Explore Sedona’s Best 5 Vortex Trails by ATV!

In his book, The Call of Sedona, Ilchi Lee describes the wonders of Sedona’s many vortex areas. Although he has explored these spectacular trails on foot, adventure lovers can now experience these amazing energy centers following a short ride on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle). The ATV can take you places you might not otherwise attain as you create a journey discovering the vortexes and energy of the land.

Sedona ATV Rental

But first, “What is a vortex?”

Vortex energy can be experienced strongly in Sedona, especially in certain areas. These areas are known for healing, calming, or energizing sensations which may be experienced when you visit. The staff at Vortex Healing ATV Rental, featured in this article, offers a free vortex energy orientation help visitors understand and feel vortex energy along with maps and helpful guides for meditation and energy self-healing.

Although there are many options to experience the energy of this land, here are 5 of the best vortex trails in the Sedona area which can be explored via ATV as well as on foot:

Schnebly Hill

Schnebly Hill: This lookout is one of my personal favorites. In fact, I once timed this just right and was able to see both the setting sun and the rising moon from our vantage point! The very rough dirt road ascends upward using one of the oldest original roads in Sedona and is great fun in an ATV.

Dry Creek Road

Dry Creek Road

Devil's Bridge

Devil’s Bridge

Dry Creek Road with hiking to Devil’s Bridge: If you’d like to combine a short ATV ride and some hiking, Dry Creek Road and Devil’s Bridge are a good choice.

Shaman's Cave

Shaman’s Cave: Ilchi Lee’s description of this beautiful vortex in The Call of Sedona is enough in itself to make you want to visit this amazing cave for quiet reflection and meditation. Shaman’s Cave is visited by Native Americans and spiritual teachers and leaders for inspiration.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Sugarloaf Mountain

Black Mountain

Black Mountain

Black Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain: A very exciting ride into the pristine countryside where you’ll enjoy unusual red rock formations and spectacular desert views as you change elevation.

Greasy Spoon

Greasy Spoon Trail: This trail offers a very bumpy, rugged drive as you traverse rocks and enjoy scenic views on your way to a truly amazing view of Secret Mountain. This one becomes more slippery and difficult when wet.

And here are a few practical tips for your Sedona adventure: Remember to dress appropriately, including hiking shoes, hats, sunglasses and layers of clothing that can be added or removed. Take along plenty of water. Take your camera to capture your impressions and your experience along the way!

Most of all please treat the land with respect as you visit Sedona’s sites. Travel in designated recreational areas and avoid doing damage to local plants. Never ever carve or damage rock faces and please, take only photos and leave only footprints on marked hiking trails. Never throw a cigarette butt from your vehicle and pack a small bag to contain your trash as you drive and hike to protect wildlife and help keep Sedona beautiful!

For more information and help with planning your adventure, visit Sedona Vortex Healing ATV Rental.

Lynn A. TrombettaBy Lynn A. Trombetta: A freelance writer on nature, creativity and wellness, Lynn is also a visual artist, professional flutist, recording artist, and published author.

[Trail of the Month] Airport Loop and Airport Mesa

View from Airport Mesa Sedona AZ

A view from Airport Mesa

This is the perfect cold weather hike! Imagine soaking in the warmth of the sun on a chilly day while savoring gorgeous, panoramic vistas everywhere you look as you trek along a three-and-a-half mile circular path around Airport Mesa and its famed positive energy flow vortex. Talk about an energy boost!

Airport Loop is a wonderful introduction to Sedona’s red rock country because it provides great views of West Sedona and some of our most famous landmarks: Coffee Pot Rock, Chimney Rock, Capitol Butte (Thunder Mountain), Courthouse Butte, the Cockscombs, Wilson Mountain, Munds Mountain, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock – and (whew!) Sedona’s very own “pyramid mountain.” Yes, you can certainly hike this in warmer months, but in the summer it can get very hot, indeed, with hardly a shady spot for cover.

