As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, there’s no better place to be than on one of Sedona’s many sunset hikes. With red rocks radiating orange and red glow as your backdrop, you’ll be treated to some of the most incredible views in all of Arizona.
To help you make the most of your sunset experience in Sedona, I’ve put together a list of my favorite sunset hikes in Sedona. Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a challenging climb, you’ll find the perfect hike for you on this list.
So grab your hiking boots and get ready to see some of the most amazing sunsets imaginable!
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7 Best Sunset Hikes In Sedona, Arizona
1. Cathedral Rock
Hike Distance: 1.2 miles roundtrip
Without a doubt, the best time to hike Cathedral Rock Trail is during the hours leading up to sunset. The top of Cathedral Rock features beautiful views of Sedona and at sunset, it’s even more magical!
All in all, it’s a 1.2-mile out-and-back adventure with an elevation gain of 744 feet. More of a rock scramble than a hike, this trail up the plateau is unshaded and can be steep in places.
You’ll have to get a little dirty going up this trail, using your hands to maneuver past the tricky cliff sides of Cathedral Rock. But don’t let that scare you! The Cathedral Rock trail is easy to navigate. There are basket cairns filled with large rocks to guide you along the trail.
Once you get to the top, you are going to be WOWED. Especially once you see the sun setting over the mountain range!
My favorite viewpoint and photo spot on this hike is hands-down the Edge of the World. This is a super photogenic ledge that makes for a great spot to take pictures and enjoy the views in peace.
This viewpoint is located at the far right of the summit viewing area. There is a steep drop-off here so please be careful.
To get to the Cathedral Rock hike, head to the Cathedral Rock Trailhead parking area. Because this one tends to be busier during sunset hours, the earlier you get there, the easier it will be to find a parking spot.
There is overflow parking further down on Back O’ Beyond Road. If both parking lots are completely full, you can access Cathedral Rock via the Baldwin Trail.
2. Airport Mesa Trail
Hike Distance: 3.2 miles roundtrip
The Airport Mesa trail is one of the most popular hikes in Sedona for sunset. It’s one of my favorites, too! It’s not too difficult, and the payoff is huge with stunning views of the red rocks skyline at sunset.
You’re going to see so much from here, including great vistas of Oak Creek (Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte) as well as West Sedona and Sedona (Cathedral Rock). I mean, look at those views! They almost remind me of a prehistoric time.
The Airport Mesa trail circles around Tabletop Mountain to form a loop trail. This 3.2-mile loop trail is generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 1.5 hours to complete.
Do note that on certain parts of this trail, you’ll be brought close to the edge and/or walking among lots of loose gravel and slippery rock in some locations. If you have vertigo or are afraid of hikes, you might want to skip this one or bring along a pair of sturdy trekking poles (I have this one and love them).
To get there, you can either park at the trailhead parking lot or at the top for a small fee.
The trailhead parking lot is tiny, so many visitors will opt to park at the top for $3-5 and hike the spur trail down to start the loop.
3. Boynton Vista Trail
Hike Distance: 1.1 miles roundtrip
Next on my list of best sunset hikes in Sedona is the Boynton Vista Trail. This popular sunset hike offers easy-to-get-to, stunning views of Sedona’s red rocks.
The 1.1-mile out-and-back trail is relatively easy to follow and is perfect for hikers of all levels. The first part of the hike is nice and shaded, while the second half will require a light climb to get up to the vista.
Be sure to bring your camera, as you’re sure to want to capture the incredible sunset views!
After you park, you follow the Boynton Canyon Trail until you reach the Boynton Canyon Vista Trail. Once you’re here, enjoy a snack and soak in those orange/red glowing views.
4. Bell Rock Loop Trail
Hike Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
In the nearby Village of Oak Creek, you’ll find some pretty magnificent sunsets. This is where some of the most iconic red rock formations are, including Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock.
Bell Rock is one of the most easily recognizable formations in Sedona with its dome-like presence impressing travelers driving on Highway 179.
Bell Rock Loop Trail offers direct access to the Bell Rock formation and its stunning views of the surrounding Red Rock Country. When the setting sun lights this area up.. you better have your camera ready!
