Sedona is one of the most visually enchanting places I’ve ever been to. The blue skies against the red rocks make for a visual treat, but most of all, it is the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere that captivates its visitors.
In my personal experience, I remember having an overwhelming sense of serenity and positivity as soon as we set foot there – could it be because of the Sedona’s vortexes?!
- Related post: Our Epic Arizona Road Trip Itinerary
Hiking is definitely the best way to see and feel the magic of Sedona’s red rock formations and there’s a wide variety of trails to choose from.
On this post, I’d like to share 3 easy and stunning hiking trails that make a great introduction to Sedona for first-time visitors.
Short Hike: Bell Rock
Bell Rock is one of the most iconic red rock formations and easily identifiable when you enter Sedona from Highway 179. We arrived just before sunset, so we dropped our bags and rushed to the Bell Rock Pathway. It is a short and easy trail, making it a popular choice.
As it was getting dark soon, we mainly stayed within the Bell Rock Pathway near the base of Bell Rock, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to continue climbing up Bell Rock. I heard it is a bit of a strenuous hike but definitely worth it.
Water Hike: Oak Creek Canyon/West Fork Trail
This trail was recommended to us by several people as one of the best water hikes in Sedona. What makes this trail special is the fact that you get the whole package: rock formations, canyons, creeks and lush forest. The trailhead is located in the Oak Creek Canyon approximately 11 miles from the city center. Parking ($10/day) is limited so better arrive early (before 9am).
The West Fork Trail includes 13 creek crossings – trying not to get wet and helping each other cross makes it part of the fun. One thing to consider is that this is a long hike. Overall it took us around 3 hours to return to the trailhead and we were quite exhausted towards the end so I recommend planning your day accordingly.
Scenic Hike: Airport Mesa Loop Trail
The Airport Mesa Loop Trail never disappoints. You get incredible 360-degree awe-inspiring views of many red rock formations and there’s a mini-mesa along the way which is a very popular vortex spot. Some people report a range of sensations/vibrations from the energy emanating from the vortex. Whether you believe in vortexes or not, make sure you climb to the top of the mini-mesa – it’s beautiful!
This trail is super easy and can be done within 1.5 hours. It makes a great introduction to Sedona so would definitely recommend checking it out at the beginning of your visit.
There are no shade areas so bring sun protection!
Other top hikes in Sedona worth checking out
- Cathedral Rock
- Devils Bridge
- Soldier’s Pass
- Red Rock Crossing
What to wear in Sedona
While it’s usually sunny and dry, it can get really windy at the top of the mountains so make sure you bring layers! Waterproof shoes are a must if you go to Oak Creek Canyon. Some hikes require you to climb on some steep rocks so loose and comfortable trousers are your best choice.
Oh, and don’t forget about sun protection (hat, sunglasses, sunscreen)
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Where to stay in Sedona
We stayed at this beautiful Airbnb in the Village of Oak Creek. While the house is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Sedona, but Bell Rock and other red rock trails are within walking distance. The house is clean and quiet – totally recommend it! New to Airbnb? Here’s $40 OFF to get you started.
Here’s some other great options under $100 USD/night:
Heading to Arizona? Check out these articles to help you plan your trip:
- Arizona Road Trip – 1 week itinerary
- Grand Canyon: Hiking the Bright Angel Trail
- 5 Things to Know Before Visiting Antelope Canyon
- The Ultimate Guide to Horseshoe Bend
- 24 Hours in Scottsdale, Arizona
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