NOTE: If you’re with a group or a partner and one wants to do the hike and another just wants to meditate or soak in the vortex energy, this is an ideal choice.

How to Get to Airport Loop and Airport Mesa

There are two ways to get here:
• Main trailhead: From the roundabout uptown at the intersection of State Routes 179 and 89A, it is about one mile west to Airport Road. Turn left and go up about one-half mile to the trailhead with a small parking area for about a dozen cars.
• Secondary trailhead: Bandit Trail, a very short trail (.8 mile) that intersects with the Airport Loop. From the uptown roundabout (see above), drive 1-1/2 miles west and turn left on Shelby Drive. Keep going and bear left past the Sedona Recycles building. Parking will be on your right.


• Open year round.
• Difficulty: Easy to Moderate.
• Usage: Light to Moderate, but finding a parking spot at the trailhead can be difficult.
• Elevation gain: 300 feet up and down over the full length of the trail.
• Length: 3.5 miles round trip; 4.3 miles round trip if Tabletop trail (recommended for views) is included.
• Hiking time: about 2.5 hours round trip; another approximately 30 minutes or more with Tabletop trail.
• A Red Rock pass is mandatory, especially since this is a heavily used area.
• Facilities: none.
• Dogs allowed on a leash.

Special Tips:

• The trail is rocky and narrow at times, so hiking shoes or boots are recommended.
• This trail is NOT for small children unless they’re being carried.
• If you have a fear of heights, note that the south side beginning part of the trail is narrow and close to steep cliffs – thankfully, it’s quite short.
• Always take plenty of water, especially in warmer weather, and maybe a snack (remember, leave no trace).
• Take your camera – and binoculars are always helpful to appreciate the views.
• Parking: Early in the morning is a good time to avoid the rush and an almost always-full parking lot – especially on weekends. Sunset is the most popular time of day and it’s almost impossible to get a spot at this time. If you are determined to hike this trail but there is no room at all, try parking down the road and walking up or go to Bandit Trail (see “Secondary Trailhead” above). Avoid weekends unless you can come early in the morning.
• Convenient views: Up the road toward the airport is a lookout that is very popular, especially at sunset, for its phenomenal views – and there is plenty of parking right across the road!
• Dining: Check out the airport restaurant at the top of the road for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner with great views.

Airport Mesa (Vortex)

From the parking lot, look straight ahead and you’ll see an imposing red rock formation. Follow the trail toward it. In about 200 feet, follow the trail that leads to Overlook Point. It’s a short, steep climb that goats would love – about ¼ mile round trip – but well worth the view.
“Where is the vortex?” This is a common question, especially since there is no sign signifying its presence; but it’s not really in one specific spot. Some, however, feel the top of the rock formation harbors the strongest energy; others feel it’s the energy emanating from the steep, narrow canyon below that flows up to cover the mesa. As for the locals, the general airport mesa area is considered a vortex of what is termed positive, electric, or outflow, energy.

Airport Loop

From the parking lot, climb to the top of the small saddle and turn right to the trail that bends to the left. Right away, you’ll enjoy fabulous red rock views. It will be mostly level for the first mile, and then becomes an easy to moderate trek over basalt boulders. The trail will then become more level, drop down to a small wash, and ascend again to intersect with Table Top Trail at 1.7 miles.

Table Top Trail

This is a spur that is about a mile round trip with a gradual climb; at the end of the trail, you’ll see panoramic views of Sedona’s famous red rock formations that include a pyramid-shaped mountain and Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte. After you return to the main trail, continue north for a moderate descent that goes northeast.

North side

On the north side of the loop, you’ll have great views of Coffee Pot. The trail also intersects with Carroll Canyon trail, then goes to the upper slope of the mesa.

Bandit Trail

About two miles in, Bandit Trail will be on your left; it leads down into West Sedona (see description of alternate trailhead above). Is it named after notorious robbers? Actually, no. Bandit was the name of the dog accompanying its owner, a local man, on this trail. Unfortunately, the pooch died while on the hike – and the owner buried it here. Yes, true story!

