Sedona, Arizona is a spectacular place to visit. It truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth and is an outdoor-lovers paradise year-round. Scheduling your perfect getaway to Red Rock Country, however, might require some planning. We have assembled a wide-ranging Frequently Asked Questions list below, to help you design your ideal Southwest vacation.

About Sedona Arizona

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SedonaBizMag Staff

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Sedona Journal

POSTED ON

October 1st, 2020

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Are things open in Sedona?

Yes. To get the most up-to-date information about how COVID-19 is affecting Sedona, Arizona businesses, please visit the City of Sedona’s website here.

Please be considerate of your fellow travelers and residents of Sedona during this pandemic. Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands well and often. Thanks! You rock!

What is so special about Sedona?

The dramatic, red rock beauty that surrounds every visitor is the #1 reason people visit Sedona!

U.S.News and World Report – Top 30
https://travel.usnews.com/rankings/best-usa-vacations/

Expedia – Top 10
https://viewfinder.expedia.com/top-rated-vacation-destinations-in-north-america/

Trip Savvy – Top 10
https://www.tripsavvy.com/the-top-places-to-visit-in-the-united-states-3301129

TripAdvisor – Top 25 Most Popular
https://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Destinations-cPopular-g191

Other reasons include year-round outdoor adventure, experiencing vortexes and other metaphysical activities, exploring Indian ruins, and hiking of course!

What is the best time of year to visit Sedona AZ?

Sedona is one of those magical destinations that are wonderful to visit year-round. The weather is usually glorious in the spring and fall. Both seasons have crisp mornings and mild days. Fall in the Sedona area lasts a long time because of the elevation change between Sedona (at 4500’) and Flagstaff (7000’). Therefore, the autumn leaves are at various stages of bright yellow and red from mid-September through Thanksgiving, depending on where you are traveling in the region. Sedona sometimes gets light snow, but it is rare. Winters are mild, beautiful and the town is less crowded. Summer is a nice time to visit and spend time having fun in Oak Creek.

READ: Sedona Weather… Always Beautiful

View of West Sedona from Airport Vortex and Overlook

How is the drive from Phoenix to Sedona?

Once you get out of the Phoenix metro area, it is a beautiful drive. You’ll go through high-desert, mountainous terrain, up and down some switchbacks, and into the Verde Valley. Red Rock Country is then within an hour. Expect heavy traffic on the I-17 corridor and SR179 on Fridays, especially on 3-day weekends. It is best to start your journey north early, so you have plenty of daylight to enjoy the beautiful vistas and scenic byways.

Fall colors and Cathedral Rock, Sedona AZ

How do I get to Sedona?

You can drive, fly, or take an airport shuttle. Most tourists fly into the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and rent a car. Flagstaff and Sedona have airports, however, they are very small.

READ: Driving Directions to Sedona Arizona – 9 Maps

Mountain biking in Sedona

How do I spend a day in Sedona?

There is so much to do in Sedona, it may be hard to choose if you are only staying one day. Probably the top 2 choices are to go for a hike or hop on a jeep tour.

Other things to do in the Sedona area that you could do in one day include:

  1. Strolling and shopping Uptown Sedona
  2. Picnicking in Oak Creek Canyon
  3. Exploring Sedona-area Indian Ruins
  4. Visiting Red Rock Crossing (also called Crescent Moon Picnic Site), Red Rock State Park, or Slide Rock State Park
  5. Psychic readings at a metaphysical shop
  6. Browsing world-class art galleries
  7. Meditating at a Sedona Vortex
  8. Pampering yourself with a massage or visiting a spa
Meditate in Sedona

How many days should you spend in Sedona?

One day is definitely not enough. Tourists often make the mistake of stopping in Sedona on the way to the Grand Canyon, which is just a tease. While there is no magic number, it is a great idea to stay in Sedona for 3 or more days. There is plenty to do for outdoor enthusiasts and enough fascinating attractions within a drivable radius.

Hot air ballooning in Sedona AZ

Do you need a car in Sedona?

It is highly recommended to have a car when visiting Sedona. Oak Creek Canyon is 12 miles long. West Sedona is spread out over 4.5 miles. Very few trailheads may be close to your place of lodging. Most are several miles away. Sedona is also “hilly” so to walk everywhere in town might require a certain level of fitness. There are taxis, ubers, a trolley, and some mass transit though, so it’s not impossible.

Oak Creek, Sedona Arizona

Why is Sedona so popular?

The 2 main reasons people visit Sedona are to view the breathtaking red-rock scenery and to hike. The crimson and sandstone mountains and rock formations in and around Sedona are unique and inspiring. The weather is mild and there are lodging choices for every budget.

