Things To Do In Sedona and Phoenix

25th Oct 2019

We decided to take a trip out to Arizona to explore downtown Phoenix and take in the views of Sedona. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best hiking trails we ventured on, and where to go for a great view of the Red Rocks at sunset.

Things To Do in Phoenix

We began our trip in Phoenix. If you are starting your trip from a different major city, these suggestions all make great day trips for the family. Here are some things to do in Phoenix:

1. Camelback Mountain

First up on our list is Camelback Mountain. Be sure to bring water and snacks, this is a tough hike. Try going during the week when crowds will be smaller as this is a very popular stop for anyone visiting Phoenix! The parking fills up very quickly, so have patience, and carpool if you can!

2. Pinnacle Peak Park

This is a 150 acre park that has an out-and-back trail that is 3.5 miles roundtrip. Cumulative elevation gain is 1300 feet and offers some beautiful views just outside of downtown Phoenix in Scottsdale, AZ.

3. Papago Park

We stopped here on our way home from Sedona before we headed back to the airport. You can visit the Desert Botanical Garden, the Phoenix Zoo, and Hole in the Rock. There are ponds within the park where you can relax and enjoy the sunny day too.

4. Phoenix Art Museum 

Take a break from the desert heat and enjoy the beautiful art displayed in the exhibitions.

5. Heard Museum

This is another great place to escape the heat. There are multiple galleries to view artwork, plus sculpture gardens, a gift shop/bookstore, a place to eat, and an amphitheater.

Things To Do in Sedona

We continued our trip up to Sedona which was where we spent most of our time. Here are some things to do in Sedona:

1. Pink Jeep Tour

We thought that this was a great way to see a lot of Sedona’s backcountry. We took the Broken Arrow Trail tour. It was about 2 hours long, and we signed up for the 8am time slot so we still had a good portion of the day left. If you are going later in the summer/fall, it would be best to go earlier in the morning since it's going to heat up during the day. The cost of this tour was definitely worth it because we were able to see things are learn about things that we wouldn't just by hiking on our own. This was the very first thing we did and it helped us decide how we wanted to spend the rest of our time in Sedona.

2. Devil's Bridge Trail

This is one of the most popular trails in Sedona, so you'll be around lots of other hikers. This was our most populated hike but making it Devil’s Bridge was worth it!

3. Sacred Mountain

We are always looking for ways to adventure away from the crowds and while this was not a long hike (less than a mile round trip, depending on how much you adventure around the butte), we were definitely the only people on this trail! This trail is outside of Sedona, and you must take a car to reach this trailhead. The remains of the pueblos (buildings) of the Sinagua Indians who lived in this area from 500 to 1425 can be found here. You start by driving through the V-Bar-V Ranch National Heritage Site, until you reach the unmarked trail head about a mile beyond the ranch. The trail is not marked, but you’ll be able to make out the path from past visitors. There was a man who was painting a watercolor of Sacred Mountain and he helped direct us to the cattle fence we had to go through to make our way up to the top (keep following the fence until you happen upon the next opening at the base of the butte). There is a post to sign in as a visitor of this historical site and a reminder not to touch any of the history you may find along the trail. Once to the top, you’ll find remains of the pueblos and old pieces of pottery scattered throughout the site. Take a minute to take in the 360 degree view and the sound of the wind on top of Sacred Mountain. It truly does feel a bit magical up there.

4. Robbers Roost 

This was a really tricky trail to find but the cave and views at the end made it so worth it. This is one of our favorite hikes we have been on just because of the adventure it took to get there and the cave was just so cool. The drive there is probably over an hour from downtown Sedona, and the last 8-10 miles are on a dirt road. There is a point where it says that all non4x4 vehicles probably shouldn't go any further, but the roads were dry, we took a chance, and we made it to the end of the trail (until large boulders were present in the middle of the road). We were able to cut the hiking time down to about half by doing this. The trail from where the car "should" park is 3 miles. All Trails is a great place to get directions because they use the GPS coordinates of where you want to go. You can find great directions to this trail here.

5. Mezcal Trail 

This is a great trail if you want to rent mountain bikes, but you can also hike it. This was another trail that wasn’t too crowded as we probably saw 3 other groups hiking.

6. Boynton Canyon Trail

Take this trailhead to visit the Boynton Pass Vortex. Can you feel the mystical energy? Check out the other vortexes in the area and see if you can feel the spiritual energy.

