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Sedona, Arizona
City of Sedona
Cathedral Rock in September 2009, from Red Rock Crossing Cathedral Rock in September 2009, from Red Rock Crossing
Location in Yavapai County and the state of Arizona Location in Yavapai County and the state of Arizona
Coordinates: 34°51′36″N 111°47′21″WCoordinates34°51′36″N 111°47′21″W
Country United States of America
State Arizona
 • TypeCouncil-Manager
 • MayorRob Adams
 • Total49.7 km2 (19.2 sq mi)
 • Land49.6 km2 (19.2 sq mi)
 • Water0.1 km2 (0.04 sq mi)
Elevation1,319 m (4,326 ft)
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total10,031
 • Estimate (2013[2])10,111
 • Density202.4/km2 (524/sq mi)
Time zoneMST (UTC-7)
ZIP code86336
Area code(s)928
FIPS code04-65350

Sedona /sɨˈdnə/ is a city that straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of the State of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population was 10,031.[3]

Sedona’s main attraction is its array of red sandstone formations. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. The red rocks form a popular backdrop for many activities, ranging from spiritual pursuits to the hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails.

Sedona was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly (1877–1950), the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city’s first postmaster, who was celebrated for her hospitality and industriousness.[4]


Native American history

The first documented human presence in Sedona area dates to between 11500 to 9000 B.C. It was not until 1995 that a Clovis projectile point discovered in Honanki revealed the presence of the Paleo-Indians, who were big-game hunters. Around 9000 B.C., the pre-historic Archaic people appeared in the Verde Valley. These were hunter-gatherers and their presence in the area was longer than in other areas of the Southwest, most likely because of the ecological diversity and large amount of resources. They left by 300 A.D. There is an assortment of rock art left by the Archaic people in places near Sedona such as Palatki and Honanki.[5]

Around 650 A.D., the Sinagua people entered the Verde Valley. Their culture is known for its art such as pottery, basketry and their masonry. They left rock art, pueblos, and cliff dwellings such as Montezuma WellHonankiPalatki and Tuzigoot, especially in the later period of their presence. The Sinagua abandoned the Verde Valley about 1400 A.D.[5] Researchers believe the Sinagua and other clans moved to the Hopi mesas in Arizona and the Zuni and other pueblos in New Mexico.[6]

The Yavapai came from the west when the Sinagua were still there in the Verde Valley around 1300 A.D. They were nomadic hunter-gatherers. Some archaeologists place the Apache arrival in the Verde Valley around 1450 A.D. Many Apache groups were nomadic or seminomadic and traveled over large areas.[7]

The Yavapai and Apache tribes were forcibly removed from the Verde Valley in 1876, to the San Carlos Indian Reservation, 180 miles (290 km) southeast. About 1,500 people were marched, in midwinter, to San Carlos. Several hundred lost their lives. The survivors were interned for 25 years. About 200 Yavapai and Apache people returned to the Verde Valley in 1900 and have since intermingled as a single political entity although culturally distinct [8] residing in the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

Anglo-American settlement

The first Anglo settler, John J. Thompson, moved to Oak Creek Canyon in 1876. The early settlers were farmers and ranchers. Oak Creek Canyon was well known for its peach and apple orchards. In 1902, when the Sedona post office was established, there were 55 residents. In the mid-1950s, the first telephone directory listed 155 names. Some parts of the Sedona area were not electrified until the 1960s.

Sedona began to develop as a tourist destination, vacation-home and retirement center in the 1950s. Most of the development seen today was constructed in the 1980s and 1990s. As of 2007, there are no large tracts of undeveloped land remaining.[9]

Chapel of the Holy Cross

In 1956, construction of the Chapel of the Holy Cross was completed. The chapel appears to rise 250 feet (76 m) out of a 1,000-foot (300 m) redrock cliff.[10]

Cinematic legacy

Sedona played host to more than sixty Hollywood productions from the first years of movies into the 1970s. The small town, which served as a kind of microcosm of Hollywood history, sits about 120 miles north of Phoenix, nestled between thousand-foot-high walls of stone in lushly forested Oak Creek Canyon and the wide open space of the Verde Valley, and it was the diversity of this unspoiled landscape that made it such an ideal location to shoot outdoor scenes. Stretching as far back as 1923, Sedona’s signature red rocks were a fixture in major Hollywood productions—including enduring favorites such as Johnny GuitarAngel and the BadmanDesert FuryBlood on the Moon, and 3:10 to Yuma—but typically were identified to audiences as the terrain of Texas, California, Nevada, and even Canadian border territory. For fifty years, this picturesque desert outpost quietly played host to Hollywood legends in the making, yet the town is rarely found in standard histories of the movies.

