I recently had the chance to visit my sister in Arizona, and naturally I had to pair the visit with a quick photography excursion. I wanted to explore an area I hadn’t seen yet but had heard a lot about: Sedona. Brilliant red rocks, a myriad of hiking trails, and epic vistas?! Sign me up! 24 hours is not even close to enough time to really see the majesty of this area, but if you’re short on time like me, here’s how to make the best of 24 hours in one of the most beautiful places in Arizona:
Begin Your 24 Hour Visit
Start your 24-hour trip by flying into Phoenix International Airport, and grab a rental car, it will be about a two-hour drive to Sedona. But don’t worry, because as you near Sedona, the car views become more and more scenic! When you arrive in Sedona, get checked into your lodging. There are a myriad of hotels, B&Bs, and Airbnb options in the area – or you can stay in Phoenix and drive up in the morning. Check out Booking.com and TripAdvisor.com for the best ideas on where to stay. Grab some dinner in town, I recommend Elote Café or SaltRock Southwest Kitchen. Depending on how much time you have, you can also spend the evening checking out the local shops and art galleries downtown before heading to bed.
But First, Stop for Breakfast
If you decided to overnight in Phoenix and then begin the drive up, start your day with an açaí bowl at Wow Wow Hawaiian Lemonade – my absolute favorite acai bowl place in Hawaii that just opened three new locations in Arizona (!). If you’re in Sedona, you better believe you still need an açaí bowl! Stop at Berry Divine Açaí Bowls for the perfect sweet treat. Grab some snacks, extra water, and sunscreen in town before heading out, you’ll need some fuel and sun protection for the hikes ahead.
Spend the Afternoon on a Hike
Sedona, like the rest of Arizona, gets very warm very quickly, so if you visit during a warmer season, make sure you get out on your hikes early in the morning or get a later start in the afternoon. The parking lots of various Sedona hikes also tend to fill up quickly as they are not very large, so carpool as much as you can or be flexible with your potential hikes. I spent the first hike of the day on Soldier’s Pass– a popular 4.1 mile trail where there is plenty to photograph, and you don’t necessarily need to complete the entire trail to enjoy some epic vistas.
In the later afternoon, hike another classic Sedona trail – Devil’s Bridge, which is 4 miles from the parking lot or 2 miles from the trailhead. If you opt for the shorter hike, make sure you have a high clearance, 4×4 car because the road to the trailhead is steep, dirt, and chalk-full of deep potholes. Jeeps are the car of choice, and I can’t stress enough that a small sedan CANNOT do this drive. Certain tour companies can take you down though, so don’t worry if your rental car is not up to snuff. Devil’s Bridge Trail finishes on a gorgeous high arch that you can walk on – it’s wider than it looks! This hike is also fantastic for sunset, so begin it later in the day and just make sure you bring a flashlight for the way back up.
Naturally you can’t finish your day in Sedona without catching a sunset – the temperatures have begun to drop and the golden light from the sun will light up the red rocks in the most beautiful way. Head down to Crescent Moon Picnic area for a chance to get some desert reflections or re-visit Soldier’s Pass or Devil’s Bridge for the best views. If it’s a clear night, stay for star photography! If not, head back into town for some well-deserved dinner and rest up before leaving this gorgeous area.
Other Things to do in Sedona
If you find that you have more than 24 hours, here are some more hikes and ideas of things to do:
- Hike Cathedral Rock
- Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway
- Swim at Slide Rock State Park
- Photograph the Chapel of the Holy Cross
- Hike Bell Rock/Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
- Drive Schnebly Hill Road – high clearance, 4×4 vehicles ONLY
- Do a guided meditation walk
- Shop, visit the spa, or purchase some local art at the galleries in the downtown strip of Sedona
Have you been to Sedona? Did I leave out any favorite spots of yours? Or did this guide inspire you to make a trip to Sedona? Let me know in the comments!