Bell Rock, a famous Sedona landmark, rises up to the sky just beyond the village of Oak Creek. An easy and clearly marked trail meanders up the gentle slope. Within minutes, you’ll arrive atop a flat mesa half way up Bell where you can either enjoy the the fantastic view or wander around looking for a favorite spot.
In the springtime, agaves and the high desert flowers are in bloom, creating stunning photo opportunities. Bring a book, lunch, and some water then find a scenic perch where you can spend a lazy afternoon. If you’re lucky, someone will be drumming or playing the flute and you can journey back in time as the sound reverberates off the rocks.
In wintertime or even early spring you may get lucky enough to see Bell turn into a wintry wonderland – red rocks dusted by snow, frozen waterfalls, and icicles as big as a person. If you venture out in the snow, tread carefully and walk slowly. The ice can turn even the most innocent rocks into slippery slopes! Crisp, cold, and beautiful.
Bell Rock is one of Sedona’s major vortex spots – a place where the earth has very strong energy. It seems to wax and wane on different days. Some days I have felt nothing, and on others, I’ve laid on the mesa, shut my eyes, and felt a huge spinning sensation as I spiral into visionary experiences and feel the hum of the earth itself.
Try it and see what you feel. Sit, or lay down upon the earth. Breathe slowly and deeply, and simply notice and surrender to whatever sensations you feel. At the very least you will feel more relaxed.
The energy on Bell Rock also seems to facilitate deep meditation and clear thinking. Sit with a question in your heart for a moment or two, then let it go. Breath deeply and surrender. After you have reached a state of deep peace, see if you have any thoughts, feelings, or images that have come to mind. At the very least you have cleared your thoughts to make room for an intuitive insight later.I’ve often brought projects to work on while sitting in a secluded spot.
Bell makes It makes a great outdoor office, the perfect place for a lazy afternoon nap, or an ideal location for a peaceful sojourn on a moonlit night.
If you’re get to experience Bell Rock after a rainfall, the energy is vibrant. Scents of juniper, cypress, and damp earth fill your lungs as the slight chill of moist air mingles with the warmth of good energy. Breathe deeply. Imagine your feet firmly rooted into the earth and the energy from the land washing through your mind, body, and soul. Intend to release anything that no longer serves you.
Tread carefully and wear shoes with good traction. The rocks can be very slippery when wet.
SUNSET & MOONLIGHT
Not too many people know that Bell is also a great place to enjoy the sunset. While you can’t see the setting sun as easily as in other spots such as Airport Mesa or Cathedral Rock, the fading light causes nearby rock formations to glow in rich shades of crimson and gold, giving you a chance to capture some stunning photos, even from the parking area.
In the summer during monsoon season, the clouds gather over Bell and nearby Courthouse Butte offer dramatic views, especially if there happens to be a rainstorm in the distance.
If you want an unforgettable experience, and you’re OK hiking after dark, bring a flashlight and a blanket, and stay out on Bell after sunset. As the sun sinks into the horizon and the stars come out, the place becomes absolutely magical. Enjoy a quick prayer ceremony or just some time spent in peaceful and silent reverie. The landscape is surreal in the soft glow, and the stars seem close enough to touch.
The desert can become much cooler at night, so make sure you check temperatures and bring a blanket or dress appropriately. Walk carefully on the way back to the trail, which won’t seem very obviously marked in the dark.
FOR THE FEARLESS
If you’re an intrepid hiker or an adventurer you may want to try climbing up near the top of Bell Rock. While the views are incredible, there is no marked trail and it is a steep climb, at times, on a cliffside. This is not for the faint of heart nor for those afraid of heights. If it isn’t for you, you won’t miss out. There are plenty of amazing views along the mesa at the top of the easy, marked trail.
To get there take the trail from the parking area until it ends on the mesa. Facing the top, go right around Bell Rock. Walk and climb until the road is to your right and a large canyon-like, very smooth wash area is to your left. This vast water-worn wash goes all the way up almost to the top. Climb up towards the wash, hugging the cliff to the left until you emerge into an area with only plain rock that goes straight up.
From there, you can carefully walk up the very steep canyon/wash area until you reach the next climbing level. Watch out for slippery rocks, go slow, and know your limits. Stop frequently to rest, and enjoy the views. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, turn around and slowly, carefully make your way down. The energy up here can be dizzying at times. If you’re still ok, keep going till you reach a spot where the rocks seem to go straight up once again.
There is a series of rock ledges to the right that are scary looking but not too hard to climb if you are an experienced hiker, and not afraid of heights. Once you reach the top of these, the rest of the climb is a set of stair-steps that hug the cliff and take you to the highest point you can reach without ropes. Catch your breath, let your heart stop pounding, and enjoy the views for a very long time!
From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Hwy 179 (exit 298). Turn left onto 179 and follow it past the Village of Oak Creek until you see Bell Rock just north and to the right. Drive past Bell and look to the right for a paved parking lot. The trail head, starts just to the right of the parking lot.
Easy to moderate, if you just wander. Challenging, if you decide to climb near the top.
Things to bring:
Wear hiking shoes or good sneakers and bring water. If you plan to stay awhile bring a lunch and a book. Don’t forget the camera!
Check with the US Forest Service for pass and fee information before your trip. A Red Rock Pass is required for parking in most locations.
Notes from the journal
October 18, 1998 – Steadily I climbed to the top, careful, shaking a little but nonetheless driven to the ascent. The sun was warm in the autumn sky, the air crisp, and the heavens a piercing blue. Still panting, I laid down and watched the clouds overhead, imagining I was swimming in the sky. A quiet peace washed over me. My eyelids became heavy as I slipped into the dream. I heard the whispers of the stones all around me…
Listen… the spirits of the mountain are speaking. We have waited patiently for aeons. Built by the sea, weathered by wind and rain, and now you sit upon the sands of time, sculpted by nothing less than the forces of life itself. We have watched humanity and we love you. We have memory. We record the history of your planet in our sculpted faces.
Learn from us, knowing that whatever is built up in your life will eventually be torn down or worn away to make it more beautiful. Change is inevitable. Don’t fight it. Growth in wisdom may occur slowly like the oceans that created our layers over the millenia. What no longer serves you, may be washed away rapidly like the deluges that ravage us. Yet the fine tuning, the gentle sanding of the wind, and the slow but steady perfection of your lives takes patience and time. You, like us, become softer and more beautiful as the years pass.
A soft wind caressed my face, awakening me on my lofty perch. Sitting up slowly, yawning, I felt at-one with the mountain. We shared a secret… Life is change and change is beautiful.