Bob, Noah, and I went back to Arizona this past weekend to visit Bob’s son, Geoff, and daughter-in-law, Andrea, in Scottsdale. We meant to visit Sedona with them on our last visit, but never made it. This trip, we drove the 2 hours on a beautifully cloudless, 75°F Saturday. As you drive north from Scottsdale, you quickly notice the increase in elevation, with saguaro cacti giving way to scrub pines. Off to the west, as you get close, the grey-green landscape gives way to colorful canyons and outcroppings. This is where we’re headed: Red Rocks country.
You know you’re near the town by the traffic. Rather than put in lights or stop signs, the powers that be have installed around 10 roundabouts, from about 5 miles out right into downtown. The effect is predictable: a large number of slow moving vehicles. The town itself is arrayed along two main streets. Frankly, it’s quite touristy, with the requisite souvenir shops and prices. But, as you can see in the photos, you’re paying for the view, which is spectacular!
Known for its New Age ways, there are plenty of places to eat organically and shop for crystals. Don’t worry if you’re not a New Ager – you can get good burgers, beers, Mexican food, and prickly pear margaritas, along with a strong selection of Native American jewelry. Even Noah was entertained by the Old West appeal of the town. (OK, Andrea and I had fun, too.)
One of the standard ways to see the sights is by taking one of the Pink Jeep Tours, which 4 wheel you up and down the canyons, heading in many cases to Chicken Point. The cost per person can run to $150. We did not take this option. Instead, we headed south out of town on Rte 179, and found the trail head to Little Horse Trail. The area is part of Coconino National Forest. The cost to park is only $5/day! The trail is relatively easy to traverse, with a few fairly steep sections and a few scrambles. It’s a little over 2 miles to the crest at Chicken Point. The views are spectacular, as you can see in Bob’s beautiful photos. (Click on one to for a larger view and/or slideshow.)
Besides red rocks, outcroppings, and pine forests, what did we see when we got to the top of the trail at Chicken Point? How about half a dozen Pink Jeeps, with families of 4 paying up to $600 to get here. By walking up, it cost all 4 of us a total of $5! And, we each accomplished 4.5 miles of rather pleasant exercise and didn’t burn any fossil fuels.
The flat top of Chicken Point was not just perfect for viewing the surrounding scenery. It also made for a great yoga mat, with its beautiful scenery and weather, plus extremely peaceful surroundings.
- Get there early to avoid traffic and view the scenery before the sun is too high and washes out the colors.
- Hike toward the evening when it’s a bit cooler and the sun is going down. Again the colors will deepen and the sunlight and shadows will create beautiful effects.
- Bring water, wear a hat, and use sunscreen.
- Wear sturdy walking shoes and carry some wipes to remove red dust from your clothing and carry alongs.
Masthead Photo: View from Little Horse Trail (Bob)