And finally . . .

The trail will continue to descend to a switchback and to a more level grade. It’s one more gradual climb to views of West Sedona, Capitol Butte, and Wilson Mountain. Then, before you know it, you’re back at Airport Road!

Bell Rock: Inspired? Energized? What Do You Feel at One of Sedona’s Most Famous Vortexes?

People come to Bell Rock, Sedona, Arizona for so many reasons: the beauty, the energy, to experience the vortex, and to soak up the landscape. Located in the Village of Oak Creek on the outskirts of Sedona, this vortex is one of the most recognizable because of its distinctive symmetrical bell shape. Some people categorize this vortex as “masculine” and “electric,” while others say it is very balanced.

It’s easy for visitors to take pictures of the formation from the two nearby parking lots, one on the north end and one closer to the Village of Oak Creek to the south. There is a wide flat trail that runs parallel to the road that makes it easy for families and people of all abilities to take a stroll and touch the rock. Open to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, this 3.6 mile Bell Rock Pathway and Vista connects to the Courthouse Loop that extends into the Munds Mountain Wilderness area. Courthouse Loop is a beautiful approximately one-hour hike through which you can enjoy Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte away from the crowds.

Because of its accessibility and notoriety, many visitors stop by and experience Bell Rock. In these videos, STEM Production asked a variety of people what they think of of this red rock formation. Have you visited this powerful vortex? What did you discover? Please share your own Sedona experience in the comments.
Healing at Bell Rock (You can’t be sad at Bell Rock)

Being at Bell Rock

What do you think of Bell Rock?

[Video] Scenes from Schnebly Hill

Schnebly Hill Road is one of the most beautiful and scenic routes in Sedona, Arizona. The steep, twisty and unpaved drive was the main route from Sedona to Flagstaff between 1901 and 1914, before Oak Creek Canyon Road (US-89A) was built. Twenty minutes down this road that connects Arizona State Route 179 and Interstate 17 is a rocky outlook called Merry-Go-Round with grayish Apache limestone at its base and red and orange Schnebly Hill sandstone forming quirky shapes above it. From this point, you can see a panorama of red rock formations: Coffee Pot Rock, Mitten Ridge, Thumb Butte, and Moose’s Butte. Far in the distance is downtown Sedona and below are three unique, flat swirls of rock that bring to mind their given name of ‘Cow Pies.’

Enjoy this video made by STEM Production of one of the most breathtaking areas of Sedona, especially at sunset. It is a place with a long history, a sacred place where Native American tribes once held ancestral ceremonies. Even today, travelers who brave the pot-marked gravel road are rewarded with more than an awe-inspiring view. Those who sit there in meditation often see visions of these Native American forefathers, and even discover past lives as one of them.

Simple Native American Rituals to Perform at the Vortexes

Chief Ayanvli Rick, Cherokee Medicine Elder and Pipe Carrier, and her husband, Lakota-Dakota Medicine Elder and Reverend Joseph Grey Wolf, shared some Native American wisdom as well as a few simple rituals to practice at the Sedona vortexes.

“This is to bring truth to this table in a ceremonial way,” Joseph Grey Wolf explained as he waved a condor and eagle feather over the burning sage, cedar, and sweet grass.  The sweet herbal smoke wafted around us and we breathed in deeply as we sat in the bright Sedona sun, just steps away from their inipi, or sweat lodge.  With the traditional gifts of tobacco having been presented, we were ready to begin.

Since Joseph had just returned from vision quest, Ayanvli gently reminded him of the meeting’s purpose.

“Ah-h,” he said, and nodded solemnly. “So first, the vortexes. One comes to a vortex with a desire to know who they are. The vortex calls you – it’s a spiritual pilgrimage. The physical beauty here allows a feeling of awe, but an epiphany, an intuitive realization, comes when one has a desire to feel the inner spirit.  One has to have balance within to feel what the vortex is sharing with you. It’s important to stop, sit, and just be within the vortex space and let go so we can hear messages. In other words,” and he pointed to the center of his chest, “here is the vortex, and once it intersects with the earth’s vortex, you can experience what is said will happen, but that might not even be what happens.  In other words, we’ve all arrived with a purpose to step out as who we really are –  a spiritual entity to experience the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life.”

