If you love Red Rock Country, sign your name to help preserve and protect Sedona
There’s something about Sedona that stays with people long after they leave. To spend time among these ancient red rock mountains and canyons. To weave your way through its evergreen forests and unspoiled wilderness areas. To be here is to find yourself effortlessly in the moment, whether that moment is thrilling, invigorating, restorative or healing.
Preserving and protecting Red Rock Country’s natural beauty is a responsibility we all share – something that takes a little effort from us all. One thing we’d invite all of our visitors and residents to do is to add your name to the Sedona Cares Challenge and make a pledge to take care of the environment. It’s a simple act that shows how much YOU care, too.
Yes, add my name to the Sedona Cares Challenge, showing my commitment to:
- The rocks are red and the silence is golden. I vow to respect the natural quiet of Sedona's open spaces and neighborhoods.
- I will be mindful of Sedona's arid environment by minimizing my water and energy use and I will be extremely careful with fire.
- I’ll make my own memories, but not my own trails.
- I won't risk life or limb (human or sapling) for more likes. I won't get killed for a killer photo.
- When playing outside, I'll be ready for rapid changes in weather and random episodes of magic.
- Leave No Trace and pack out trash - that includes TP and pup poo!
- I will discover art in Sedona's galleries rather than making my own. Carving on trees or rocks, stacking stones, or defacing the environment diminishes nature's art.
- If I can't find a parking spot, I will not invent my own. I will go with the traffic flow, using my turn signal often and my car horn seldom.
- I’ll be caring and considerate wherever I go, because that's the Sedona way.
With so many cars parked alongside the road, why shouldn’t I?
From forest fires to fragile ecosystems, creating your own parking spot can create problems
According to the National Park Service, nearly 85% of wildland fires in the US are the result of human activity. “But I don’t camp,” you might be thinking, “so what can I do?”
Here in the arid Southwest, it can be as innocent as parking a car along the side of a road on a trailhead, or pulling off to the side of the highway in an area that isn’t cleared. Often the brush and native grasses are so dry that even the hot underbelly of a car can be enough to ignite a flame. Cigarettes discarded out the window instead of the ashtray can also ignite parched landscapes. Even sparks from a coal-fired grill, embers from an outdoor fireplace or sparks from a power tool can be all it takes.
Sedona is a small community bordered by national forests and wilderness areas, and trailheads are known to fill up fast. In 2022 the City of Sedona introduced a free Sedona Shuttle service that operates year-round. Shuttles are easy to spot, air conditioned and let you avoid having to buy a red rock parking pass for the trailheads.
What else causes forest fires near Sedona?
One of the most preventable causes of roadside fires is dragging chains
In June of 2022, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office reported multiple fires near Sedona in a single weekend caused by something many people overlook: dragging chains. Whether you’re towing a camper, a trailer or a toy hauler, always inspect your equipment to be sure tow chains are well secured and won’t drag. Dragging chains can create sparks on the road that cause the parched grass and scrub brush to catch fire. And remember, if chains are long enough to drag, they aren’t likely to serve their safety purpose in the first place.
Why is water conservation important to Sedona?
As the American Southwest moves through its second decade of drought conditions, every one of us can make a difference through simple, conscious acts.
Consider this. According to the EPA, the average showerhead in the US uses 2.5 gallons a water a minute. Sedona gets 3.5 million visitors a year. Say they stay an average of three nights, and shower only once a day (unlikely for anyone whose spent a day on the trails, but let’s keep the math easy here). Those three days add up to 10,500,000 showers a year. Shave just two minutes (or 5 gallons) apiece off each person’s shower and Sedona alone could save 52,500,000 gallons of water a year.
What’s the weather like in Sedona?
Thunderstorms and washed-out trails can come on fast in Red Rock Country’s monsoon season
With nearly 300 days of sunshine a year here in the high desert of Sedona, it may seem like your chances of being struck by lightning are about as high as, well, your chances of being struck by lightning. But according to the National Weather Service in Phoenix, lightning strikes across Arizona more than 500,000 times a year, and that can spell danger when you’re outdoors.
But being outside during a thunderstorm on Sedona’s exposed rock formations, or even in its forests, is dangerous. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA notes five ways people can be struck by lightning, some of which may surprise you. Take a look and be weather aware.
Dry ground can also flood quickly in the monsoons, washing out trails. After a rain, cycling too soon can leave deep ruts in trails. Being weather and working with nature instead of against it is a great way to care for Sedona’s natural places – while also taking care of yourself.
Is Leave No Trace the same as the Sedona Cares challenge?
Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Leave No Trace partner to preserve Red Rock Country
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a global non-profit founded more than 25 years ago by a team of environmental advocates from the outdoor industry, the land management community and members of the public to create a movement among people who enjoy the outdoors to also care for it. The Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau is a proud partner of this program.
Check out the seven guiding principles of Leave No Trace that have been adapted for Red Rock Country. For instance, on trails do hikers yield to bikers, or do bikers yield to hikers? Where can you camp within the Sedona city limits – or can you? Take a look before you arrive so we can all explore, bike and hike happy and safely.
Do OHVs have to stay on trails in Sedona?
And where can I find OHV rules and regulations for Sedona if I’m riding one?
Yes or no, can you drive off trails in Sedona in an ATV/OHV? That’s a big no in Red Rock Country. While heading off the beaten path at high speeds or kicking up a cloud of red dirt may sounds like fun, doing so can cause long-term damage to the area already strained by overuse, drought and the challenges that come with it.
It can also be costly. Violations of AZ OHV laws are class 2 or 3 misdemeanors and can result in fines, community service and up to four months of jail time. Reckless OHV driving causes roll-over accidents in Sedona every year – and no one wants to pay to get airlifted to a hospital.
For info on responsible OHV use or to pick up a safety education course while you’re here, visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV. In addition, the Arizona State Parks, and Trails OHV Program has information on where to ride, permits, ethics, safety, vehicles, equipment, mineshaft safety and more on their website: www.azstateparks.com/ohv. Planning to take an OHV out during your stay? We encourage you to visit Tread Lightly website and watch this short video before you do so you can have a safe and memorable time in Arizona’s Red Rock Country.
Why you should not stack rocks
Is that a cairn? Is it art? Is that…a scorpion?
A lot of people wonder what’s wrong with rock stacking. And it’s a fair question. You see them all over, from Instagram to greeting cards to inspirational gifs. So what gives?
Organizations like the Forest Service and National Park Services are very deliberate in where they put cairns on trails. Cairns are structured stacks of stones meant to keep hikers on the right trail and out of danger.
Moving rocks can also destabilize soil making it vulnerable to erosion and disrupt a desert ecosystem – not to mention whatever is lying underneath them. Arizona is home to more than 30 types of scorpions alone, and one of them – the bark scorpion – has a sting that can be life-threatening. Roll a rock over with one of those underneath and your vacation is about to take a turn for the worse.
Jake Case is a former National Park Service ranger, a Grand Canyon National Park guide and the managing editor at Territory Supply, a travel site. Though he’s a seasoned hiker and Guide, evens Chase has been led off-course by people stacking stones. “If a hiker ventures off-trail and builds cairns to mark their own route, that could lead others astray from the actual route,” he says. “You can very easily end up in dangerous places.”
Rather than balancing rocks, please help keep Red Rock Country’s ecosystem in balance by capturing a photo of the natural red rock formations instead.