Our trip begins today in Scottsdale, Arizona. Meet your guides and fellow travelers this morning for a brief orientation to ensure we're all prepared before loading into our private van and setting out to the high desert surrounding Sedona. Our hike today takes us to some of the most recognizable and photographed formations in Sedona, Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. We take time to circumnavigate both formations and become immersed in the diverse flora and fauna of Sedona, a perfect introduction to the local ecosystem. After a day warming up on our legs on the trail, we head to our comfortable Sedona hotel to get checked in and cleaned up before dinner. Overnight in Sedona for the next three nights. Box lunch and dinner included.
Transfer time: 2.5 hours; Hiking 4 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 458'/456'.
After breakfast, we set out on one of Sedona’s classic hikes. Our trail winds through the striking red rock to a vantage point providing magnificent views of the surrounding landscape. Later this morning, we visit Tuzigoot National Monument, a large Sinagua pueblo that has been excavated and stabilized. The pueblo features prime examples of pottery, baskets, tools, weavings and demonstrations of how these ancient farmers and craftsmen lived a thousand years ago. Our next stop is the 19th-century mining town of Jerome. Built on a 30-degree slope, many of Jerome’s buildings were ravaged by fires or slipped downhill over time. A revised building code finally required structures to be made of only masonry, and the town now hosts galleries featuring local artists, tasting rooms featuring Arizona wines and numerous historic buildings to explore on your own. We will also enjoy a fabulous dinner at a local Jerome restaurant before returning to Sedona for the evening. All meals included.
Hiking: 4.7 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 349'/681'; Walking: up to 1 miles; Driving: 1.5 hours.
This morning's hike brings another chance to enjoy the wonders of the area. Around each bend of the trail we encounter something new—a fantastic desert vista, hummingbirds feeding at a blooming Ocotillo, or polished red, white and pink sandstone blended together to create a beautiful geological formation. Our guides help us find a spot for lunch with a view under the shade of pinyon pines. This afternoon gives us a chance to choose our own adventure (while the activities are on your own, our guides provide transportation to various drop-off locations). Take a self-guided hike, shop for local artwork or just relax and soak up some Arizona sunshine. Tonight, we enjoy a special final celebration dinner with our traveling companions and newfound friends. All meals included.
Transfer time: 1 hour, Hiking: 6 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 1000' (not including any optional hikes this afternoon).
We depart Sedona this morning and set off for Red Rock State Park, a 286-acre nature preserve with stunning scenery. Trails in the park wind through manzanita and juniper, and green meadows are framed by native vegetation and hills of red rock. Oak Creek flows through the park, creating a riparian habitat filled with plants and wildlife. Our guides lead us along a series of interconnecting trails. We discuss the geology of the Colorado Plateau and some of the fascinating adaptations that plants and animals have made to survive in this environment. En route back to Phoenix this afternoon, we stop at Montezuma’s Castle National Monument, a dramatic cliff dwelling located in a high alcove above Beaver Creek. Its purpose is still debated by archaeologists—was it a fortress, a religious center? After our visit to Montezuma's Castle we head back to Phoenix and plan to arrive in the late afternoon. Breakfast and lunch included.
Transfer time: 3 hours; Hiking: 3–5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 300'.