It's easy to see what draws so many people to Sedona. Red rock buttes—Cathedral Rock, Bear Mountain, Courthouse Rock, and Bell Rock, among others—reach up into an almost-always blue sky, and both colors are intensified by dark-green pine forests. Surrealist Max Ernst, writer Zane Grey, and many filmmakers drew inspiration from these vistas—more than 80 Westerns were shot in the area in the 1940s and ’50s alone.
These days, Sedona lures enterprising restaurateurs and gallery owners from the East and West coasts. New Age followers, who believe that the area contains some of Earth's more important vortexes (energy centers), also come in great numbers, seeking a "vibe" that confers a sense of balance and well-being and enhances creativity.
Expansion since the early 1980s has been rapid, and lack of planning has taken its toll in the form of unattractive developments and increased traffic.
The city of Sedona is young, and there are few historic sites; as many visitors conclude, you don’t come to Sedona to tour the town itself. The main downtown activity is shopping, mostly for Southwestern-style paintings, clothing, rugs, and jewelry. Just beyond the shops and restaurants, however, canyons, creeks, ancient dwellings, and the red rocks beckon. The area is relatively easy to hike and bike, or you can take a jeep tour into the hills.