Hiking in Sedona

July 5, 2013 by

Day Trips, Free Things to Do, Local Guides, Local Recommendations, Things to Do, Travel Tips, Unforgettable Experiences


Sedona. Photo courtesy of Ed Siasoco.

Located about two hours away, Sedona is a worthwhile day trip from Phoenix. It is especially great for those interested in exploring the outdoors, as hiking in Sedona will immerse you in a world of vibrant red rock buttes and spires. Hiking is the only way to truly immerse yourself in the beauty of the area and feel its magic. To help you plan your trip, check out this guide to hiking in Sedona.

Getting there

Sedona is an easy day trip from Phoenix, especially as there are a number of public transportation options and is an easy drive. If you’re flying into Phoenix Airport, you can take the airport shuttle directly to Sedona, which leaves eight times per day between 10am and 8pm. There is also an Ace- Xpress Shuttle (1-800-336-2239) that will pick you up from the city center or your hotel to take you back and forth from Phoenix and Sedona. Greyhound Buses and Amtrak Trains leave from Flagstaff (located within 20 minutes of Phoenix) to go to Sedona. For a scenic driving option, opt for State Route (SR) 179, designated an All American Road by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) due to its “natural, recreational and scenic qualities.”

If you’re interested in mixing on-foot exploration with jeep touring, a Sedona Red Rock Adventure including Jeep Tour is a smart option. The excursion takes you around the striking red rock monoliths in a 4×4 as well as allows you to explore local attractions like Montezuma Castle National Monument and the Chapel of the Holy Cross via walking tours. You’ll also have time to walk around the downtown.

Hiking tips

Most likely, you’ll spend your time hiking around Coconino National Park, which encompasses over 100,000 acres (4,047 hectares). The great thing about this spot is trails are clearly marked and maps are readily available. Many trailheads begin on the outskirts of town, although you’ll be immersed in nature in no time. If you are bringing a car, note you will have to pay a parking fee. In terms of keeping yourself safe and healthy, Sedona features a desert climate so plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen and a hat are crucial. Don’t feed any wildlife, and make sure to use the “leave no trace philosophy” by taking everything you bring on the hike back out with you.

Before any hiking, you should stop into the Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center or the Red Rock Ranger Station Visitor Center for complete details on the local hikes.

Great hikes

Hiking in Sedona is one of the top outdoor activities near Phoenix and is not to be missed. If you simply want an easy yet scenic outdoor walk, the Cow Pies Hike is a good choice. It’s about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) round trip and gets you up close to some beautiful “cow pies,” or large circular red rock formations. The scenery is enhanced by the plentiful agave and small lizards that litter the area. For those looking for something moderate, one popular choice is the Boynton Canyon Hike. The vortex area trek is 6.6. miles (11 kilometers) round trip and features striking red rock, and scenery changes between canyon and woodland. Because it’s a local favorite, you won’t be alone on the trail. And for a challenge when hiking in Sedona, the Bike Trail Hike may only be 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) round trip, however it’s narrow, unmaintained, unmarked, uneven and all around challenging. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with postcard-worthy views of Cathedral Rock, Little Park, Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Chapel of the Holy Cross and Coffee Pot Rock.

-Jessica Festa

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