What To Do
Sedona Peace Tour
What is it that stirs the heart upon seeing red earth rise up to meet cobalt blue skies? Is it merely Sedona’s startling beauty that cradles your senses, releasing a primordial ahhhh from deep within? In the spirituality practiced by many First Peoples there is the notion of “walking the Red Road,” or living a life of truth and humility that respects Mother Earth and is in friendship with all of one’s relations. For millennia the Sedona environs has served as a refuge for their ceremonies, prayers and peacemaking. And today Sedona continues to inspire residents and visitors alike to fall into harmony with its sacred resonance.
The metaphor of the Red Road seems to be rolled out quite literally in Sedona, and it is with that recognition that the Sedona International City of Peace created a circular path of discovery through its red rocks. You are invited to take that journey and make time to follow your own Red Road and experience the raw beauty, peace and healing of the Sedona Peace Tour.
BELL ROCK is both an ancient Native American sacred site and one of Sedona’s vortex sites, which are said to be places of concentrated energy that help amplify whatever is needed for healing and growth. Native Americans have traditionally recognized Bell Rock as a sacred site of masculine energy; it is matched to Boynton Canyon on the northwestern side of Sedona, a sacred site of feminine energy to which the Yavapai-Apache groups continue to honor with their annual spring trek. It is believed Bell Rock and Boynton Canyon were to be preserved for rituals of life, peace and restoration, and within which no one should live.
CATHEDRAL ROCK, also a Sedona vortex site, is one of the most celebrated formations in Red Rock country. Cathedral Rock has been included in several photography books enumerating the most sacred places on the planet, and is one of the all-time favorites of environmentalists, hikers, and seekers of spiritual space and peace. There are opportunities for an ambitious hike and climb up to the “saddle” between the spires of Cathedral and/or a stroll to Oak Creek at its base.
CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS. Meant as a place for reflection and meditation for all who come, the visitor is first greeted by the sign “peace to all who enter.” There are no services, but candles can be lit in memory and celebration. Created and built in the early 1950s by a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the award-winning chapel is symbolically built on a 200 ft. high rock with sprawling, unique views of the surrounding red rock country.
THE PEACE GARDEN at the Sedona Creative Life Center was dedicated to the 17th Karmapa of Tibet in 2005. Shirley Karris, founder of the Center, had the intent of bringing together the wisdom of the East and West to create peace. After the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Gardens for Humanity initiated the planting of “healing trees,” on February 14, both Valentines Day and Arizona Statehood Day. This was done with the goal of healing Arizona and dedicating people’s actions to improving human relations.
PEACE GALLERIES. Built on the banks of Oak Creek in 1973 by Abe Miller, Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village hosts numerous stores, galleries, restaurants, and a small chapel, all created in the style of Old Mexico. Of particular interest on the tour are two art galleries devoted to peace and its visual interpretation. Honshin Fine Art encourages visitors to “take the journey from your head to your heart” in exploring the beauty of all things. The Andrea Smith Gallery promotes the message that peace comes from finding peace within and features sacred art and original works of world peace artists.
OAK CREEK CANYON, famed for its natural environmental beauty, is a 13-mile steep walled and forested canyon just north of Uptown Sedona on 89A. It hosts one of the few perennial small rivers of the Southwest and features hairpin turns as it winds its way to Flagstaff, with several points to park, walk, and hike. Evidence indicates that native tribes treated Oak Creek and the Sedona red rocks similarly—people did not live here, but used the lands for rituals of restoration and peace. Today, Native American tribes continue to use various places in Oak Creek as places for ceremony. The peace and beauty is apparent even if viewed only from the car.
SEDONA ARTS CENTER (SAC) A proverb tells us, that “wherever God lives, artists follow,” and the Sedona Arts Center deserves credit for beginning a legacy of art dedicated to peace and beauty in Sedona. Nassan Gobran, its creator and a renowned Egyptian artist, arrived in Sedona in 1950 (population: 350 at that time). As an artist he was stunned by the beauty of the landscape, and realized that Sedona was a place where the arts would flourish. Through his dedication, SAC opened in 1961 in the old wooden apple-packing barn at the end of the Jordan farm. There you will find Gobran’s “Peace” sculpture. The original barn now houses SAC’s classrooms and offices. (Sedona: Legends and Legacies, Kate Ruland-Thorne, 1989.)
