Sedona Scenic Drives
Sometimes you just want to chill, take a drive, play your favorite tunes, and enjoy the views. The Sedona area has a variety of beautiful scenic drives that will inspire, relax, and awe you. So, skip hiking for a day and put the top down if the weather is nice. Cruise through red rock canyons, explore winding rural roads, discover a volcano, stop at a winery, or have a picnic, and enjoy this stunning, magical landscape.

Sedona Scenic Drive

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SedonaBizMag Staff

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Sedona Journal

POSTED ON

May 18th, 2021

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sedonabizmag

When to drive…

Here’s the thing… Sedona has been discovered. Traffic can be crazy at times, especially Friday afternoons, Saturdays, and every day during peak season, which is spring and fall. That being said, even on these days, a really nice time to hit the road and enjoy the dramatic scenery is at dawn. Traffic is light as the early morning sun begins to shine on the red rocks at an angle, painting them with a loving brush of warm colors. It is worth getting up early to enjoy this peaceful time of day.

Any other time of year is also good for a Sedona scenic drive, provided you aren’t in a hurry. Just take your time, enjoy the red rock formations, glorious canyons, and your fellow passengers’ company. Trip ideas and maps are below. ⇓

Sedona scenic byway through Red Rock Country

Sedona Scenic Drives

Sedona, Arizona offers some gorgeous scenic drives that give you incredible views without ever having to leave your car! Enjoy a relaxing drive through some of Arizona’s most scenic landscapes. Bring water, coffee, and a snack. There are plenty of places to stop along the way to rest and take photos or go for a short hike. (Make sure you have a Red Rock Pass if you are parking at a trailhead.)

The road trips below vary in length and scenery. The routes are diverse and filled with inspiring views and points of interest.

READ: Sedona Arizona Weather – What You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip

READ: Directions to Sedona – 9 Different Routes

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Upper and Lower Red Rock Loop Road

Drive slow, switchbacks, watch for mountain bikers and wildlife. This is a rural area of Sedona where families live so please take your time. Enjoy incredible views of Cathedral Rock from many angles. Start at Sedona Red Rock High School on Upper Red Rock Loop Rd. This road eventually becomes Lower Red Rock Loop Rd which ends at SR-89A. Turn right to continue back to Sedona city limits (9-10 mile loop). Red Rock State Park, a 286-acre nature preserve and environmental education center, is on this route and is a highly recommended place to hike, attend programs and events.

Sedona Scenic Drives

Dry Creek Road

From the intersection of Dry Creek Rd and SR 89A to Long Canyon if you turn right at the “T” intersection at the bottom of the hill, and to the Enchantment Resort if you turn left. Approx. 18 miles in and out total. At the “T”, I would turn right first and drive until it ends. Then, turn around and head to the Enchantment Resort. Then, turn around a final time to drive back to the “T” intersection with Dry Creek Rd. Turn right to make your way back to 89A. Optionally, you can continue driving past the Enchantment Resort if you like (not on the map). The road turns to dirt and goes for miles, with access to many famous Sedona hiking trails, canyons, and Sinagua Indian Ruins.

Highlight: If you drive this route at dawn, you will see hot air balloons taking off or already floating over the red rock landscape. It is a spectacular sight.

Hot air balloons floating over Sedona in the early morning

Verde Valley School Road

11-mile round-trip, in-and-out drive. Dirt road towards the end. Drive slow. This drive starts at the intersection of SR-179 and Verde Valley School Rd in the Village of Oak Creek. This is a residential/rural area. The road dead-ends at Oak Creek. This is the “other side” of Oak Creek, also called “The Crossing” by the locals. Crescent Moon Recreation Area is on the opposite bank. The majestic Cathedral Rock looms over your right shoulder if you are facing the creek. The map below shows you turning left on Rainbow Ln. Do not do this. Rainbow Ln is a private residential road with no turn-around. Optionally, if you want to walk down to the creek and explore the area, the nearest place to park is the Baldwin Trailhead parking lot. Bring a picnic, some towels, and your camera. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the riparian surroundings and take photos of Cathedral Rock.

Posse Grounds Park

Many visitors to Sedona want to know: “Where do the locals live?” This short loop takes you from the main road (SR 89A) in West Sedona, through a residential neighborhood. You will drive by the Sedona Dog Park, West Sedona Elementary School, balls fields, a skate park, a playground, tennis and basketball courts, a fitness path, a public pool, hiking and mountain biking trails, and an outdoor entertainment venue. The majestic red rocks surround you on this short drive. Drive slow. Watch for kids. Approx 2 miles.

