Sedona's stunning red-rock formations first showcased their magnetism when Zane Grey's The Call of the Canyon—a breathless Western romance about a society woman who abandons New York City for Sedona—hit the silver screen in 1923. Pilgrims have followed ever since: in the eighties, mystics who believed that area crags contained spiritual vortexes (and who gradually established all manner of crystal shops along the main drag) and, today, mountain bikers, hikers, and climbers who flock to Sedona (pop. 10,500) for slickrock riding trails near Submarine and Bell Rocks, meandering hiking paths in Oak Creek Canyon, and nationally celebrated climbing routes on Cathedral Rock.
With a veritable boom of new arrivals—mostly outdoors lovers and active retirees—there's growing concern about preserving the surrounding desert landscape. But the success of local open-space initiatives is ensured by the fact that 49 percent of the 19-square-mile (49-square-kilometers) city is on national forestland—this means that, no matter how many are entranced by Sedona, it'll always be easy to heed the canyon's call.
Scouting trip: Your Weekend in Sedona
WHERE TO PLAY: The Bell Rock Pathway parallels Arizona State Route 179 and offers easy canyon access ($5 Forest Service parking fee). For front-suspension mountain bikes and advice on where to find the best slickrock, try Bike & Bean ($30 for a half-day rental; www.bike-bean.com), in the Village of Oak Creek.
WHERE TO EAT: The red-rock mural at the Cowboy Club (www.cowboyclub.com) may be tacky, but how many places feature rattlesnake soup and cactus fries on the menu? Gene Autry and John Wayne once frequented the bar. If you're planning to picnic at Red Rock State Park, stock up at New Frontiers Natural Marketplace (+1 928 282 6311), a locally owned supermarket with a gourmet deli and organic produce.
WHERE TO SLEEP: Next to the historic Tlaquepaque shops, the upscale, hacienda-like El Portal ($250; www.innsedona.com) puts you near the heart of the action. A rustic alternative is the Forest Houses Resort ($90; www.foresthousesresort.com), a cluster of cabins a few miles north of town on the banks of a trout stream in Oak Creek Canyon.
Want to Live Here?
REAL ESTATE LOWDOWN: The median single-family-home price is $639,000—more than twice that in 2000. The neighboring Village of Oak Creek is more reasonable, but wherever you look, the area's red-rock views can fetch a million-plus.
OUR PICK: A 2,700-square-foot (251-square-meter), two-bedroom, two-bath, geodesic superdome (above) perched high in the red rocks. Cost: $679,000. (www.cbsedona.com)
LOCAL ECONOMY: Tourism and service industries are the biggest players in town—if you're looking for a job that isn't in those fields, you should bring a transportable career with you. Sedona's average age is 50, and many residents are retirees.
Our November 2006 issue features the best new adventure travel trips; an exclusive look inside Iran; a Greenland global warming report; backcountry spas; digital cameras; travel Web sites; weekend getaways; and more.
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