THINGS TO DO IN SEDONA
Sedona is considered one of the most beautiful places in America to visit. In fact, Sedona claimed the top spot in USA Weekend’s Most Beautiful Places in America list. Geographically, Sedona rests in a transition zone between the Colorado Plateau and Upper Sonoran Desert. Multi-hued stone pinnacles, spires, buttes and domes rise from the high desert. Light reflects off these stone formations and changes hourly with the light. This sacred and powerful place is surrounded by 1.8 million acres of National Forest, and home to several spiritual energy vortexes, as well as an extensive trail system with unparalleled options for hiking and biking. Sedona offers astounding red rock vistas and is a perfect destination for the off-season months when the rest of the country’s trails are covered in snow. Read on for the best places to explore Sedona’s incredible outdoors, its spiritual vortexes, and camp under the stars.
Sedona weather is variable throughout the year with temperature highs in the 50s to topping 100 degrees, depending on the month you visit. Summer can be scorching, especially without much shade in the desert, with July high temperatures topping out near 100. The best time of year to visit Sedona is spring and fall when temps are typically between 60 and 80 and the skies are sunny. Winter months bring fewer people and chillier temperatures, but can still be a great time to visit. The nights can get cold, sometimes dipping below freezing, but with the sun out during the day and the highs in the 50s and 60s it can feel much warmer. Winter is also very conducive to outdoor activities, because despite the sunny days, you can still get very active before breaking too much of a sweat.
SEDONA MOUNTAIN BIKING
Sedona is ranked #14 globally in the listing of best Sedona bike trail systems according to Trailforks. Ditch your car and experience this red rock heaven on bike. For the best bike rental shops in Sedona, compare prices and rent a mountain bike online starting at $45/day. Sedona Bike rental & Bean offers top quality Sedona bike rentals perfect for the Sedona red rock, and their in-house coffee shop means you can enjoy a cappuccino while you learn about the awesome trail options from their knowledgeable staff!
BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE: CHUCKWAGON – MESCAL – LONG CANYON
Chuckwagon – Mescal – Long Canyon is a spectacular 9.1-mile singletrack loop with not too much elevation or climbing. Riders who are in Sedona for their first time will find this trail a good introduction to Sedona without the strenuous climbs of other trails in the area. This figure eight loop has smooth singletrack and is moderately challenging, with gorgeous red rock scenery.
INTERMEDIATE: WEST SEDONA TOUR
West Sedona Tour is a 13.1-mile singletrack loop with lots of turns, some climbing and descending, and the opportunity to link together 8 classic West Sedona trails. It can also be added to other trails like the Chuckwagon-Mescal-Long Canyon Loop (see #2) for a longer ride. These trails are some of the best riding in West Sedona, featuring the red rock terrain that Sedona is famous for.
INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED: CATHEDRAL BIG ROCK LOOP
Cathedral Big Rock Loop is a 12.4-mile out and back ride with some climbing and descents, and several technical rock sections. The trail crosses the popular Cathedral Rock hiking trail (hikers only) so be courteous to hikers. This ride features all the best of this popular area, and intermediate/advanced riders will love the trail’s flow and incredible scenery.
There are over 120 hiking trails created to experience the beauty of the Sedona Red Rocks. Hiking is the best way to experience the serenity of this red rock land. Sedona’s terrain is a mixture of the finest elements of Arches, Capitol Reef, Zion, and Bryce National Parks.
Best Trails: Sedona hiking trails vary drastically in terms of difficulty, terrain, distance, and elevation. The following are some of the top trails in Sedona:
Mescal Mountain Loop is a 4.7 mile loop that combines three trails to circle the stunning Mescal Mesa. Good for beginner/intermediate hikers, the trail’s main draw is the incredible red rock scenery. Portions of the trail traverse along the slickrock.
Brins Mesa Soldier Pass Loop is an 8-mile loop trail features awe-inspiring scenery and vistas, including Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole and Soldier Pass Arch. There is some elevation, and you will climb to Brins Mesa for a gorgeous vista as well as Soldier Pass to view the arch.
Sterling Pass Trail to Vultee Arch is a 5-mile roundtrip hike in Oak Creek Canyon climbs to the top of Sterling Pass and overlooked Vultee Arch, one of several natural red rock arches in the Sedona area. This arch is on the larger side, at 40 feet high and 50 feet wide. There are some climbs but the vistas are worth it – start early and take your time!
Before you leave, don’t forget to recharge by experiencing Sedona’s famous vortexes. Underneath Sedona’s spectacular beauty beats a healing heart, a place that has long been revered as sacred and powerful. Visitors come from across the globe to experience the Sedona vortexes. These energy centers are believed to be conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These vortexes are special places where the earth seems to be especially alive with energy and mysterious cosmic forces that are said to emanate from the red rocks. Many people leave Sedona feeling inspired, recharged or uplifted.
In all, whether you enjoy biking, hiking, camping, yoga retreats, or exploring energy centres, Sedona has something to offer everyone.
Sedona campgrounds are limited, with just one private campground in town, but there are some camping options outside of town with beautiful views of the Sedona red rock.
- Several options exist for free camping, with the main drag 525 (Loy Butte Road) being the most popular and closest to town and trails. It’s a bumpy road but doable with most vehicles. It can be really busy during peak times, and the Forest Service is working on establishing sites so people don’t just go create their own site and destroy the desert.
- Make sure you stick to one of the established parking/camping spots and don’t just forge your own spot in the desert.
- Please make sure to leave no trace and pack everything out (that includes your poo!). These materials don’t break down in the dry desert, so burying human waste is a no-no here.
Looking for a custom, guided or personalized experience in Sedona? You’ve come to the right place. Sedona tours are some of the best ways to experience the magical red rock and hidden gems of this area. Try an electric bike tour to visit the vortexes, or a hiking tour to see Sedona’s dark sky reserve. Want to explore Sedona’s mountain bike trails? Sedona Mountain Bike Academy offers lessons + tours of the world famous Sedona mtb trails.
GETTING TO SEDONA
PHOENIX TO SEDONA
Phoenix is a great gateway to Sedona, being an easy 2-hour drive away. Flying into Phoenix and driving to Sedona is the most popular way to access the area, due to the large international airport and easy access to rental cars.
FLAGSTAFF TO SEDONA
Visiting Sedona from Flagstaff is another great way to get to the area. Flagstaff to Sedona is an easy 45-minute drive through some of the most gorgeous red rock country on earth.
LAS VEGAS TO SEDONA
Las Vegas is another option – it’s about 4.5 hours to drive from Las Vegas to Sedona. You can even visit the quaint mountain town of Flagstaff on the way!
GRAND CANYON TO SEDONA
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is only about 2 hours from Sedona, making it a great road trip destination before or after visiting Sedona.