Sunset at Posse Grounds Park, Sedona Arizona

Oak Creek Canyon

We recommend starting this drive very early in the day to beat the traffic (mid-week is also a good idea). The canyon is a beautiful, lush, very popular scenic drive along Oak Creek. The sandstone cliffs and dramatic rock formations (also called hoodoos) start out red (the Schnebly Hill Formation) and gradually turn white (Coconino Sandstone) as you drive further north. At the wider, lower end of Oak Creek Canyon, red rock formations like Mitten Ridge are on your right as you start your journey out of Uptown Sedona. Eventually, the canyon narrows, and then you can actually see the lines of the ancient, wind-blown sand dunes in the cream-colored walls of this scenic canyon on your left. The rim is black basalt.

Stormy Midgley Bridge Oak Creek Canyon SedonaMidgely Bridge and Mitten Ridge, lower end of Oak Creek Canyon

Desert grasslands, pinyon pines, chaparral, and junipers dot the landscape as you begin your journey out of Uptown Sedona. Several types of oaks provide a shady canopy a few miles into the canyon. Arizona sycamore, maples, cottonwoods, and willows are abundant near the creek. As you continue to drive north, the elevation climbs, and the trees hugging the road switch to Ponderosa pines, Rocky Mountain juniper, and various firs.

There are many camping sites, trailheads, restaurants, resorts, and attractions along the way. Starting your drive at dawn allows you to set your own pace as you travel north through Oak Creek Canyon and on up to Flagstaff if that is your destination. The drive through Oak Creek Canyon is about 13 miles long, from Uptown Sedona to the bottom of the switchbacks that take you up to Flagstaff. At the top of the switchbacks is Oak Creek Vista (elevation 6437′), a scenic overlook with plenty of parking. It has facilities and a Native American marketplace. Hours are 7am – 4pm.

Sedona to Page Springs to Cornville

This lovely drive features Red Rock Country of course, but also some of the surrounding, rural areas, vineyards, and towns nearby that have their own charm. You can choose to drive along SR 89A from Sedona, southwest to Page Springs, then turn right on Cornville Rd, back to SR 89A, and on to Sedona (approx. 40 miles). Please follow the speed limit signs. The road is narrow and curvy at times with not much of a shoulder.

Or, instead of driving through the heart of Cornville after Page Springs, you can turn left on Cornville Rd, then left again on Beaverhead Flats Rd. This route will take you to SR-179 and the Village of Oak Creek. Continue north to connect with Sedona and SR-89A. This circular route is also about 40 miles if you started at the “Y”.

A point of interest on this route is House Mountain, which is an extinct shield volcano. It is a low-profile mound on your left as you travel northeast on Beaverhead Flats Rd. You can see the crater and the ancient lava flows on the Google map below (dark grey/brown earth). Notice that it takes up almost all the land between the Village of Oak Creek (east side) and Page Springs (west side). Red Rock State Park is to its north.

Here are 2 photos of House Mountain: https://images.app.goo.gl/iHXHVaY1SsvuRexz7 and https://images.app.goo.gl/wU7bjwoRNwSMGA8P7

Sedona to Jerome

Approx 30 miles each way, depending on where you are staying in Sedona. We LOVE this trip! As you head out of Sedona on SR 89A going southwest, you will see red rock country begin to disappear as a cream and sage-colored landscape starts to predominate. This route takes you through Old Town Cottonwood, past Tuzigoot National Monument, through downtown Clarkdale and finally up some switchbacks to Jerome, an old copper-mining town. Old Town Cottonwood, downtown Clarkdale and Jerome are small, historic, old-west towns (or parts of town) that are charming, funky, and very interesting in their own way. There may be a faster way to Jerome, but this scenic route is a far more entertaining trip. There is plenty to see and do on this drive, enough to fill a whole day. So, turn this scenic drive into a day trip! Jerome has excellent restaurants, attractions, and an eclectic assortment of boutiques, shops, and art galleries.

Sedona to Montezuma Well & Castle

Montezuma Castle National Monument

About 30 miles one-way, depending on where you are staying in Sedona. This is more than just a scenic drive. We highly recommend entering the park and spending the day exploring both the Castle and the Well. More information here: https://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Well (a sub-unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument)
About 28 miles, depending on where you are staying in Sedona. More info here: https://www.nps.gov/moca/planyourvisit/exploring-montezuma-well.htm

Montezuma Well (Montezuma Castle National Monument)

Have a nice drive!!!

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