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Twisted tourism

Twisted tourism

By Joe Kissell
Curator of Interesting Things


The energy vortex: genuine natural phenomenon or something the tourist information office dreamed up? Joe Kissell reports on the world’s most popular invisible attraction.


The town of Sedona, about two hours’ drive north of Phoenix, is situated in an area of rare and stunning natural beauty. Towering rock formations and iron-rich reddish soil give the landscape an otherworldly appearance. Kids will recognize it as the habitat of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. If you’re looking for a scenic vacation spot, Sedona is the place to go. It’s a favorite destination for romantic getaways, with a resort or a spa around every corner.

Doing the Twist
A large percentage of Sedona’s visitors, however, come to experience something you can’t see at all. An endless number of books, web sites, brochures, and local guides proclaim the wonders of several so-called energy vortexes.

A vortex, it is claimed, is an area of invisible, swirling energy emanating from the earth and producing an uplifting, rejuvenating sensation in visitors. Nearby, one often finds juniper trees with severely twisted trunks and branches—an effect attributed to the vortex energy. So powerful is this force, in fact, that it has twisted the laws of grammar in the entire region. What would in other parts of the English-speaking world be called “vortices” gets twisted i