There are lots of things to do in Sedona! Outdoor activities and adventures can include golfing, mountain biking, fishing or kayaking Oak Creek, hot-air ballooning, helicopter and airplane tours.

Sedona is also known for its metaphysical vibe, so if you want a psychic reading, a soul portrait, or need to grow your collections of crystals, Sedona has plenty of new-age practitioners and shops to choose from. Looking to experience a vortex, sweat lodge, medicine wheel ceremony, or a shamanic journey? Sedona is the place to be for transformation.

Just want to relax? Spas, healing retreats, and massage therapists abound for you to pamper and take care of yourself.

READ: 6 Reasons Why People Visit Sedona

Is Sedona walkable?

Yes. There are sidewalks along the SR179 corridor, throughout Uptown Sedona and West Sedona along SR89A. However, it is highly recommended to have a car. Sedona and the surrounding red rock area is spread out over many square miles and is hilly.

Does Sedona have a downtown?

Yes, but it is called “Uptown Sedona”. This is the main tourist center of Sedona where you can book various tours, dine, shop for souvenirs, browse art galleries, book psychic readings, and more.

Uptown Sedona shops, tour companies, and restaurants

Is Sedona cooler than Phoenix?

Yes. By an average of 10-20 degrees, depending on the season.

How hot does Sedona get in the summer?

Sedona’s summer temperatures can range from the 80s to the low 100s during the day. The number of days over 100 are few, though. In Oak Creek Canyon (north of Uptown Sedona), the temperature is much cooler due to the lush vegetation, shady trees, narrow canyon walls, and a gradual increase in elevation. Desert monsoons in July, August, and early September provide a lovely afternoon respite from the heat … and rainbows!

READ: Sedona Weather… Always Beautiful

Is Sedona pet-friendly?

Yes. There are several hotels, bed and breakfasts, and Air BnBs that allow pets as well as a few restaurants that have pet-friendly patios. Be aware of the heat in the warmer months and do not leave your pets in your car, even with the windows cracked. Sedona also has leash laws so keep your animals controlled, even on the trails. There are a few veterinarians in town if your pet needs care during your vacation. Please be considerate and clean up after your pets.

The Sedona Dog Park is a popular place to make friends.

Sedona Activities – What CAN you do?

Hiking
Mountain biking
Hot air ballooning
ATVing
Golfing
Swimming in Oak Creek
Fishing in Oak Creek
Jeep tours
Air tours
Shopping
Camping

Sedona Activities – What CAN’T you do?

You can’t ski. Sedona does not get nearly enough snow for skiing. Snow is rare, and it usually melts by mid-day. You can ski in Flagstaff though, which is more than an hour’s drive away and about 3000′ higher in elevation.

Rock climbing is dangerous in Sedona because the sandstone rock formations are too soft.

Whitewater rafting – Oak Creek is usually too shallow. During storms or peak snowmelt, it is too dangerous.

What is the best location to stay in Sedona?

There are several distinct areas in Sedona to find lodging.

In Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon is lush and narrow. The types of accommodations you can find along this winding road include creekside cabins, campgrounds, and rental houses. There is also a resort, a private retreat center or 2, and some lovely BnBs. This is not a walkable area. It is remote and there are no paths or sidewalks along SR89A in this narrow canyon. You will need a car.

Uptown Sedona
Uptown Sedona features several medium-sized hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and 2 luxury resorts along Oak Creek. This is the main tourist shopping district of Sedona and it gets crowded. However, the luxury resorts are nestled between Oak Creek and the bustling Uptown area in a riparian paradise. Walkable.

Along SR179 in Sedona
There are several larger hotels, resorts, and bed & breakfasts along this route as well as some motels. This is the “gallery” district of Sedona. It is crowded but lovely. Walkable.

Along SR179 in the Village of Oak Creek
Enjoy a wide variety of hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts, and vacation homes in VOC. Walkable.

West Sedona
West Sedona is the business district of the Sedona area. This is where banks and grocery stores are. This is where many families live, where the schools and parks are. There are also many hotels, motels, timeshares, BnBs, and vacation rentals to choose from. Walkable.

Red Rock Loop Rd
Red Rock Loop Road is one of the rural areas of Sedona. It is picturesque, scenic, and quiet. Enjoy choosing from many bed and breakfasts and Sedona vacation homes. Not walkable.

West Sedona Hotel - the Andante Inn of Sedona

What is the high season in Sedona?

The high season in Sedona, Arizona is spring and fall. Weekends and holidays year-round are also very busy times to visit Sedona. Sedona features several, popular, annual events that add to the lodging demand, prices, and traffic. These are fun and exciting times to visit Sedona, so if you like the hustle and bustle and beautiful Sedona weather during these peak travel months, please plan ahead and join us!

Are 4 days in Sedona too much?

