Officially hailed as the most beautiful place in America, Sedona is an ideal place to get outside among its gorgeous red rock canyons and explore the landscape. But the best part about Sedona is the variety of outdoor adventures you can embark on depending on your interest—whether you’re a thrill-seeker, photographer, yogi or endurance athlete. The start of any outdoor adventure can (and should) start at the Sedona Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, which is an excellent resource on places to go, things to do and local providers. Here’s our guide to some of the top things to do outdoors in Sedona depending on what kind of traveler you are.
If you're an ECO-Friendly Traveler ....
1. Buy the Nine Easy Hikes in Sedona book: Support the USFS Trail Fund with this Terrific Hiking Book! Looking for that easy to understand guide to the terrific hiking trails in Sedona? Here’s a great resource for hiking in the Sedona area AND one that helps fund the USFS trail maintenance program. This hiking book retails for $8.00, and the proceeds will be donated to the USFS for the maintenance of existing trails and development of new ones. Support the area’s trail system in Sedona AND discover nine different trails. This guidebook features a mix of easier new trails and less populated trails, as well as some background on the geology and flora of Sedona. Perfect day hikes for any hiker level and all hand-picked for that right combination of easy access and a beautiful wilderness experience.
2. Leave no trace. Pack it in, pack it out. Check out these 10 tips to be a responsible Sedona traveler.
3. Participate in Voluntourism events. Voluntourism refers to helping the city or surrounding land in which you are visiting. In Sedona, popular events include trail maintenance, Oak Creek clean-up projects, and volunteering thorough the community.
5. Once you arrive in Sedona, leave your car behind and walk. WalkSedona.com uses your location to move you seamlessly around Sedona and to trails, restaurants, public transportation stops, public art and restrooms, and so much more.
If you’re into adventure…
1. Head out on Sedona’s trails on an all-terrain vehicle. You can rent ATVs from local providers, which supply riders with necessary safety equipment including goggles, helmets and trail maps. There are generally several ATV types that riders can choose from, like a one-seater to a vehicle with up to six seats—and they can be rented for a half or full day. If you don’t want to go it alone, you can ride along with a trained ranger who narrates the landscape along the way. Another option if you’re into adventure but want to take it easy, too, is to book a sunset ride on an ATV. ATV rental companies in the area include Arizona ATV Adventures and Sedona ATV & Buggy Rental.
2. Hit the rapids. While Sedona is known for its red rock desert, it’s also home to some of the most exciting white water rapids in the country. The Verde River runs for about 170 miles in Arizona, and can be reached by car in about 30 minutes from Sedona. Verde Adventures, an outdoor recreation provider, rent out kayaks and rafts for paddlers to explore the Verde River. Most rafting excursions last somewhere between 2 to 3 hours. The Verde River is known for its rich wilderness and wildlife that include deer, bald eagles, beaver, otter, and much more. Paddlers can go on self-guided tours or join a tour group with a skilled guide. Additionally, Verde Adventures offer a fun Water to Wine Tour, where paddlers make a pit stop off the river at a nearby winery to sample some local blends.
If you like a bird’s-eye view…
1. Take a hot-air balloon ride. See the incredible Sedona landscape from above on hot-air balloon excursion from Northern Light Balloon Expeditions. The best rides begin at dawn, when groups of up to six or seven people can take off in a balloon along with a guide for a stunning aerial view of Sedona’s natural landscape. Balloon rides usually last up to an hour, and snacks and champagne are served by request. Larger groups may want to consider the larger fleet that can fit up to 12 to 36 passengers and enjoy the view with friends.
2. Thrill on a Zip-Line ride. You'll be sure to find something to satisfy your adrenaline needs. Soar over the lions at the Out of Africa Wild Animal Park or zip over the trees at the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course.
3. See Sedona from a helicopter. Take a journey above Sedona on a helicopter from Sedona Air Tours, which has been operating in Sedona for more than 20 years. Trips last anywhere from 25 to 75 minutes, and can be customized based on what you’d like to see most. For example, the Hog Wild Tour allows you to see the famous Cathedral Rock among other iconic landmarks and the Ancient’s Way Tour shows you where Sinaguan Indians once dwelled.
