sunrise from my campsite on Thumb Butte Road

Happy Hiking: Thumb Butte

After my visit to Sedona and Camp Verde, I traveled south to Prescott.  I swung through briefly ten years ago on my year long road trip around the USA, and wanted to revisit.  Thanks to a National Geographic guide I met on a Mongolia trip, I had insider’s information on where to camp.

Camping on Thumb Butte Road

Liam, who went to college in Prescott, suggested I camp anywhere on Thumb Butte Road.  It is just outside of Prescott and was a great suggestion!  Small, designated pullouts lined the potholed dirt road.  And it was just steep and rutty enough to keep the big rigs out.


Top Things to Do in Sedona

Sedona is an Arizona desert town near Flagstaff that is surrounded by red-rock buttes.  The town of 10,000 is noted for its natural beauty, relaxing energy, and active arts community.  There are many things to do in Sedona which attracts tourists by the hundreds, especially in the spring with its mild climate.  Below are a few things to enjoy while visiting Sedona.

Watch the Sunset

With the surround red-rock buttes and tall cliff walls contrasting with the pine forest, sunsets in Sedona can be breathtaking.  An extremely popular place to watch the sunset, is at the airport!  I know that sounds weird, but you may park in the large dirt lot for $3 and walk across the street to a viewpoint. The rocks change colors as the sun drops below the horizon. 

You may also hike the viewpoint trail to the airport vortex to feel its calming energy. It’s an added bonus to visit when the full moon is rising! For more details see my Airport Mesa Sunset post.

airport mesa sunset with full moon in sedona

Do Yoga on a Vortex

There are four earth vortexes (no they don’t say vortices) in Sedona that are known for their energy.  The airport vortex and the Bell Rock vortexes are masculine as they exude energy.  The Cathedral rock take in energy, so it is considered feminine, while Baldwin Point has both types.

Many people come to these sites to do yoga or meditate to find their inner calm.  I’m not sure how they do that with all the visitors, as I’d find it distracting. But it’s a thing.  Regardless, they are all nice hiking destinations.

bell rock in sedona

Go for a Hike

As I just mentioned, there are amazing hiking trails in Sedona and in the surrounding area.  Some popular hikes are to the vortexes, Seven Sacred Pools, the Chapel Trail at Chapel of the Holy Cross, and Devil’s Bridge.  During peak season, paid parking fills up by 7am, so go early.  You can see trail reports on AllTrails.

seven sacred pools in sedona

Take a Pink Jeep Tour

If hiking is too much, join a Pink Jeep Tour.  Everyone that takes the tour, loves it.  There are a variety of options from 2-4 hours that take visitors through the back country.  The prices generally range between $100-$200.  The company has been in business for 60 years, so you will get experienced guides with lots of knowledge.

sedona pink jeep tour
My friends Ellen and Mark

Visit Indian Ruins

There are so many Indian ruins in Arizona, that they can’t even protect them all.  You can hike a spur trail off of the Soldier Pass Trail to Seven Sacred Pools for unrestricted exploring or go to a preserved site like Montezuma Well or Montezuma’s Castle.

montezuma well

Enjoy the Night Sky

Sedona has many building restrictions in town, including the minimal use of stop lights.  As a result, it is designated a night sky city.  I visited during a full moon, and at my campsite off Forest Road 689, the sky was black, except for the moon!

full moon in sedona

Take a Side Trip

Sedona is surrounded by artist communities like the Village of Oak Creek and Jerome.  Other towns like Prescott, Cottonwood, and Camp Verde also are not far away.  Enjoy some hiking, horse back riding or wine tasting.

cowboy corner in camp verde

Indoor Things

For those who prefer indoors, you can also relax at one of many spas and enjoy ample fine dining experiences around town. This list is too long to mention! Google, Yelp or Trip Advisor are your best options. ETB

Other Articles About Arizona You May Like


Check out the photographic note cards and key chains at my shop.  Each card has a travel story associated with it.  20% of proceeds are donated to charity.

photographic note card, sunflowers
Best Adventure Travel Blog
two nuns on chapel trail

Happy Hiking: Chapel of the Holy Cross

While in Sedona, I hiked the Bell Rock Pathway and the Airport Mesa Viewpoint which are the locations of two of the four earth vortexes.  I had hoped to also get Cathedral Rock into the mix, but luck wasn’t going my way Monday morning. I ended up at Chapel of the Holy Cross.

