By Wayne Ranney
Whether they know it or not, the 4.5 million annual visitors to Sedona come here because of the area’s spectacular geology, or to enjoy one of the many trails or cultural amenities within sight of it. The famous red rocks are the beacons that draw renowned artists, hoteliers, and all types of outdoor enthusiasts to this very special place. One need not have any specialized training to know something of its geologic history, except perhaps a sense of curiosity about things that happened a long time ago and how the landscape evolved and changed. In some ways, the geology here mimics what is seen at Sedona’s more famous neighbor to the north, the Grand Canyon, but in other ways the area is unique. One of the differences is that Sedona exposes a rock layer that is entirely missing at the Grand Canyon! The reason why this is came to be is an interesting lesson in how rocks are deposited and preserved, and Sedona is a great place to introduce yourself to the wondrous story of our planet.
Surprising to some however, is that Sedona’s geology is not wholly contained within the red rocks. Other rock types and fascinating geologic features can be found here, and they record much of the ancient history that is laid bare as a result of the arid climate found in the region. Most visitors do not know that beneath Sedona lies very ancient rock that contains copper where it is exposed near Jerome, or that Sedona has its very own volcano called House Mountain. Sedona is also home to many seeps and springs, some truly magnificent giant fossils that were unearthed nearby, and a mysterious story in how Oak Creek Canyon was carved. By looking at each of these stories we can begin to learn why this landscape is so enchanting. Remember, all you need is a sense of curiosity, some hiking boots and enough water and sunscreen for a day or more of exploration.