Self-Guided Driving Tour
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 busy!)
Important: Don’t forget to start at the Coconino National Forest South Gateway Visitors Center at 8375 State Route 179, or the visitors center in Uptown Sedona, to purchase your Red Rock Pass parking permit.
You can start this self-guided tour at any of the points below and simply go back to the top of the list and work your way down. Since most Sedona visitors begin their visit by entering the area from the south, (from Phoenix, off I-17) we’re starting our list there.
- From the Village of Oak Creek on Highway 179, where you can pull into the Coconino National Forest parking lot for the Bell Rock Pathway to view Bell Rock and Cathedral Butte. This turnoff on the east side of the road is about 1.1 miles north of the National Forest’s South Gateway Visitors Center.
- Return to Highway 179 and head north 2.8 miles to Back O’ Beyond Road, turning west off the Highway and see spectacular Cathedral Rock.
- Return to Highway 179 and continue north 0.5 miles to Chapel Road, then 0.8 miles east on Chapel Road up the hill to the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross.
- Continue on Highway 179 and go to the “Y” at the junction of Highway 179 and Highway 89A. You’re now in Uptown Sedona.
- From Highway 179, take Schnebly Hill Road. This 38-mile winding and picturesque route ultimately ends at an intersection with Interstate 17. You may choose to go the entire way or turn around and head back down to Highway 179 – it’s up to you. (If you do go all the way up to Interstate 17 and want to come down a different way, you can either go south 38 miles to exit 298 and come back up to Sedona through the Village of Oak Creek on Highway 179, or head north on the 17 and come down Oak Creek Canyon 27 miles on Highway 89A.)
- Back at the divergence of Highway 179 and Schnebly Hill Road, continue around the world-famous Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Shopping District and follow to the “Y” – a traffic circle at the intersection of Highway 179 and Highway 89A. An exit to the right of the Y will take you to Uptown Sedona, where you’ll find shops, hotels, galleries and restaurants with public free parking lots and on-street parking. Best to get out and stroll a while here… there’s too much to see from your car windows!
- Leave Uptown and head west on Highway 89A 1.1 mile, turning south on Airport Road (keep your eyes out… there is no traffic light here). A short, steep climb up the hill to Airport Mesa, home of one of Sedona’s vortex spots and perhaps the most popular scenic viewpoint at sunrise and sunset.
- Return to Highway 89A and head through West Sedona where you’ll find more shops, dining, hotels and galleries. From Airport Road, travel 2 miles west to Dry Creek Road at which you make a right and head north up Boynton Canyon. Boynton Canyon is one of the most scenic of the box canyons that make Arizona Red Rock Country so famous. Boynton Canyon is also home to the renowned Enchantment Resort.
- Back out on Highway 89A to the west 1.1 miles is Upper Red Rock Loop Road. Red Rock Loop, aptly named, creates a complete loop that passes through Red Rock State Park, one of Sedona’s most popular hiking, picnicking and photography spots. From here, many iconic photos of the view from Red Rock Crossing to Cathedral Rock have been taken.
- Complete the loop on Lower Red Rock Loop and return to Highway 89A. From here, your trip doubles back 5.5 miles toward Uptown Sedona, and continues up Oak Creek Canyon. You’ll pass Midgley Bridge and Indian Gardens, both great places to stop and take photos. (If traveling north to south, you’ll enter Uptown Sedona about 7.1 miles from Slide Rock.)
- Just 7.1 miles from Uptown Sedona is Oak Creek Canyon’s most popular attraction, Slide Rock State Park. With easy walking trails, wading in the creek and a natural waterslide, this park is open year-round but is most popular (read: crowded) in the summer months with visitors and families looking for some cool, natural water play. (If traveling north to south, look for West Fork about 2.8 miles from West Fork.)
- Another 2.8 miles up Oak Creek Canyon on Highway 89A will take you to the trailhead for the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon Trail, an easy 3-mile and extremely popular day hike. (If traveling north to south, look for West Fork about 6 miles from the Oak Creek Vista.)
- Nearly 6 miles of winding switchbacks up Oak Creek Canyon on Highway 89A is the Oak Creek Canyon Vista. Look for a well-marked and ample parking lot on the east side of the highway. Don’t miss this opportunity to stretch your legs and view Oak Creek Canyon from its apex as it runs south. Breathtaking year-round, it’s a sight to behold in winter, fall, summer or spring. (If returning from I-17 in the north, the turnoff is about 8.3 miles down the canyon.)
- From here, you can either turn around and head back down Oak Creek Canyon on Highway 89A south or continue 6.4 miles to the junction of Highway 89A and I-17. If you continue north toward Flagstaff and the I-17, you can either take I-17 south to Schnebly Hill Road or the full 38 miles to exit 298 and return to your starting point in the Village of Oak Creek.
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