Sedona is located in Central Arizona in the Verde Valley, about 119 miles north of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
From Phoenix (119 miles, 2 hours); Flagstaff (45 - 60 minutes, 25 - 41 miles, depending on route); from Grand Canyon South Rim (119 miles, 2.5 hours); Las Vegas (278 miles, 5 hours); Los Angeles (482 miles, 7.5 hours); Salt Lake City, UT (547 miles, 11.5 hours)
Take I-17 north toward Flagstaff 98.4 miles. Take exit 298 and turn left onto State Route 179. Travel on Highway 179 14.2 miles to State Route 89A. The intersection of Hwy 179 and Hwy 89A is known as the "Y." Many Sedona attractions, shopping, lodging and other business refer to the "Y" as a point of reference.
Click here for a complete list of driving directions from surrounding areas like Flagstaff, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.
Most Sedona visitors fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and drive 119 miles north to Sedona. Click here for complete Sedona airport information for more details.
Although driving yourself is the best way to get to Sedona, many people opt to take a shuttle. Shuttles to Sedona typically depart from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and cost approximately $49 per person each way from providers easily found by performing a quick web search for ""Sedona shuttles."" Keep in mind, though, that Greater Sedona, including the three main areas of Uptown Sedona, West Sedona, and the Village of Oak Creek (not to be confused with Oak Creek Canyon), is spread out over 18 square miles. If you arrive by shuttle, you'll either need to be prepared to walk A LOT, or pay for scheduled cab rides during your stay, or utilize the limited public transportation available.
Take our advice and drive yourself. The expense of renting a car or fueling your own vehicle is comparable to the total cost of shuttle(s), and you'll have greater freedom when it comes to where, when and how you decide to get around. There is no reason for out-of-state residents or foreigners to fear driving to or in Sedona. The drive from Phoenix to Sedona is a pleasant freeway and highway experience, and there are no dangerous curves or narrow roads.
Not to put too fine a point on it, one should understand that the walk from the Village of Oak Creek to Uptown Sedona, for example, is 7.3 miles along Highway 179, often with no sidewalk. Similarly, the walk from Uptown to popular points in West Sedona is 2‐3.5 miles along Highway 89A. Essentially, some of the most beautiful parts of Sedona and the Verde Valley—Oak Creek Canyon, Red Rock State Park, Boynton Canyon, the area's Wine Country and valley historical sites like Montezuma Castle—are simply inaccessible to visitors who rely solely on shuttle transportation to Sedona.
If you're determined to take a shuttle to Sedona, and you find that points of interest are too spread out to reach on foot, there is some limited public transportation, and cabs can be scheduled (as opposed to caught). Do a web search for the Verde Lynx bus system, a local service that connects central Cottonwood with the major employers in Sedona—and therefore convenient hotel and retail stops for many visitors—along Highway 89A and northern portions of Highway 179.
We recommend that you plan your Sedona vacation using our online travel guide, Sedona.net as no-cost, completely personalized and immediate alternative to sending off and paying for a packet of brochures. Simply create an account and start browsing Sedona.net's complete listing of the city's best hotels, bed & breakfasts and other lodging, things to do, restaurants and much more. As you're browsing, you can easily click and Make Favorite your selected hotels, tours and more, and save, print or email a friend your customized itinerary. We've written dozens of articles on everything from maps and directions to weather and hiking, each of which you can easily print out at home and add to your trip information. Our travel guide is updated regularly by the hundreds of businesses listed, giving you the most comprehensive list of Sedona lodging and service providers and the most current and up-to-date information.
Keep in mind that printed guides come with a shipping and handling fee, they often only have a small selection of participating businesses, the information within could be out-of-date and you may wait 3 - 4 weeks for it to arrive. If you still feel you must have a printed mail-order guide, we suggest doing a quick web search for the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and ordering a Sedona travel packet for a moderate price.
Things to Do
Even though there are literally over a hundred things to do during your Sedona vacation, there are certainly some visitor favorites. Here, we've selected a few of the most popular things to do in Sedona, but don't be limited by this list! Be sure to check out Tours and Things in Sedona for more ideas to create your perfect Sedona vacation.
