Road Trip to Sedona Arizona - A Photo Essay

Sedona is a beautiful city in the north central part of Arizona. Its main attraction is the red sandstone hills amongst which it nestles. It is not a big city but has achieved a reputation as a major tourist area as well as being both an artist colony and magnet for New Age types interested in contact with other worlds. There are supposedly portals in the vacinity where one can be teleported out or something like that.

My wife and I purchased a small interest in a time share in Sedona about a year ago and had recently received an invitation to drive up for an update on the company's latest additions to their chain of resorts (with which we have exchange privliges). They offered us $300 to come and hear a sales presentation and, of course I accepted.

So, on a cold, January morning (in Tucson, any time the temperature drops below 60 to 65 F it is considered unbearably cold - this particular morning it was in the low 40s) we got on Interstate 10 and headed north.

Since we live north of downtown, traffic on the interstate was going in the opposite direction toward the center of the city while we had clear sailing going away from the city center. Soon we were across the county line and Picacho Peak came into view on our left.

Our Route - Interstate 10 to Phoenix then Interstate 17 North to Sedona Exit
Our Route - Interstate 10 to Phoenix then Interstate 17 North to Sedona Exit

Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch

Ostrich eating at Rooster Cogburn's Ostrich Ranch in Picacho, AZ
Ostrich eating at Rooster Cogburn's Ostrich Ranch in Picacho, AZ | Source

Passing Picacho Peak

One of the many buttes in the state, Picacho Peak sits in the middle of a state park of the same name and is the site of the only battle fought between Union troops and Confederate troops in Arizona during the Civil War. Arizona was just a territory, not a state, at the time of the war and was nominally associated with the Confederate States of America during the war but didn't pay much attention to the war.

Just outside the park and bordering the western edge of the interstate is Rooster Cogburn's Ostrich Ranch, one of the survivors of the ostrich and emu farming craze a decade or so ago. With their high ratio of meat per pound of bird, the health benefits of ostrich (and their New Zealand cousins the emu) meat and the medical uses for their oil, many people started ostrich and emu farms at that time. Like booms in other products, the high prices attracted many suppliers and soon the market had all the ostrich products it needed and the weaker ventures failed leaving stronger ones like Rooster Cogburn's as the survivors. I think that it was this ostrich ranch also played a cameo role a few years ago in the then controversial (at least with the Post Office) video game Postal which was created by the Tucson based software game firm Running With Scissors.

Picacho Peak

Picacho Peak site of only engagement between Union and Confederate troops in Arizona during Civil War.
Picacho Peak site of only engagement between Union and Confederate troops in Arizona during Civil War. | Source

Rest Stop on Interstate 10

Rest Stop on I-10 located on northern border of 1853 Gadsden Purchase in which U.S. purchased what is now the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico
Rest Stop on I-10 located on northern border of 1853 Gadsden Purchase in which U.S. purchased what is now the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico from Mexico | Source

Gadsden Purchase

Plaque commemorating 1852 Gadsden Purchase
Plaque commemorating 1852 Gadsden Purchase | Source

Indians Selling Native Jewelry at Rest Stop

Woman selling indian jewlry at Rest Area.  She and a couple of other hearty natives from the nearby Gila River Indian Reservation braved the early morning cold to set up shop for the winter visitors that would stop at the Rest Area during the day
Woman selling indian jewlry at Rest Area. She and a couple of other hearty natives from the nearby Gila River Indian Reservation braved the early morning cold to set up shop for the winter visitors that would stop at the Rest Area during the day | Source

Gila Indian Reservation

While this Rest Area and the adjoining Interstate Highway are relative new comers to the area, they are merely part of a long history of people stoping to rest here before continuing on their journey west.
While this Rest Area and the adjoining Interstate Highway are relative new comers to the area, they are merely part of a long history of people stoping to rest here before continuing on their journey west. | Source
Oh Beautiful for spacious skies,...   The inspiration for these words from the hymn, "America the Beautiful" came to Katherine Lee Bates as she stood atop Pike's Peak in Colorado.  But the view of the spacious skies from our Rest Area was just as ins
Oh Beautiful for spacious skies,... The inspiration for these words from the hymn, "America the Beautiful" came to Katherine Lee Bates as she stood atop Pike's Peak in Colorado. But the view of the spacious skies from our Rest Area was just as ins | Source

The $10,000,000 Land Purchase

Continuing north, we made our first stop of the day at the highway Rest Area just south of Phoenix. This Rest Area sits on the northern boundary of what is known as the Gadsden Purchase.

Following the Mexican War (1846-1848) the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo confirmed the U.S. claim on the state of Texas (which had gained its independence in 1836 and had been admitted to the Union as a State in 1845) as well as ceding to the U.S. what are now the states of California, Nevada and Utah as well as parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming totaling about two-fifths of the original land area of Mexico.

