Sedona is known as Red Rock Country and I have to say, it definitely lives up to its name. As soon as you get off the highway exit, you are greeted by numerous red sandstone cliffs and massive red sandstone spires. Everywhere you look, there’s a gorgeous view of these red-orange colored rocks surrounding you. Even though this desert town is considered a small city, it’s a must-see. I made sure to visit Sedona after my stop to the Grand Canyon. I only spent a day here, but I would strongly suggest you stay for two to three nights if you plan on doing some hiking.
When To Visit:
Much like visiting the Grand Canyon – South Rim, the best time to plan a trip to Sedona is in the spring. This is when the temperatures are still pleasant and it’s not too hot for outdoor activities. This is also the busiest season where most travelers will flock to Sedona to enjoy the weather and amazing views. It’s best to book your accommodations and activities early if you plan to visit during this time. Things can get booked quickly! Since I visited in mid-April, I was able to dodge the heat, but it ended up being in the low 50s with rain and hail. Luckily, the weather cleared up shortly after, but it was still cool to see a thunderstorm in the desert.
Fall is another great time to visit Sedona since the temperatures are mild. This is also when the leaves begin to change color to burnt orange and vibrant red. The crisp air makes it more enjoyable to be outdoors compared to the summer months. If you want to save some money, visiting during the summer or winter is your best chance. Winter is the least crowded time to visit, so you’ll have easier access to reservations and hiking trails, but it’s also the coldest time (by coldest I mean under 60 degrees, so it’s really not that bad unless you’re used to warm weather all year round). Summer is probably one of the worst times to visit since the heat can be unbearable and dangerous, so if you plan to visit during the summer months, bring plenty of water!
Since Sedona doesn’t have a commercial service airport, most people fly into Flagstaff or Phoenix and then drive to Sedona. This plan also works VERY well if you decide to spend time in these cities or visit the Grand Canyon. That’s basically what I did with this trip. I flew into Phoenix and drove up to the Grand Canyon. I then made my way back down throughout the week and made a stop in Sedona.
If you only plan on spending time in Sedona, it’s probably best to fly into Flagstaff since it’s closer, but you can’t go wrong with either option.
- Fly into Flagstaff – 40-45 minutes
- Fly into Phoenix – 2 hours
Where To Stay:
Like mentioned prior, even though Sedona is considered a small town, it’s a bit overpopulated. Between the locals and the tourists, it can make getting around very difficult. There’s a lot of congestion near the downtown area and parking fills up fast! This goes for the trails as well, so if you want to beat the crowds, it’s best to do things early in the morning (or go during the winter months).
I found that staying in Village of Oak Creek worked best for me. It’s near many trails and outdoor activities, but still about 15 minutes away from Uptown Sedona. This allowed me to be close enough, but not have to deal with the traffic and being in a busy area. This is also a great location for families.
There are various places to choose from including luxury resorts and budget friendly hotels. It just depends on what you’re looking for and what you plan on doing. I always find it simpler to book an Airbnb if possible.
One of the best ways to experience Sedona is to go on a hike. There are so many trails to choose from, but the popular ones tend to get really busy, so it’s best to plan ahead. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, there’s a trail for you! Some of them have shaded areas along the way and others are in the scorching sun the entire time. This is something to keep in mind when picking which hikes to go on. Some of the best ones to check out are listed below:
- Fay Canyon
- Devil’s Bridge
- Cathedral Rock
- Boynton Canyon
- West Fork of Oak Creek
- Bell Rock Loop
- Birthing Cave
- Airport Loop
- Solider Pass
- Bear Mountain
As always, remember to bring enough water! If hiking isn’t for you, another way to experience Sedona’s Red Rocks would be to go on a Pink Jeep Tour. They’re also very popular here, so booking in advance is recommended. Their Broken Arrow tour is highly rated, so this is the one I picked. I was paired with two other families and ended up having a great time as we talked about where we were from and what brought us to Sedona (as mentioned in my Grand Canyon post, I was traveling alone, so it’s always nice to meet other people).
One Day Sample Itinerary
If you only have one day to spend in Sedona, check out the sample itinerary below for some ideas:
- Go on a Pink Jeep Tour – I would advise a 7 a.m. tour to get started early
- Hike Devil’s Bridge or another trail listed above
- Break for lunch – head to Main Street for some options
- Check out the shops and sculptures in the area (Uptown Sedona)
- Go on another hike listed above – Fay Canyon is an easier trail
- Stop at Airport Mesa Overlook for a view of Sedona
- End the day with dinner at Mariposa and catch the sunset if you dine outside
My time in Sedona may have been short, but it was a different experience than my visit to the Grand Canyon or my trip to Phoenix. It was truly the only time I felt like I was in a desert, but also a city at the same time. I hope to come back and explore more in the near future. If Arizona is on your list, don’t overlook Sedona!
“Nowhere on this planet is the desert as fascinating as it is in Arizona”