Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park in Sedona | RTX Traveler Magazine

Buddhist spirituality thrives among Sedona’s red rocks

After a long day of hiking Sedona’s endless trails and seeking the energy of the vortexes with crowds of others, a visit to the Amithaba Stupa and Peace Park about an hour before sunset will transport you to a place of peace and calm.

Amithaba Stupa (25)_webIf you’re an early bird, a sunrise visit to this sacred Buddhist monument will set the perfect tone for your entire day. Really, any time of day you visit the Amitabha Stupa will be worthwhile, but the cooler temperatures, stunning light and relative privacy of the early and later hours will add a little extra magic to the experience.

Just a few turns from highway 89A in west Sedona into a residential neighborhood will take you to the parking area and entrance. Like so many places around Sedona, you’ll feel like you’re far removed from civilization even though you’re only a few minutes away.

Just a short distance on the trail to the stupa, you’ll start seeing Tibetan prayer flags strung throughout the tree branches. Some are so old that the colors have nearly faded completely away and the edges are frayed and stringy from exposure to the weather, while some are the vibrant blue, green, red, yellow and white of newer flags.  Other offerings can be found along the trail at the bases of trees or at a turn in the path, like stacks of red rocks mindfully placed in small formations, real and artificial flowers, icons representing Buddhism and a range of other religions, or other small tokens left by visitors who wanted to acknowledge and give thanks to this special place.

The 36-foot tall stupa is named for Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of Limitless Light. The structure itself looks as if it could have been in this exact location for hundreds, even thousands of years instead of just shy of 10 years. The rich colors and dramatic scenery of the surrounding red rocks are enough to make you take pause in one of the chairs under the covered pavilion where ceremonies and services are held to listen to the sound of the flags blowing in the breeze and watch as the colors change with the rising or setting sun.

Once your senses have taken it all in, read some of the messages of peace, love, hope and prayer written on the homemade flags or in the prayer book. If you are so compelled, write your own prayer request in the book and follow the ritual of walking clockwise around the stupa three times while mindfully concentrating on a wish or desire for yourself or someone else. Leave a small token or offering at the base of the stupa. Spend some time at the 6-foot tall Tara Stupa representing the female Buddha. Explore the trails surrounding the two stupas and you’ll find other unique artifacts, artwork and offerings sprinkled throughout the park.

Regardless of what religion you practice, and even if intense spirituality is typically not for you, this is one attraction in Sedona that is well worth a visit for quiet contemplation, meditation, or just to soak in yet another amazing vista of the surrounding rock formations.

Fun Facts

  • 162494041_webThe 14 privately owned acres at the base of Thunder Mountain that are home to both the Amitabha and Tara stupas are open to the public year round from sunrise to sunset.

  • The Amitabha Stupa was constructed in 2004 at the instruction of Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, spiritual director of Kunzang Palyul Choling, a Buddhist temple in Maryland.

  • Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo was the first Western woman to ever be recognized in Buddhist culture as a tulku, or intentional reincarnation.

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