To do this loop trail, you’re going to be taking a series of trails: the Bell Rock Pathway Trail, the Rector Connector, and the Courthouse Butte Trail. The loop is approximately 1.8 miles.
To get there, head to the parking lot for Courthouse Vista, located just after the Bell Rock formation. Park here to start your hike.
Pro Tip: If the parking lot is full, you have another option. Overflow parking for Courthouse Vista is at the Yavapai Point Parking Lot, which is about a half a mile north and on your left-hand side. (Just pop ‘Yavapai Vista Point’ into Google Maps to get there.)
Alternative #1: If you’d like to keep things simple, just walk along Bell Rock Trail (Bell Rock Pathway) and go back the way you came once you’ve gotten your fill of walking. Along this pathway, you’ll enjoy fantastic views of Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and other landmarks. Most of the pathway has a wide, hard surface so it’s great for the whole family.
Alternative #2: If you want a longer hike, do the Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock Loop. This loop trail is an easy/moderate 3.9-mile roundtrip hike and has an elevation gain of about 350 feet.
5. Red Rock Crossing
Hike Distance: 1.4 miles roundtrip
Ah, the iconic Red Rock Crossing–this is the location where photographers go to get those iconic photos of the Cathedral Rock with the stream in front of it.
Red Rock Crossing is an easy hike that’s best enjoyed in the late afternoon or at sunset. It’s already a picturesque spot as is, but the late afternoon sun makes for even more spectacular photography opportunities of Cathedral Rock in all its glory!
This easy 1.4-mile hike is located in the Red Rock State Park area, just outside the town of Sedona, Arizona. The entire trail is fairly flat and extremely scenic! It twists in and out of the forest, passing by beautiful greenery and swimming holes.
To start the hike, park your car at the Baldwin Trailhead, hang left, and walk down Verde Valley Road until you get to Oak Creek.
Alternatively, you can start your hike at the Crescent Moon Day Use Site. Please note, there is an $11 fee to park here. Your America the Beautiful Pass and Red Rock passes will not get you in. This is an entirely separate entrance fee.
You can wander across the grassy lawn down to the creek. Here you’ll find flat and wide red rock areas where you can swim, sunbathe, or just relax. Once you’re done enjoying the first views here, it’s time to start your sunset hike! After you cross the creek, make your way upstream on the Red Rock Crossing trail.
6. Devil’s Bridge
Hike Distance: 4 to 6 miles roundtrip
Devil’s Bridge is an iconic Sedona landmark. It is by far Sedona’s most popular hike and for good reason. The viewpoint of this iconic natural sandstone bridge is absolutely gorgeous!
For those of you who’ve never heard of Devil’s Bridge before, this geological wonder stands as one of the greatest and most beautiful formations in Sedona Red Rock County.
It is one of the longer ones on this list, but it’s well worth the effort! If you start in the late afternoon, you’ll be able to reach Devil’s Bridge for sunset and capture some truly amazing photos.
Depending on where you pick up the trail from (and how long you stay at the viewpoint), the Devil’s Bridge hike can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours. Getting to this hike can be a bit confusing, but I detail everything out in the post below!
7. Bear Mountain Trail
Hike Distance: 4.9 miles roundtrip
If you’re looking for a more challenging sunset hike, the Bear Mountain Trail is definitely worth checking out.
This challenging 4.9-mile out-and-back hike will take you to the top of Bear Mountain, where you’ll be treated to 360-degree views of Sedona’s Red Rock Country.
Keep in mind that this hike is not for beginners, so make sure you’re prepared before attempting it. The full hike will take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, so you’ll want to time your hike so that you’re at the top by sunset. And because this trail is exposed, take more water than you think you need!
All in all, Bear Mountain Trail is a steep hike featuring truly beautiful views the whole way up.
What to Know Before Hiking in Sedona
1. Plan your hiking times accordingly, and depending on what time of the year you visit. It’s best to get to your sunset destination with more than enough time to hike to your viewpoint.
- In the summer, the sun sets around 7:30 pm.
- During the winter months, the sun goes down around 5:30 pm.
2. Once the sun goes down in Sedona, it gets dark quickly. If you plan to hike to your sunset destination, keep in mind that you may have to hike back in the dark to get back to your car. Bringing a headlamp with you is a good idea. It can also get chilly during certain times of the year after sunset, so dress appropriately.