First thing when you arrive, get a Red Rock Pass at any one of a dozen businesses, trailheads and kiosks around town; you'll need it to be able to park and take photos almost anywhere in town.
Next and as early in your trip as possible, take a Jeep tour from your choice of tour operators or a trolley tour—both are great ways to see a lot of Sedona in a couple of hours, learn more about the destination, its history, geology, the names of the various red rock formations, local flora and fauna. Both types of tours are a great way to understand the lay of the land and make note of where you might want to return later to photograph, hike or picnic.
Third, tour and shop at Tlaquepaque, Hillside Sedona and Uptown Sedona—the city's three main shopping districts conveniently clustered near the "Y". Fourth, dine at the Coffee Pot, Heartline Cafe, Elote, Ken's Creekside, Oaxaca, Cowboy Club, Shugrue's, Dahl & Diluca, Cucina Rustica or Rene. These are some of the most frequently recommended and talked-about restaurants, though you can hardly go wrong with any of the tucked-away gems or locals' favorites. Just ask around—locals, hotel staff and shopkeepers are happy to make personalized recommendations.
Finally, one can hardly have a vacation to Sedona and not visit Red Rock State Park and have a picnic at Red Rock Crossing — the most photographed place in Sedona. You absolutely must drive up Highway 89 through Oak Creek Canyon and back, stopping at Slide Rock State Park or Grasshopper Point. It's imperative you go up Chapel Road to the take photos of, and from, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and end your day with a drive up Airport Road to Airport Mesa for both vortex energy and spectacular sunset views.
Yes. The Grand Canyon South Rim is just 119 miles from Sedona. About 2 hours from Sedona by car or on a guided van tour, you can see some of the world's most awe-inspiring sites on an 8 to 10-hour day trip. Unless you plan to hike down to the Colorado River and back up, one day is plenty to see Grand Canyon. Anecdotally, we know that most Grand Canyon visitors travel to their rim destination and spend time at overlooks, visitors centers, ranger-led talks, and walk or hike short distances. It is not advisable to try to visit the West Rim or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on a day trip from Sedona. Both areas are in very remote country and would require an overnight stay. Grand Canyon West is 256 miles (4.5 hours) from Sedona; the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is 236 miles (4.5 hours) from Sedona. If these areas are of great interest, check out our sister website, theCanyon.com, for lodging near the West and North Rims.
A vortex or vortexes are areas of concentrated energy rising from the earth. Whether you agree with some vortex enthusiasts that the vortices are a portal for celestial and terrestrial spirits, you may feel a range of sensations from a slight tingling on exposed skin, to a vibration emanating from the ground when you encounter a vortex. Most often a vortex is felt by palpable sensation across the nape of the neck and the shoulder blades. Many people believe that Sedona has several vortexes or power spots, making Sedona a highly sought-after spiritual and metaphysical destination.
Vortexes are said to be located at specific spots in in Boynton Canyon, Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Chapel of the Holy Cross and at Red Rock Crossing. When looking for vortexes, notice Juniper trees with twisted trunks and/or branches; the twisting is a sign of the concentrated energy rising from the earth in a spiral pattern.
There are nine area golf courses in the Verde Valley and Flagstaff.
The spring and fall are the most popular times of the year, largely due to perfect weather conditions of clear skies and daily high temperatures in the mid-60s to low 80s (degrees Fahrenheit). However, as one can see from the average temperatures each month of the year, there is no bad time to visit Sedona, and in fact, coming to Sedona in lower seasons such as late summer and winter, or Sunday through Thursday year-round, is a great time to find bargains and fewer crowds.
Sedona is a beautiful destination year-round and the weather is always within the range of "pleasant." The most popular seasons are March through May and mid-September through November. Lodging rates are slightly lower in August and the first two weeks of September (after the first Tuesday—following the popular Labor Day long weekend), and the most economical prices of year are available from the first two weeks of December, throughout January and into mid-February before Valentine's Day. Coming to Sedona in lower seasons such as late summer and winter, or Sunday through Thursday year-round, is a great time to find bargains and fewer crowds.
