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Top Things To Do In Sedona

by Pankaj Upreti
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Things To Do In Sedona

Sedona is a quaint little town in Arizona. It lies at an elevation of around 4500 feet and is located within the Oak Creek Canyon. Sedona has its beginnings in a very distant past, as the area has been inhabited for over 10000 years. In the 16th century, the Spanish were the first to arrive to exploit the Native American mines, however they did not settle the area.

It was only until the latter half of the 19th century that a settlement was formed, and in 1902 they submitted a petition for a post office, for the first time calling the town Sedona. The town is well known for its clean environment and natural landforms such as monoliths.

Lying in the desert, tourists from all over come to Sedona to enjoy the utterly picturesque area. Here we have some of the best things to do in Sedona in Arizona.

Devil’s Bridge Trail

Devil's Bridge Trail, Sedona
Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona | Photo Credit – ksblack99

Located around an 1.8 mile hike away from Sedona, the Devil’s Bridge is an arch shaped natural sandstone formation. The trek can be pretty challenging or easy, depending on your level of fitness. The total elevation to cover in the trail is around 400 feet, and the walk is not that steep.

The bridge is around 50 feet high from the base and you can choose to climb that as well, with it being the high point of the trip. The top provides great views that are extremely picturesque. Trekking the Devil’s Bridge Trail can be one of the best things you can do while you visit Sedona Arizona.

Star Gazing In Sedona

Star Gazing In Sedona
Star Gazing In Sedona | Photo Credit – Coconino National Fores

The elevation of Sedona coupled with the clearness of the desert sky make Sedona Arizona one of the best points for stargazing in the United States. The town is aware of this fact and they have set up tours and pristine equipment for people to view stars while they visit the town.

The tours are well planned and you are sure to get a chance to look through the telescope and gaze at the clear sky filled with stars. Arizona is well known for its clear skies so don’t worry about any cloud covers when you plan your stargazing trip.

Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon | Photo Credit – Don Graham

This Canyon is a major attraction for people visiting Sedona. Suited for all age groups, you can camp with you friends as well as kids here. The location provides ample opportunities for a number of things, including fishing at the creek. There are six camping grounds in the Oak Creek Canyon complete with facilities for guests such as picnic tables and grills for cooking.

You can camp for a most of 7 day at the Oak Creek canyon and you can book your camping sites in advance as well. Camping here is exceptionally great as the natural setting of Sedona seems otherworldly, as much needed respite from the din of towns and cities.

Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park | Photo Credit – Don Graham

The Slide Rock State Park is located north of Sedona AZ and is run by the Forest Service and the Arizona State Parks. A number of films have used the location of Slide Rock as their setting, and one can understand why tourists flock to it to visit. It was originally built as a homestead and was used to grow apples and raise livestock.

It was morphed into a state park in 1987. The visitors’ huts have been here since the 1930s and with over 300 apple trees surviving today, this place still makes for a very pleasant location. The place features a running Oak Creek stream for you to swim and paddle.

There is an 80 feet long slide here as well, after which the park is named. Be sure to visit this place while you are in Sedona and take a look at their world class irrigation system, an engineering marvel that let apples grow in the desert!

Sedona’s Hiking Trail Airport Mesa

Sedona's Hiking Trail - Airport Mesa
Sedona’s Hiking Trail – Airport Mesa | Photo Credit – Doug Kerr

Airport Mesa is a hiking trail in Sedona that loops around at a height of 4500 feet. Overlooking many landmarks and locations of Sedona, this place is filled with natural beauty on par with some of the most beautiful hikes in the world. The red rocks of Sedona will make a lot of appearances during your hike and you must have your camera ready at all times.

Parking at Airport Mesa can be difficult as the parking lot at the start of the trail is usually full. There is an alternative parking area a mile away from where you can walk back to the trail and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.

Boynton Canyon Trail

Boynton Canyon Trail | Photo Credit – Deborah Lee Soltesz

This trail lying in the Boynton Canyon is a really great one. It features desert as well as forest environments and the transition between the two is really great. Providing a really picturesque environment, the Boynton Canyon trail is a camera must location. The natural desert beauty of Sedona in AZ comes alive in this trail with red rock formations everywhere you go.

The hike’s length is around 6 miles and what’s more, this trail is pet friendly. Birdwatching is one of the activities that can be offered here and there are lots of animals to see as well, like gila monsters and lizards of many kinds. If you find yourself at Sedona, coming here is a must.

Chapel of the Holy Cross Sedona

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona
Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona | Photo Credit – Bernard Spragg. NZ

Lying amid the red rock formations rife in Sedona, the Chapel of the Holy Cross was built in 1956 by a student of the world renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. One of the best things when you visit Sedona,  this place has been built as a tribute to the catholic church.

During a certain time of the day, the sunlight interacts with the stained glass of the church’s windows, and it makes for an extremely beautiful and picturesque scene. The surrounding red rocks make for a very earthy and natural addition to the beauty of the place. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was built by Marguerite Brunswig Staude.

Cathedral Rock Trail

Cathedral Rock | Photo Credit – Geoff Livingston

Of the many outdoor locations and trails rife in Sedona, the Cathedral Rock trail does not remain behind in being a great spot despite it being a rather short hike compared to others. Even if it is short, the Cathedral Rock trail is quite challenging and you must be prepared to face it. The location is filled with the famous red rock formations of Arizona.

