Hiking The Red Rocks Of Sedona

My husband and I accidentally timed our arrival into Sedona, AZ, at the perfect time. The setting sun cast a beautiful warm glow on the famous red rocks as we drove along the Red Rock Scenic Byway from Phoenix. Driving through the Village of Oak Creek and into downtown Sedona, the colors of the scenery deepened and provided a wonderful welcome for our stay.

We had decided to use Sedona as our base for several days of hiking and sightseeing. Our hotel for our time there was the Inn Above Oak Creek, a small, charming place that overlooks the fast-flowing river complete with ducks and even an otter. (My husband saw the otter and took pictures of it. I never actually saw it.) We loved the inn. Our room had a porch where we spent our free time watching for wildlife and the people enjoying the park on the other side of the creek. The inn has breakfast areas both inside and outside. We chose to eat outside each morning to watch the numerous hummingbirds that came to eat at the feeders.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona

Our goals for our visit were hiking, something for which Sedona is known, and experiencing the many things to do and see in the area. Over the course of three days, we hiked about 5 miles daily on some of the most famous hikes. We could hike for months without hiking all the trails in the area. There are hikes of all distances and difficulties available and hikes can be combined to achieve your desired distance.

Bell Rock, Sedona

Our first day we hiked the Airport Loop Trail around the mountain. Paid parking at the top of the mountain by the airport is large and easily accessible and made a great base for our hike. (The parking lot is also next to a vortex so expect a lot of tourists.) We enjoyed hiking around the mountain as we watched planes take off and land at the airport. The scenery changed as we hiked; we had photo ops of both Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock as we took in the panoramic views. Many times, the drop off from the trail was steep, but the path was well maintained and safe. We ended our hike back at the airport where we had dinner at Mesa Grill. Watching people board their private plans as we ate was a highlight of the day.

Devil’s Bridge, Sedona

Other trails that we hiked over the course of our visit were Devil’s Bridge via Mescal Trailhead and the Bell Rock Loop. Devil’s Bridge Trail is a fairly easy hike, until the end at which time the trail becomes steep. While there are stairs built into the rocks, they required, at least for me, some use of hands to steady myself. The line to have your picture taken on the bridge was about an hour long. (We didn’t care about getting our picture taken, so we just looked and left.) There are no fences or warnings, and the drop is extremely steep so be careful.

A few notes for other hikers:

1.) Go early in the morning or later in the afternoon to get parking.

2.) Check on the Red Rock Pass multi-day purchase if you plan to hike multiple days where the pass is needed for parking. Also check on other passes, such as the National Park Pass, that may be accepted.

3.) Be careful where you hike and follow the trails. We did not hike a single day without seeing a rescue team going up the mountain. Thankfully, these teams are skilled at retrieving injured hikers, but their job is even more difficult when hikers are off the established paths.

4.) Be prepared. Take water, food, first aid supplies and maps. It may be hot, and your phone may not have reception.

5.) Be honest in assessing your hiking ability.

Sedona’s beautiful hiking opportunities are limitless. From relatively flat trails to steep, rocky hikes, there is a trail for every hiker level. And what about sightseeing? There’s just too much to include in one article so stay tuned…

Candace Ahlfinger has loved traveling since she was little and has always been on the go whenever possible. Now she is retired and gets to do what she loves best… TRAVEL! Whether it’s traveling with her wonderful husband, or our children and grandchildren, traveling is a great experience that enriches her life. Because she always enjoys reading and hearing about others’ travel experiences, she wants to share her travels with the Ellis DownHome readers. 


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