Inside Arizona’s new-age MECCA: How Sedona became a haven for LA hippies and influencers – bringing in three MILLION annual visitors who flock to crystal stores, ‘healing’ red rocks, and birthing cave… sparking ANTI-tourism campaign from furious locals
- Sedona’s 10,000 residents face an average of 8,000 visitors every day
- Many of the hiking trails are overrun with tourists with bad road traffic too
- The tourism board has launched a campaign to try and lessen the impact
Once a sleepy town surrounded by natural beauty, Arizona’s Sedona has become plagued by tourists to such an extent that an anti-tourism campaign has been mounted to stop droves of visitors from ruining the lives of its 10,000 residents.
In an opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle headlined ‘It’s lovely here in Sedona, so stay away,’ Arizona native Tom Zoellner details the town’s rise as a mecca for West Coast hippies.
Among its star attractions are ‘healing’ red rocks, vagina-shaped ‘birthing cave,’ wellness retreats and an award-winning spa beloved by Gwyneth Paltrow.
He goes on to note how the new-age spiritualism has spiraled out of control and ‘after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sedona’s city government and chamber of commerce made a joint agreement to quit advertising the town in glossy national travel magazines.’
Once a sleepy town surrounded by natural beauty, Arizona’s Sedona has become plagued by tourists
In one TikTok, Kyle, who uses the handle @KyleGoesOff, notes his disappointment after stopping in Sedona. He found the town was overrun with crystal stores
A vagina-shaped ‘birthing cave’ is among one of many popular Sedona attractions
However, he explains that the ‘experiment has not yielded the expected serenity,’ and Instagram-happy tourists continue to descend in their thousands, with clogged hiking trails and roads as a result.
According to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, Sedona’s 10,000 residents are now exposed to an average of three million visitors a year and just over 8,000 a day.
It says while welcoming visitors has ‘been a Sedona tradition since at least the 1950s,’ in recent years ‘residents say the economic benefits of tourism – and the traffic congestion and overcrowding that sometimes come with it – must be weighed against the impacts on our environment, community character and lifestyle.’
Along with locals, visitors have also voiced their concerns about the heavy footfall.
In one TikTok, Kyle, who goes by @KyleGoesOff online, explains how he stopped off in Sedona during a US road trip but he wasn’t thrilled by what he found.
In the clip, he explains that the ‘small town is surrounded by red rocks’ and it is home to ‘abundant UFO sightings, but the hippies have moved out and in place are passive aggressive new age LA girls on a spiritual journey to the 100th crystal store in the area.’
While strolling down the high street, he even found one store offering aura readings for dogs.
Summing up the place, he says: ‘It was crazy beautiful and we found a few spots to kind of hide away from everybody but in conclusion, the spiritual tourism here is not the vibe.’
Many viewers agreed with Kyle’s sentiments, with one commenting: ‘I hate Sedona and what it’s become. I also hate what Tucson has become. I will be moving out of Arizona within these next years.’
Another mused: ‘Californians and tourists ruined Sedona. I grew up going before it was cool and [it] was phenomenal.’
My worst experience car camping 🚗 ⛺️ sedona #arizona #sedonaarizona #carcamping #vanlife #nomad #spiritual #ufo
According to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, Sedona’s 10,000 residents are now exposed to an average of three million visitors a year and just over 8,000 a day
Kait Simek uploaded a clip to TikTok showing the traffic running into Sedona, while another creator known as @somewheresouthwest captured a queue on one of the hiking trails
#sedona #hikearizona #expectationvreality #sedonacrowds #optoutside #desertlife #scenicdrive #89a #redrockcountry #reddirtroad
Kait Simek also uploaded a clip to TikTok showing the traffic running into Sedona, while another creator known as @somewheresouthwest captured a queue on one of the hiking trails.
On Tripadvisor, one reviewer from New Jersey simply brands Sedona a ‘tourist trap.’
They wrote following their visit in 2022: ‘We had fond memories of Sedona 40 years ago. We were sadly disappointed this February 2022.
‘For the most part it has become a crowded tourist trap. We were primarily interested in the galleries and specialty shops.
‘There are certainly many of these, and some of very high quality, especially in charming Tlaquepaque village and near the “Exposures” gallery as you enter town from the south.
‘But the center of town is a crowded mix of pizza joints and western souvenir shops.
‘Parking in the center is very difficult despite the town’s efforts. Hotels are way overpriced. Several of the owners of better shops bemoaned the changes that had occurred over time.’
Tech entrepreneur Sherlock Holmes, from Florida, tells DailyMail.com that he is a big fan of Sedona and ‘still enjoys going,’ but he has also noticed a change over recent years with gridlocked roads and a ‘growth of the hippy community.’
‘The vortexes in Sedona, which are thought to be swirling energy lines, have become too much of a money maker for the hippy community,’ he revealed.
‘My last trip there was definitely much crazier and it was super busy with tourists.
‘I noticed that many locals were selling homes to retire elsewhere given the rapid increase in prices and popularity.’
L’Auberge de Sedona offers a ‘magical sound healing session’ priced at $225 for an hour
One of the town’s top-rated resorts is Mii Amo, which is home to a state-of-the-art spa endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow
To get away from the crowds, Sherlock recommends checking into one of Sedona’s luxury resorts if your bank balance allows it.
Some of his favorite high-end hotels include the Enchantment Resort, Seven Canyons Golf Club and the L’Auberge de Sedona.
Another one of the town’s top-rated resorts is Mii Amo, which is home to a state-of-the-art spa endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow.
She previously said of the wellness center: ‘The menu offers everything from psychic massage to a Sedona clay wrap, to reiki and lymphatic drainage.
‘Meanwhile, spiritual treatments include meditation, hypnosis, and past life regression. It’s like three years of therapy in three days.’
Sherlock says one of the most popular spa treatments in Sedona is sound healing and on his last trip his wife, Jo, tried out a session.
He explained that the treatment took place ‘in what appeared to be somebody’s backyard with drums and tepees.’
Asked what needs to be done to solve the Sedona’s tourism problem, Sherlock suggests ‘infrastructure expansion.’
In the meantime, the Sedona tourism board has launched a Resident Quality of Life initiative to ‘lessen tourism impacts to residents (including noise, air, and light pollution) [and] to strengthen resident quality of life.’
Commenting on the matter Michelle Conway, the president and CEO of Sedona’s Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, told azcentral.com in April: ‘We actually, believe it or not, believe in less is more when it comes to tourism.
‘We’d rather have fewer people who are here, but that can stay longer and spend more because it means less traffic on the streets, it means less litter on the trails.
‘It means our residents are happier and can still attend to go to their favorite restaurant or not take 20 minutes to get home.’
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