Sedona’s Hollywood legacy offers nothing less than a timeline of history—of moviemaking in America and the popular culture of the years that shaped it. The story begins in the silent era, whenZane Grey’s The Call of the Canyon and Kit Carson, with Joseph P. Kennedy’s doomed movie superstar Fred Thomson, were filmed in the Oak Creek Canyon area just outside Sedona proper. The 1930s saw the arrival of a dozen B westerns, including four visits from silent film idol turned talkie cowboy star George O’Brien and the only Hopalong Cassidy film ever shot outside California. The decade also saw Sedona cast in her most historically significant movie role, as the promised land of milk and honey in Der Kaiser von Kalifornien, a Nazi western designed to validate Adolf Hitler’s schemes of territorial expansion to the people of Germany.

When John Ford’s production of Stagecoach pulled into town in 1938 (a Sedona connection that has eluded historians since the film was made), it set off three solid decades of A-picture activity—forty-four features through 1973, helped along by the construction of Sedona Lodge, the only permanent boarding and production facility ever built specifically for movie crews on remote location in the United States. During those years, many of Hollywood’s biggest names were photographed in front of Sedona’s signature landscape, from Errol Flynn to Gene TierneyJohn Wayne to Joan CrawfordJames Stewart to Lizabeth ScottRobert Mitchum to Elvis Presley.

Sedona — which promoted itself as “Arizona’s Little Hollywood” — wasn’t only a cinematic romping ground for cowboys. In the years that followed World War II, shadows darkened the scenery to add psychological complexity to a number of early film noir dramas, like Leave Her to Heaven, while at the same time a secret battle involving blacklisted Broken Arrow screenwriter Albert Maltz, a prominent member of the “Hollywood Ten,” was being fought on the same dusty ground.[11]

Brins fire


The Brins fire of 2006

On June 18, 2006, a wildfire, reportedly started by campers, began about one mile (1.6 km) north of Sedona.[12] The Brins Fire covered 4,317 acres (17 km2) on Brins Mesa, Wilson Mountain and in Oak Creek Canyon before the USDA Forest Service declared it 100 percent contained on June 28. Containment cost was estimated at $6,400,000.


Sedona is located at 34°51′36″N 111°47′21″W,[13] which is in the Upper Sonoran Desert of northern Arizona. At an elevation of 4,500 feet (1,372 m), Sedona has mild winters and summers.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.2 square miles (49.7 km2), of which 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.22%, is water.[3]

The famous red rocks of Sedona are formed by a layer of rock known as the Schnebly Hill Formation. The Schnebly Hill Formation is a thick layer of red to orange-colored sandstone found only in the Sedona vicinity. The sandstone, a member of the Supai Group, was deposited during the Permian Period.


Sedona has a temperate semi-arid climate. In January, the average high temperature is 57°F (14°C) with a low of 31°F (-1°C). In July, the average high temperature is 97°F (34°C) with a low of 64°F (17°C). Annual precipitation is just over 19 inches (480 mm).[14]

[hide]Climate data for Sedona, Arizona
Record high °F (°C)77 (25)88 (31)89 (32)93 (34)104 (40)110 (43)110 (43)110 (43)104 (40)100 (38)88 (31)77 (25)110 (43)
Average high °F (°C)56.5 (13.6)60.6 (15.9)65.1 (18.4)73.4 (23)82.2 (27.9)93.3 (34.1)96.6 (35.9)94.2 (34.6)88.1 (31.2)77.2 (25.1)64.3 (17.9)56.6 (13.7)75.7 (24.3)
Average low °F (°C)30.5 (−0.8)33.3 (0.7)36.8 (2.7)41.9 (5.5)49.3 (9.6)57.9 (14.4)64.0 (17.8)63.4 (17.4)57.7 (14.3)47.9 (8.8)36.4 (2.4)30.7 (−0.7)45.8 (7.7)
Record low °F (°C)0 (−18)10 (−12)9 (−13)18 (−8)24 (−4)36 (2)43 (6)45 (7)28 (−2)23 (−5)11 (−12)0 (−18)0 (−18)
Precipitation inches (mm)2.10 (53.3)2.16 (54.9)2.47 (62.7)1.16 (29.5)0.71 (18)0.36 (9.1)1.65 (41.9)1.90 (48.3)1.94 (49.3)1.67 (42.4)1.38 (35.1)1.51 (38.4)19.01 (482.9)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)
Source #1: NOAA[15]
Source #2: The Weather Channel (record temps)[16]

Panoramic view of Sedona from the “vortex” point near the Sedona airport. The famous bell rock, located on the south side of the “vortex” point, can be seen on the right side of the photo. Major parts of the town are in the middle of the photo. This picture was taken in October, 2009.


Panoramic view of the immediate Sedona area, covering an angle of view of approximately 90 degrees. The line of bare (deciduous) trees at center left marks the course of Oak Creek.



Sedona Airport viewed from the south, showing its location atop Airport Mesa

Historical population
19805,368 165.5%
19907,720 43.8%
200010,192 32.0%
201010,031 −1.6%
Est. 201310,111 0.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[17] 2013 Estimate[2]

As of the census of 2000, there were 10,192 people, 4,928 households, and 2,863 families residing in the city. The population density was 548.0 people per square mile (211.6/km²). There were 5,684 housing units at an average density of 305.6 per square mile (118.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.17% White, 0.49% Black or African American, 0.45% Native American, 0.94% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 4.29% from other races, and 1.57% from two or more races. 8.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

At the 2000 census there were 7,229 people living in the Yavapai County (western) portion of the city (70.9% of its population) and 2,963 living in the Coconino County (eastern) portion (29.1%). By land area Yavapai had 66.2% of its area, versus 33.8% for Coconino.

There were 4,928 households out of which 15.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.6% were married couples living together, 6.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.9% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.52.

In the city the population was spread out with 13.7% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 21.2% from 25 to 44, 35.0% from 45 to 64, and 25.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 50 years. For every 100 females there were 88.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $44,042, and the median income for a family was $52,659. Males had a median income of $32,067 versus $24,453 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,350. About 4.7% of families and 9.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.1% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.


Politically, Uptown Sedona, the Gallery District and the Chapel area (all in Coconino County) and West Sedona (in Yavapai County) form the City of Sedona. Originally founded in 1902, it was incorporated as a city in 1988. The unincorporated Village of Oak Creek, 7 miles (11 km) to the south and well outside the Sedona city limits, is a significant part of the Sedona community.


Numerous events are hosted annually in the Sedona area, including:

  • Sedona Bluegrass Festival[18]
  • Sedona International Film Festival
  • Sedona Jazz on the Rocks Festival,[19] founded in 1982, takes place annually at Poco Diablo Resort and other locations over four days in late September. According to its Web site, the festival was canceled in 2009 due to the nationwide economic slump but returned in 2011.
  • Sedona Marathon[20]
  • The Sedona Miracle Annual Charity Fundraiser[21]
  • International Sedona Yoga Festival (Currently preparing for it’s fourth consecutive year)
  • Illuminate Film Festival (Inaugural year, 2014)

Sedona is home to several notable arts organizations in Northern Arizona.

  • Chamber Music Sedona sponsors a chamber music program annually from October to May. They also sponsor the MET: Live in HD opera broadcasts in Sedona. The 2012–2013 season will mark the 30th anniversary for the organization.
  • The Sedona Arts Center, founded in 1958, is the oldest arts center in northern Arizona.
  • Sedona International Film Festival & Workshop was established in 1995. The week-long annual festival takes place in late February and early March at Harkins Theatres while supplemental events take place at area resorts and restaurants. The festival also hosts monthly events.
  • GumptionFest,[22] established in 2006, is one of the largest free music and arts festivals in Northern Arizona, according to the Sedona Red Rock News.
  • NORAZ Poets, extant from 2003 to 2007, was a nonprofit poetry network based in Sedona.

There is a specialized New Age tourist industry in Sedona, where the “Harmonic Convergence” was organized by Jose Arguelles in 1987. Some purport that “spiritual vortices” are concentrated in the Sedona area at Bell RockAirport MesaCathedral Rock, and Boynton Canyon.[23][24]


Sedona is served by the Sedona-Oak Creek Unified School District.

West Sedona School, serving grades K–8, is located at 570 Posse Ground Road.

Red Rock Early Learning Center,[25] is a year-round Preschool program that is designed for children aged 3–5 years old. Their normal school year runs from August to May each year, with a summer session offered during June and July. It is licensed by the ADHS, and located in West Sedona Elementary School building 300.

Verde Valley School, a boarding International Baccalaureate high school with many international students, is located between the Village of Oak Creek and Red Rock Crossing. It hosts numerous ‘traditions’ and performances open to the community. Their mascot is the coyote. Total attendance measures about 120 students per year, grades 9-12.

Sedona Red Rock High School (SRRHS), built in 1994, is located on the western edge of town in West Sedona. The school’s mascot is the Scorpion. The high school’s new campus, a series of single story buildings, is located opposite the Sedona campus of Yavapai College.

Sedona Charter School (SCS) is located behind the Sedona Public Library, serving as a Montessori-based school for grades K-8.

Yavapai College’s Sedona Center for Arts & Technology includes the Sedona Film School, which offers certificates in independent filmmaking, the Business Partnership Program, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and the University of Arizona Mini Med School.

The University of Sedona is an unaccredited institution providing ministerial training and education in metaphysics.

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