With such mild, pleasant weather in which to get out and play (and play you will!) the best thing to pack for your Sedona trip year-round is casual light layers, a brimmed hat, comfortable sturdy shoes, sunscreen and a camera. You'll be welcome almost anywhere you go, shop or dine in casual clothes, and unique personal style is celebrated here.
The following are loosely listed in order of how you might encounter them on a driving tour of Sedona, starting in the Village of Oak Creek off Hwy 179 and continuing to the "Y" at Hwy 89A, heading west and then doubling back along Hwy 179 toward Uptown Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon along Hwy 89A. Many include easy to advanced hiking in order to reach the best viewpoints, but several can be viewed from a parking lot or on the side of the road (be careful parking roadside...traffic in Sedona can be very heavy.)
- Bell Rock
- Cathedral Rock
- Chapel of the Holy Cross
- Schnebly Hill Road
- Airport Mesa
- West Sedona
- Boynton Canyon
- Upper Red Rock Loop
- Lower Red Rock Loop
- Red Rock Crossing
- Uptown Sedona
- Midgley Bridge
- Indian Gardens
- Slide Rock
- West Fork
- Oak Creek Canyon Vista
If you're looking for parking in Uptown Sedona, you may be lucky enough to find a spot along Hwy 89A along the storefronts, but your best bet is the free parking lot behind the Sedona Chamber of Commerce (331 Forest Road at Hwy 89A) or in the two-level lot behind Sinagua Plaza (270 N 89A) - both located in Uptown Sedona.
As to traffic, the stretch of Hwy 179 between the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona can get very congested, especially in Sedona's high season. The curvy, two-lane road is the main artery between the two popular areas and requires a moderate speed, even when it's not crowded. The good news is, the slower pace gives the driver and passengers opportunities to see the fantastic scenery as it unfolds around you. Likewise, the portion of Hwy 89A in Uptown Sedona can be packed with cars and pedestrians, so take it easy...try to park as suggested above and get out on foot to walk along the storefronts and take in the views of Oak Creek and the towering red rocks.
Sedona is surrounded by lots of National Forest Service land, so if you want to hike, picnic, pull over to take a photo, experience a vortex or just get up close and personal with the red rocks, you will need to purchase a Red Rock Pass for parking and access. Do this first thing when you arrive in Sedona, trust us. Red Rock Passes are $5 per day, $15 per week or $20 per year and are available at dozens of Sedona's visitor centers, trailheads and many businesses and hotels in town. While you're at it, get a little extra cash to pay for other popular fee-use areas like Slide Rock State Park and Red Rock State Park, two other quintessential place to see while visiting Sedona, that are not covered by the Red Rock Pass alone.
Roundabouts are designed to make intersections safer and more efficient for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. There are two types of roundabouts: Single-lane roundabouts and multi-lane roundabouts.
There are a few key things to remember about driving roundabouts:
- Yield to drivers in the roundabout
- Stay in your lane; do not change lanes
- Do not stop in the roundabout
As you approach a roundabout, slow down and watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Look to your left as you near the entrance to the roundabout. Yield to traffic already in the roundabout. Once you see a gap in traffic, enter the circle and proceed to your exit. If there is no traffic in the roundabout, you may enter without yielding. Look for pedestrians and use your turn signal before you exit, and make sure to stay in your lane as you continue around the roundabout. Staying in one's lane is particularly important in the two multi-lane roundabouts you'll encounter in Uptown Sedona at the "Y". Get familiar with the lay of the land in Sedona before you go, so that you can prepare yourself to be in the correct lane at these two busy traffic circles. You'll likely want to stick to the outermost lanes so you can safely exit right out of the roundabout to get to Uptown, the Shops at Pinon Pointe, or Tlaquepaque.
Yes! Several Sedona bed & breakfasts, inns and Sedona hotels cater to four-legged guests. Check out our list of hotels best for travelers with pets, which may or may not be complete, so don't be afraid to call your hotel or bed & breakfast and ask if Spike or Fluffy can come along.