A vacation in Sedona is something else. A two-hour drive from the Grand Canyon and Phoenix , also located in the state of Arizona , is a geological wonderland where world-famous rock formations tower high above the desert landscape and where sparkling streams and swimming holes provide the much-needed cooling. This once small farming community has grown into a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts where you can experience exciting outdoor adventures with the whole family. From relaxing in a luxurious spa to epic off-road rides over the red rocks: Sedona engages all your senses! You can also combine your Sedona holiday with a Western Experience car tour or a Fly Driv Phoenix / Scottsdale. Prefer a tour through the whole of Western America? Then view our overview of all tours through Western America.
History of Sedona
According to Foodezine, Sedona’s red rocks have been a source of strength, energy, and inspiration to visitors and residents for centuries. The area’s rich history dates back thousands of years when the first Native Americans settled in the caves in and around Sedona and managed to grow corn, beans, and pumpkins in an area with almost no annual rainfall. Still an impressive achievement. Traces of those early inhabitants can still be found in Montezuma Castle, for example.
The first Europeans arrived much later. The Spaniards only discovered the area in the 16th century. Present-day Sedona began to take shape around 1876 when the first pioneers settled in Oak Creek Canyon. In the early 20th century, about twenty families lived in Sedona. In 1902, Theodore Schnebly submitted a request for a new post office and when it was approved, he named the new post office Sedona after his wife.
By the way, did you know that Sedona was called “Little Hollywood” for a while? The film industry played an important role here for a while. For more than 30 years, westerns were the most popular movies in America and Sedona was the best region to shoot. Many tourists still come here to see the rocks that have become famous in Hollywood.
Yet Sedona has long remained a small town. It wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that artists began to emerge, and in the 1980s, Sedona became a major destination for New Age followers and those interested in spirituality.
Today, Sedona is a popular tourist destination and a true outdoor mecca known for its iconic rock formations, vibrant arts scene, spiritual energy, and several national parks.
Best time to travel to Sedona
Arizona has a variety of climate types thanks to its large surface area and the many height differences. Much of the state consists of desert and has a dry and hot desert climate. In the north and east it is usually cooler and there is more precipitation.
The climate of Sedona falls somewhere in between and the average temperatures are somewhat lower than, for example, in the Sonara Desert. Sedona can therefore be visited all year round. But be aware that it can get quite hot in the summer. Don’t you like that? Then we recommend to come in the spring (May – June) or autumn (September – October).
Make a commitment to care for the environment
Preserving and protecting the natural beauty of Red Rock Country is a responsibility we all share – something that takes a little effort from all of us. One thing we would like to invite all of our visitors and residents is to add your name to the Sedona Cares Challenge and make a pledge to care for the environment. It’s a simple act that shows how much YOU care about nature too.
Register your pledge here!
13 Attractions in Sedona
Traveling to Sedona soon? We have listed 13 special tips for you!
1.Oak Creek Canyon
In Sedona you never have to search long for photogenic gems. So keep your camera ready when you go to Oak Creek Canyon. And don’t forget your swimsuit, hiking boots and fishing rod. Oak Creek Canyon is the place of choice for avid nature lovers and sports enthusiasts. The journey there alone is promising. A road with many hairpin bends and beautiful views of the breathtaking rocky landscape and green nature around Oak Creek brings you to the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Point. Here you have a beautiful view of the Coconino National Forest canyon and a bird’s eye view of what awaits you when you get out in Oak Creek Canyon.
2.Broken Arrow Trail
In the area around Broken Arrow Trail you have plenty of views, rocks and trails and you can mountain bike, climb or hike to your heart’s content. For those who want to take a short walk, the Broken Arrow Trail is perfect. The 1.7-mile walk is doable for the average hiker and takes you past rock formations with resounding names such as Devils Dining Room Sinkhole or Submarine Rock.
If you really want to discover the area well, take a jeep and take an exciting off-road ride through the rugged rocky landscape. The highlight of the tour is the section called The Steps, an adventurous descent over rocks and along paths you never thought you could drive a car in the first place.
3. The Bell Rock Trail
The hike to Bell Rock is a must for anyone wanting a sensational hike. At Bell Rock there are several trails for hikers of all levels, from families with children to more experienced hikers and climbers.
There is an easy walk of about 3 km that takes you through several trails around Bell Rock and where you get to see Bell Rock from a different angle. The walk is easy and suitable for almost everyone.
For those who like to challenge themselves on the trails, this is where it starts. Via the signs “Bell Rock Climb” you walk to the base via a short but spectacular walk. This 1.5 km walk starts on the north side of Bell Rock and follows a path marked with cairns (piles of stones) up. The last bit to the top is for the experienced hikers who don’t mind climbing over the rocks. This section is unmarked and you must find your own way to the top.
