Can you remember the most impressive sunset you’ve ever witnessed, the one that stopped you in your tracks and left your breathless? Perhaps it was among the crowds on Mallory Square in sunny Key West, at Los Angeles’ historic Griffith Observatory, gazing across colorful rooftops in Barcelona, or on a sandy beach in Maui or exotic Tahiti. We all have our favorites. But no collection of spectacular sunsets is complete without a trip to picturesque Sedona, Arizona.
Road to Red Rock Country
Located a bit over 100 miles from Phoenix, it’s a relatively short, albeit very scenic drive north to the higher elevations that lead to Sedona.
Beyond the 3,000-foot climb, the two-hour trek features a dazzling display, courtesy of Mother Nature wrapped in a rough-hewn Old West history. Long faded ghost towns mark the topography along the way, rugged and rolling.
But the main attraction may simply be the vastness of the region, which includes striking views of imposing sandstone formations, a stunning backdrop for the variety of activities that engage Sedona’s more than 1.5 million visitors each year.
Unique terrain is the center point of region’s earthly beauty: massive red mountains bathed in sunshine dominate the local landscape, speckled with native plants, seasonal wildflowers and majestic Saguaro cactus.
If it all feels like a scene on a Hollywood movie set, it should. A number of classic pictures have been filmed in and around the region including westerns Wild Rovers (William Holden, Ryan O’Neal), Firecreek (Henry Fonda, James Stewart), Tall in the Saddle (John Wayne, Ward Bond), Johnny Guitar (Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden) and Blood on the Moon (Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes).
Cowboy dreams come alive along the expansive geography. From unconventional and rustic to thoroughly contemporary, upscale and luxurious, there are a variety of accommodations available around the area to suite a range of tastes.
Last April, our stay included time in two of Sedona’s finest getaways: Enchantment Resort (525 Boynton Canyon Road) and L’Auberge de Sedona Resort & Spa (301 L’Auberge Lane).
The panoramic splendor of Enchantment is inspirational. Set on 70 acres of natural landscape in a secluded Arizona canyon 10-15 minutes outside of Sedona, the views alone provide a quiet, nourishing journey for body, mind and spirit.
Secluded pueblos with decks and patios, outfitted with cozy fireplaces in comfy private rooms and suites, face dramatic red monoliths stretching upward into crystal blue skies.
As one of four rock formations in Sedona said to contain a “power vortex,” Boynton Canyon is a place of New Age significance and, for believers, a source of distinctive energy.
For others, it’s simply an astonishing natural setting, perfect for a morning outback hike, afternoon mountain bike ride or nighttime stargazing.
Over three decades Enchantment has provided guests with a visual feast, supplied in part by the exclusive land on which it sits. The resort is also home to a variety of culinary delights served in a variety of restaurants.
Appropriately named View 180, it is among the most scenic spots within the grounds. With indoor as well as outdoor seating available, the cuisine is as memorable as the views
The curated wine list features a wide selection of delicious Arizona wines, local craft brews plus a creative variety of specialty cocktails. It has also been awarded Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence.” Tii Gavo (“gathering place”) is loose and casual — an idyllic spot to sample regionally inspired flavors and handcrafted drinks, including Enchantment’s signature Prickly Pear Margarita. Seasonal ingredients, sourced from the kitchen’s garden, local organic growers, artisan cheese makers, sustainable fish-traders and ranchers drive Che Ah Chi.
Stunning red rock views beyond large windows complement the dining experience in a category all its own. All of the restaurants are laid out to showcase the natural beauty of the land, particularly as shadows change, moving across the mountains with the setting sun.
Mii amo spa emphasizes a holistic approach to visitors’ well being, de-stressing with treatment sessions and activities inspired by rich Native American traditions, and balanced by Sedona’s beauty and vitality.
Tennis is available on five outdoor courts, including two center courts against a dramatic mountain backdrop.
Seven Canyons championship golf course is something special. Exquisitely planned within a secluded canyon at 4,600 feet, the 18-hole, Tom Weiskopf-designed course appeals to golfers of all levels.
Life at L’Auberge de Sedona
For seasoned travelers and those who seek singular luxury experiences, L’Auberge de Sedona has an impressive reputation.
Nestled on the banks of lovely Oak Creek, meandering through the heart of Sedona, are L’Auberge’s sumptuous accommodations – a picture perfect setting for relaxing by a warming fire with a glass of wine at sunset.
With luxury cottages and lodge-style guest rooms spread across the sprawling property, visitors find an inimitable peace and calm far away from hectic big city lives, in extravagant, albeit low-key Sedona style.
Vista Cottages and Suites feature sensational panoramic views of landmark mountains, Elephant Rock, Snoopy Rock and Giants Thumb, while Creekside Cottages highlight close proximity to trout swimming in rippling waters and gentle breezes through the trees.
Lush greenery and tranquil koi ponds surround beautiful the Garden Cottages, plus accommodations are available within the two-story Lodge at L’Auberge de Sedona.
There are opportunities for a quiet swim after a rigorous hike in natural surroundings or a soothing pampering at L’Apothecary Spa.
With a variety of natural treatments, the spa features options such as customized facials, body treatments, integrative massages, as well as private yoga and meditation instruction.
Other resort activities include a fitness facility, photography instruction, artist-in-residence observation and discussions, hiking guidance for all levels, “Star Bathing” opportunities and more.
Perhaps the most memorable portion of the L’Auberge experience is the elegant dining at Cress along the banks of Oak Creek, named one of Condé Nast Traveler’s Top-10 restaurants in the Southwest.
Infused with culinary excellence and, of course, some of the more unique sights and sounds in Sedona, Cress is impressive.
Gloriously positioned beneath a soft awning of sycamore trees on a lush green landscape, relaxing over brunch or an intimate candlelight dinner listening to the soothing rhythm of gentle waters flowing in the creek beneath tables is a definitive Sedona experience.
Destination weddings, meetings and planning sessions, special family gatherings, or a romantic getaway are all well known at L’Auberge, where memories are constructed to last for years.
This brings us back to those amazing sunsets, the ones that progress from yellow to bright orange, and feel as though the sky above is on fire. And when it comes to Sedona, the sunrises are just as spectacular.
all photos courtesy of L’Auberge de