Adam Baker from Houston / Moscow / Toulouse (travel a lot), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Adam Baker from Houston / Moscow / Toulouse (travel a lot), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ultimate Sedona Travel Guide


About Sedona

Sitting pretty near the Colorado Plateau at about 4,300 feet above sea level, Sedona is a desert paradise best known for its incredible red rock scenery.

This city of only 10,000 sees over 3 million visitors a year who come to hike among the buttes, mesas, and canyons as well as enjoy the area’s resorts, restaurants, and spas.

Shaka Guide's Sedona Tour Stops

Sedona is recognized as a hub for New Age beliefs and wellness, featuring strong 'vortexes,' or areas of swirling energy, believed by supporters to flow through the region.

Whether you’re hiking or meditating, you’ll find Sedona a perfect place for renewal and rejuvenation.

Getting to Sedona

Red rocks of Sedona, Arizona - a stunning natural landscape with vibrant red rock formations.

With its location between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon, one great thing about Sedona is how easy it is to add to an Arizona or American Southwest road trip.

The closest airport to Sedona is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport only 40 minutes (25 miles) to the north, though with limited commercial flights, this could be an expensive option.

More than likely, you’ll be flying into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport two hours south (120 miles) of Sedona.

It’s impossible to drive into Sedona without a spectacular view. Sedona is easily accessible via I-17, which connects Phoenix with Flagstaff.

From the south, AZ-179, or the Red Rock Scenic Byway in these parts, connects Sedona with I-17. 

From the north, AZ-89A connects Flagstaff with Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon, regarded as one of the most beautiful drives in Arizona.

If you happen to be coming from Prescott in the west, AZ-89A again is your entry into Sedona and the Verde Valley.

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Map of Airports Near Sedona

When to Visit Sedona

Snow-covered trees in Sedona's red rocks.John Fowler from Placitas, NM, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Most of the year, you’ll find Sedona’s temperatures easier to bear than those further south in Phoenix or Tucson. However, this being Arizona, it can still get uncomfortably hot!

RELATED: One-Day Sedona, Arizona Itinerary


With comfortable temperatures and blooming flowers, March to May is the ideal time to visit Sedona.

Everyone thinks so, which means spring is also Sedona’s peak season and when prices are at their highest. 


During the summer, folks in southern Arizona flock to Sedona to escape the heat.

And by escaping the heat, they mean to come to where it’s in the 90s, so it’s still hot here!

The summer monsoon season brings thunderstorms as well, so be prepared for some rain.

Because of the weather, Sedona’s prices and numbers of tourists go down in the summer so you should be able to find a better deal than you would in the spring.

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The ideal temperatures return for the fall, which sees some of Arizona’s best autumn foliage in places like Oak Creek Canyon.

Prices tick up a bit, but you might be able to score a better deal than in spring, especially in November.


Some might say that winter is the best time to visit Sedona. Some trails and roads in higher elevations may be closed due to ice and snow, but in Sedona proper, the snow only adds a fanciful layer of white on those red rocks.

Roads and lower trails should still be good to go and temperatures only dip into the mid-50s, on average. Plus, as Sedona’s low season, you should be able to find a bargain on a hotel!

Where to Stay in Sedona

Sedona hotel's parking lot with cars and a mountain in the background.Jack CameraMan, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We’ll be honest and say that Sedona can be a difficult place to find budget accommodation.

Most of the resorts and hotels here can run a few hundred dollars, or more, a night.

And we don’t want to point you to cheap motels that may, for one reason or another, be less than satisfying.

Nearby Cottonwood 

Your best bet? Score a room in nearby Cottonwood, less than 30 minutes from Uptown Sedona, and part of our tour.

There are a handful of chain hotels, or check out one of the independent places in Old Town Cottonwood such as the Tavern Hotel, as romantic as most hotels in Sedona at a much more reasonable price range. 

Oak Creek

Want to be a little closer? There’s the little village of Oak Creek just seven miles south of Uptown Sedona and along the Red Rock Scenic Byway.

Prices can still be on the high side but are typically lower than nightly rates in Sedona.

Try the Desert Quail Inn for a start, with basic but clean accommodations and an outdoor pool. Some rooms even feature a spa bathtub.

Sedona Uptown Suites

Gotta stay in the thick of it? The eight rooms of Sedona Uptown Suites are a steal for the Uptown area and within an easy walk of countless restaurants, bars, and shops.

One other option: if you’re planning on seeing other attractions in northern Arizona such as the Grand Canyon, consider staying in Flagstaff north of town.

Downtown Flagstaff is only about 25 minutes from Oak Creek Vista, about 30 minutes outside Sedona. 

Where to Eat in Sedona

A white plate with delicious Sedona food.dcostinCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Like accommodations, dining in Sedona can cost a pretty penny. Luckily, there’s a bit more variety when it comes to price points.

We’ve tried to assemble a list of relatively affordable options. That being said, this is Sedona, and sometimes fast food is just the right answer!

Coffee Pot Restaurant

First, breakfast. Start your day off with one of the 101 omelet choices at Coffee Pot Restaurant, which has been a staple for locals and tourists alike since the 1950s.

Mexican Restaurants

This being Arizona, you were bound to stop in a Mexican restaurant eventually. Tamaliza is a friendly, family-owned restaurant with burritos and tamales.

Hole-in-the-wall Tortas de Fuego has a huge menu of Mexican favorites including street tacos, enchiladas, and of course tortas.

Cowboy Club 

Steeped in Western film history is Cowboy Club Grill & Spirits. Sit where greats like Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne once ate while you try local specialties like cactus fries, rattlesnake sausage, and bison brisket.

