Warm weather, blue skies and a picnic blanket make for a great day to have a quintessential summer picnic—add in the red rock vistas of Sedona and you’ve got a masterpiece in the making. Here are seven of Sedona’s best places to nosh in nature, from enclaves along rugged trails to lands preserved for historical and natural edification to traditional manicured public parks. The areas are so mesmerizing, it will be hard to choose a spot. But wherever you decide to enjoy your meal, make sure to leave no trace to help preserve the area.
Brins Mesa Trail
Trade your morning coffee for water when you picnic at Brins Mesa Trail. Located on the edge of town, with parking at the end of Park Ridge Drive, this 6-mile-out-and-back trek trades the shade for vast vistas—including Coffee Pot Rock, Wilson Mountain, Chimney Rock and more. Go early during the summer months and brunch at the flat-rock ledge near the end of the trail while taking in the rewarding view. Pack out what you don’t put in your belly, and feel free to bring your leashed pups for them to enjoy the fresh air too. Picnic benches are available at the trailhead.
You don’t have to hike the entire 8.6 miles of Girdner Trail to find a pretty place to partake in an alfresco meal. Choose from inspiring red rock views, quiet canyons, shady forests and cool crossings along Dry Creek (which may ironically be wet during season) to treat yourself to a tranquil spread. Along the way, see if you can spot Cockscomb Butte, Casner and Mingus mountains, Capitol Butte, Chimney Rock and the Seven Canyons area. Access Girdner Trail from the south off Cultural Park Place (where you’ll find a ramada just past the Yavapai College campus) or from the north on Dry Creek Road.
Red Rock State Park
The 286-acres of Red Rock State Park serves the community as an environmental education park, nature preserve and prime picnicking location. Stroll along Kisva Trail and spread your blanket beneath the shade of sycamore, velvet ash, cottonwood and alder trees. Go early to take advantage of its guided birding (Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7 a.m.) and nature walks (daily at 9 a.m.). Whatever time you go, stay awhile to explore the 5-mile trail system. The six picnic tables at the Visitor Center ramada are first come, first served, and the entrance fee for adults is $7, $4 for children under 14, and free for children seven and younger.
Crescent Moon Ranch
Originally a cattleman’s homestead, Crescent Moon Ranch has 160-acres to satisfy your picnic pleasures. Spread out on the grassy lawn to bask in the warm sun or, if it’s breezy, take a kite to the sky. Then, explore the grounds that include historic buildings, such as Baldwin Ranch House, which can be rented and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can fish, swim or wade in the cool water of Oak Creek as you gaze upon the splendor of Cathedral Rock. Go later in the day to catch an iconic sunset photograph of Cathedral Rock reflecting off the waters of Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing. Entrance is $10 per vehicle or $2 per person for walk-ins.
Jordan Historical Park
You’ll want a red gingham tablecloth on your picnic table to enhance the Old West ambiance at Jordan Historical Park. The antique farm equipment surrounding the Jordan home (built with red rocks from the surrounding bluffs), the tractor, fruit packing sheds (all listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and fruit orchards remind visitors of the pioneering life of Sedona’s early settlers. Entrance is free and open sunrise to sunset, but bring cash with you if you would like to visit Sedona Heritage Museum located here.
Kick off the shoes and go barefoot on the large grassy field, perfect for playing Frisbee or croquet, at Sunset Park. With two shaded play areas, a summertime splash pad, two tennis courts, a basketball/pickleball court and the short Lollipop Trail, the park is a great place to play—before or after the meal. When you’re ready to eat, take a sit underneath the ramadas. Hang out and watch Mother Nature’s light show as she casts the surrounding red rock walls aglow with the setting sun.
Posse Grounds Park
Once the gathering spot for the local sheriff and his posse, award-winning Posse Grounds Park now bustles with activity as the public convenes for fitness and entertainment. Located down the street from the Sedona community pool, this impressive 79-acre park will keep the whole family busy between bites. Reserve any of the 10 ramadas or lay out the blanket on the lawn. Amenities include a playground, softball fields, two tennis courts (one of which also serves as four pickleball courts), a fitness trail, sand volleyball, a basketball court, an off-road bike skills course, a skate park and dog park.
Smooth the blanket or bring a chair to be entertained at the Posse Grounds Pavilion. Beginning in late spring, Red Dirt Concerts brings musicians to the stage. Catch the final free show June 21 when Grace Noelle serenades the crowd with ballads and headliner Ryan Biter performs his Americana style mixed with mountain bluegrass and new age funk. The concert is from 6-9 p.m. And every Wednesday in June you can enjoy a movie under the starry sky with the free Sedona Summer Cinema series.
Other events at Posse Grounds Park include the free Fourth of July Wet Fest where you can make a splash in the pool or slip and slide on a gauntlet of inflatable water slides. To maximize your cool down, forgo the picnic planning and grab some grub from the many food vendors on site.
On Aug. 2, 2019, Sedona is having a free celestial celebration at the park with Sedona Star Party. View Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, the Milky Way and more from telescopes and locate the constellations with area astronomers. Continue the stargazing at these seven secret spots to enjoy Sedona’s shimmering night sky.
Pack Your Picnic
Gather your picnic items at Manzanita Market, which has locally produced snacks, beer and wine, plus souvenirs and gifts to take home. Or, stock up on a bounty of healthy options to make any meal at Whole Foods. If preparation is a problem, order take out from the area restaurants. And you can buy blankets, tablecloths, baskets, totes and backpacks from Sedona’s one-of-a-kind shops.
Food may nourish the body, but in Sedona, the environs nourish the soul. Plan your summertime picnic in Sedona and make it a memorable tradition with friends and family.