A Day in the Red Rocks of Sedona

Ship Rock - Red Rocks of Sedona
By Contributor

Bev is the co-founder of Staying Native. She left her corporate gig to be able to travel more with her young family. She loves traveling and likes to share her local experiences with others. As an amateur photographer, her stories come with lots of pictures. Bev is Staying Native's lead tweep, moderator of the "Do it like a local" blog and the curator of all things social media.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Everytime we drive to Sedona I look forward to the first glimpses of its characteristic red rock. While there I´m compelled to take pictures, just in case I catch something I haven´t seen before. My favourite time to photograph the rocks is early in the morning and late afternoon since I think that the light makes for the most dramatic visual contrast.

Getting to Sedona  from Phoenix via I17 to Hwy 179

The total drive time from Phoenix to Sedona is just over an hour using the most direct route - I17 north to Hwy 179.  Winding your way through the Village of Oak Creek, you soon find yourself in Sedona, which was officially founded in 1902 when the settlement got its first post office.

Sedona Red Rock Formations Cathedral Rock

Majestic Cathedral Rock

Less direct and more scenic routes into Sedona

If you are interested in more scenic routes there are a couple that I can recommend.

When coming north on the I17, exit west on the 260 toward Cottonwood, perhaps making a stop in Jerome or Clarkdale before continuing north on the 89A.  When taking this route you approach Sedona from west the rather than the south.

If you have a 4x4, you may prefer the views offered by the Schnebly Hill Trail.  Only a very short portion at the start and the end of the trail are paved so high clearance is mandatory, not just a recommendation.  The trail is accessed from Exit 320 off of the I17. Head west a short distance on the paved road then bear left onto Schnebly Hill Road 153.  The drive will take a minimum of an hour, if you don´t stop to take photos, so plan accordingly.

Sedona Red Rock Formations seen from Parking Lot for Schnebly Hill and Munds Wagon trailheads

View from the parking lot of the Schnebly Hill and Munds Wagon Trailheads

Red Rock Formations

Now that I´ve been to Sedona a few times I know where some of the more famous rocks are located.  Some are quite obvious as you enter Sedona on Hwy 179, such as Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. 

Sedona Red Rock Formations Bell Rock

Bell Rock as seen from Bell Rock Scenic Vista

Sedona Red Rock Formations Courthouse Butte

Courthouse Butte as seen from the Courthouse Vista. 
This rock can also be seen from the Bell Rock Vista, but I find this view more impressive.

In my opinion, the scenic vista points and parking lots at the trailheads, located throughout Sedona, would benefit from signage that indicates the names of the formations that you can see from that location. Even at the visitor centre I wasn´t able to find a comprehensive (or to scale) map of the rocks. The cynic in me thinks that perhaps this is on purpose to drive people to the Jeep tours, which are comprehensive but quite expensive.

Hiking, Riding or Climbing in Sedona

In Sedona, there is no shortage of places to hike, bike or climb. The trails are well marked and there is plenty of parking available.  If you are parking for longer than 15 minutes, ensure that you have purchased the Red Rock Pass and display it appropriately.

Sedona Red Rock Formations Capitol Butte with Sugar Loaf trailhead

This way to Sugar Loaf Trailhead, with Capitol Butte in the background.

Sedona Thunder Mountain Trailhead

At the start of Thunder Mountain Trailhead.

A Few of my Favourites

Here are some of my favourite pictures from our day in the Red Rocks of Sedona.

Sedona Red Rock Formations Oak Creek Spire Yavapai Point

Oak Creek Spire as seen from Yavapai Point

Sedona Red Rock Formations Twin Buttes

Twin Buttes

Sedona Red Rock Formations Coffee Pot

Can you see the Coffee Pot?  I love this one. 
It´s located right next to Sugar Loaf and Capitol Butte.

Sedona Rock Formations Castle Rock late afternoon

Castle Rock late in the aternoon.

Sedona Red Rock Formations Ship Rock Butte

Ship Rock Butte, featured in the centre with its tall triangular sails.

A Day in the Red Rocks of Sedona

We spent a full day in Sedona, just driving around and taking photos.  On this visit we didn´t see any of the great art galleries, or enjoy any of various spas and retreats, but we did find the best chocolate milkshake.

Sedona Rock Formations Capitol Butte Sugar Loaf Coffee Pot

Pictured from left to right: Capitol Butte, Sugar Loaf and Coffee Pot

comments powered by Disqus

Want to share your travel stories and more?

We're looking for authentic travel experiences and local insight into your city to give fellow travelers the inside scoop.

Contact us at info@staying-native.com