My boyfriend and I visited Sedona, Arizona over the Valentine’s Day/Presidents’ Day long weekend in February. Sedona has been on my bucket list for some time now so I was excited to finally visit! It’s roughly a 2-hour drive north of Phoenix. It was our last trip right before corona put us in quarantine. If you Google simply “Things to do in Sedona,” you will find no shortage of suggestions, and inevitably exploring vortexes will be high on that list.
What are vortexes?
So what the heck is a vortex? It sounds like a tornado which is close… It’s a whirlwind of sacred spiritual energies with healing attributes. The energies are masculine, feminine, or balanced with both. Many believe that some of the trees growing at these vortex locations are twisted due to the swirling earth energies.
People have reported feeling electrical tingling sensations in their bodies and shifts in their moods at the vortexes. They are optimal places for yoga, meditation, contemplation, sound baths/healing, and prayer. For the non-believers, they’re prime spots for beautiful landscape views.
Sounds like voodoo hippie stuff right? Before I did yoga teacher training and reiki certification in Bali, I would have scoffed at the idea of magical centers of energy. Now, I have an open mind and believe there can be unseen forces all around us.
So when I learned that all of Sedona sits on many vortexes, I wanted to check out the hotspots and see if they were indeed transformative. Personally, I also wanted to seek some clarity about what to do about my job since I was unhappy. My boyfriend is a skeptic but he was down to participate in my spiritual quest.
There are four main vortexes where the energies are strongest. It was a little confusing to pinpoint where the vortexes are since various sources said different things. But I’ve pinned them all in the map at the end of the post.
Cathedral Rock is a well-known landmark with tall rock spires resembling those found on a cathedral. There are two places to experience the vortex at Cathedral Rock. Sunset is also the best time to visit both sites to see the rocks turn all shades of red.
You can reach the first vortex by hiking the super steep Cathedral Rock Trail all the way to the top between the rock spires. It’s a moderately difficult hike. At some points on the trail, we had to get on our hands and knees to climb up the rock formations. Not recommended for those with a fear of heights! The view at the top was stunning and worth the climb though.
The second spot is near the base of Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing. Enter and park at the Crescent Moon Day Use site. Then walk along the trail that runs parallel to the creek until you reach a large flat opening area with a view of Cathedral Rock in the background. There are no signs so we almost didn’t find it but keep the faith and just keep walking. Look for Buddha Beach on Google Maps. We both meditated here and weren’t the only ones doing so. The babbling Oak Creek served as the perfect background white noise.
Like Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock is one of the famous distinctive rock formations to visit. As the name suggests, it looks like a bell – no surprise! The vortex energy is all around the rock even at the base so there is no need to hike to the top unless you want to. Follow the signs for Bell Rock Climb to get to the top. However, after reaching the plateau, it’s unmarked and you need to find your own way or follow other hikers. We opted to stay at the plateau level and circle all around the Bell Rock formation to see the surrounding views rather than hike upwards. There were no trail markers so be careful and watch your step!
We almost didn’t make it to this vortex but squeezed it in on our last morning. I’m so glad we did since we encountered a free-spirited man who gave us heart stones. He hand-carved them from pieces of red rocks he had found. By giving each one away to a stranger, he sent a keepsake of love into the world. He also climbed to the top of one of the spires to play music on his recorder and share positive messages out to the world. He reminded me of the type of person that you would encounter at Burning Man.
To find the vortex, take Boynton Canyon Trail and then follow the signs for the Boynton Canyon Vista Trail. It deadends at the vortex.
This vortex is the closest and most easily accessible one from the city center. It’s a short drive from the downtown area but it’s also the most crowded. It’s a prime spot for sunset. You can also hike the Sedona View Trail to reach the Sedona Airport Scenic Lookout. Watch the setting sun’s rays hit the rocks and town below at different angles to create various shadows and hues. The local photographer next to us said no two sunsets are ever the same. Come around sunrise for fewer people and equally spectacular views.
Experiencing the vortexes
So did I gain clarity and feel transformed from visiting all the vortexes? Well, yes and no. At the top of Cathedral Rock and at Airport Mesa, I didn’t feel anything that particularly different. I was definitely in awe of the views though. I think this was due to the number of people present. More people were visiting those sites at the same time as us so it was slightly crowded.
However, at Bell Rock, Red Rock Crossing, and Boynton Canyon, I did feel “things.” My heart rate raced. I felt like I had just run a marathon or maybe that was from climbing all the steps? The atmosphere felt electric. The tingling sensations throughout my body were extremely subtle though. I breathed in deeply more easily. All that fresh outdoor air! I wondered if it was the placebo effect since I had done the research and knew I was supposed to feel something so my brain told me I was. Or would I have felt the same thing as a result of being outside and basking in nature anyway? My boyfriend said he didn’t feel the same things as me but he did feel the positive benefits of physical activity, being outside, and taking in the peaceful views. Each of the locations was very serene and quiet so it was easy for the mind to calm down.
Either way, I would encourage you to find out for yourself if you feel different at these vortexes. At the very least, you can enjoy amazing views! And positive vibes are always welcome, whether you actually experience them or not. I did walk away from the trip feeling at ease with the decisions I had made regarding work so the spiritual quest was a success in my opinion!