Opening to Creator

 Joseph stood up to demonstrate the first ritual and held his arms out parallel to the earth. In holding out one’s hands to all “people,” including every form of life, animate or inanimate, one extends oneself and focuses on the desire to connect to all possibilities of how divine power will come through – and to be open to those possibilities.

“Breathe deeply,” he said, “and connect to source. Breathe in and acknowledge the breath of love within your heart with forgiveness and acceptance. Breathe in love and what Creator is sharing.  Now exhale on your hand with the breath of gratitude and let go of whatever applies to you in that moment. Let go of ego and become the eagle. This is the recognition of spirit with love and gratitude. The eagle is the messenger and takes our prayers to Creator. Breathing in love and exhaling gratitude opens our spirit to the possibilities of what Creator has in store.”

 Besides being a planetary power spot, Sedona’s huge underground aquifer, red rocks of iron oxide, and imbedded crystals all contribute to it being a powerful vibrational generator, Joseph said. “This is Creator’s playground. The spirits are playful and reveal themselves according to where and how you are. The energy is very condensed here, not the same as the rest of the planet. On the land here, people are laughing, crying tears of joy, letting go of what’s been holding them back, even laying down on the earth, and healing their connection to who they are.”

Visible Prayer

 Let’s say you’re walking on the land and you feel a stone person calling out to you, that is, you are attracted to a particular stone. Pick up the stone in a prayerful way, put it into your left hand, and express a prayer of gratitude. Now breathe into the stone while praying for whatever you desire. Close your hand, express gratitude as you walk, and send energy into that stone person. Transfer it to your right hand now, and hold purposeful intent of letting go of something or calling in something. The stone will hold the prayer. Then breathe on it with gratitude – and release it to the earth once more.

When letting go, wiggle your fingers and release that energy to the earth.

 Now you see a tree that attracts you. Approach it with love and gratitude and prayers of letting go of pain that is not allowing you to be who you are. Place your hands on the tree or hug it. Now breathe onto it with love and gratitude and with what you are calling in. Now breathe in what the tree has to say. It knows why you are there and will give you a message if you let go.

 “So many people,” Joseph said, “feel so alone and find it hard to let go. Touch a leaf, pick up a stone. Hold something from the earth. You are never alone. Letting go is a process in which you have to be steadfast in love and gratitude. Creator wants us to let go of our stuff and other people’s stuff that we carry and be in love with ourselves. Letting go and acknowledging love and gratitude lights the fire within us.”

Releasing Method

Native Americans use prayer ties, which is part of a complex ritual, so Ayanvli offered in its stead a simple but effective method of release.

On a piece of biodegradable paper (such as rice paper or paper made only with wood pulp and fiber), write down what you’re experiencing or things you wish to release from your life. Place this in a tree, either in a hole in the tree or in a fork of its branches, and leave it there. For a simple fire ceremony, write on any sort of paper and place it, prayerfully and intentionally, into a flaming barbeque or fireplace.

Cathedral Rock (Red Rock Crossing)

 Simple Water Ceremony

“Water is the blood of Grandmother Earth,” Joseph said. Ayanvli added, “It can be used as a rite of passage.”

Let us say you have ended something, even maybe passing the bar – this can serve as a rite of passage, a letting go. Go to running water ( perhaps Red Rock Crossing), and scoop the water onto your face, hands, arms, legs, feet, and the top of your head. Next, wipe the water off your body with prayers of letting go what doesn’t serve you.

“Water transmutes whatever is being let go,” Ayanvli explained.

Prayer to the Seven Directions

 Since the Cherokee and Lakota do this a little differently, it was agreed to demonstrate the Lakota way.

