Sunrise in Sedona
Start your day off with a magical, serene sunrise in Sedona, Arizona and enjoy these perfect locations that are ideal for welcoming in the new day with mindfulness and joy. Through years of exploration and experience, we’ve mapped out several places where you can bask in the awakening landscape during a peaceful Sedona sunrise.
Sedona Sunrise Guide
Here’s your ultimate guide to early morning activities to start your day with natural energy and breathtaking views. We’ve included resources for sunrise times, Sedona hiking trails, meditation areas, activities, and scenic drives.
We hope you enjoy your time in Sedona, Arizona and whether you’re a local or a tourist – keep the parks clean and always remember to pack in and pack out!
Plan ahead and make sure you are in a prime location to see the ultimate Sedona sunrise! Check the sunrise time before you go here.
Why Sunrises in Sedona are Different
When people think about watching the sunrise, they usually envision themselves finding a comfortable spot, like a beach that faces east, to wait for the sun to peek above the horizon. The sky changes color as the sun begins its ascent for the day.
In Sedona, however, the goal is not really to watch the actual sun rise. It’s about watching the rays of light begin to caress the red rock formations that surround you. It is a stunning display of color at a peaceful time of day. The awakening landscape comes alive with golden, crimson hues and chirping birds. The late spring, summer, and early fall are ideal seasons to rise early and experience this lovely time of day in Sedona.
Sedona Sunrise Hiking
Sedona offers some of the best hiking in the world, with expansive views of red rocks and easy-to-get-to trailheads. We’ve included many of our favorite spots to catch epic sunrise views below. Sedona is known around the world for its energy vortexes, and while all of Sedona is said to be a vortex, there are several energy sites that radiate a more concentrated energy than others.
We chose the following hikes for 2 reasons: the red rock views are expansive and the trails are close to trailhead parking. To us, it doesn’t make sense to drive miles on a dark, dirt road to view the sunrise. This can be dangerous and you could get lost. Trails that are further into the forest are awesome but should hiked when there is plenty of daylight.
Hiking in the Sedona area is free, but parking isn’t. Learn more about the Red Rock Pass Program here ⇒
Safety Tip: Before heading out on a sunrise hike, take into consideration that you may experience some severe temperature changes as it goes from dark to light and depending on the length of the hike, you may not return until mid-day. Bring a flashlight or headlamp, snacks, plenty of water, wear layers, and always let friends and family know where you are going, how long you’ll be out, and when they should expect you back.
Sedona Sunrise Hikes
Airport Loop and Airport Vortex Hikes
Airport Loop Trail is a 3.3-mile loop trail located in Sedona, Arizona that winds around Airport Mesa. It is rated as moderate. We consider this trail to be a long morning hike because, depending on where you park, the distance to the trailhead adds considerable time. So, you can enjoy the sunrise and a lovely morning hike to start your day. Adding the Airport Vortex to your hike is an exhilarating bonus. Good hiking boots are recommended. Bring plenty of water, snacks, and your camera. The views are non-stop!
Cathedral Rock from Back O’ Beyond (vortex)
Cathedral Rock Trail is a very steep, difficult, 1.5-mile hike that can take you up to the “saddle” of Cathedral Rock, where the Combination Vortex is. Very good hiking boots are recommended, along with lots of water, snacks, and your camera. This short hike is hard, but also lots of fun. You should be physically fit to attempt this hike. The views are glorious. It is not recommended for pets.
Bell Rock Loop and Bell Rock Vortex at Meditation Perch
Bell Rock is a favorite hiking destination for locals and visitors alike. There are a variety of easy-to-moderate paths in this area that connect with each other. The trails feature beautiful wildflowers in the spring and incredible views of Bell Rock itself, Courthouse Butte, and Cathedral Rock. This is a popular place, so get there early and expect to see many smiling fellow hikers and lots of furry companions. Shoes or hiking boots with a good grip are recommended. Bell Rock is slick if you decide to climb.
Bell Rock at sunrise is an excellent place for meditation, yoga, and reflection. It has many large, flat areas, like Meditation Perch, that are ideal for safe inner work or gentle physical activity. There is a little bit of a climb to get to this area, but it is worth it! The views are divine.
Sugarloaf Summit Loop Trail is a 1.9-mile loop trail located right in Sedona, Arizona that offers spectacular views of Thunder Mountain, Coffee Pot Rock and all of West Sedona. To reach the top of this mound you will climb about 200 feet in elevation quickly. It is considered a “moderate” trail and should not be hiked during the heat of the day. It is perfect, however, for a sunrise hike, and is very popular with the locals that live nearby.
Cultural Park Trailhead
Girdner Trail (accessed via the Cultural Park Trailhead) is a one-way path that intersects other trails. This gives you the option of looping your hike or just turning around to head back to your car (see map). The trail is considered “moderate”, rocky, and traverses Dry Creek drainage. So be careful not to hike here following heavy rain.
What makes this hike so special at sunrise is you can watch very nearby hot air balloons take off and land every morning. It is a spectacular sight against the soft-lit red rocks of Long Canyon, Boynton Canyon, and the Cockscomb rock formation.
Sedona Meditation Areas
Sedona has so many higher vibrational energy areas that it’s very easy to find somewhere to enjoy a profound meditation. There are some very special places in Sedona that are absolutely breathtaking when you are looking for an extra special meditative journey in the healing lands of the Southwest.
