Looking for somewhere to take a trip this fall? Sedona, Arizona should warrant strong consideration. Just shy of 100 miles north of Phoenix, Sedona is one of the most beautiful areas in the southwest United States. From Texas, depending on how fast your airplane travels, you could make it to Sedona in a day, with a couple of stops in between. You’d definitely want to spend a few days to enjoy the scenery and maybe jump over to the Grand Canyon while you’re in the area.
As you approach the Sedona Airport (KSEZ), you become somewhat distracted by the scenery around you. Don’t be too distracted as the approach is a little tricky. If you are landing north, on Runway 3, the calm wind runway, don’t let the surroundings fool you. Stay on that PAPI and don’t be short, as the runway is on a 500 foot mesa. In instrument conditions, the MDA for the RNAV approach to Runway 3 dumps you out about 1,300 feet above the airport elevation, giving you plenty of time to set up to land.
When using runway 21, don’t make your pattern too wide as there are some pretty tall rocks (around 7,000 feet) north of the field. The Airport/Facilities Directory gives a warning to pilots in strong southwesterly wind conditions. Be aware of strong downdrafts coming in on final for runway 21.
The runway itself is in excellent condition, and plenty long at just over 5,000 feet. The FBO is a little dated, but the folks there are great. They were redoing the ramp this summer, so beware of that. Airplane parking is no problem, but actually getting to the FBO is a little tricky. The Mesa Grill is a very nice good restaurant just a short walk from the FBO. When I was there, I chowed down on a buffalo burger. It definitely hit the spot.
What To Do
Sedona is the outdoorsman’s paradise. Starting off, to get a great overview of the area, hop on the Red Rock Scenic Byway (SR 179) about an hour before dusk. You’ll get to see some spectacular views while it’s still light, then you can’t beat the sunsets in Sedona.
For hiking, you have a myriad of options, from the Cathedral Rock, to the Oak Creek Canyon, to the Devil’s Bridge Trail, all are beautiful, though most are not for the faint of heart (especially the Devil’s Bridge). Even though the fall is cooler, make sure you pack plenty of water for the hikes.
Want something to do in the evening? Go up to the Chapel of the Holy Cross to watch the sunset. After the sun goes down, go do some stargazing. You’ll get to take a tour of the stars at the Sedona Star Gazing location in Oak Creek. You are shown all the constellations and stars by professional astronomers, and blankets and chairs are provided.
Art connoisseur? You’ll find plenty of art galleries around town with a ton of beautiful, original artwork. There are also several theaters and golf courses around Sedona, giving everyone a little bit of everything.
If you’re up for it, the Grand Canyon is about a 2 hour drive north of Sedona, or a quick flight up to the Grand Canyon Airport (KGCN).
In search of a good getaway? Try Sedona. You’ll be sore from lots of hiking and sight seeing, but it will definitely have been worth it.