7. Cathedral Rock

This is a very popular trail near Sedona that is about 2.4 miles round trip. You’ll experience great views of the red rocks and is definitely a favorite of locals and tourists! This trail is a bit strenuous but the views make the climb worthwhile!

8. Bell Rock and Oak Creek

As you drive into Sedona from Phoenix, you will drive through Oak Creek and right by Bell Rock (it’s hard to miss this rock, it’s actually shaped like a bell!). Oak Creek is about 10 minutes from Sedona and there are many great Red Rock trails through this area.

9. Chapel of the Holy Cross

If you are fortunate enough to park near the top, then this wouldn’t be considered a hike! We had to park near the bottom and work our way up the winding road to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which is quite literally built into the rocks! Outside of the chapel, there are places to sit for great views of Sedona. Inside, you’ll find a very tiny chapel with a gift shop in the basement. Admission is free and parking is free. The difficulty of access depends on how lucky you are with parking! (There is handicap parking at the top)

10. Sedona Airport Mesa Overlook

This is a great place to watch the sunset, and everyone knows that. Get your cameras ready and head up early to get a parking spot and a place to watch the colors and shadows change on the Red Rocks. You will need a few dollars in cash to park in the parking lot. There are credit card machines, but cash will make things much simpler for you!

11. Slide Rock State Park

North of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon, you’ll find Slide Rock State Park. We stopped here on our way up to the Grand Canyon. With 43 acres of park to explore, this was a great place to get out and stretch our legs as we made our way up to the South Rim!

12. Oak Creek Vista

By taking the scenic route up to the Grand Canyon, we were able to wind our way up the Oak Creek Canyon and gain some elevation and views of snow-covered mountaintops. There is a bathroom at the Oak Creek Vista Overlook and there was a little market occurring in the parking lot as well. The temperature significantly dropped from our morning in Sedona, we grabbed a few extra layers out of our backpacks!

13. Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village

This isn’t a trail to explore, but this is a great place to find a treasure to bring home to remember your trip! The Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village is an outdoor-style market and has a variety of artists who contribute to the shopping experience.

*Some of these trails in or near Sedona require a Red Rock Pass, but if you have a National Parks Pass, that will cover the fee for parking in all of these places (according to the pass rules in 2019). We ended up purchasing a National Parks Pass because we also continued up to the Grand Canyon. This site will tell you where a Red Rock Pass is required (but you can also pay on the spot in the individual parking lots).

Places To Eat In Sedona

We also had to share with you a few of the places we ate while in Sedona:

  1. Javelina Cantina. We loved this little restuarant tucked away in downtown Sedona, and we were recommended to go here by our Pink Jeep Tour Guide when we asked for the best restaurants in the area in his opinion as a local. Their grilled chicken and vegetable burrito was filled with squash and zucchini and was absolutely delicious. Don’t forget to order a Prickly Pear Cactus Margarita!
  2. Cowboy Club. This was a nice place to eat outside right in the center of downtown.
  3. Elote. Check out this Mexican restaurant while you’re in Sedona. Try going before the dinner rush starts or you’ll be waiting for a while for a table!
  4. Chocola Tree Organic Eatery. This is a great option for vegetarian and gluten-free options. From breakfast to appetizers, to dinner, you’ll find something delicious! They have a coffee, beer, cocktail, and wine menu too. Try one of their sweet treats after you’ve finished your meal!
  5. Wildflour Cafe. This cafe is right next to the Visitor Center making it an easy place for a quick bit to eat after you grab your trail maps and ask any last minute questions in the Visitor Center! They’ll let you know of any trail conditions you should be aware of, too.

What to Bring on Your Trip to Arizona:

When you travel with Lewis N. Clark gear, don't forget to tag us on Facebook and Instagram! We love seeing your travels and sharing them on our social media!

Lightweight Backpack for Hiking - this makes carrying your essentials simple!

Lightweight Duffel for Carry-on Travel - traveling with a carry-on makes traveling easy.

Waist Stash - keep your hands free and travel light for quick treks that don’t require food/water.

Door Alarm - Sedona and Phoenix are very safe, but travelers should always be secure!

Compression Socks - perfect for your plane ride and post elevation gain hiking.

Toiletry Kit - keep your belongings organized.

Packing Cubes - save space and make packing a breeze.

Poncho and Waterproof Safebox - don’t get caught in the rain!