Not at all. There are so many things to do in Sedona and the surrounding area, that you could stay busy for a couple weeks if your budget allowed. If you are visiting Sedona to hike Red Rock Country, you have over 100 amazing trails to choose from.

Here is an 8-day Sedona vacation itinerary to give you some ideas:

Day 1

  • Hike in the morning
  • Browse shops in Uptown
  • Sunset jeep tour (Uptown)

Day 2

Day 3

  • Early morning hot air balloon ride
  • Get a massage or visit a spa
  • View the sunset at Airport Vortex

Day 4

  • Explore Page Springs wineries
  • Tuzigoot National Monument
  • Visit Jerome

Day 5

  • ATV to Sedona Indian Ruins
  • Visit Red Rock State Park or Crescent Moon Picnic Site (also called Red Rock Crossing)

Day 6

  • Drive to the Grand Canyon, a perfect day trip from Sedona

Day 7

  • Shop Tlaquepaque
  • Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park
  • Hike another trail

Day 8

READ: What is Sedona Known For? 6 Reasons Why People Visit Sedona

What airport do I fly into for Sedona Arizona?

Airports near Sedona Arizona

Sedona Airport

This small, non-towered airport is located on a high mesa off Highway 179 two miles southwest of the central business district of Sedona. It accommodates smaller business jets, private aircraft such as Cessna and Beech airplanes, and helicopters. View website

Flagstaff Pulliam Airport

Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) is a commercial airport located 5.6 miles from downtown Flagstaff.  American Airlines currently offers three flights daily to and from Phoenix. Sedona-bound passengers can take a shuttle, but renting a car is highly recommended. View website

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Most visitors who aren’t road-tripping their way to Sedona fly into Arizona’s biggest airport in Phoenix. They can then either take a shuttle to Sedona or rent a car. View website

Flagstaff AZ in the autumn and the snow-covered San Fransisco Peaks

Is it better to stay in Flagstaff or Sedona?

Flagstaff, which is about an hour north of Sedona is a completely different kind of vacation destination. The town sits at ~ 7000′ along the base of the majestic San Fransisco Peaks, amidst a large ponderosa pine and aspen forest. It is a historic mountain town, a college town (NAU), and a major transportation route with freight trains and semi-trucks lumbering through town on the major east-west Interstate Highway 40 and south, I-17 to Phoenix. In its early days, lumber, livestock, and railroad industries reigned supreme and left a solid footprint in modern-day Flagtaff’s way of life. It has many attractions and a diverse Native American Indian population with ancient roots. The weather is dry, above-average sunny, and has 4 glorious seasons. Flagstaff is an outdoor-lover’s paradise and an easy place to visit as a day-trip from Sedona.

Sedona is a much smaller town, with a population of less than 11,000 (Flagstaff population is approx. 74,000). It has a more intimate feel and seems a bit more luxurious. The elevation is about 4350′. Our weather is warmer and does not get nearly as much snow as Flagstaff. Sedona is more of a retirement community, with a metaphysical flair. It has breathtaking red rock scenery, a lively, creative art scene, and countless outdoor adventure opportunities, year-round.

READ: 6 Reasons Why People Visit Sedona

Are there Indian ruins in Sedona?

There aren’t any Indian ruins within the Sedona city limits. However, there are over 2500 archaeological sites in the Verde Valley, including 2 national monuments, 3 heritage sites, and 5 protected sites. When people say “Sedona Indian Ruins,” they are probably referring to the prehistoric, cultural sites in Red Rock Country, the area surrounding Sedona, where the ancient Sinagua dwelled.

READ: Indian Ruins Near Sedona – About the Ancient Sinagua Indians

Sedona Indian Ruins

What should I wear in Sedona?

Sedona is a casual town. The summers are warm, but the nights cool off. Anything can happen, weather-wise, in Sedona during the spring, fall and winter. Even though the weather is fairly mild, you should be prepared. Dress in layers. Hiking boots are standard footwear. I’ve seen younger folks wear shorts year-round, with the only difference being the thickness of their sweatshirt. There are a few gourmet restaurants and luxury resorts in the area, but even they don’t have strict dress codes.

For average monthly temperatures and precipitation in Sedona – read: Sedona Weather… Always Beautiful

How far is the Grand Canyon from Sedona?

103 miles
It takes approximately 2 hours to drive from Uptown Sedona, along SR 89A, US-180, and AZ-64 N, to the Grand Canyon. However, time of year and traffic through Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff could affect this time. This route takes you through beautiful Oak Creek Canyon, up through the city of Flagstaff, around the majestic San Francisco Peaks, north to Tusayan and Grand Canyon Village, finally arriving at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

As you enter the park and head east along AZ-64, you can pull into various parking lots to gaze at the breathtaking vistas of the Grand Canyon. Make sure you visit the famous Desert View Watchtower on your way out of the national park, for superb views and an excellent gift shop.