Joseph faced the directions as he explained them. First is West – dreamtime, the color black, the strength of the bear, courage, and healing. Here you call in the strength for receiving the knowing of…the North, the color red, representing the blood of all people and Grandmother Earth connected. Here is the spirit of the buffalo standing against the storm. Be open to spirit and acknowledge the blood of all people to receive the knowledge of….the East, of the color yellow, the sun, the beginning, with the knowledge and messages of the bird people. With this, we receive the knowing of wisdom of….the South, of the color white, the hottest of the hot. Here is coyote, the trickster, representing joy, laughter, and the wisdom of the ancestors to help us to come into who we are.

 The Fifth is all that is above – sun, stars, wind, moon, clouds, sky – and is the color blue. Here we receive that which is above and are open to Creator coming through us. Sixth is all that is below – the land, trees, stones, all life on earth, and the color green. Here we acknowledge all creatures of earth. It is good to place your bare feet or hands on the land.

Seventh represents the heart, soul, the spirit, the third eye, and the color purple. Joseph touched his chest center and said, “Here we connect our spirit through all the directions to connect with who we are and with everything sacred.”

 Ayanvli explained, “Because blood is red, that of life, and horizontal, and blue is truth, that of the divine, and vertical, it becomes purple, and the purpose is to experience life. Stay in the center of that cross and be in the present, the here and now – what we call the beauty way.”

There was a solemn peace as we all considered this.  Suddenly, I realized that Joseph was standing next to me.
“Here,” he said. “Open your left hand.”
As I did, he placed a four-cornered red rock stone in it.
“What does that shape mean to you?” he asked.
My mind went blank.

“It’s a tetrahedron.”
“Ah, yes,” I said. I clasped my hand over the stone.
“That represents the connection of all sacred places.”
I nodded, prayed, switched it to my right hand, and blew on it as Joseph had taught. Then I threw it to the right.

“Ah, did you see that?”
I turned to look. A beautiful yellow butterfly was flying around just where I’d thrown it.
“It’s the little things,” Ayanvli said. “Watch and listen for the messages around you. Butterfly means…”

“Transformation,” Joseph smiled.

For more information, go to Joseph’s facebook or email: walkinbalancecenter@gmail.com.

Article Written by Mary McLean 

[Time-Lapse Video] Sedona Night Sky

Sedona is known for majestic red rock beauty, though when the sun goes down, another natural marvel takes center stage: Sedona’s starry nights.

A truly dark and starry sky has become increasingly rare worldwide, as the artificial lights drown out the limpid night sky. Fortunately, Sedona keeps its sky free of much light pollution. Combined with a haze-free, low-humidity, and high elevation atmosphere, Sedona and the Verde Valley is a paradise for stargazers.

This time-lapse video presents the nighttime sky from the Sedona Mago Retreat Center. The Dahngun Shrine and Mission Place, where the time-lapses were taken, are significant places that mark the history of the retreat center. We appreciate EJ Lim, Neal Margolin, and Edwin Kim for their contribution of this breathtaking video.

[Trail of October] The Legendary West Fork Trail

Imagine a clear, bubbling creek flowing within a 1,000-foot deep canyon forest of lush ferns, flora, and trees and sculpted, overhanging rock cliffs with walls boasting finely layered red and earth-colored hues framed by a pure blue sky.  Fresh, cool air refreshes your mind, body, and spirit and you feel like a kid again, teetering and hopping over rocks to where the trail continues – until something catches your eye and you can’t shake the feeling that you’ve just spotted Tinkerbelle – or maybe even an elf scurrying behind a tree.  You’re in West Fork, probably the most popular trail in the Coconino National Forest and one of the top hikes in the whole country.

How To Get to West Fork Trail

 From Flagstaff: About 17.5 miles south on Oak Creek Canyon. The “Call of the Canyon” trailhead entrance will be on your right between mileposts 385 and 384.

