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As my daughters and I trudged back to the parking lot from our morning hike into Boynton Canyon, I gave them strict instructions: "Knock all that red dirt off before getting back in the car." We were enjoying a few days in Sedona, a welcome respite from the early-June heat in Phoenix (but still in the low 90s!), and the sandstone that created the beautiful red-rock formations around us also formed the dry, dusty trails we'd been hiking all morning, leaving us coated with a red layer from head to foot. Small price to pay for knock-your-socks-off views from every turn in the trail.
Sedona has been my go-to place for clearing my head and reconnecting with nature for almost four decades now. I started visiting while in college in Flagstaff, and I'm still drawn back every year when I visit family in Phoenix. But oh, how it's changed since those early days! The downtown "strip" is now packed with tourists, T-shirt shops, restaurants, and Jeep tour companies in every color from pink to red to neon green. Stores selling crystals and New Age paraphernalia abound, and trendy coffee shops offer free Wi-Fi if you want to connect while sipping an overpriced beverage.