Chapel of the Holy Cross
If you are seeking inspiration in a truly beautiful location, the Chapel of the Holy Cross welcomes all who enter. This unique chapel offers breathtaking views and powerful energy. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public at dawn. However, if you are staying nearby and can walk to the Chapel in the early morning, you will find that a peaceful and meditative sunrise awaits. When the Chapel is open, you can go inside and light a candle for a loved one. View their website for more information.
Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
According to the Kunzang Palyul Choling website:
“The Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park in the stunning red rock country of Sedona, Arizona, is a place for meditation and spiritual renewal. Situated on 14 pristine acres at the base of imposing Thunder Mountain, the land is deemed holy by native peoples. According to Lillian Too, world-renowned Feng Shui master, the land is perfect for its intended purpose—spiritual transformation and healing through the extraordinary sacred architecture and geometry of the stupa.
“Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC), under the direction of its spiritual director Her Eminence Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo Rinpoche, has built two stupas here —The Amitabha Stupa and the Tara Stupa. The fully empowered and consecrated stupas sit majestically among the pinion and juniper pines, surrounded by a garland of crimson pinnacles of Sedona Red Rock.”
For hours and more information, please visit https://www.tara.org/stupas/sedona-arizona
Sedona Sunrise Activities
Sedona is a unique location for outdoor lovers. The majestic red rocks surround you, no matter which activity you choose. Get your physical fitness in at Posse Grounds Park, or mountain bike through town and beyond. A sunrise hot air balloon ride is a breathtaking experience and offers a spectacular, birds-eye view of the Sedona landscape.
Sedona Mountain Biking
If you are into mountain biking, Sedona is your paradise. And, there is no better time to go for a ride than at dawn. The traffic in town is quieter, the dirt roads are almost empty and less dusty. The peacefulness of your ride allows you to appreciate the awakening desert. You might see golden eagles and hawks soaring above. You might see snakes and tarantulas crossing the road during the summer because it is cooler. You might see coyotes and javelina out and about, looking for something to eat or a place to rest. (Don’t worry, they are shy creatures. Just keep your distance.) These are all magical encounters with wildlife that most people miss during the middle of the day.
If you are mountain biking west of Sedona early enough, you can watch colorful hot air balloons take off and land.
Sunrise in Sedona is earlier than you might expect during spring and summer because Arizona does not follow Daylight Savings Time (except for the Navajo Nation). In the summer, it is light out around 5 in the morning.
Sedona is hilly, no matter where you go. Expect an exhilarating ride! Please keep this in mind, so you don’t experience dehydration or injury. Bring PLENTY of water and make sure your tires are in good shape and are filled with a liquid sealant to prevent leaks. A spare tire is not a bad idea. We have lots of thorny plants in the desert…
Hot Air Ballooning in Sedona
Want to make your trip to Sedona utterly unforgettable? Share special memories with the ones you love with an early morning hot air balloon ride. Is there a better way to catch the sunrise than from the sky? We think not! Hot air ballooning is an exciting adventure when you take off and land, with a lot of peaceful floating in-between. This bucket-list activity is a perfect match for the Sedona landscape and definitely worth getting up super early for. You can nap afterward!
Posse Grounds Park
Posse Grounds Park is a large outdoor recreational area with many areas available for early morning activities. The Park offers incredible sights and is an ideal location to watch the sunrise in Sedona. Posse Grounds Park is where the locals go for fitness, soccer games, softball, baseball, swimming, hiking, tennis, and cultural events. Enjoy a sandy volleyball court, a lovely playground, a skate park, and hiking trails. You will be surrounded in red rock glory as the sun rises and starts painting the red rocks various shades of crimson, cream, and gold.
Sedona Sunrise Times
|January 1st||7:34 am|
|February 1st||7:25 am|
|March 1st||6:56 am|
|April 1st||6:13 am|
|May 1st||5:36 am|
|June 1st||5:14 am|
|July 1st||5:17 am|
|August 1st||5:37 am|
|September 1st||6:00 am|
|October 1st||6:22 am|
|November 1st||6:48 am|
|December 1st||7:16 am|
View daily sunrise times for Sedona here ⇒
READ: Sedona Mind Body and Soul – Taking Care of Yourself in Red Rock Country
Sedona Scenic Drives at Sunrise
Are you looking to enjoy the Sedona scenery without expending too much energy? 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.
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.
Upper and Lower Red Rock Loop Road
Drive slow, switchbacks, watch for mountain bikers. 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)
Sedona to Page Springs to Cornville
This lovely drive features Red Rock Country of course, but also some of the surrounding, rural areas, wineries, 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
Oak Creek Canyon
This drive is not featured because of the sunrise views, which are minimal. It is listed here because it is an ideal drive very early in the morning when there is less traffic. 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.
Midgely 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.
Verde Valley School Road
11-mile round-trip, in-and-out drive. Some dirt roads. 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. If you want to walk down to the creek and explore the area, the nearest place to park is the Baldwin Trailhead parking lot.
Whether you’re looking to spend some time hiking through the energy vortexes, meditative areas, activities, or scenic drives for sunrise in Sedona, Arizona – we hope you have an incredible time!
The activities we mentioned are usually available year-round, but due to COVID-19 pandemic, some areas may still be closed or have restricted hours. Please check available websites for updated booking and closure information.
READ: Directions to Sedona – Driving to Sedona 9 Different Ways with Maps
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