I just wanted to do two short hikes today, before attending to VANgo’s needs (a water tank and propane fill) and picking up groceries.  As a result, I began the day by driving to the parking area for the 1.2-mile hike to Cathedral Rock, as indicated by AllTrails.


Top Things to Do in Camp Verde

Camp Verde is located 27 miles south of Sedona in Yavapai County, Arizona.  The town of 11,000 is quiet, offers friendly service, and is a gateway to many tourist activities.  I was surprised to find out how much there was to do nearby Camp Verde.

I was camping on Forest Service 579 just 11 miles north of town when I ventured that way in search of propane given the following day forecast of 47 degrees and rain.  Since I’m in the trial run with VANgo, I didn’t have a sense of my propane use.

After calling many places, I finally reached someone at Ace Hardware who suggested the Camp Verde Feed Store.  The service couldn’t have been nicer, and when I told Joey, who filled my tank, that it was going to be cold and rainy tomorrow, he asked, “Where?”


Happy Hiking: McDonald Trail

When I stopped by the Camp Verde Visitor Center to check out the museum, Lynette greeted me with a wealth of knowledge.  She wanted me to have a map. I pointed to the map in my hand, and I said, “I have this one.”

She replied, “That’s the trails map.  Here is the other.”

While there, I learned lots of things about Camp Verde, but also, that the McDonald Trail features a bunch of Indian Ruins.

view from copper canyon loop trail #504

Happy Hiking: Copper Canyon Loop

Having lots of flexibility has spoiled me, and I do my best to skip weekend hiking and only go during the week when it is more peaceful.  The exception is when I hike with friends who only have the weekend off.

With two days of bad weather this week, however, I had an itch to get outside.  After having hiked near Camp Verde and near Sedona, I noticed the crowds didn’t exist in Camp Verde.  As a result, I took a weekend hike at Copper Canyon Loop Trail #504 that I found on the AllTrails app.

full moon over sedona

Airport Mesa Sunset

I’ve followed many threads about Sedona on a Facebook Travel Group. It seems almost weekly someone asks for the tops things to do in the Sedona area.  Almost always, someone comments to watch the sunset at the airport mesa.  Additionally, there is also an earth vortex at the airport. As with Bell Rock, also a “masculine” vortex, meaning the energy exits the earth at this location.

While normally I prefer early morning hikes, I wasn’t sold on hiking in the morning, going back to my campsite for the afternoon near Camp Verde, and then going to the airport later.  As a result, I planned on killing two birds with one stone by hiking the 3.2 mile airport loop trail and then watching the sunset.


Happy Hiking: Big Park to Bell Rock Path Loop

The Vortexes

Sedona, Arizona is known for its healing earth vortexes.  Yes, they say vortexes, not vortices.  Anyway, a vortex is believed to be a special spot on earth where energy is entering it or exiting it.  Sedona has four vortexes, one of which is Bell Rock.

As a result, Bell Rock, located just north of the Village of Oak Creek, is an extremely popular hiking destination and easily reachable off scenic Highway 179.  With spring break in full swing for many states and the popularity of Bell Rock, I arrived to the large, paved parking lot by 7:15am on a weekday.  Fortunately, I had a prime selection of spots with only a few cars in the parking lot.

brins mesa

Happy Hiking: Seven Sacred Pools

A very popular hiking destination in Sedona is called the Seven Sacred Pools.  It is located in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness and may be reached by the Soldier Pass Trailhead or Jordan/Cibola Pass/Brins Mesa Trailhead.

Getting to Seven Sacred Pools

It is very hard to find parking at the Soldier Pass location, thus I started my hike at the Jordan/Cibola Pass/ Brins Mesa Trailhead.

This is a fee area ($5 daily, $15 weekly), and the machine takes credit cards if you do not have a National Parks Pass.  Do not park on the side of the dirt road, or you will be ticketed! I heard you can pay a local to shuttle you to the trailhead, but I didn’t try this.  I just got up early.

indian ruins at montezuma well

Montezuma Well National Monument

I found a hike on AllTrails to Montezuma Well.  It was just a short 0.7 mile loop with an offshoot.  Since the forecast called for rain, I thought it would be a nice outing for Annie and me to stretch our legs before the approaching bad weather. 

With the paved trails and information boards, I felt like Montezuma Well was more like a preserved monument than a hike.  The well is a National Monument that is operated by the National Parks Service, and it is free to visit.