This article highlights nine routes that lead into Sedona from three of Arizona’s biggest cities – Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Prescott. They all meet at The “Y” which is a round-about intersection in the heart of Sedona. Traffic flows into Sedona from Flagstaff in the north, the Village of Oak Creek directly south, and Cottonwood, which is southwest. Read on to learn more about these beautiful drives into Sedona from all three directions. We also offer tips to help you choose the right directions for your trip.
The “Y” of Sedona – where SR89A and SR179 meet in the Heart of Sedona
How to get to Sedona from Phoenix – 4 Routes:
Phoenix to Sedona, Scenic Route #1 (via 179)
This is the easiest route to Sedona. It is perfect for tourists who are staying in the Village of Oak Creek or along the 179 corridor between VOC and Sedona proper. There are plenty of shops, art galleries, restaurants, hotels, and hiking trails to visit on your way into town. The views are breathtaking! You may recognize 2 very famous red rock formations traveling this way; Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. The only problem with this route to Sedona is the traffic during peak season and on the weekends (Fridays & Saturdays). It can be very disheartening and add additional hours to your trip. You can avoid traffic congestion into Sedona during peak season by choosing Scenic Routes 2, 3 or 4, which are described below.
Phoenix to Sedona, Scenic Route #2 (via 260 to 89A)
This route takes you from I-17 to 260, and on into Cottonwood, Arizona. Then, at the intersection with 89A, you head northeast. This is a lovely drive and can be a little faster into Sedona, due to 260 and 89A being 4-lane highways. As you get closer to Sedona, the distinctive red rock mountains start to appear on your left and up ahead. Continue on into West Sedona, which is where most of the local Sedona population lives. There are hotels, grocery & drug stores, timeshares, restaurants, theaters, shops, schools, and business services all along 89A. Continue along 89A through town and you end up at The “Y”, Uptown Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, and eventually Flagstaff.
Phoenix to Sedona, Scenic Route #3 (via Cornville Road to 89A)
This route is a local secret. Enjoy much less traffic and scenic views driving through quiet, rural areas on your way into Sedona. Slow down and enjoy a relaxing alternative byway between I-17 and 89A. As you drive through Cornville, you will cross Oak Creek, drive up a small set of switchbacks, and then continue on until your reach 89A. Turn right at this intersection and head into West Sedona, which is about 15-20 minutes away.
Phoenix to Sedona, Scenic Route #4 (via Cornville Road & Page Springs Road to 89A)
This route is another lesser-known gateway into Sedona, and – BONUS – it meanders right through our local Wine Country. This drive is similar to #3 in that you take I-17 to Cornville Rd. However, you turn right at Page Springs about halfway into Cornville and continue on a rural, curvy, road through countryside and beautiful vineyards. Take it slow, enjoy the beautiful landscapes, and appreciate the lush riparian environment as you cross over Oak Creek. Page Springs Rd ends at 89A. Take a right and let the red rock vistas that come into view take your breath away as you head into West Sedona.
READ: What is Sedona Known For? 6 Reasons Why People Visit Sedona
READ: Sedona FAQs and Vacation Planner
READ: Sedona Arizona Weather – What You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip
How to get to Sedona from Flagstaff – 3 Routes:
Flagstaff to Sedona, Scenic Route #1 (most direct)
The most direct route from Flagstaff to Sedona is via State Route 89A, which travels from the high elevation of ~7000′ and the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world, down through a series of hair-raising switchbacks. It gently continues through Oak Creek Canyon, a National Scenic Byway in Coconino National Forest. Oak Creek Canyon boasts red rock and sandstone canyon walls, lush forests, campgrounds, picnic areas by the creek, Slide Rock State Park, Westfork recreation area, places to shop and eat, and so much more. This is a beautiful drive. However, the traffic during weekends and peak tourist season can be heavy and frustrating. So, start driving early or plan your drive during the week. Don’t be in a hurry. Stay chill, as you might be stuck behind an RV all the way down to Sedona, which is about 30 miles. There are places where slower drivers can pull over to let faster drivers pass… but the best attitude is to just relax and enjoy a leisurely drive through the canyon and appreciate the glorious views (while keeping your eyes on the road of course!)
Flagstaff to Sedona, Scenic Route #2 (most adventurous)
Driving Schnebly Hill Rd takes much longer. The road is narrow, winding, not well-maintained, not paved in some sections, and frequented by jeep tours and tourists trying to turn-around. This road is for experienced drivers with 4×4, high-clearance vehicles, and good tires only, who don’t care if their truck or jeep gets banged up a little bit. Don’t drive this road in bad weather! The views are spectacular though…
Flagstaff to Sedona, Scenic Route #3 (longest, freeway)
This is a longer drive, but just might be a perfect choice. If you have reasons to be in the Village of Oak Creek, or just like driving faster to get to your destination, or simply have no patience being stuck behind an RV in Oak Creek Canyon, then this route is for you. It takes more time because the actual miles traveled is higher. But, you get to spend more time driving fast on I-17, which has a speed limit of 75mph. From I-17, take exit 298 onto 179 and head north into the Village of Oak Creek. This route is beautifully scenic, with lots of hiking opportunities along State Route 179 on your way into town. Beware! Driving into Sedona along SR179 on a Friday during peak season is a nightmare. Don’t do it unless you have to…
How to get to Sedona from Prescott – 2 Routes:
Prescott to Sedona, Scenic Route #1 (via Jerome and Cottonwood)
This awesome drive goes over Mingus Mountain, which has an elevation of 7,815′. So, your trip takes you from the high desert cities of Prescott or Prescott Valley, up and over the Black Hills mountain range in Prescott National Forest (lots of switchbacks here – take it slow) and down through the old-west, copper-mining town of Jerome, which is a very cool place to stop for a bite to eat. Take a break if you can to meander around this small, historic town, view old buildings and visit funky shops. Continue down the hill on 89A through Clarkdale and Cottonwood. Keep your eyes on the final destination, which from Jerome is about 45 minutes away. Stay on 89A until you roll into West Sedona.
Prescott to Sedona, Scenic Route #2 (via Prescott Valley and Cottonwood)
This route is for drivers who prefer speed. Most of the driving is highway, so the likelihood of you getting stuck behind an RV is slim to none. No switchbacks either to slow you down. Take AZ-69 out of Prescott and Prescott Valley to I-17. Head north and eventually down into the Verde Valley. Take exit #287 and turn left onto 260 towards Cottonwood. 260 eventually intersects 89A. Turn right and continue your journey into West Sedona.
READ: Off-Season Bliss – Winter Vacations in Sedona
Family vacation? READ: Enjoy West Fork Trail Sedona with Your Kids
Planning ahead? Here are some recommended Sedona Maps for your trip:
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