Grand Canyon day trip from Sedona

Returning to Sedona from the Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon National Park

114 miles
It takes approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes to drive from the Desert View Watchtower (east entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park) to Sedona. However, you may want to stop at the Cameron Trading Post to browse Native American Arts and Crafts. And what Southwest adventure wouldn’t be complete without some Indian Fry Bread (also called Navaho Tacos)? There are several establishments in Cameron to get this hearty meal.

Drive east on AZ-64 to US-89. Turn south on US-89 to Flagstaff. Follow the signs to Sedona from there. Click on the map for detailed directions. If you are stopping in Cameron, drive north at the interchange of AZ-64 and US-89 first, before turning around and heading back home.

If you start early, this is a perfect day-trip from Sedona. Traffic may cause delays. Be prepared for much colder weather during the spring, fall, and winter at the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, and Cameron.

Desert View Watchtower at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA.

What should I buy in Sedona?

Some of the typical souvenirs a visitor to Sedona might buy are crystals, books about the area, arts and crafts from local artists and crafters, photography prints, Native American jewelry, and a customary Sedona-branded t-shirt or sweatshirt.

Buy unique art, souvenirs, and gifts from local Sedona artists at the Viallge Gallery of Local Artists

Can I take rocks, sand, or dirt from Sedona as a souvenir?

No.

Sedona gets an average of 3 million visitors per year. Imagine if they all took a rock from the Sedona area, or some dirt, year after year. The natural landscape would be irreparably harmed.

Taking anything from federal, state, or city land is considered an act of vandalism and/or theft.

Permits are required to collect plants, plant material, or wood.

If you purchase a red rock or similar souvenir from a local gift shop, it is likely collected from private property.

What to bring on your Sedona hike

What do I need to hike in Sedona?

What you should bring / what you should wear – Recommendations

  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Food
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • A fully charged cell phone
  • A whistle
  • A hat
  • Trail maps
  • Hiking boots or athletic shoes with a good grip
  • A camera
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Extra clothing for layers
  • A multi-purpose knife
  • Tissues and ziplock bags
  • Flashlight
  • A first aid kit
  • A snake bite kit
  • Convertable pants (optional)
  • A walking stick (optional)
  • A friend

Purchase hydration packs, trekking poles, hats, and more here >>

Did you know West Fork Trail is considered a Sedona Vortex site?
LEARN MORE: The Sedona Vortex Guide: A Transformational Experience

Purchase hiking boots and shoes, water bottles, flashlights, backpacks here >>

Do you have to pay to hike in Sedona?

Hiking in Sedona is free, but parking isn’t.

According to the USDA / Coconino National Forest website:

“A Red Rock Pass is required when leaving your vehicle unattended while recreating on National Forest land around Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. View the Red Rock Country Map to see locations of fee areas where the Red Rock Pass is required.

“The pass must be displayed in the windshield of the vehicle. Vehicles parked on the National Forest in the red rock area that do not display a valid pass in the windshield are subject to receiving a citation. A pass is not required for incidental stopping to take a photograph or to enjoy a scenic vista (approximately 15 minutes or less).”

Click here to learn more about the Red Rock Pass Program>>

Click here to learn where you can buy a Red Rock Pass>>

READ: Hiking in Sedona – How to Choose the Perfect Trail Every Time

Is there a shuttle from the Phoenix airport to Sedona?

Yes. There are several, dependable shuttle companies that transport Sedona visitors and locals to and from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. They offer several daily trips, with multiple, convenient pickup/drop-off locations throughout Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. During peak season and holidays, you will want to make your shuttle reservations early, so you can coordinate your ground transportation with your flight information.

What does “Sedona” mean?

According to the Wikipedia page about Sedona, Arizona:

“Sedona was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly (1877–1950), the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city’s first postmaster, who was celebrated for her hospitality and industriousness.[6] Her mother, Amanda Miller, claimed to have made the name up because “it sounded pretty”.[7]

Sedona Schnebly (February 24, 1877 – November 13, 1950) was an early pioneer in the Oak Creek area of Arizona. She was the namesake of the town of Sedona, Arizona. She helped in the establishment of the family farm and general store in the town. She also served as the town’s bible school teacher. Sedona saved funds to build the Wayside Chapel. Among her legacy is a sculpture of a statue in her likeness by the Sedona Red Rocks Arts Council honoring her memory.”

Many people who have visited Sedona, Arizona have been inspired by the beauty of this magical place to name one of their children “Sedona”. It is a popular name among families who live in Sedona as well.

Planning ahead? Here are some recommended Sedona Maps for your trip:

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