The area ceded to the U.S. in this treaty didn't include the southern third of present day Arizona or the lower part of New Mexico. However, a number of Southern business interests, including James Gadsden, the President of the South Carolina Railroad Company, wanted to tie the economies of the newly acquired territories to the South by running a railroad from the South to California and thereby giving the South more clout in Congress.

However, due to geography, the best route lay to the south of the new U.S. - Mexican border. Gadsden's friend, the then Secretary of State, Jefferson Davis, in the Cabinet of President Franklin Pierce, arranged for Gadsden to be appointed as Ambassador to Mexico where Gadsden promptly started negotiating to purchase the desired land for the U.S.

In 1852 Gadsden succeeded in getting the Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna to sell the desired territory, consisting of 29,640 square miles in what is now southern New Mexico and southern Arizona for $10,000,000 in gold. A good deal that worked out to about 33 cents an acre but nowhere near as good as the earlier Louisiana Purchase from France which came to about 3 cents an acre or later Alaska Purchase from Russia which came to about 2 cents an acre.

As a result of the Gadsden Purchase our stop at this point was merely a rest stop for pictures rather than a mandatory border crossing stop.

Leaving the rest area we resumed our trip north on I-10 and soon passed the exit for the Gila Indian Reservation with its museum and culture center. Having a number of miles to go and a 3:00 p.m. appointment in Sedona, we continued on without stopping.

Besides, I had visited this a number of years ago with my sons. This reservation was the birthplace of Ira Hayes, one of the Marines in the Joe Rosenthal's Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of the Marines raising the American flag atop Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima during World War II. The cultural center has an exhibit area dedicated to Ira Hayes and the raising of the flag.

In addition to the Cultural Center there is another, more shameful, reminder of World War II to be found at this exit. A new sign attached to the exit sign announces that the exit will also take one to the remains of the old Gila River Internment Camp where Americans of Japanese descent were interned during World War II under the terms of Executive Order Number 9066 issued on February 19, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Approximately 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry (over 60% of whom were born in the U.S.) were interned in camps which were located in remote areas of the west, usually on Indian Reservations like the Gila River Reservation (for which the reservations did not receive any compensation from the Federal Government).

There were two internment camps in Arizona, the one at Gila River and one further northwest in Poston. During the war the population interned in the Poston camp made it the third largest city in Arizona after Phoenix (largest) and Tucson (second largest) with Gila River right behind as the fourth largest city in the state for that period.

Ironically, while the government felt it necessary for national security to confine citizens of Japanese ancestry in camps surrounded by armed guards, they had no qualms about drafting young men from the camps as they came of age and sending them to fight in both the European and Pacific theaters of the war.

In 1988 President Ronald Reagan issued an apology to those who had been interned and signed legislation providing monetary compensation to the victims of the wartime internment policy. In December of 2006 President George W. Bush signed legislation providing funds to the National Park Service to preserve the camps as a remembrance of that era.

At 85 miles per hour, there wasn't time to get my camera out and take a picture and, so as not to lose any more interesting shots, I gave the camera to my wife along with a quick lesson in its use. She then took the remaining pictures from the road for me.

North of Phoenix the landscape is a high plateau with rolling hills and place names straight out of its frontier past.
North of Phoenix the landscape is a high plateau with rolling hills and place names straight out of its frontier past. | Source

Sign Announcing Big Bug Creek

A close up for those who can't make out the sign in the photo above.
A close up for those who can't make out the sign in the photo above. | Source
Big Bug Creek.  This place was obviously named prior to the invention of insect repellent.
Big Bug Creek. This place was obviously named prior to the invention of insect repellent. | Source

San Fransisco Peaks in Distance

After a long uphill drive we crest the mountain and begin our descent into the Verde Valley.  The day was so clear that we could see the snow covered San Fransisco Peaks - the highest mountain peaks in Arizona - north of Flagstaff in the distance.
After a long uphill drive we crest the mountain and begin our descent into the Verde Valley. The day was so clear that we could see the snow covered San Fransisco Peaks - the highest mountain peaks in Arizona - north of Flagstaff in the distance. | Source

Snow Covered San Fransisco Peaks

Enhanced view of the distant, snow covered San Francisco Peaks.
Enhanced view of the distant, snow covered San Francisco Peaks. | Source

Entering Verde Valley

Start of steep descent into Verde Valley.
Start of steep descent into Verde Valley. | Source

Wide Open Country North of Phoenix

Having left Tucson shortly after 8 a.m., we hit Phoenix shortly after the worst of the morning rush hour and were able to sail through at 60 - 65 mph with the rest of the traffic.

While the city continues to grow in all directions it begins to thin out as one reaches the northern limits of Maricopa County and the countryside opens allowing one unlimited view from horizon to horizon.

