Onto the second half of our winter desert trip! After finishing our Grand Canyon backpacking trip, we drove two hours to Sedona, Arizona. Or it was supposed to take two hours but ended up taking three and a half.
It was the second time this trip that the road to a free campsite (found on the internet) was closed. I was blinded by my own preconceived notion that there’s no winter in Arizona! It’s the land of eternal summer! Therefore there is no such thing as winter road closures. My flimsy assumption already failed once in trying to find free camping at a snowy 7,000 feet in the Grand Canyon.
This time we drove 45 minutes out of the way south along route 17, only to be shut down. So we drove back up and descended down along the [surprisingly] windy route 89 to Sedona. As we approached Sedona from the north, it was very snowy. And we were hungry and tired and convinced that we wouldn’t find camping ever and we’d have to drive back home 11 hours straight and would die in a fiery inferno of a car crash. Maybe that was just me. One of my life skills is catastrophic thinking, and it serves me as well as you’d think.
Once we had cell phone service in Sedona, we found another possible free camping area west of town along FR 525. After driving for 20 minutes and passing one filled campsite after the next, we found an empty one! Hooray. This place was awesome for camping. Time to cook burrito bowls and enjoy the rest of the warm, star-filled night.
The next morning we set out to climb Basketball Dome in Boynton Canyon.
The description mentions “a lot of bushwhacking.” Back in my day (said in an elder’s voice), I endured many experiences with bushwhacking. But this was thick, heavy cacti bushwhacking. We made it about 20 minutes, bleeding all over, before deciding to turn around for 20 more minutes of pain. Sedona is way more lush and overgrown than I was expecting.
To salvage the day we stashed our climbing packs and continued along the Boynton Canyon trail. It was pretty for the first half with a lackluster finish. I give it a 4/10!
Sedona Car Camping
We got back and assembled our car camping situation and I was in heaven.
Sedona part 2 to come, featuring a better hike.