Sedona’s Cathedral Rock
My family and I go to Scottsdale, AZ every year in March for Spring Training. If you’re not familiar with Spring Training, it’s preseason for the Major League Baseball teams. Half the league goes to Florida, (Grapefruit League) and the other half goes to Arizona (Cactus League). Anyway, enough about baseball. This year I wanted to head out and take some pictures of the red rocks in Sedona. It’s about a two hour drive from Scottsdale, which made it an easy day trip. I did some homework as to what I might want to photograph and Cathedral Rock caught my eye. Yes, probably because it’s one of the most photographed landmarks in the southwest, but also because I wanted to see what I could capture for myself. While driving through Sedona I stopped at one of the many spots that advertised “Visitor’s Information” for directions to Cathedral Rock. I was given directions to the Crescent Moon Picnic Area, which is a popular park with great views of the “Rock”.
I made my way to the park, (about a 20 minute drive from downtown Sedona, if you don’t get lost), paid the fee to enter, parked the car and proceeded to the river for the view I was expecting. While walking along the river trail I kept thinking about where I needed to be to get the photo I wanted. Every spot along the river didn’t quite work. I couldn’t get the right angle of the river with the “Rock” in view, and the park was filling with people. I asked someone who looked like a frequent visitor if there was a spot where I could get a good view of the “Rock” with the river in the foreground. He wasn’t sure and told me that most of the photos with that type of composition were probably taken before all the trees along the river grew tall enough to block the view.
Not willing to give up, I soon realized that I needed to be on the other side of the river. Not only for a chance of a better composition, but because the park closed a dusk and I knew I wanted to be there for the sunset. I could see people on the other side but wasn’t sure the best way to get there. I was able to call out and ask someone how to access that side of the river. With the rushing water and a crowd of people nearby it was hard to hear but I was able to get the basic instructions. I mentioned that I was tempted to walk across the river and was advised of the slippery rocks. I immediately pictured me and my camera gear floating down the river.
So…, back in the car, 45 minute drive around to the other side, paid to park again, and found the trailhead back to the river. As soon as I reached the river I knew I had made the right decision. After a few hours of hiking up and down the river, taking a few pictures along the way, I found the compositions I was looking for. Right next to a family of four who were playing in the river. (Mom, Dad, two kids maybe 8 and 10) I sat up my camera gear while the family gathered their belongings. I assumed they parked on the same side, but no…, they proceeded to walk across the river with no problem at all. Feeling a little foolish that I didn’t just walk across the river, I reminded myself that I wouldn’t have to worry about my car being locked behind the park gate if I stayed too long. Feeling much better about my decision the sunset didn’t disappoint. As the sun went down Cathedral Rock became more saturated with color and the reflection in the river was amazing.