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As you drive along the highway into Sedona, Arizona the ground beside the pavement begins to redden. With each curve in the road, towering rock formations come into view. Uniformly southwestern homes dot the landscape and blend into the foothills.
Arriving in town, you can tell you’re in a unique place. Whether or not you believe in the local vortexes, you’ll have to admit this place has a particular energy to it.
Located near Flagstaff, Arizona, Sedona is famous for its red rocks and hippie vibe. The town is situated along Oak Creek in the Verde Valley region. It’s a wonderful place for hiking, sightseeing, and relaxing.
However, Sedona draws quite a crowd. While the town’s population count is only around 10,000, tourists flock here for those rock formations, energy vortexes, and trendy resorts. Along with all the visitors comes tourist traps, traffic, and high prices. Plus, the temperature could be above 100 ºF (38 ºC), depending on the time of year.
Despite the crowds and the heat, it’s still worth visiting this one-of-a-kind town.
Here’s your travel guide for what to do in Sedona, Arizona, no matter the crowds or weather.
See Sedona’s Red Rocks
First and foremost, you must get your fill of the famous red rocks. There are several ways to do this. The method that’s best for you will depend on the heat and your motivation for outdoor recreation.
One way to see the rock formations is to drive. If it’s too hot or you’re not into hiking, this is your best bet.
The easiest way to do this is to drive to various scenic points around town, such as the Airport Overlook. As the name suggests, the Airport Overlook is located near the Sedona Airport. The lookout point offers beautiful views of the local red rocks towering over the town below. There are also a couple hiking trails — the Airport Loop Trail and the Sedona View Trail — just nearby.
There is a parking lot at the Airport Overlook and it costs $3.00 to park there for the day. The overlook is located at 1156 Airport Rd #540, Sedona, AZ 86336.
Go Off Roading
For a closer look at those stunning Sedona red rocks, go off roading. If you have a four-wheel drive car that’s suitable for driving on rough terrain, you can do this on your own.
In Your Own Car
If you have an off roading vehicle, try the Schnebly Hill Road trail. It’s a rough dirt road that winds around the mountains and eventually comes to an overlook, though there are many scenic points along the way.
To get to Schnebly Hill Road trail, take highway AZ-179 to Schnebly Hill Road. Turn onto Schnebly Hill Road (which is paved at this point) and follow it until the pavement ends and the dirt road begins. There is also a parking area near here for access the hiking trails. Continue along the bumpy, unpaved road, pausing to enjoy the scenery. You’ll likely pass several other off-roaders and tours during your journey.
Take a Tour
If your car isn’t up to the off roading task, take a tour.
There are several different tour companies in town, but perhaps the most well known are the Pink Jeep Tours. Just make sure to book in advance to get the tour that fits your schedule and budget. Prices for tours vary, but Pink Jeep Tours currently start at $65.00 per person for an adult (though this may change).
Take a Hike
Another way to see the rock formations is to hike. There are several popular hiking trails around Sedona, such as Courthouse Butte Loop Trail, Fay Canyon Trail, and West Fork Trail.
If it’s really hot when you’re there, you might not be able to hike at all, or you’ll be limited to short, easy hikes. Nonetheless, there are plenty of trails to choose from to suit any sort of hiker, and it’s a wonderful way to admire those red rocks.
Stop by the Sedona Visitor Center or ask at your accommodation to recommend a trail that fits your needs.
If it’s hot in town, taking a dip in the creek is a must. Oak Creek runs right through town, and one of the best warm-weather activities is cooling off in the water.
At Your Hotel or Campsite
If your accommodations have creek access, this is the best way to go for a swim. For instance, if you’re camping at the Rancho Sedona RV Park, you’ll be able to walk down to the creek from there.
Rancho Sedona RV Park is for RV camping only (no tents are allowed, per the city), but it’s great for RV travelers. The park is located at 135 Bear Wallow Ln, Sedona, AZ 86336.
If your accommodation doesn’t have access to the creek, you can get there from various other spots around town.
Slide Rock State Park
The most popular (and crowded) is Slide Rock State Park. You’ll have to pay to enter the park or try to find limited parking elsewhere. Once inside, you’ll have all the other swimmers to deal with. Nonetheless, it’s a famous local activity in a beautiful setting.
Slide Rock State Park is open daily, but park hours and prices vary by season and day of the week. In November through January, it’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; from February through April, it’s open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; May 1 through Labor Day, the hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and after Labor Day through the end of September, it’s open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Slide Rock State Park entrance prices range between $10.00 per vehicle (during the winter) to $30.00 per vehicle (on weekends during the summer). To enter on foot or by bike, it’s $5.00. The park is located at 6871 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336.
… Or Somewhere Under the Radar
To escape the crowds (somewhat), ask your accommodation for a recommendation on a lesser-known spot. There are plenty of little places to pull off the highway and hop into the creek.
Explore the New Age Culture
Whether or not you’re into it, it’s worth exploring some of Sedona’s New Age culture.
Stop into a shop around town to get started, like the Center for the New Age. Check out the crystals, read about astrology, and get some information on the local vortexes. If you really want to get into it, you can even have a reading done.
The Center for the New Age is open daily at 341 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336.
After that, make your way out to one of the town’s famous energy vortexes. You can hike there on your own or take a tour. “When in Rome,” right?
Visit Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
Make sure to pay a visit to Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. This charming area of town is part shopping center and part public square.
Tlaquepaque (pronounced T-la-keh-pah-keh) is home to shops, restaurants, and cultural events. Its Mediterranean style architecture and shaded squares make it a great place to spend the afternoon. Stroll through the village to pick up some local wares, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy live music.
Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village is open daily at 336 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336.
Enjoy the Food
I always say one of the best parts of traveling is eating. Of course, there are some great places to eat in Sedona.
In Sedona, stop by local institution Dahl & DiLuca. Dahl & DiLuca has been serving classic Italian fare for more than 20 years. The restaurant is known for its romantic ambiance, extensive wine list, and homemade dishes.
Dahl & DiLuca is open daily at 2321 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336.
Another restaurant to try in Sedona is Oak Creek Brewery and Grill. The brewpub is a great spot for a drink and some traditional pub food.
Oak Creek Brewery and Grill is open daily and located at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. You can also visit the brewery — Oak Creek Brewing Co. — at 2050 Yavapai Dr., Sedona, AZ 86336.
Take a Day Trip to Cottonwood and Jerome
While there’s a lot to do in Sedona, the rest of the Verde Valley region has plenty to offer as well. Take a day trip out to Cottonwood and Jerome to get a taste of the rest of the area.
From Sedona, head out on Arizona State Route 89A. You’ll come to Cottonwood first.
When you arrive in Cottonwood, make your way to the historic old town along N Main Street and check out Old Town Cottonwood. Find a place to park and spend some time wandering up and down Main Street.
Along Main Street you’ll find a number of lovely shops, restaurants, and bars to explore. Among them are neighbors Rainbow’s End clothing shop and watering hole The State Bar, both located near the end of Main Street near the old town jail trail.
Rainbow’s End is located at 1046 N Main St, Cottonwood, AZ 86326. The State Bar is next door at 1048 N Main St, Cottonwood, AZ 86326.
After you’ve gotten a taste of Cottonwood, continue along the highway up to Jerome. Nicknamed “America’s Most Vertical City,” Jerome is a former copper mining town high up Cleopatra Hill. The town is known for its old west style and haunting tales.
When you arrive in Jerome, spend some time exploring the town. Check out the historic buildings, public parks, and art galleries.
Stop for a drink and some barbecue at Bobby D’s BBQ. They have delicious food and cocktails, a large outdoor patio, and friendly staff. Make sure to read up on the history of the building (on the menu) when you’re there as well.
Bobby D’s BBQ is open daily at 119 Jerome Ave, Jerome, AZ 86331.
A main attraction of the city is the Gold King Mine & Ghost Town. It’s a bit touristy, but worth a pit stop. If you’re still looking for more history, there are tours and a museum as well.
Gold King Mine & Ghost Town is open daily and located at Perkinsville Rd, Jerome, AZ 86331.
Once you’ve had your fill of historic streets and the wild west, it’s an easy trip back to red rock country on AZ-89A.
How to Get to Sedona and Get Around Town
Sedona is in northern Arizona. It’s about 30 miles south of Flagstaff, two hours from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and about 116 miles north of Phoenix.
Driving to Sedona
The city of Sedona is located where two Arizona highways meet — AZ-89A and AZ-179. It’s not a large city, so these highways serve as the main streets through town.
The easiest way to get to Sedona is by car. The town is conveniently located along the state highways, so it’s not hard to drive there. Plus, Sedona is a great city to work into a road trip — after visiting the Grand Canyon, for instance — so you’ll already have the car covered.
Traveling to Sedona by Train or Plane
There is an Amtrak train station in Flagstaff, which is about a 45-minute drive away.
The closest commercial airport is also in Flagstaff. The small Sedona Airport is used for private flights.
Either way, you’ll still need a car to get over to Sedona.
Getting Around in Sedona
Once you’re in Sedona, you can walk or drive around. Depending on where you’re staying (and the heat), you might be able to walk quite a lot of places. Then, when it’s time to go off roading or take a day trip to Jerome, you’ve got the car ready to go.
As for public transportation, there is a bus (called the Verde Lynx) that goes between Cottonwood and Sedona. The bus makes several stops and runs daily. The fares are $2.00 per ride, or $1.00 per ride if within the city of Sedona.
There are also several private sightseeing tours available to take you around town.
Whether it’s the vortexes, hiking, or those famed red rocks, people from all over are drawn to Sedona. It’s a beautiful city with plenty to do.
Once you’ve explored the town (and dealt with the crowds), it’s an easy escape out to Cottonwood and Jerome. With a balance of outdoor activity and local history, you’ll have a wonderful time in Arizona’s Verde Valley region. Cheers!