What’s a vortex you may ask? That depends on who you ask. Technically, it’s a whirling mass of liquid, gas, or flame, while others say it’s a spiritual form of energy that acts like a magnetic field. After you do your own personal research on the power and appeal of vortexes, you can then decide exactly what you think it is.
Whatever it is, I was excited to experience them on my short trip to Sedona, Arizona, well known for its vortexes. Most people say there are four of them in Sedona: Airport Road, Boynton Pass, Castle Rock, and Bell Rock. Others believe there are a few more than those. We decided to go to the four main vortexes plus one suspected vortex at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We had first thought of doing this trek in one day, which wouldn’t have given us enough time, plus we had our two young kids in tow, again not a good idea in one day. Most kids can take one hike at a time, but two or more, no matter how short they are, isn’t wise for little ones. There are no real maps, legends, or any other guide as to how to find these vortexes in Sedona. As we quickly found out that day, it requires a lot of patience, stopping people to ask for directions, and most importantly a lot imagination and openness.
Airport Road Vortex
The first stop was Airport Road. We actually went here on the first day we arrived, because it’s the most visited and the easiest to reach. Plus, we thought it would be a good introduction to what we were looking for. As luck would have it, we drove right past the vortex and up to the top of the road to the airport lookout, which I admit provides a beautiful view and an opportunity for the kids to run around. Although this isn’t a vortex, a sign offered a hint on how to reach the vortex. This is the only sign we found that mentions “vortex” in any form. We followed the suggested trail, but our kids were tired and absolutely refused to walk on the path at all. Yes, they would rather lie down on the red dirt, kicking and screaming rather than making mommy and daddy happy walking an easy, half-mile, downhill-hike to reach a vortex. “Please, baby, just go on this short walk for mommy,” I pleaded with my daughter. “Is there a playground?” she asked. “No,” I replied with dread. Her crying forced us to give up on the idea of walking, and we ended up driving down the road to the short path that leads to the vortex.
My husband and I took turns going up to experience the vortex for ourselves. I must say at that moment, alone at this vortex site, I was glad the kids refused to come; I was happy to be alone. The vortex wasn’t what I had expected either. It was a large area with a stunning panorama and an energy that encourages self-reflection and meditation. Alas, I had to return to my family who was waiting, hot and hungry. My husband spent a brief time there and came back claiming victory of finding our first vortex (he loves the scientific aspect to it).
The Boyton Pass Vortex
We started early the next day and went to Boyton Pass, the only one we knew that required a hike to reach. In a confusing manner that only a “discovery map” could offer, we drove around for over an hour trying to find the trail head. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of using one of these famous maps, which is more cartoonish than functional, then you’ll understand how we easily got so lost. Three trails on the map led to different directions, and none of the vortexes were indicated.
Instead of risking walking unnecessarily for miles with two small kids, we decided to ask a few locals for directions. A variety of answers ranged from three miles to just half a mile away, and they all said it was a tough hike. Nevertheless, we were determined to see the vortex and decided to trust the man who said it was only a half a mile away. At first the trail seemed easy, and the kids were more than eager to run, jump, and play for about 400 feet.
After that, it was non-stop begging to return to the car. They dragged their feet, pretended to get distracted by nothing, and finally resorted to full screaming and crying mode. We must have looked like the world’s worst parents, as we dragged our kids up the short path. Although before we knew it, we had made it to the vortex. My kids quickly gave up the fight and joyfully played amid the red rocks, smiling for pictures as if there had never been a problem. While we were there, we were also treated to music by a “reiki” flutist, who also gave away homemade hearts carved out of stone. The site was beautiful, the hike to it was short and simple, and the vortex had a nice, soothing energy. Of course, once we left and went back to the car, the kids weren’t up for any more hikes.
Cathedral Rock Vortex
We took our somewhat useless “discovery map” and found our way to Cathedral Rock. We learned it was a short walk along the trail to get to the vortex. Unfortunately, our kids decided that this was the perfect time for a nap. So, we did what any smart parents would do: We parked the car, opened all the windows, put our seats into full recline and took a snooze with them. When we woke up, all of us were refreshed, but none of us felt like tackling the “small hike” to the vortex. It was the only time we all agreed on the same thing. Besides, after resting in an area near the vortex, we felt like we did visit it. The view of Castle Rock and Cathedral Rock was a spiritual experience in and of itself.
Bell Rock Vortex
We drove a short distance to Bell Rock, which is easily accessible by car. Around and around we drove, hoping for just one small entry point where we could get as close to the rock as possible. Alas, there was no place to stop at all, and drove at a turtle’s pace take in the view of Bell Rock as much as we could. After all, many believe this one to be the most powerful of all the vortexes in Sedona. To my surprise, the kids also enjoyed the time, and both seemed at peace with everything. That alone was proof enough that we had felt the vortex.
Then, I saw a cross in a mountain out of the corner of my eye, and it dawned on us that we spotted the Holy Cross Chapel, which many also consider a vortex.
Holly Cross Chapel
We found our way to the Holy Cross Chapel, with a surprisingly steep and windy drive to reach it. When we arrived, there were plenty of volunteers who were happy to help us find a parking spot. To our shock, our son was asleep again, apparently vortexes make him incredibly tired.
While my husband stayed in the car with our son, I took my daughter up to the chapel. Despite the steep climb from the parking area, I was surprised by how excited she was, bouncing and skipping all the way to the chapel and pointing out all the twisted trees along the way. Vortex or not, this is a magical place for anyone to see, Catholic or not. The chapel is quite small and not meant for services, just a place to visit and attend a prayer service on Mondays. I found myself having a difficult time leaving, apparently so did my daughter, as we sat outside the chapel and took in the energy of the whole location. When it was time to return to the car, my daughter was in the best mood I had seen her in all day.
Our brief time in Sedona made us take a vow to revisit again soon and dedicate more time to experiencing the vortexes. Locals we meet explained that these are so powerful that you receive their energy and vibe just from visiting Sedona. Who knows if that’s true or not, but I do admit that Sedona is a magical place that inspires millions of people to visit each year. Apart from our cranky kids, it was fun discovering the vortexes of Sedona.