Northern Arizona and southern Utah form one of the most scenic and fascinating stretches of the American landscape. Here the high plateau gives way to natural features like no other on Earth, the most prominent of which is, of course, the mile-deep gash in the earth that is the Grand Canyon. Our road trip from Sedona through the Grand Canyon National Park and around Lake Powell was breathtaking, consciousness-altering, unique, and unforgettable in the best way.
Nestled amidst the red rocks of Arizona, Sedona is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, spiritual energy, and vibrant arts community. Although, when I can, I prefer to stay in owner-operated properties, Auberge Sedona, which is part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, has earned a reputation for excellence.
Nestled in the Red Rock, the Auberge de Sedona blends contemporary design with echoing the mesmerizing beauty of the region's landscape with serene southwestern charm.
On offer is quite a range of elegant rooms and suites, from cozy and intimate to spacious suites suitable for families, many with private terraces and stunning views of the surrounding red rock formations.
The hotel houses a wonderful restaurant that embraces farm-to-table principles, incorporating locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients with a focus on refined, southwestern-inspired cuisine.
The captivating red rock landscapes
Sedona's main allure lies in its otherworldly red rock formations, standing tall like ancient sentinels guarding the town. From the towering Cathedral Rock to the surreal Bell Rock, each geological wonder boasts a unique presence. We’d hired a 4x4, which took us easily to hiking trails from which it was easy to connect with nature's grandeur.
Spiritual enchantment and vortexes
Beyond its stunning landscapes, Sedona is renowned for its spiritual energy. Believers in metaphysical and New Age practices flock to Sedona for its supposed vortexes, areas believed to emit powerful energy. Whether you're a believer or not, there's an undeniable sense of tranquility and introspection that envelops you as you explore these mystical spots.
Thriving arts and culture scene
Sedona isn't just about natural beauty; it also boasts a vibrant arts community. Art galleries and studios dot the streets, showcasing works from talented local artists. From traditional Southwestern pottery to contemporary paintings, the diversity of art on display reflects the town's rich cultures.
Sedona's spiritual side
Sedona's allure extends beyond its natural beauty and into its spiritual heart. There are numerous meditation centers, healing retreats, and spiritual workshops; yoga retreats and meditation sessions amidst the serene landscapes are readily available, with the presence of ancient Native American ruins further adding to the spiritual depth of the area.
From here, it was a four-hour drive to Amangiri, an Aman resort on the shores of Lake Powell. Once again, the reputation of the hotel, whose name translates to "peaceful mountain," won out over owner-operated properties.
Located amid dramatic landscapes in Canyon Point, Utah, Amangiri blends contemporary architecture with its rugged desert surroundings. Designed by three well-established architects: Marwan Al-Sayed, Wendell Burnette, and Rick Joy. Its structures seem to emerge organically from the landscape, featuring clean lines, natural materials, and expansive glass walls that frame breathtaking views. The central swimming pool curves around an ancient rock formation, exemplifying the resort's commitment to preserving the natural beauty of the region.
Amangiri's chefs celebrate the flavors of the Southwest while incorporating global influences, sourcing fresh, local ingredients to craft exquisite dishes served in the warm glow of the desert sunset.
The hotel is a great base from which to explore. We loved the otherworldlyness of Antelope Canyon, known for the captivating interplay of light and shadows in this magnificent slot canyon.
Bryce Canyon National Park
At Bryce Canyon National Park, the whimsical hoodoos, carved by eons of erosion, create a surreal wonderland. We devoured a delicious picnic amidst this geological masterpiece, before returning to Amangiri, where dancers from the Navajo tribe performed Native American storytelling and hoop dances. Two of the dancers were that good; they’d just returned from performing for movies in Hollywood.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
For our expedition to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a rugged expanse of slot canyons, ancient petroglyphs, and a secluded waterfall, we were accompanied by Amangiri's expert guide, who helped us discover some areas of untamed wilderness I imagine few have had the privilege to witness.
Two kayaks awaited us dockside on our day trip to Lake Powell for a leisurely paddle through the crystal-clear waters, reflecting the desert landscapes. We did not bump into another living soul all day.
When we planned our trip, two weeks seemed like plenty. As we drove the four-hour trip to the Las Vegas airport for our return, our only regret was that we didn’t have longer to explore this astoundingly beautiful corner of the American Southwest. In fact, we cut our drive so fine that we feared we might miss the flight—until we discovered, to our relief, that the clocks in Nevada were an hour behind.