  • From Sedona: Starting from the roundabout at the “Y” intersection of State Route 89A and State Route 179, go north for about 9.5 miles on 89A toward Flagstaff; the “Call of the Canyon” trailhead entrance will be on your left.

 Things You Should Know 

  • Difficulty: easy, mostly flat terrain along the creek, becoming moderate level around the 2-1/2 mile point.
  • The first 3 miles of the trail, you will be rock and log hopping at 13 creek crossings (and 13 on the way back since this isn’t a loop).
  • After 3 miles, the trail is not maintained and it’s bushwhacking time for hard-core adventurers; in cooler months, hypothermia is an issue because you have to swim to get to the next leg.
  • Elevation: minimal – from about 100 to 200 feet.
  • Hiking time: at 3.2 miles, about 2-3 hours round trip.
  • Hours & fees:  locked gates open at 8 a.m.  Until host arrives at 9 a.m., use self-pay system: $9.00 per vehicle or $2.00 per person walk-in fee.  Closes at 9 p.m. in summer and at dusk in winter.
  • Uses: hiking, dispersed camping about 6 miles from trailhead. Tread lightly on the land and leave it as you found it.
  • Dogs allowed but only on a leash.
  • Restrictions: no mechanized vehicles.
  • Facilities: restrooms and picnic tables only at the trailhead area. No water available.

 Special Tips

  • Take snacks or lunch, and plenty of water, and remember to always pack it out.
  • You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t bring your camera.
  • If possible, wear shoes or sandals that grip on slippery surfaces.
  • Cover up for poison ivy and oak and bugs along the way.
  • A walking stick will help you navigate creek crossings; or look in back of the small building next to the parking area, where fellow hikers sometimes leave one behind.
  • It’s always cooler here, so except on the hottest days, take a light jacket or extra layer.
  • Fall colors are usually at their peak in mid to late October. 
  • You can park on 89A, though it is difficult to find a spot on the narrow highway, if walk-in fees ($2 p.p.) are cheaper than the $9.00 vehicle fee.

 Geology, Flora, and Fauna

  • Flora: Abundant diversity that includes a carpet of ferns, lupine, horsetail, colorful wildflowers, and ivy along the banks of the creek, intermingled with pine, fir, sycamore, maple, cottonwood, and oak trees.
  • Geology: Originally occupying the western edge of the massive Pangaea continent, these rock walls date as far back as 280 million years ago. They consist of mostly Coconino sandstone, which is predominantly reddish-orange and multi-layered with varied hues that include creamy or earthy tints to create a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors. Much higher up are layers of white Kaibab limestone. Sandstone easily erodes and nature’s hand has sculpted these walls and cliffs into beautiful curves and shapes and many short, tunneled passages.
  • Fauna:  In deeper points of the creek, there are sometimes trout and other fish.  Bird sightings may include the black-chinned sparrow and bridled titmouse to peregrine falcons, hummingbirds, tanagers, towhees, vireos, hawks, and other species.  If you’re camping overnight deep into the canyon, take precautions for bears and other creatures interested in your food.

Take a Break and Meditate

The gurgling creek, the cool, invigorating air, and the overwhelming presence of nature make West Fork a perfect place for meditation. However, due to its popularity, it’s best to come here in the early morning and during a weekday or off-season.  If you venture away from the creek, take care to tread lightly.


Pioneers found this area to be perfect for apple and fruit orchards in the 1880s.  After it was sold to the Mayhews in 1925, the area housed a completely self-sufficient hunting and fishing lodge for the rich and famous until 1968, including presidents and movie stars – even Walt Disney!  After the Forest Service bought it, there was an unfortunate fire that burned most of it down. Today, you can see the remains of the lodge and even the old chicken coops.

One of the guests, Zane Grey, wrote Call of the Canyon here at the Mayhew Lodge in the 1920s. Later, it was made into a movie that was shot in Sedona.


There is another 11 miles to the end of West Fork Trail that requires wading, occasional swimming, appropriate supplies, and lots of bushwhacking.  For more information, visit Forest Service website or call 928-203-2900.