It’s incredible how one experience can shape how you will always think of a place. During a spring break road trip from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix, Ariz., my girlfriend and I stopped for about two hours in Sedona.
In no way was that long enough to fully soak in the beauty of the surrounding red mesas and spires, but a quick Google search led us to a place that left me with a potent memory of tranquility and natural splendor.
On the slopes of Capitol Butte — perched above residential neighborhoods — sits Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park. We got out of the car on the side of a steep street and made our way up steps lined with multicolored Buddhist prayer flags, in addition to offerings of beads, coins and other heartfelt mementos. After a short trek, the juniper pines opened to reveal the 36-foot-high Amitabha Stupa and the smaller Tara Stupa, where visitors can worship and breathe in the calmness every day from dawn to dusk.
A stupa, intended to embody the presence of Buddha and the enlightened mind, is one of the oldest sacred architectural structures in the world. There is no fee to enter the space. However, donations are greatly appreciated and help support resources such as the informational kiosk that provides education about spiritual practices and the park’s construction.
We ventured slightly higher to take in the view and examine the statue of Buddha that watches over the stupa. Its meditative pose was an oddly comforting reminder to take things slow and savor the moment — important advice for all travelers.