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  • Allyson Rychlak

Exploring the Majestic Red Rocks: A Sedona Travel Guide

My latest trip to Sedona, AZ finally checked the southwestern state off my bucket list and our weekend in mountains of Arizona did not disappoint! Although the weather was a bit colder than we originally hoped when we planned a February trip to Sedona (the temps hovered between the low forties and mid-fifties) and some of the peaks were covered in snow, we kept warm on our hikes! Check out the latest installment of my travel guides below for some highlights in Sedona, Arizona.

Devil's Bridge, one of the most popular hikes in Sedona!

We flew in on Thursday evening in PHX and rented a car, which is essential for a Sedona trip. The drive north of Phoenix to Sedona took a little over two hours since we had heavy rain, but the drive is relatively straightforward. On our way back to Phoenix on Monday before we left, we saw the view we missed on Thursday: mountains, saguaro cacti, and wide vistas. We stayed at the Arabella Hotel, which was conveniently located near all the best Sedona spots, and complimentary breakfast, free parking, and a panoramic sunset/sunrise vista on the property were some highlights.


  • Soldiers Pass & Seven Sacred Pools:

    • Park at Soldiers Pass Trailhead to hike to the Devil's Kitchen sinkhole, Seven Sacred Pools, and Brins Mesa. This was great after it rained, since the pools were flowing! The parking lot at the trailhead was closed, so we parked at the shuttle parking lot a mile down the road at Posse Grounds and walked to the beginning, since we ended up just missing the shuttle. Parking on the side of the road and in the neighborhood around the trailhead is prohibited. This was the first hike we did and it was beautiful!

Soldier Pass and the Seven Sacred Pools, which was an incredible sight after the rain!

  • Boynton Canyon and Subway Cave:

    • The full canyon hike is over 7 miles, depending on the detours you take, but since we had limited time in the afternoon we tackled this, we went directly to the famed Subway Cave (around 5-6 miles total). We parked on the side of the road at Boynton Pass Road, since the lot fits only around 25 vehicles and typically fills by 7:30am. Noticing a trend here? The canyon is located on one of the 4 major "vortexes" in Sedona, spots of energy conducive to meditation, healing, and spirituality. The Subway Cave trail comes after a distinctive Alligator Juniper tree that will point you to the right side of the path. Adrenaline was definitely flowing here - the path around the cave is thin!

We came up through the crevice, which was daunting!

  • Devil's Bridge:

    • At around 4 miles roundtrip, the route is relatively flat until the last mile or so, where some climbing is involved! This is an extremely popular hike, so go early, and be ready for a line to take a photo on the bridge. It's not as scary as it looks, I promise! Park at the Mescal Trailhead, since the Devil's Bridge Trailhead is quite small and isn't paved, so only 4WD vehicles with high clearance can manage getting to this lot.

A photographer was lined up for donation-based photos before the bridge!

  • Birthing Cave:

    • Check off this hike after Devil's Bridge, since the Long Canyon Trailhead is only 5 minutes down the road. Similar to Subway Cave, there's a turnoff along the trail around a half mile into the hike; hop over a log off the main path and the "Trail" sign, then keep trekking almost another half mile to the cave!

  • Cathedral Rock:

    • While this hike is short (under 1.5 miles), it is steep! Prepare for some rock scrambling and sliding back down to get to safety. There is a lot at Cathedral Rock Trailhead, but it was closed, so we parked at the shuttle North SR-179 "park & ride" for the trail. This was one of our favorite hikes, with jaw-dropping views in between two stunning rock formations. Many people recommend this for sunrise or sunset, but don't forget a flashlight! Cathedral Rock is another vortex, supposedly with a synergy of feminine, goodness, patience, and compassion. Personally, I felt out of breath. Pair this with Bell Rock below, since the shuttle takes you to both stops!

The view between the pillars at Cathedral Rock, where hikers can scramble up rocks to the top.

  • Bell Rock:

    • Start at Little Horse Trailhead from the shuttle drop-off and head along the 4.1-mile out-and-back hike along Bell Rock Pathway. Scramble up Bell Rock and explore the winding paths while seeing unobstructed views of Sedona. You can add the Courthouse Butte loop to this hike as well.

