Oak Creek Canyon’s Hidden J.E.M. Sedona, AZ
The thought of hearing the water of Oak Creek rushing by 24/7 was one big reason I chose to stay at this cabin, twice! The other was an invitation from my friend who owns this beautiful place which she rents out on Airbnb. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to soak up the fresh air of Sedona by myself in this quiet retreat which is big enough for 10 guests.
The cabin was built in 1960 and sits tall on the creek and front faces Highway 89A, just 10 miles north of Uptown Sedona, where you find all the shops and restaurants, and most of the tourists. It’s situated between the famous Slide Rock Park and the very popular West Fork trail. I visited early April 2019 when the morning frost coated everything outside and again in mid-September 2020, when the cool mornings transitioned into midday sun-bathing temps and the opportunity to wade through the creek. In fact, if you walk upstream you will run right into the West Fork Trail. Of course, I prefer the late summer Sedona experience but honestly, Sedona is truly magical all year round.
This Deck. That Deck. Or that Deck!
My laptop and notes were spread out on the dining table in the solarium and I would work away with the rushing water sounds in the background. I enjoyed my morning coffee in the backyard (or is that the side yard?) on the two-seater swing staring at the tall canyon walls right in front of me. Sometimes, I brought a sketchpad and notebook to the lower patio landing. I left the devices in the cabin for fear of dropping them into the creek. If I wanted to bother, I would’ve used the indoor fireplace or outdoor fire pit during the chilly mornings or evenings. But I needed easy and low maintenance. The surrounding nature and this coziness of this cabin was just perfect for me. I didn’t even tour around much except for a few beautiful hikes last year and a Schnebly Off- Road adventure this time around.
The master bedroom has a little nook in the corner with a desk overlooking the creek below. It gets the morning sun, so this was my favorite spot to sit and write especially in the colder climate. It also has a newly renovated master bathroom. The guest room has two double bunk beds, perfect for a family or girlfriends’ getaway. It’s a self-contained cabin stocked with staples, but you should bring your own groceries before arriving. The nearest grocery store is 23 miles away. However, there are some nice restaurants close by down the road, as well as a little country store in the Butterfly Inn just a few hundred yards away.
Do you Prefer to Unplug? Or Not?
I had more connectivity problems with cell service this time around because I switched cell phone carriers since my first visit (Verizon works best here). However, this cabin has a solid Wi-Fi inside and around the cabin. I just considered the few dropped signals as an opportunity to stay unplugged and not be bothered. After all, this is my getaway from all I can get away from!
When sitting in the side yard, you will hear the cars going by. And, unfortunately, they zip by quite fast, so I recommend sitting closer to the creek on one of her three waterside decks. The 89A is a two-lane highway, the main route between Sedona and Flagstaff so walking along this road is not recommended. Last year I had a frightening experience just walking to the Butterfly Inn. I had to jump over the guardrail to avoid being hit so use your vehicle and be careful pulling in and out of the driveway.
As a solo female traveler, was I creeped out being there alone? No. I had a few moments my first night last year. It is near the woods, on a creek and outside of town. Despite it being an old cabin, what you mostly hear at night are the soothing sounds of the water below. There are neighbors on each side, so you are not in total isolation. I was fortunate to see the owner, my friend last year on check in and had another friend drive up the first day go hiking and help me get checked in. (That was my first solo cabin experience.) The second time around is always easier. Although the cabin can feel lonely, the sounds of the creek are soothing and just staying busy with a book or a notepad takes that edge off.
Traveling to Sedona During the Coronavirus Restrictions.
Even though the pandemic was already over during my second visit, I knew hotels, shops and restaurants were still requiring masks and social distancing. It made no sense for me to put my hard-earned money down on a reservation to have to look at half faces, communicate with muffled voices and constantly watch where I stand and walk. This to me is not a vacation. Therefore, Sedona made sense. I needed to get out of the intense Phoenix heat. The beautiful landscapes and trails beckoned me, and fresher air is always good therapy. Renting a private AirBnb made sense and restaurants outside of the main touristy areas were chosen based on their accommodations for those who can’t cover their faces.
Oak Creek Cabin’s Hidden “J.E.M.” During Coronavirus Restrictions.
If you’re worried about the virus, don’t. This cabin is listed on AirBnb under this name and is managed by Superhost “Misha”. I’m not a germaphobe but I did ask for my readers, and they are certified by AirBnb for COVID-19 cleaning protocol. Both times I have been there it has been spotless. No crumbs, no insects, no pests!
Tips for the Healthy Traveler
Bring your own filtered water unless you are fine with the Brita system.
Do not drink nor wash produce with tap water. The cabin runs on a septic tank.
Bring essential oils to diffuse by your bedside or in the shower. It can help with sleep, respiratory issues or travel stress.
Wear water shoes if you plan to wade or hike in the water. The rocks are slippery. Walk in the middle of the creek not along the sides. I learned this the hard way.
Walking sticks or hiking poles are a good idea too.
Carry a flashlight with you. She has flashlights for your use but it’s wise to have your own in case you forget to take one. It gets very dark outside the cabin.
Close all your car windows while parked. Don’t leave food in your car. The critters may try to hibernate.
If you have any instability or mobility issues, be mindful of uneven pathways on the property, as well as the steep stairs down to the creek. (Use the rails or avoid stair travel altogether.)
The cabin is pet-free and non-smoking.
This type of accommodation is for the glamping type who prefer a little rustic but needs all the amenities for comfort.
For more photos, visit my social media accounts. Feel free to post any questions or comments below. I would love to hear about your first cabin experience too!