If you believe in the restorative, healing power of nature…
1. Get outside for some yoga. Sedona is widely recognized for its growing healing treatments, attracting yoga lovers from around the world. Multiple outdoor yoga courses are offered in Sedona from various studios like Yoga Love Sedona. The best time to find outdoor yoga courses is March through October. Sedona Yoga Festival kicks off the outdoor season every March with a four-day event that offers more than 200 workshops featuring yoga, meditation, sound healing, Ayurveda and more.
2. Spend the day hiking. Sure, you’ve been hiking before, but if you’ve never hiked in Sedona, you’ve not yet experienced the gorgeous, natural wonder of the area’s red rocks, rivers and wildlife. Several hiking tour operators like The Wildland Trekking Company, Trail Lovers Excursions, The Hike House and Four Season Guides offer various trips through the canyons, depending on skill level and what participants are interested in seeing. Other tours from various providers get hikers out to see the sunset or sunrise over the canyons.
3. See Sedona on horseback. Several stables in Sedona including M Diamond Ranch, Horsing Around Adventures and A Day in the West offer different riding adventures, from trail rides to a cowboy experiences. Horsing Around Adventures is known for its scenic landscapes rides before ending the night with dinner and wine tasting. A Day in the West promises a full cowboy horse riding experience followed up by a Western theater performance. And M Diamond Ranch has hay wagon rides and cookouts under the stars in addition to horseback riding programs.
If you’ve got a lot of endurance…
1. Show off your endurance at RunSedona. It takes place the first Saturday in February every year, and it’s one of the area’s most popular outdoor things to do in Sedona. Runners can choose to run in the 5K, 10K, or half-marathon and race past the red rock formations in Coconino National Forest District. The hilly terrain is a challenge for runners, and its breathtaking view is enough to make the event worthwhile.
2. Go biking. You can join a guided bike tour or go solo (or with friends) with bike rentals Over the Edge or Absolute Bikes. Riders can rent cruisers or off-road mountain bikes to spend an hour, an afternoon or an entire day exploring Sedona and the surrounding wilderness. The providers supply safety equipment for riders, as well. Bikers can also plan a visit to coincide with the three-day Sedona Mountain Bike Festival that takes place somewhere around early March each year. The event includes a main expo and festival, bike demos, shuttled rides, a beer garden, and live music.
If you like to travel with large groups of friends…
1. Plan ahead to attend one of Sedona’s festivals and events. Many of the area’s annual events take place outdoors in the gorgeous weather. Visitors can attend annual events like Sedona Yoga Festival (during the spring), Great Sedona Chili-Cook Off (during the summer), Illuminate Film Festival (also during the summer), Sedona Winefest ( late September), Red Rocks Oktoberfest (fall) and The Festival of Lights (winter). The list of popular annual events and festivals can be found here.
If you’ve never been to Sedona before...
1. Take a jeep tour. It’s one of the most iconic things to do in Sedona and one of the best things to do outdoors is a jeep tour through Sedona’s trails. You can rent jeeps through Barlow Jeep Rentals, or travelers can join a guided tour in the back of the vehicle at Arizona Safari Jeep Tours. Another fun option is Pink Jeep Tours known for its baby pink jeeps, and hummers are available for rentals at Sedona Hummer Tours.
2. Hit the links. Imagine a round of golf on course with Sedona’s red rocks as your backdrop. Golf courses at Seven Canyons, Canyon Mesa Country Club and Sedona Golf Resort give you that experience, and Oakcreek Country Club is a world-class golfing course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and Jr., inviting golf enthusiasts from around the world.
3. See some of the best sights in Sedona on a trolley tour. Sedona Trolley takes travelers to all the hot spots in the city and drops them off at popular restaurants. Red Rock Magic Trolley is a slightly longer tour where guests can ride around in vintage trolleys and enjoy complimentary snacks while learning about the history and notable sites in the area.
**** For more ideas on how to make the most of the outdoors in Sedona, download the Experience Sedona Visitors Guide or request one via US mail. And if you’re already in Sedona, don’t forget the Sedona Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, 331 Forest Road, Uptown Sedona, 800-288-7336.