Road Trip to Sedona

Visit Sedona

Just two hours from Phoenix, Sedona is nestled against striking red sandstone formations at the edge of a beautiful Oak Creek Canyon. The surrounding areas offer amazing hiking, biking, swimming and camping opportunities. The town itself bustles with gourmet restaurants, art galleries, and new age relaxation places. This is a perfect a long weekend trip for spring or fall, but don’t go in the summer unless you like 100-degree weather, way too warm for my taste. Here are top 5 things to do in Sedona.

The town of Sedona, Arizona lies at the mouth of Oak Tree Canyon, a 16-mile gorge that’s a smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon. Small wonder then that Sedona has become a magnet for artists and New Age mystics, drawn here by its dramatic red sandstone formations, its scenic vistas and the almost supernatural quality of its pure desert light. Adventurous travelers soon followed in their wake. Renting a condo for your Sedona vacation allows you savor the beauty of your surroundings in relative privacy. There are numerous condos available near golf complexes and close to other recreational sites that will give you quicker access to your favorite activities.

Hiking in Sedona

Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest, Sedona is a paradise for hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The Brins Mesa Trail is a three-mile roundtrip of moderate difficulty that will take you up to a mesa from which you can peer down at Mormon Canyon and Soldiers Pass. If you’re looking for a longer but easier hike, take the Little Horse Trail to the top of Chicken Point; during the course of your 3.4-mile roundtrip, you’ll catch stunning vistas of Cathedral Rock, Courthouse / Bell Rock, Gibraltar Rock, and Munds Wilderness. Fishing is also a popular pastime in Sedona. The Oak Creek River is stocked with rainbow trout, while the nearby Verde River, the only Arizona waterway that’s part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, is a great place to catch largemouth bass and brown trout during your Arizona vacation.

Golfing in Sedona

Golfing on a green alongside of a red butte formation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and there are more than 15 golf resorts, country clubs, and courses in the Sedona area to prove it. The best may be Oakcreek Country Club whose 18-hole course was designed by the father-and-son team of Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr. Visitors to the Sedona Golf Resort report that playing this course must be what it feels like to play golf in the Grand Canyon. This resort’s Par 3 is the most photographed tee in the entire Southwest.

The Verde Valley Wine Trail

Sedona’s on the northwest edge of the Verde Valley, which in recent years has seen the development of a number of vineyards and wineries. The rocky soils lend a unique terroir to the grapes grown here, and Rhone varietals are particular favorites. Echo Canyon Winery, just outside the Sedona city limits, was one of the first wineries in this area; it began as a truck farm producing fruits and vegetables for the mining camps in nearby Jerome. Page Springs Cellars along the banks of Oak Creek, produces a variety of reds and whites.

The Weather in Sedona

At an elevation of 4,500 feet, Sedona is considerably cooler than other parts of Arizona, though average temperatures are still well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. In the winter months, it’s not uncommon for the thermometer to dip below freezing. The best time to visit Sedona is in the spring and autumn months when the air is balmy and the days are still long enough to appreciate the play of the changing light on the rock formations.

Getting to Sedona

The closest airports to Sedona are Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) and Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG). Although the Phoenix airport is farther, it offers a convenient shuttle service into Sedona. Other than that, the best way to get to Sedona is by traveling Interstate 17 and turning off at Exit #298 for the Red Rock Scenic Byway Road.

Attractions In and Around Sedona

First time in Sedona (and vicinity) and looking for places to see? Local attractions include Blazin’ M Ranch, M Diamond Ranch and Verde Canyon Railroad. Don’t miss landmarks such as Chapel of the Holy Cross, Palatki Ruins and Honanki. If some outdoor time is on the agenda, experience the natural beauty of Montezuma Castle National Monument, Bell Rock and Snoopy Rock.

You could easily spend a day shopping at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. Fun activities in the city include Lost Canyon Trail, West Loop Trail and Wilson Canyon Trail. Other things to do while in town include a visit to Sedona Skatepark, Broken Arrow Trailhead and Sugarloaf Mountain Trailhead.

Take the Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive

Oak Creek Canyon is just north of Sedona and is a 14-mile drive along Route 89A, a national scenic byway. It’s a breathtaking stretch of winding road that climbs to the top of Mogollon Rim. Aside from enjoying the scenic drive and Oak Creek, be sure to stop at the Slide Rock (swimming and picnic area), hike along the West Fork Oak Creek Trail and check out the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Point. Also stop for lunch at Indian Gardens Oak Creek Market and check out their patio on a nice day.

We actually stumbled upon Oak Canyon by accident driving from Grand Canyon to Sedona. We lucked out to be there at the right time of day (mid-day) and right time of year to see the picturesque forests in fall colors.

Enjoy Downtown Sedona

Take a stroll through Sedona downtown, visit mesmerizing art galleries, try local cuisine, get healing massage treatments, and check out local wineries for wine tasting. One thing we enjoyed, a lot, was fudge from Sedona Fudge Company. It was so yummy, we went there twice.

On weekends, the town gets crowded and traffic is pretty bad, so plan to get there early to avoid restaurant wait time and find places to park.

Hike to Devil’s Bridge

Devil’s Bridge Trail is a 4.2 mile trail to a natural rock bridge with stunning views of the surrounding valley and Red Rock country. Devil’s Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch located in the Sedona area. Note from Teri: We didn’t do enough research before going on this hike and didn’t realize how steep it would be. Come ready with hiking shoes, water and sun protection.

Watch an Arizona Sunset

Arizona is famous for its sunrises and sunsets – the dramatic colors of orange, blood red and hot pinks are a common occurrence. Science attributes these to dry air (moisture diffuses light) and high-level storm systems. We decided to watch the sunset off Airport Road from the Sedona View Trail and Sedona Airport Vortex rock that soar above Sedona.

Note: if you choose to take this hike for sunset, remember that you’ll have to get back to the car in the dark, through pitch black wilderness hiking trail. So, don’t read about all the dangers of Arizona wild animals that morning :-).

Explore Cathedral Rock Area

One of the most popular hike areas is the Cathedral Rock Trail, it’s not the easiest hike, but definitely worth it. Check out the Crescent Moon Picnic Area for the view of Cathedral Rock and its reflections in Oak Creek. The best time is to come in the late afternoon before sunset, to see the Fire Mountain glow.

Take a Day Trip from Sedona

There are many great adventure trips from Sedona that can take you to majestic places, such as Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon South Rim and Horseshoe Bend.


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