Living in Sedona, Arizona: Life Beyond the Vortex
Garland's in Sedona
Sedona, in northern Arizona, at the southern end of Oak Creek Canyon, has been voted by readers of USA Today and other magazines as one of America's most beautiful cities. Sedona's giant red rock and limestone formations with green junipers and cacti, Oak Creek which flows all year through groves of massive cottonwood trees, all set against an intense blue sky. The four seasons are present, with a dusting of snow in the winter, and most days are sunny.
Sedona is visited by about four million tourists each year. But "What is it like to live in Sedona?" is a question that I've been asked frequently.
Sedona transitioned itself from truck farming vegetables, apple and peach orchards, and cattle ranching into a destination for many western films such as Call of the Cayon and Angel and the Badman. As western films became less popular, Sedona began another life as an art colony, and then Sedona became a a well known tourist destination. That's not to suggest that growing vegetables and fruit has disappeared from the area, because during the summer, Sedona boasts two Farmer's Markets. Just south of Sedona, in the Verde Valley, there is still some cattle ranching. Also, smaller scale independent films continue to be filmed in Sedona and the surrounding Verde Valley, and often the red rock formations in Sedona can be spotted in auto and other commercials. However, Sedona's economy depends heavily upon tourists.
Tourists shop at a number of fine art galleries and unique shops in areas like Uptown, Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village and Hillside Shops; they hike a number of fine trails, they enjoy Jeep and Hummer tours, they enjoy our restaurants, and they drive to the nearby wineries in the Cornville and Page Springs area.
In the last 20 or so years, tourists have come seeking a spiritual retreat or awakening under the banner of the New Age Movement. A number of businesses in Sedona offer vortex or medicine wheel tours. It's possible to have an aura photo taken, buy healing crystals, have your tarot cards read, visit the Creative Life Center where a number of interesting New Age topics are discussed, or experience an energy balancing massage.
I have no quarrel with each person pursuing his own spiritual path, but I'd like to mention that spiritual unity also can be found in a variety of churches in Sedona, at the Jewish Community Worship Center, at the Buddhist shrin,e and in a variety of other worship groups. Meditation can be done at any time and at any place when a person decides to look within themselves. Prayer can be done by anyone at any time anywhere too.
We have a number of world-class resorts in Sedona, wonderful bed-and-breakfasts, some very average motels (some of which have been in business for many years) and some of the same chain motels which are found in many other cities. It's humorous to note that McDonald's was not allowed to build a franchise in Sedona until they agreed to create a restaurant in a tan Southwestern style and use teal-colored arches rather than the standard "golden arches." Burger King, KFC and Taco Bell are here too. There are also a number of locally owned restaurants that offer almost every kind of ethnic cuisine and vegetarian and vegan restaurants too.
The Sedona Public Library is fairly unique in the fact that the land for the library was donated by two citizens of Sedona, and donations from 2,287 businesses, organizations, and individuals raised $2.4 million to the library's building fund. According to a recent article in the Sedona Red Rocks News by head librarian Virginia Volkman, it was Barry Goldwater who gave a moving dedication speech at the dedication ceremony on our main library in 1994. Another small branch library has been added to the system, and the system is top drawer. The community rooms at the main branch remain in continuous use.
There are three main and very distinct sections of Sedona.
- The oldest section is called Uptown which is considered our downtown. There are a variety of souvenir, jewelry, art and clothing stores and restaurants. Those who live here consider it to be mainly for tourists. The views from Uptown are amazing.
- West Sedona is where the City of Sedona offices, medical, grocery, spas, several resorts and many of our retail stores are located.
- The Village of Oak Creek area is home to three golf courses, the Hilton Resort and a number of smaller motels and restaurants.
We have lived in Sedona for seventeen years now and have made many interesting friends who have come from all over the world. We have a small airport that offers helicoptor and other small airplane tours. We have the Sedona International Film Festival which takes place every February and attracts more attendees each year. We have a theater Harkins 6 for first run films and an independent theater for independent films and documentaries. We have several challenging golf courses, a community center and a first class history museum at the Sedona Heritage Museum. A new state of the art performance facility was built at our Red Rocks High School and a variety of public, charter and private schools offer a wide range of educational styles.
The average age of our residents is 50. Property is expensive, and outside the service industry, educators, and small businesses, not a lot of jobs with benefits are available. We have received good medical and dental care in this area, and crime exists as it does everywhere, but it's not been a major factor. I don't need vibes from a vortex or special crystals to tell me that I'm happy living in Sedona. I'd love to hear from others in Hub Land who would like to share their experiences visiting Sedona.