AIRPORT VORTEX. Traveling up Airport Road to the parking area on the left, you will discover a trail to the broad space between the hills marked by twisted juniper trees, said to be indicative of vortex energy. Believed to be masculine in nature, this location along with several others close by have the added advantage of offering spectacular vistas of Sedona.
PEACE BELL. The Peace Bell Is located in a garden located on the grounds of the St. John Vianney Church. The bell itself was chosen for its beautiful tone and its long resonance. The vision is that when one strikes the bell “a prayer of peace goes out not only for your own soul and consciousness, but to the world as well.” Stay, stroll and enjoy the surrounding gardens as well.
LABYRINTH. The labyrinth, open to the public from 11 to 3 each day, is similar to ones found in many indigenous cultures which are said to activate one’s spiritual energies. Mindfully treading its spiral path inspires reflection and meditation leading to an experience of grace, peace or holiness in one’s heart, spirit and soul.
AMITABHA STUPA AND PEACE PARK. A short well marked trail through the 14-acre Peace Park takes you to the Amitabha Stupa. It was the vision of the spiritual director of Kunzang Palyul Chöling, Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo, to create a place of great benefit where anyone can come to meditate or offer prayers. A stupa is one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture on earth, dating back to the time of Buddha 2,600 years ago. Stupas have been built to create peace, avert war, end famine, and promote prosperity and healing. Their sole purpose is to bring benefit to all beings, and the mystical accounts of their healing powers are well documented. The Peace Park is open from dawn to dusk 365 days a year.
Boynton Canyon AND Kachina Woman Vortex. It is said that this area is where feminine vortex energies are strongest. Boynton Canyon itself is sacred space from the perspective of numerous indigenous tribes. For the Yavapai, “First Lady” the mother of their tribe, was born from an enchanted pool deep within Boynton Canyon, and every year they return to pay her honor. The idea of balance, tranquility, and restoration is emphasized in this peaceful place.
Palatki & Honanki Heritage Sites. Palatki, which means red house in Hopi, was home to the ancestors of the Hopi. They lived here from approximately 1100 until 1400 C.E. Here the figure Kokopelli, a fertility deity seen playing the flute, remains clearly visible on the ancient sandstone walls. Nearby is Honanki, a site of similar history. However, a Clovis projectile point discovered here in 1995 definitively dates these settlements back to 9000 B.C. Both sites are examples of the settlements that surrounded the greater red-rock area of what is now Sedona, but never intruded into the space that was held most sacred. Historians indicate that disagreements among conflicting groups did not occur in this area which represented rest, peace, and restoration.
Tuzigoot National Monument. Tuzigoot is an ancient, 100-room pueblo site of the Sinagua people. Archeologists believe it may have been a busy trading site, welcoming many different tribes. It is unknown why they left the area. You will need to obtain a day pass to enter the pueblo and museum.
Montezuma Castle National Monument. More than 1000 years ago the Sinagua lived in the area stretching south of Sedona and utilized the extraordinary Montezuma Well for human needs and crop irrigation. The cliff dwelling at this national monument has over 60 rooms and researchers today marvel at the sophistication of dry-land farming techniques displayed. For many centuries it was a place where tribes from many areas gathered for rituals and leisure.
Yavapai Apache Nation cultural Resource Center. The Yavapai and Apache resided in this area for centuries, but in 1871 were ordered onto a reservation (now known as Camp Verde) and many were slaughtered. A further relocation in 1875 took the form of a forced march over 181 miles of harsh terrain in the dead of winter to San Carlos in southern Arizona. More than 100 people died during this march, never to see the red rocks of their homeland again. The Yavapai Apache Museum tells their story, and a bronze statue commemorating an elderly man carrying his wife on this march—telling the story without words—now graces its entrance.
V Bar V Heritage Site. The V Bar V Heritage site is the largest petroglyph site in the Verde Valley with over 1000 images created in what is now known as the distinctive Beaver Creek style. Incorporated into the historic V Bar V Ranch in 1907, the owners guarded the area well. Now, solar calendars, animals, spirals, and grids, all etched on cliff face walls, in what some visitors call a “spirit-filled space,” stand in silent testimony to the artists’ ancient purpose, still shrouded in mystery today.