek

Sedona Arizona

Sedona Arizona

Sedona Arizona

My son Max

My family: Paul, Max and Sophia.

My family: Paul, Max and Sophia.

Sedona, Arizona

Cathedral Peak looked even more beautiful from the creek. Here she is one last time.

Sedona, Arizona

It was hard to leave such a beautiful place but the kids were getting hungry so it was time to head back to town. As the sun begin to set, I was delighted by the brilliant changes in color it cast over the rocks. Here are a few of my favorite shots.

Sedona, Arizona

Sun setting

Sedona, Arizona

View from our hotel

Sedona, Arizona

I was mesmerized by this brilliant tree and how the light caught it.

Sedona, Arizona


Sedona, Arizona

Good night Sedona!

After such a wonderful day, I could hardly wait to get up to catch the sun rising over the glorious red peaks of Sedona. It would be worth getting out of bed! And I had a solo morning hike planned. I could hardly wait!


Resources for this post include:

All Sedona – Nature 

Sedona Central Reservations – Geology of Sedona 

Sedona, Arizona – Wikipedia



  1. I haven’t been there since my kids were small… it’s indeed a gorgeous place. Will have to visit again one day! Thanks for a great article and beatiful photos!! ~SueBee

  2. I have lived in Arizona too and I don’t believe I have ever been to Sedona either but looking at your pictures I believe the next time I go to Arizona I will make a point of going there to check out the place. Your pictures are awesome and you have a beautiful family also. Hope you all have a nice Halloween. Kat

  3. Sedona is a magical place. I can’t help but be attracted to the deep blue sky in all of your gorgeous photos. We’re waiting patiently for a blue sky…this post warmed my soggy bones. Thanks, Nicole, for the tour and the changing light.

    1. Thanks! Yes Arizona has such diversity doesn’t it. I need to make it to more places especially some of the amazing caves and canyons in the north near Page. Next time!

  4. Looks like your experience in Sedona was as magical as ours was. Love your family shots. You must be so proud of them as I’m sure they are of you 🙂

  5. Gorgeous images Nicole! So glad you and your family got to experience this magical place. I have a post (very much overdue) that I need to finish about a couple of hikes that we did there recently. One of those is in the Cathedral Rocks area as well.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.