I still remember the feeling I had driving toward Sedona on Highway I-17 going north from Phoenix, leaving around midday and making some stops along the way. It was a beautiful bright day, somewhat cool, and it was so very different from what I am used to in south Florida where the farthest you can see is maybe a mile or two due to the flatness and vegetation. Moving around in Arizona always produced a feeling of expanse where you could see for many miles unless the road was winding through some pass between hills or mountains and even that gave me the sensation that there would be something interesting just around the bend.
In the afternoon, having stopped off at a couple of places just to take a break and look around, like Cordes Lakes at the junction of Highway 69, and not having stopped at other interesting sounding locations such as Agua Fria National Monument and Montezuma Castle National Monument, I came to the junction of Highway 179, which heads west and then north toward Sedona.
Although the terrain had been changing all along, the change just after starting on 179 was more pronounced. After a couple of miles, going past dry creek beds and broken terrain, the scene below came into view.
After a little while taking in the beauty but needing a break from the cold (not sure if it was the altitude, the lateness in the day, or both but it was about 25 degrees colder), I went inside the ranger station into a warm open space to speak to one of a few rangers at the large information desk.
There were other people who had come in to the station, I’m sure for the same reasons and probably to ask the very same questions. After waiting a few minutes I spoke to a very helpful ranger who provided a good rundown (no doubt he had been answering these questions many times a day), letting me know about locations that I would not want to miss, how to get there as he showed me on a small map, as well as pointing out that I was running out of time if I wanted to take any pictures around sundown. So off I went in a hurry, map in hand, wishing I had started out earlier that day to have more time in this beautiful place.
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