Experience the Southwest’s Magical Red Rock Country in Sedona
By Chris Duthie
Much to the consternation of snowsport enthusiasts, the recent weather has proven better for teeing off than for skiing, with golf courses remaining open throughout metro Denver, where daytime temperatures are hovering in the unseasonably balmy mid 60s.
Extraordinary, considering Thanksgiving weekend is upon us.
Still, who wants to stay home when a four-day holiday beckons? Instead, book a quick getaway to a region where warm El Niño weather is surpassed only by the regions’ outdoor recreation and natural scenery.
Right now, Moab, Utah, is rocking it. Located 5.5 hours west of Denver, the high-octane community beckons thrill-seeking vacationers with shirt-sleeve temperatures, Colorado River rafting and jet boating, slickrock mountain biking, vertical mountain climbing and backroad ATVing.
Of particular note are Moab’s stunning and accessible natural attractions, like Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park. Foremost is Arches National Park, where craggy sandstone formations explode from the high desert in mind-bending splendor, forming eroded fins, towers, ribs, hoodoos, balanced rocks and the world’s largest count of naturally formed arches.
While here, count on playing Moab Golf Club. Sandwiched between breathtaking red rock escarpments, the 6,819-yard public layout offers players a mesmerizing and memorable round, with cart, for $50. Overnight travelers will find a bevy of lodging or campground options, including the highly regarded Adobe Abode Bed & Breakfast.
Six hours south via US 191, 160 and 89 is another great escape — Sedona, Ariz. A consensus awe-inspiring experience, this red-rocked community is as much celebrated for its burgeoning art colony, wine scene and vortex spirituality as for its heart-fluttering sandstone formations, 360-degree desert panoramas, laid-back vibe and Nikon-prompting holiday decorations.
To steep yourself in Sedona’s seductive lifestyle, reserve lodging at either the historic and lavish Enchantment Resort or the luxurious L’Auberge de Sedona Resort & Spa. Enchantment Resort guests have privileged access to the private Tom Weiskopf-crafted Seven Canyons golf club, and there’s even more golf awaiting at Sedona Golf Resort (Gary Panks) and Oakcreek Country Club (Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Sr.).
If you pass on a Sedona Thanksgiving, give it serious consideration for a December visit: In addition to its startling holiday-lights transformation, this is where the country’s largest 3D holiday light show is staged. Sedona Northern Lights is scheduled for four magical days on Dec. 14-17 when the show is digitally projected on iconic Camelhead Rock.
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer.