We have wanted to visit Sedona, Arizona for years. With so many hikes and things to do, Sedona, Arizona was an obvious choice for us to base ourselves in for a week of remote work! Since Sedona has so many things to do, I know how overwhelming it is to pick the best experiences. To make it easier for you to plan your own trip to Sedona, I’ve listed out all the best things we found to do in Sedona. I also share where to stay, how to get to Sedona, what to pack, and more!
How to Get to Sedona, Arizona
The closest major airport to Sedona, Arizona is the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). From Phoenix, Arizona, it’s a 2 hours drive to Sedona. I recommend renting a car at the airport and self-driving to Sedona. We were in Cedar City, Utah before visiting Sedona, so we drove from there.
Sedona, Arizona Map
Where to Stay in Sedona, Arizona
We used Hilton Honors points to stay at the Element Sedona hotel. It was well-located near Bell Rock and many trailheads, with decent views. Plus, they are pet-friendly, which is a must for us when traveling with Mara Cat!
For a luxurious stay, we’d choose L’Auberge de Sedona. The rooms are stunning and the views can’t be beaten!
For a budget-friendly option, you can’t beat the location of the Wildflower Inn. The reviews are positive, too.
If you’re camping, check out more info on RV and tent campsites in Sedona, Arizona here.
Weather in Sedona, Arizona
Like many destinations in the US Southwest, Sedona, Arizona has cold winters and hot summers. We visited in February and thought it was perfect for hiking since it was not too hot. If you visit during the summer, I recommend starting all of your hikes as early in the morning as possible before it heats up. Temperatures can become dangerously hot and the hiking trails in Sedona are generally exposed without much shade.
What to Pack for Sedona, Arizona
Regardless of when you visit, you’ll need to bring:
- Water – we use a
- Backpack to carry everything (but the car!) in
- Camera (see our camera gear here)
Here’s what I recommend packing if you are visiting in the winter:
- Underwear (duh!)
- Baselayer – wool pants and a shirt
- A thermal/wool sweater (Paka is my favorite brand for ethically and sustainably made alpaca wool clothing. You can get 15% off your order if you use code SPUCKETT at check out).
- Thermal hiking pants (him) or fleece-lined leggings (her)
- Wool socks
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Warm coat
- Wool hat
- Microspikes for hiking on icy trails
All of our winter hiking gear (except Paka-brand items) can be found in our Amazon storefront in our Winter Hiking Gear list!
Here’s what I recommend packing if you are visiting in the summer:
- Underwear (no one likes a sweaty bum)
- T-shirts/tanks (sweat-wicking and with SPF are best!)
- Hiking pants or shorts (if you opt for pants, I recommend the kind you can roll up or convert for hot days)
- Light, water-wicking socks
- Hiking boots or sandals
- Light jacket and sweater for cool nights and mornings
Things to Do in Sedona, Arizona
Hike to Devil’s Bridge
You’ve probably seen photos of the iconic Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, Arizona! The hike to Devil’s Bridge is one of the most famous things to do in Sedona, Arizona.
Devil’s Bridge is a 4 miles out-and-back trail, rated moderate with a 521 feet elevation gain. This trail gets really crowded, both in the parking lot and on the trail. If you can, go early early early, and on weekdays if you want a more solitary experience.
Depending on how crowded it is, you will get to a line before getting to Devil’s Bridge itself. This is a line for those who want to walk out onto the bridge! You can bypass the line if you just want to view the bridge without walking on it.
If you want to walk out on the bridge, be prepared to wait in line. We waited in line for the Devil’s Bridge for about an hour. The best angle for photos, in our opinion, is slightly up the hill next to the end of the trail facing somewhat diagonally towards Devil’s Bridge.
If you’re nervous about heights, walking on Devil’s Bridge may not be for you. That said, the bridge is MUCH wider than the photos make it look. There’s plenty of space on either side and no need to get anywhere near the edges. It’s really not that scary (and I consider myself afraid of heights!).
Hike to Birthing Cave
The short (2 miles round trip) hike to Birthing Cave offers one of the best views in all of Sedona, Arizona. To get to the trailhead, you can simply search “Birthing Cave Trailhead” on Google Maps. There is a small parking area in front of the trail. You’ll see signs for Long Canyon Trail, but not for Birthing Cave. The easiest way to follow the Birthing Cave trail is to download the route map on All Trails on your phone prior to hiking! This way you can follow the trail with your phone, since there isn’t signage for Birthing Cave on the trail itself.
Birthing Cave can be very crowded, however, so go as early in the morning as possible to have the most solitary experience (and easier time taking photos!).
We visited around lunch time, and as gorgeous as this place is, it was hard to fully appreciate with all of the chaos going on around us. There were hikers scaling walls and falling, plus a group of more than 15 kids and only 2 adults to manage them. All of us were close together inside a small cave, with few walkable paths to safely climb in/out. It was overwhelming to be honest.
Still, I have to say that the hiking to Birthing Cave is one of the best things to do in Sedona, Arizona, for the incredible view alone!
Photo Tip! Use a wide angle lens to be able to capture both sides of the cave wall. If you don’t have a wide lens or are using a phone camera, you can use pano mode to mimic a wide angle and capture the full cave.
Visit a Vortex
Sedona, Arizona is considered by many to be a hub for energy vortices.
Twisted tree trunks are allegedly warped by the power of this energy. Hikers and yogis seek out trails thought to lead to energy vortices. Proponents swear by the area’s healing powers.
While there isn’t definitive science to support the idea of an energy vortex, it’s undeniable that being in nature is good for our spirits. Whether you believe energy vortices exist or not, it’s worth visiting one of the spots thought to be one, if only to see what, if anything, you feel!
While I can’t say for sure whether you’ll find an energy vortex in Sedona, I can tell you there is something special about this place and it’s mesmerizing red rocks.
Each of these locations is considered an energy vortex in Sedona:
- Airport Mesa
- Cathedral Rock
- Bell Rock
- Boynton Canyon
We got up for a sunrise hike at Bell Rock, one of many locations thought to be a source of this energy. We stopped at this spiral rock formation on the ground just in time to see the sun peek out above the rocks. Watching the sun illuminate the area was certainly its own kind of magic, vortex or not.
Hike Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock is one of the most iconic sights in Sedona, Arizona. The hike is only 1.2 miles out and back, but it’s uphill the entire way with an elevation gain of 741 feet. You are literally climbing up a rock. While the incline is mostly gradual enough to walk up, you will have to do a bit of scrambling at parts.
This hike can get super crowded. Go early in the mornings and on weekdays for fewer crowds! In summer, hike Cathedral Rock early in the morning regardless of crowd concerns, just to beat the heat.
Location tip! When you get to the top of the trail, you’ll see the view from the photo below. If you walk to the left on the trail facing the main view point you’ll find another short path that leads to a hidden spire up a rock scramble. It was much less crowded than the main view point, and we even got to witness a newlywed couple taking wedding photos as the sun beams bounced off the spire. It was so beautiful, and so peaceful.
Hike Soldier Pass
If you only have time for ONE hike in Sedona… make it Soldier Pass!
Soldier Pass is one of our favorite hikes in Sedona, Arizona. The 4.5 mile round trip hike offers a little bit of everything that makes the area so special:
- Red Rock views all around
- Seven Sacred Pools (pictured) – The 7 pools may or may not be full when you visit – it all depends on the weather! But if you visit after a rainstorm, you might get to see a flowing stream carrying the water downhill from one pool to the next.
- The Devil’s Kitchen – a dramatic sinkhole you’ll see after just a few minutes on the trail!
- A stunning hidden cave
- Thought to be an energy vortex
Hike Boynton Canyon to the Subway Cave
The Boynton Canyon Trail to Subway Cave is located in the Red Rock – Secret Mountain Wilderness, down a side trail from the popular Boynton Canyon trail. Of the caves we visited in Sedona, this was my favorite. We went in the late afternoon on a weekday after work, made some friends on the trail, and otherwise had the place mostly to ourselves to enjoy.
The hike to Boynton Canyon and Subway Cave is 6 miles round trip. The offshoot to the cave is not well-marked, so I highly recommend downloading the map for Boynton Canyon Trail in All Trails.
Visit a brewery
For good beer and good food, we recommend Sedona Beer Co, in the heart of town. They have nice outdoor seating area, beer flights, and delicious waffle fries!
Find out more about Sedona’s breweries here.
Shop at Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village
For a unique outdoor shopping mall experience, the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village is a perfect choice. The architecture of the “village” feels like a step back in time (in a good way!). The courtyard is worth a visit even if you aren’t a big shopper!
Have a Spa Day!
The best way to relieve tired muscles after hiking in Sedona has got to be a visit to one of Sedona’s spa resorts! Check out these spas that incorporate Sedona’s unique location into their services.
Catch sunrise over the red rocks
Here are 4 locations known for beautiful sunrise views in Sedona, Arizona:
- Airport Mesa
- Red Rock Crossing and Cathedral Rock
- Bell Rock
- Doe Mountain
We enjoyed our sunrise experience at Bell Rock, since we could see views in all directions, and Bell Rock was less crowded than more popular locations!
Final Thoughts on Things to do in Sedona
For hiking lovers and those who appreciate deeply connecting with nature, Sedona, Arizona is a dream destination. There are so many great things to do to commune with the earth and with one’s self. Sedona’s beauty is undeniable. It is easily one of the most photogenic places we’ve ever been to. That said, we experienced a lot of crowds and traffic, and finding parking for the trailheads was often difficult. I personally felt overwhelmed by the number of people on the trails, so I recommend hitting the trails as early in the morning as possible and on weekdays. Even then, expect to have company so you are not disappointed not to have a solitary experience!
Check out my other USA guides for more travel advice to help you organize your own adventures!