The Sedona landscape is commonly described as magical, with its impressive red rock canyon walls towering majestically against the clear, blue sky of central Arizona. The mesas in the region are stark and tall, and dominate the panorama. Sedona is a popular New Age center, attracting millions of tourists from around the world every year. Nearby, the canyon opens up into a gorgeous, rock-rimmed amphitheater, and south of Sedona stands the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross. Yet most people come to Sedona to experience the unique earth energies residing just outside of town, called the vortices. A recent study by Northern Arizona University concluded that two thirds of the near four million annual visitors to Sedona came seeking some sort of spiritual experience.
The surrounding red rock country of Sedona is believed by many to be a vortex meditation site. Vortices are defined as specific global power spots that enhance prayer, contemplation, and reflection for people of all faiths. A vortex is a potent energy pattern emitting from the earth where the planet is at its healthiest and most alive. Vortices appear when there is a combination of rock cracks, fissures, fault lines, ley lines, underground rivers, high amounts of magnesium or iron in the soil content, and a negative ion count. Of course, Sedona is not the only vortex site—there are dozens or perhaps hundreds worldwide and they are usually associated with a known sacred place. The energy of a vortex acts as an amplifier, working to enhance or magnify any physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual levels of the visitor. This amplifier effect of the vortices supposedly helps augment thoughts and intuitions, heighten emotions, or may allow unexpected insights at an interpersonal or spiritual level. The terms “electric” or “magnetic” does not apply to the kind of energy found at a vortex, but to its effect. One scientific explanation of vortices has suggested that the mineral composition found within the Sedona red rocks creates a magnetism that may have a discernible effect on people. As a result of their popularity, vortex sites are among the most visited and impacted locations within the Coconino National Forest.
Most of the natural features in the Sedona area were held sacred by prehistoric people who recognized the potent energies of the land. Native Americans speak of the universal Grandmother Spirit who still resides in Sedona, continuously welcoming her spiritual family home. Several medicine wheels of stacked rocks have been constructed in the area, both by Native Americans and by New Age visitors. The reverence of Sedona as a sacred place by people of more than one cultural tradition is readily apparent. Nearly all Christian denominations have a church around town. Several Hollywood celebrities own property in Sedona. Native American legends color virtually every aspect of the region. Ever since Sedona became a New Age mecca it has attracted artists, writers, musicians and spiritual seekers from all walks of life. The strong natural energy vibrations seem to be quite conducive in magnetizing others of a like mind.
Getting to the Sedona Vortices
There are four frequently visited energy vortices in the Sedona area. Boynton Canyon Vortex is located 3.2 miles (5.2 km) west of Sedona on Highway 89A past the Highway 179 junction. Follow the signs for Boynton Canyon. From the parking area, visitors follow the well-marked trails to a 30-foot (10-m) rock knoll where the energy is strongest, a place called “Kachina Woman.” The Bell Rock Vortex emanates near the base of an almost perfectly symmetrical butte. Bell Rock has a distinctive shape, and is easy to spot just north of the village Oak Creek on Highway 179. Airport Vortex is the closest vortex to the town Sedona itself. Going 1.1 miles (1.8 km) west on 89A, turn south on Airport Road and park a half-mile up at the distinct curve before the road continues to the top of the mesa. The vortex is a small hill with twisted junipers and a clear view of Sedona on both sides. Finally, there is the Cathedral Rock Vortex. This vortex is located 4.3 miles (7 km) west on 89A past the junction of 89A and Highway 179. Turn west on Back O’ Beyond Road to the car turnoff and the trailhead to Cathedral Rock. It is now required for all motorists to obtain a “Red Rock Pass” before parking at any of the vortex turn-off areas. The cost is based on a daily or per week basis, and is available in numerous park service offices and the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Sedona.