Black Cow Cafe

Save room for dessert at tiny Black Cow Cafe, which sells some of Sedona’s best ice cream and pie. Plus, their ¼-lb hot dogs are one of the best lunch deals around for a quick bite.


Crunched for time? Uptown Sedona’s Chipotle might be just the thing. It’s cheap and familiar, and the patio has a terrific view of the red rocks.

Parking is also easy, with a large lot right behind the restaurant’s shopping plaza.

Indian Gardens Cafe

If you’re in the middle of Oak Creek Canyon and you need a little something, stop at Indian Gardens Cafe & Market, where that something could be breakfast, lunch, coffee, snacks, or even beer.

A lovely, shaded back patio is available for you to enjoy whichever you choose.

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Cottonwood Restaurants

Nearby Cottonwood and Jerome have plenty of great restaurants of their own, and they’re usually a notch or two cheaper than their peers in Sedona.

Old Town Cottonwood’s Crema Craft Kitchen and Old Town Red Rooster Cafe are delightful and should have something for everyone, including brunch cocktails.

Bing's Burger Station

You could also chow down on a burger in a refurbished 1940s service station at Bing’s Burger Station.

Haunted Hamburger

Speaking of burgers, yours could come with a side of ghosts at Jerome’s Haunted Hamburger.

Bobby D's BBQ

Or follow the smell of slow-cooking ‘cue to Bobby D’s BBQ. Both come with great views of the Verde Valley.

Wherever you decide to eat, or drink, we hope you enjoy a moment to relax. Many of these restaurants come with scenic or shaded seating, so order a prickly pear margarita and remember…you’re on vacation!

Map of Restaurants Near Sedona

Things to Do in Sedona

A man standing near a pink jeep on a dirt road in Sedona.

No matter how long you decide to stay in Sedona, you’ll wish you had more time. There is so much to do in the city and surrounding Verde Valley, and you don’t have to be an avid adventurer to enjoy yourself.

  • Take a scenic driving tour (Shaka Guide has you covered!)
  • Hike your pick of over 200 hiking trails through stunning red rock terrain.
  • Explore Uptown Sedona’s galleries, boutiques, and souvenir shops as well as its upscale dining scene.
  • See what Sedona’s vortexes are all about.
  • Golf is surrounded by a desert landscape. Some of the major courses in the area include:
  • Camp in Oak Creek Canyon or in one of the area’s RV parks.
  • Learn about the ancient Sinagua culture at pueblo ruins such as Tuzigoot National Monument and Palatki Heritage Site.
  • Escape the crowds and high prices in Sedona and grab a bite to eat in historic Old Town Cottonwood.
  • Visit the galleries and restaurants in Jerome, a crumbling former mining town on a steep mountainside.
  • Support local indigenous artists at one of Oak Creek Canyon’s Native American Crafts Markets.
  • Sip some wine in the region’s wineries or in their tasting rooms in Old Town Cottonwood.
  • Catch a magical sunrise or sunset against the red rocks.
  • Take an off-roading tour of the scenery with Pink Jeep Tours.
  • Return to the Old West on a horseback riding tour.
  • Attach your stay in Sedona to a greater Arizona trip, including Flagstaff 45 minutes away (29 miles), the Grand Canyon two hours away (114 miles), and Petrified Forest National Park 2.5 hours away (140 miles).

RELATED: 15 Things to do in Sedona and 14 Amazing Hikes in Sedona

Sedona FAQs

Adam Baker from Houston / Moscow / Toulouse (travel a lot), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A little preparation goes a long way in a popular place like Sedona. Here are some frequently asked questions to get you started on the right foot.

Is it hard to find parking in Sedona?

Most of Sedona’s trailhead parking lots are on the small side. Be prepared to wait or circle the lot a few times during high seasons and weekends.

Does Sedona have a free shuttle?

The Sedona Shuttle is a free park-and-ride option that takes hikers to some of the most popular trailheads.

How to avoid traffic in Sedona?

Traffic can slow to a crawl on busy days with daytrippers trying to get into town. But it’s Sedona, so at least it’s pretty traffic, right? Getting an early start is ideal.

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What pass do you need for Sedona?

Some of Sedona’s most popular spots such as Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock require a Red Rock Pass to park your vehicle.

These are sold as daily, weekly, or annual passes and are easy to purchase at parking lot kiosks or retail locations and visitor centers around Sedona.

If you already have an America the Beautiful Pass from your national park explorations, then you’re already covered! 

A select few locations require something called the Red Rock Grand Annual Pass.

In these cases, the national park pass will not cover you and you’ll need to pay a daily use fee. These include:

  • the Crescent Moon Picnic Site
  • Grasshopper Point Picnic Site, and
  • West Fork Oak Creek Trailhead

Is it hard to drive to Sedona?

Sedona’s roads are full of roundabouts, or traffic circles. Yield to cars already in the roundabout and enter when the coast is clear.

What do I need to know before going to Sedona?

This may be paradise, but it’s still the desert! Come prepared with sunscreen, hats, and appropriate footwear.

Though you probably won’t find anything dangerous on the trail, keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, scorpions, and tarantulas.

If you’re in more remote areas, remember you’re in black bear and mountain lion territory. 

RELATED: Know Before You Go: Sedona, Arizona


No matter the time of year or your activity of choice, visiting Sedona can be such a rewarding experience.

Book in advance, use Shaka Guide’s blogs to make some informed decisions, but most of all, let yourself be swept up in the beauty and allure of the incredible Sedona landscape.

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Are you ready to begin your Sedona adventure? Be sure to take Shaka Guide with you, using our Sedona, Arizona Tour!

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out our Sedona Itinerary and Know Before You Go article.


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