This vast open area is dotted here and there with tiny hamlets and ghost towns. Some day I plan to pull of and explore each of these exits, but for now I have to satisfy myself with photos (taken courtesy of my wife) of exit signs and Internet links to their stories.

Bloody Basin is located just north of Cave Creek, a town and regional park which takes its name from a creek of the same name which starts in a cavern at the top of a nearby mountain and flows down into Paradise Valley below.

In the 1870s this area was a stomping ground for both the Tonto Apache tribe and settlers who were mostly gold miners. Of course there was conflict and the army was called upon for help.

At dawn on March 27, 1872 a group of Army scouts (who were usually Indians from other tribes who worked for the Army as scouts) surprised a group of Apaches on Turret Peak.

The scouts had been trailing the Apaches and during the night had crept up on the Apache camp. Attacking at dawn, the scouts killed or captured all but a few of the Apaches in the group and since then, this area has been known as Bloody Basin.

Further up the road we cross Big Bug Creek which was quickly named by a group of miners in 1863 who were attacked by numerous large flying bugs as they made their way up the canyon searching for gold.

In their misery, these fellows, who were obviously seeking quick profits from the discovery of gold, did not take time to consider the effect of the name on future real estate sales. But then, neither did those who attached the name Bloody Basin to the lands south of the creek.

Continuing on we come to the exit for Bumble Bee. My wife was taking a nap and we didn't get a picture of this or the sign for Horse Thief Basin Recreation area. While the names are colorful and obviously, especially at the time of naming, descriptive those who named these areas obviously were not concerned about the names' effect on future real estate sales.

In the case of Horse Thief Basin real estate sales are not a problem as it lies within the Prescott National Forest and is off limits to private development.

You know that there is not much to Bumble Bee because the sign clearly states that there are no services at this exit. Actually, Bumble Bee is a ghost town, the remains of an old mining town whose original settlers were attacked by, you guessed it, a swarm of Bumble Bees!

Likewise, Horse Thief Basin was, in the 1860s, home to bands of thieves who stole horses (a serious crime given that a man's livelihood, and often his life, in this area depended upon his horse) and other livestock.

We now begin the climb to the high country overlooking the Verde Valley. Trucks have to stay in the right lane because of their slow progress up the steep incline while many of us manage to pass them.

Eventually we reach the top and get a spectacular view of the lands below. This day is so clear that we are able to see the mighty snow capped San Francisco Peaks, the highest points in Arizona, which are located a considerable distance away to the north of Flagstaff.

Unlike other mountain peaks in Arizona, these peaks tower above the tree line and are snow capped year round (snow falls on the other mountain peaks but, being below the tree line, viewers from below can only view it for a few hours while it is on the trees - once it falls from the tree tops it is no longer visible from the lands below the peak).

We pass signs marking exits for the Tuzigoot National Monument and Montezuma Castle National Monument both constructed in pre-Columbian times.

When first discovered, the Montezuma Castle site was thought to have been built by the Aztecs and was named accordingly. However, later research revealed that it was constructed and used by a people known as the Sinagua Indian peoples who resided there between about 1100 and 1400.

Exit for Bloody Basin

Close up of Exit sign for Bloody Basin
Close up of Exit sign for Bloody Basin | Source
Continuing north we pass the exit for the Montezuma Castle National Monument, site of a pre-Columbian cliff dwelling built and used by the Sinagua Indians in the period between about 1300 and 1500.
Continuing north we pass the exit for the Montezuma Castle National Monument, site of a pre-Columbian cliff dwelling built and used by the Sinagua Indians in the period between about 1300 and 1500. | Source

Exit for Sedona

Exit for State Road 179 to Sedona and Flagstaff via beautiful Oak Creek Canyon.
Exit for State Road 179 to Sedona and Flagstaff via beautiful Oak Creek Canyon. | Source

Sedona and Village of Oak Creek

A little before noon we reached the turn off for Sedona.

A couple of minutes later we found ourselves entering the scenic Red Rock Country as we entered the Village of Oak Creek located on the south side of Sedona.

Ahead of us as we entered the village was a bell shaped butte aptly named Bell Rock. According to one of the locals, as the millennium approached, an enterprising individual, taking advantage of the New Age lore surrounding the Sedona area, sold tickets to view Bell Rock launch itself into space at midnight on December 31, 1999 as the new minimum dawned.

Even though the butte stayed put, this enterprising con artist would have succeeded with his little scam if an enterprising lawyer hadn't sued and pointed out that, by not including a line on the tickets stating that the money was not refundable if the rock failed to take off, the scam artist was legally obligated to return all of the money.

Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle National Monument which is located a short distance from Sedona.
Montezuma Castle National Monument which is located a short distance from Sedona. | Source

Entering Sedona Area

Beginning of red rock area and entrence to Oak Creek Canyon.
Beginning of red rock area and entrence to Oak Creek Canyon. | Source

Village of Oak Creek

Neighboring Village of Oak Creek.
Neighboring Village of Oak Creek. | Source

Bell Rock Sedona

Bell Rock - Still in place seven years into the 21st Century.
Bell Rock - Still in place seven years into the 21st Century. | Source
Looking over the golf course at the resort where we have our timeshare.  Despite the temperature being in the mid-thirties, there were a couple of hearty golfers on the course.
Looking over the golf course at the resort where we have our timeshare. Despite the temperature being in the mid-thirties, there were a couple of hearty golfers on the course. | Source

Red Sandstone Butes in Sedona

Red Rocks in Sedona.
Red Rocks in Sedona. | Source
Our little pied a terre in the Village of Oak Creek.  Each building in the photo is a four-plex with each unit within each four-plex being divisible (by double locking doors) into a 2-bedroom, 1-bedroom or studio unit.  We own one week's worth of stu
Our little pied a terre in the Village of Oak Creek. Each building in the photo is a four-plex with each unit within each four-plex being divisible (by double locking doors) into a 2-bedroom, 1-bedroom or studio unit. We own one week's worth of stu | Source
More red rocks in Sedona.
More red rocks in Sedona. | Source

Chapel of The Holy Cross

Chapel of the Holy Cross.  Designed by artist Marguerite Brunswig Staude who first had the idea for the chapel in 1932 but, due to the war and funding problems, not built until 1956.
Chapel of the Holy Cross. Designed by artist Marguerite Brunswig Staude who first had the idea for the chapel in 1932 but, due to the war and funding problems, not built until 1956. | Source

Twilight in Sedona

Evening is falling as we take our leave.
Evening is falling as we take our leave. | Source

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14 comments

Lisa Mae DeMasi 5 years ago

Your hub back a lot of memories! I spent 3 years in Tucson. It was a bumpy ride but I loved the desert landscape along with its creatures...


almasi profile image

almasi 5 years ago

Arizona is truly a naturally beautiful place. Thanks for a beautiful hub.


GlstngRosePetals profile image

GlstngRosePetals 5 years ago from Wouldn't You Like To Know

I have to say yes Arizona is a beautiful place to visit and I love living in AZ. I enjoyed reading your hub and yes the traffic during rush hour traffic here is horrible..


justinskier profile image

justinskier 5 years ago

Wow I cannot wait to go back there. Love it.


kims3003 6 years ago

Beautiful Hub! Nicely put together with fabulous photos


Street Sign Guy 7 years ago

Great photos, and wonderful hub. I love Ariziona!!


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

theknowledgeable - I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub and hope your fortunes improve so that you can visit the USA to road trip (try Canada too while you are here as there is great and varried scenery up there as well). and thanks for the link to your Hub http://hubpages.com/travel/Road-Trip-Survival-Guid which is All About Road Trips and has some good information as well as a good video on the Australian Outback - although the road is anything but a super highway it still looks like a great trip.


theknowledgeable profile image

theknowledgeable 7 years ago from Australia

Hi Chuck,

What an amazing Hub! One day I hope to road trip in the USA - not enough money right now as some of your readers might understand! I also linked to your hub on my hub called All About Road Trips (look at my profile if you want to see it - I'm not promoting my hub or anything!). Once again, thanks for an excellent Hub.


azcamper 8 years ago

Hi Chuck! I was just looking for a not-too-cold-for-March camping spot for our family. My husband told me to look up Horse Thief Basin, and that's how I came across your site. This is a great resource! I got so involved in reading all of the interesting historical info to my kids, that I almost forgot what I had been originally searching for! They can't wait to go to Bloody Basin and the other neat places north of Phoenix and look for signs of past battles. Thanks for taking the time to write all of this down for others to learn from and enjoy!


AZGuy profile image

AZGuy 8 years ago

Cool hub! Thanks for posting. I'm going to put a link to this in my hub!


asapilot 9 years ago

Very nice work on your hub. Much better than most. I haven't been to Sedona since I was a kid. I'm an airline pilot and I used to fly Salt Lake City-Phoenix quite a bit. On the return flight we'd go right over Sedona and it was always beautiful, especially in the late afternoon. Good job!

http://www.travelpassport.info


TFW 9 years ago

Have not been to Arizona since my days at Luke AFB in the early 80's. Your visual and historical narative brought back many memories. Thanks for the trip.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 9 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Kathy, thanks for visiting my hub and glad you enjoyed it. There is a lot of great scenery here in the Southwest and photographing it and sharing the photographs is fun.


Kathy 9 years ago

Stunning pictures, and great commentary. Never been to the Southwest, so your Hub was great for the imagination for me.

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