The place is beautiful, yes. I think we probably already knew that, right? The hostess at the restaurant laughed because I wanted to sit outside for the view. The view was of a parking lot, but it was still gorgeous. You can't go anywhere in Sedona without being just completely blown away. Each time a new formation came into view I was like "Oh man, this is incredible." I was a freaking broken record, in complete awe of my surroundings. Places like that really exist, and it's amazing to get to experience them and do it with people you love.
I learned a couple of things while I was there though.
One is don't trust the trail maps or even that little booklet the hotel gives you that talks about the different hikes and what they entail. Other than the part about each one being amazing, it's all lies. Let's take the Devil's Bridge trail for example. The Forest Service map tells you it's a moderate hike, .8 miles long, and a 600 ft. elevation gain. Okay, great. I can handle that. I mean a 600 ft. elevation gain actually seems pretty legit for .8 miles, but I can probably handle it. I'm sure it's worth it at the top, right? What they don't tell you is that the mile long Forest Service road you take to get to the trailhead is not something you can drive your rental car down. There are jeeps, and ATV legit rock climbing on this dang Forest Service road. I was hot and tired before we even got to the trailhead and then had to climb 600 ft. over the next .8 miles. That's like 55 flights of stairs. This is the point in your vacation where you start asking yourself why you didn't go to the beach. If you're going to be this hot, you may as well have a margarita in hand and crashing waves nearby.
And speaking of a alcohol, that brings me to the next thing.
It's true when they say alcohol effects you differently at higher elevations. I'm going to gloss over the details here, but I can assure you 3 glasses of wine in Central Texas (Elevation 489 ft.) is no big deal and that's not the same experience I had in Sedona (Elevation 4,327 ft.). Don't say you weren't warned.
Let's talk about mild, medium, and spicy. We ordered chips and salsa and were asked if we wanted medium, spicy, or one of each. I almost just ordered the medium thinking this is Arizona and surely they know how to do spicy, but we went for both anyway. Nope. Spicy was medium at best. This seemed to be a common theme everywhere we went in Sedona. Spice is not their thing. If you're from Texas and they tell you it's spicy, expect medium. Obviously they don't measure spiciness on the same scale as level of difficulty for hiking trails.
And lastly, when the timeshare resort invites you to one of their presentations and tells you it's 90-120 minutes depending on your level of interest, they're lying. Our level of interest was zero. We were in that presentation for 3 hours. My prize at the end? A whopping $100. So here's the other thing, if you're going to go to one of those presentations ever, negotiate. Whatever they want to offer you to show up, ask for more. I'm sure I could have gotten at least more money in gift cards out of the deal and probably an upgraded room. Work it. If you have to be subjected to that, make it worth your while. Believe me, $100 isn't enough. You're welcome.
But for real, we'd go back. Sedona is pretty amazing. A hiker's paradise.
THINGS I'D RECOMMEND
Miley's Cafe - Casual, Affordable, and just good. Just make sure you order the "spicy" salsa. Great for breakfast and lunch.
Hiking Cathedral Rock- also a .7 mile hike with a 600 ft. elevation gain, but we actually parked at the trailhead and the view from the top was amazing. Go early. This one actually required legit climbing and though it's considered moderate by Sedona standards, the Brown Family Scale of Hike Difficulty ranks it more in the area of "But, did you die?" It was hard.
Rocky RD Ice Cream Co. - Bourbon Pecan Praline & Mexican Coffee with Tequila ice cream. Enough said.
Renting a Jeep - Not the Pink Jeep stuff that you rent in town by the day. Rent a Jeep from the rental car place at the airport. ATV's will cost you $500/day in Sedona. If we ever make it back, a jeep is a must. We could have avoided having to walk down that mile long forest service road.
Important side note: These cacti are real (see pic below). I never really doubted it I guess, but when you see them in real life for the first time it's just funny. It's called a Saguaro and they're all over the place just north of Phoenix. We totally trespassed so we could safely take a photo of these things. Apparently they average something like 40 feet (I never would have guessed without seeing them in real life) and have an average of 5 side arms. According to Wikipedia they don't get their first side arm though until they're like 75-100 years old. There's a fun fact for you. I'm kind of obsessed now.