Sedona has one of the most scenic settings of any town in the United States. As we drove north from the Phoenix area toward higher elevations, saguaro-studded hills gave way to rolling desert grasslands. Turning west off Interstate 17, massive red rocks appeared on the horizon. Snow still clung to the north-facing slopes.
Wealthy Sedona nestles among large buttes near Red Rock State Park and has a pleasantly temperate climate due to its 4,350-foot elevation. Pine forests and a strict adobe building code give the place a natural, earthy feel. That is, until you encounter fleets of bright-pink tour Jeeps ferrying some of the 3 million annual visitors who come to the town for the scenic hikes, golf and New Age shops, an influx that can foster something of a theme-park atmosphere. Even so, Sedona’s spectacular setting remains a major draw.
El Portal Sedona
Since there weren’t any newly opened hotels of interest in the area, we took the opportunity to check up on three hotels we’ve reviewed before. El Portal Sedona is a 12-room boutique hotel, hidden in the Tlaquepaque shopping district in central Sedona. Signs asking that dogs refrain from defiling the grounds provided a strange welcome to the property. (I recalled the “dog-friendly hotel” ads on the website.)