As we walked around the town of Sedona (AZ), we found it hard to belive that the town was at one time described as "a rural ranching community located far off the beaten path."
Only 51 percent of this 19-square-mile city is privately owned--the rest is part of the Coconino National Forest. And it is the natural beauty of this Forest and its red rock formations that have become the reasons for the film industry and more than 4 million tourists from around the world annually being attracted to Sedona.
With these views from different locations in town, it is easy to understand why the core industry and economic generator for this town of roughly 10,000 people is tourism.
In a way, we thought it was fortunate that Sedona is surrounded by the 1.8 million-acre Coconino National Forest. Without this buffer, the city could easily spread to the bases of these rock formations.
In 1950, surrealist painter Max Ernst moved to Sedona, and other famous artists followed, attracted by the town's rugged beauty, which is said to have enhanced their creativity. Over the years, an artist colony has developed in Sedona, and it may have been more than the scenic red rocks that stimulated the creativity of artists.
Many people believe that the region of Sedona contains a concentration of vortexes, which are spots that release psychic energy or power from the Earth.
As an example of this creativity, Marguerite Bruswig Staude wanted to build a structure that would glorify her Creator and in thanksgiving for all that her family had received. She traveled throughout Europe looking for the ideal location. She returned to the United States, and while she and her husband Tony traveled through Sedona, she was struck by the beauty of the area and decided that a chapel should be built here. (The large cross in the chapel's window is just bately visible, just to the left of the top of the green trees in the photo above.)
“This would be a monument to faith, but a spiritual fortress so charged with God, that it spurs man's spirit godward."
Built on a twin pinnacled spur about 250 feet high, jutting out of a thousand foot red rock wall, "solid as the Rock of Peter," the building of the Chapel of the Holy Cross was completed in April, 1956.
The Chapel is a Catholic chapel with amazing views, especially around sunset, making this a special attraction for those seeking divine inspiration.
Even with the sizable number of people passing through the morning of our visit, the Chapel was peaceful and serene.
Walking out of the Chapel, we were presented with this red rock formation.
And to the west of the Chapel is this view. We believed the building in the foreground is a private residence, but with the structure that looks like an observatory, this could be much more than a residence.
This is the view to the west of the Chapel.
One of the local points which is considered to be an energy vortex is Cathedral Rock (left), just a half mile off of Route 179 on Back O' Beyond Road.
The lower portion of the trail is red dirt. All of us who were at the Rock that day were moving at a very brisk pace on this portion of the trail.
When the trail came to a relatively flat section of rock, we stopped and watched other hikers who were intent on reaching the base of the upper formations. The rest of the "trail" was simply climbing up the rock itself. At this point, the hikers often stopped to plan a route and to determine if they were wearing the right kind of footwear. Oftentimes, those descending were more cautious (or possibly more fearful) than those ascending because of the risk of slipping. This is definitely not a climb to make after a rain.
But, interestingly enough, I felt a strange calmness and serenity while standing on the flat plateau. Vortex? Maybe. But I noticed a unique peacefulness before heading back down the trail.