The most impressive rock in Sedona is called Cathedral rock. Thanks to its shape, Cathedral Rock looks a bit like a cathedral. It is perhaps one of the most famous rocks in the entire state of Arizona. Plus, it’s one of Sedona’s most photographed hotspots. At the top of Cathedral Rock you have a magnificent view of the area and wherever you look, the panorama is always different.
Tip: Go at sunrise, then you can see the sun slowly rise above the area. This is guaranteed to produce magical pictures.
5.Red Rock Crossing
Sedona photogenic? That’s quite an understatement. At Red Rock Crossing, see Cathedral rock reflected in the waters of Oak Creek at sunset and wander endlessly along the banks of the river. With its beautiful red rock scenery, Red Rock Crossing, in Crescent Moon Park just outside of Sedona, is a popular recreation area. Visitors come here to enjoy the panoramic vistas of Cathedral rock and to hike. The Red Rock State Park is rugged and pristine but very charming and with a maze of trails for hikers of every level it has something for everyone.
6.Slide Rock State Park
Centuries of erosion of the rocks in Slide Rock State Park have created a natural slide that opens into a wonderfully cool swimming hole. Slide Rock State Park is the perfect place for a stopover on your way to Oak Creek Canyon further afield, to take a dip in the river or to spend a fun afternoon with the kids
7.Red Rock State Park
When it comes to sweeping vistas, few places in Sedona rival Red Rock State Park. Here you can hike, horseback ride or (gravel) bike through the scenic landscape and be inspired by the natural beauty of Arizona. Red Rock State Park is a 15-minute drive from Sedona and is a popular destination for tourists on a multi-day trip to Sedona. Red Rock State Park is also frequented by locals. There are several hiking trails through the park. With approximately 10 km of interconnected trails, there is a trail for everyone.
8. Airport Mesa
The views and the red rocks. Two aspects that make Sedona so special and for which many travelers come here. That’s a good thing in Airport Mesa. Just a short drive from downtown, the imposing rock formation of Airport Mesa towers over the surrounding area. Ideal for a quick escape from the relative hustle and bustle of Sedona.
Most visitors come here to admire the impressive vistas from the Loop Trail, a rocky hike of just over 5 km that you can conquer on foot, running or by mountain bike. Along the way, you’ll be treated to impressive views of Cathedral Rock, Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, Chimney Rock, and Coffee Pot Rock. At the top you have a special 360 degree panorama over the city of Sedona.
9.Chapel of the Holy Cross
In Sedona, spirituality is never far away. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is one of Sedona’s newer religious icons. This special modern chapel is built into a rock and a large glass wall behind the altar offers a breathtaking view of the surroundings. Millions of pilgrims and tourists come here every year to experience the peace, quiet and beauty of this place. It is also one of the 7 so-called vortex sites of Sedona, places where a positive energy can be felt that has a healing effect on body and mind.
10. Sedona Heritage Museum
Learn more about the history of Sedona and the region at the Sedona Heritage Museum. Located in the Jordan Historical Park, the museum is housed in the historic home (The Jordan Farmstead) of Walter and Ruth Jordan, members of a well-known pioneer family. The museum consists of 3 historical monumental buildings, a replica tent house and a restored film set. You can also see exhibitions about the time of the pioneers, historical agricultural vehicles, artifacts and photography.
11. Tlaquepaque Village
Tlaquepaque Village on the banks of the Oak Creek River (pronounced Tla-keh-pah-keh, it means “the best of everything”) is bursting with quaint streets lined with restaurants, galleries, vintage specialty shops, artists and cozy shops full of antiques and souvenirs. In the recreated Mexican you will find everything you need for a pleasant afternoon of shopping.
12.Desert Canyon Scenic Loop Drive
A drive through the Desert Canyon Scenic Loop Drive is a must when visiting Sedona. The route takes you past colorful canyons, lush oases, and remote Indian ruins. There are several places to camp along the way, such as Wet Beaver Creek Crossing and along West Clear Creek. Watch out for crossing coyotes and javalinas!
13. Mund’s Mountain
There is plenty to do in Munds Mountain Wilderness: From hikes to rock climbing or relaxing at one of the vortex sites.
The Munds Mountain Wilderness is an 18,150 acre area and home to many of the well-known red rocks such as Courthouse Butte and the magical Bell Rock. This park is one of the best places to enjoy the view of the breathtaking red rocks with a clear blue sky in the background. Many people find the rock formations most beautiful in the evening or in the morning. Then the reflected sunlight creates a red glow and exposes the spectacular shades of color in the rocks.