We packed sandwiches from Whole Foods before our day of hiking!

  • Airport Mesa:

    • Head up to Sedona's airport for another short hike and vortex. This is super popular because of its accessibility. Enjoy views of all of Sedona's famous rock formations: Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Chimney Rock, and more. This lot is small and parking along the road is prohibited, but you can pay $2 to park at the Airport Vista parking lot at the top of the drive. It was too muddy for us to walk from the lot to the trail, but we got lucky another time to visit the top!

The hike up and down to Airport Mesa in the rain was slick, but worth it for the views!

Restaurants & Bars:

  • Mariposa: After hearing fantastic reviews of this spot by famous chef Lisa Dahl, we came here for our anniversary dinner and had beautiful views of the mountains as the sun set. I recommend starting with the beef handmade empanadas. We split the steak for two and had sides of asparagus and potatoes. The service here was great and they were so attentive.

The view of Mariposa, where I made sure we sat for sunset!

  • Saltrock Kitchen: We came to this restaurant in the Amara Resort & Spa for our final dinner before leaving Sedona and we were blown away. Try the craft margaritas, pork belly tostadas, and short rib tacos. We finished the meal with the red wine chocolate spice cake! This was phenomenal.

The Desert Oasis margaritas and Smoke Signals, a take on an Old Fashioned.

  • 89 Agave Cantina: Delicious tacos and margaritas in Uptown Sedona!

  • Hideaway House: Great views on the patio and yummy pizza, sandwiches, and more.

  • Redwall Lounge: Drinks only, but beautiful views of the red rocks!

Go to Redwall Lounge for craft cocktails and drafts, with views of the mountains.

  • Sound Bites Cafe: We went here for a drink and an appetizer to listen to live jazz music. Like most places in the town, it has great views!

Other places we didn't have time to visit, but received great recommendations:

  • ChocolaTree is an organic, vegetarian cafe for lunch, coffee, and sweets.

  • Secret Garden Cafe in Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village for healthy bites, coffee, and a full bar.

  • Shorebird prides itself on being a costal eatery centered around seafood and steakhouse dishes.

  • Local Juicery is another organic cafe and cold-pressed juice bar great for grabbing options to-go before a hike!

  • Cress Restaurant on Oak Creek is located within L’Auberge de Sedona offering breakfast, lunch, and an a la carte dinner with Chef's tasting menus. This is a high-end spot but has awesome reviews.

  • The Hudson offers views on the top of Hillside Shopping Plaza, happy hour every day from 3-6pm, and New American food.

  • Dahl and DiLuca serves homemade pastas in a romantic setting.

More things to do!

  • Explore the famous Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village in downtown Sedona that was built after a traditional Mexican village. Find unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants and cafes.

    • Check out The Chai Spot - a cafe just for chai latte variations. I loved this, and there's a cute shop inside.

  • Join Pink Jeep Adventures for a scenic, off-road tour of the red rocks! We did the "Scenic Rim 2.5" tour, and it was a great way to get off our feet for a few hours.

We learned about the history of Sedona and saw trails normally inaccessible on our tour

  • Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic Church open daily from 9am-5pm. It is 250 feet high and built on the side of the mountain. We visited near sunset and it was beautiful!

The Chapel of the Holy Cross from the front of the mountain, where it was magical before sunset!

  • Check out the crystal shops, which are famous in Sedona! There are many, but they have a lot of the same things, so don't feel like you have to hit all of them.

  • Wineries: While we didn't have time to hit a winery since we filled our days with hikes, we originally planned to stop by D.A. Ranch (which has live music) and Page Spring Cellars (with tastings and a bistro for small bites) in the nearby town of Cornville. The wineries close early, so plan accordingly!

  • Before heading out on our flight, we stopped by Scottsdale to walk around, shop, and have dinner. Check out Olive & Ivy for dinner along the canal!

Views at the top of Cathedral Rock, one of Sedona's 4 major vortexes.

We had the best time in Sedona and would recommend it for a long weekend trip to anyone! If you're booking a trip to the town among the red rocks, feel free to reach out for any additional tips of questions.


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