The trail is made up of two parts of increasing difficulties, The first part of the trail ends at a plateau with features great scenic views of the county. Continuing from there, the ascent is around 45 degrees for 40 feet. The trail has firm holds in dry weather which might get slippery after rain. So keep a lookout for the weather conditions before trying the Cathedral Rock Trail out.

Bell Rock In Sedona

Bell Rock in Sedona
Bell Rock in Sedona | Photo Credit – justincb123

The Bell Rock is a very popular landmark for tourists visiting Arizona. Lying a little north of Oak Creek, this rock lies at an elevation of around 4900 feet. It is observable as you enter Sedona from Hwy 179, and therefore is one of the first things you will see when you come to this town.

It gets its name from looking like a giant bell from afar. The area features many red rocks as well as trails which lead to the Bell Rock. This is one of those things to do which tourists usually find at the top of their lists when they visit Sedona.

Sedona – Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village

Sedona - Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
Sedona – Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village | Photo Credit – Jared

This famous village is located near Oak Creek and features a traditional Mexican style. It is an artistic community that is known to create arts and crafts that you must take a look at if you are in Sedona. They produce art, jewelry, textiles and more that you must take home as souvenirs of your trip.

This Sedona attraction is a must visit and gives you a break from all the red rocks you have been visiting. While you are here, make sure you are able to visit the art galleries that make this place famous.

Sedona Heritage Museum

Another break from all the red. The museum is a tribute to the early settlers of Sedona and is a repository of Sedona’s history. One of the things it preserves is the memories of the fruit trade back in the day. It used to thrive sometime ago but now as disappeared and now remains alive in the museum of Sedona.

Many of the wild west movies of Hollywood have been shot in Sedona’s locations and the museum makes its way into that too. Rights reserved for Sedona’s place in history, am I right?

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma’s Castle National Monument | Photo Credit – Jim

A fun fact about this place, it has been named after an Aztec emperor who was not even born when these were built. Constructed by the Sinagua people back in the day during the 12 to 15 centuries.

A must visit to explore the Native American settlements Arizona is known for, these are 20 rooms made of mud and stone. The monument lies south of Sedona and you absolutely must add it to your list of things to do while you are here.

Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park

Amitabha Stupa | Photo Credit – GPA Photo Archive

This is a location that you probably didn’t expect to find in Arizona. The real home of these Buddhist stupas is Asia, and the Amitabha Stupa at Arizona has been catering to visitors since 2004. The place opens up at sunrise every day and is free to travel to.

Donate while you are here if you feel like it. Located around 36 feet high, it takes a short walk to reach here and the surrounding location is breathtakingly beautiful with trees and rock formations.

Verde Valley Wine Trail

This is one of those hiking trails which is different in the sense that you would need a car to travel it. The trail features five wineries and you can enjoy delicious wine to taste here. This is a multi town trail, and Sedona is one of the locations it travels through.

Arizona has rights reserved for wine production and it must be given the credit it usually isn’t. Make it a point to travel through all of the spots and sample the different wines of each location.

Palatki Heritage Site

Palatki Heritage Site | Photo Credit – Coconino National Forest, Ariz.

Meaning ‘Red House’ in the Hopi language, this site features cliff houses that were inhabited in the early second millennium AD. There is rock art to see here that showcases the history and culture of the region from pre-colonial times. The site is run by the Natural History Association and is kept open to the public all year round.

This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Coconico Forest and serves as a marker of the existence of the Sinagua people. Be sure to include visiting this site on your trip to Sedona.

Air Balloon Ride at Sedona

Air Balloon Ride at Sedona
Air Balloon Ride at Sedona | Photo Credit – Thales

This is a very underrated attraction while you visit Sedona. Get up early at dawn and join a group of 5 to 6 fellow passengers in an air ride that will take you all over Red County. You can get an aerial view of the locations down below and this makes for a breathtaking experience of a lifetime.

The area around Sedona is quite beautiful as is and it gets even more scenic from the height above. While you are at Sedona, you must, absolutely must try this unique experience and take away memories of you flying high in the sky.

Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park | Photo Credit – Tony Webster

This park is located just outside Sedona and features great rock formations along with cliffs, buttes, and canyons. Open all year round and featuring a bunch of activities such as hiking, bird watching, and animal gazing.

Take a guided tour of the park and be mesmerized by the natural beauty of the place that feels like the terrain of mars.

Harmony Park

Located in Uptown Sedona, the visitors center features a collection of grand chime instruments known as the Free Notes Harmony Park. It is just outside the visitor’s center in the courtyard. Go to town on the instruments and make your music to chronicle your trip to Sedona.

The area surrounding Harmony Park is filled with friendly staff that will not only help you navigate Harmony park, but your entire trip of Sedona city. Sedona Trolley is something they might recommend and you must try it. Make the best out of the visitor center by gathering maps and brochures that will make your trip efficient and best all in all.

This was our list of the best things to do while you find yourself in Sedona. More than just a small town in the middle of the desert, Sedona features locations from rock formations to spiritual attractions such as the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Sedona is a place of natural beauty, it features a clean environment and has so much to offer, from arts and crafts to museums to hiking trails that are a dime a dozen. A great day trip and tour, shop to your heart’s content and engage with the welcoming locals of Sedona.

Please also read about things to Charleston.


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