3. Most Sedona hiking trails require a Red Rock Pass, which you can purchase for $5 online or in-person at trailhead parking lots.
Alternatively, you can use your America The Beautiful Interagency Pass. Simply display your pass on your car dash and you’ll be good to go!
- This annual pass will get you entry into all national parks for one whole year from the month of purchase. It can also serve to replace the Red Rock Pass in this instance.
- I buy this pass every year; it’s the best bang for your buck if you plan on visiting at least 3 national parks within a 12-month timespan! Since national park entrance fees are $30 on average, every national park visit after your 3rd visit is essentially free!
4. To help with parking and provide more trail access to visitors, Sedona recently created a free shuttle system–Sedona Shuttle. This may be a good option if you plan on visiting the popular hikes during prime time and don’t want to deal with the headache of trying to find parking!
Recommended Packing List: Sedona Sunset Hiking
- An America the Beautiful National Parks Pass ($80 annual pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites and national parks) or a Red Rock Pass ($5 one-time pass) are required to cover your parking fee at all of these trailheads.
- Hiking boots – If you’re looking for a hiking boot recommendation, I would recommend the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX Hiking Boot. They’ve got out-of-the-box comfort that can’t be beaten, plus they look so darn cool. You can find them for women here and men here.
- Trekking poles – Since a lot of the terrain in Sedona is rocky, everyone could benefit from the added stability that trekking poles provide. REI is my go-to source for reliable walking sticks–check out their top-rated poles here.
- Hat/sunglasses – very much needed if you’re hiking during the spring/summer seasons. Sedona is bright and sunny, even during sunset.
- Packable puffy jacket – depending on the season, it can get a bit chilly in Sedona. A puffy jacket is always a good option because of how they can pack up into nothing! You have a lot of options here, but I personally have the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket, and it’s kept me warm throughout my many years of adventuring! For something more affordable, I’d go with this one.
- A high-quality camera – my favorite cameras are either the Sony a7 IV Full Frame Mirrorless Camera (I’m currently photographing everything these days with this one) or the Sony a7 III.
- Headlamp – Be sure to bring a headlamp (with red light capabilities) because you may need to walk in the dark after the sun sets!
- Sunscreen – you cannot think to hike in Sedona without sunscreen. Since most of the trails here are exposed, applying (and reapplying) is a must. For all my outdoor travels, I bring an eco-friendly, biodegradable sunscreen. Here are a few travel-sized biodegradable sunscreens you can easily buy on Amazon:
- Lots of water – a dedicated hydration pack is so handy because you can drink water without having to take off your backpack every time you want to reach for water. CamelBak backpacks are my absolute favorite for hiking–these backpacks usually will have secure zippered pockets too, perfect for snacks, keys, phones, or other essentials.
- Snacks or picnic foods – stop by the local supermarket during the day or the night before to pick up some light bites (or even a dinner picnic) to enjoy at the end of your hike or atop your sunset vista points!
Other Ways To See The Sunset In Sedona
Sunset Jeep Tour
Go off-roading through Sedona’s red rock landscape on a sunset Jeep tour!
Drive off-road through 7 canyons to Dry Creek Basin and relive the cowboy days at the old “Van Derin” cabin. Along the way, you’ll also learn about the history of the early settlers and admire the beautiful sunset.
Arabella Hotel is home to Sunset Vista, an easy and relatively effortless way to see one of Sedona’s iconic sunsets.
Once at the Arabella Hotel, it’s literally a 5-minute walk to the hotel’s private vista point. Sunset Vista is a great spot to watch the sunrise, have a dinner picnic during sunset, or just take in the red rock views and capture that perfect photo.
If you’re still looking for a hotel option, Arabella Hotel is a good one! The hotel has two pools, a fire pit, bikes for use, and is home to the beloved restaurant, Mole (make reservations ahead of time!).
The Hideaway House restaurant is a great place to have dinner when you’re in Sedona, Arizona. The food is amazing, and the views of the red rocks from the outdoor dining patio are breathtaking.
If you’re looking for a romantic evening out or just a night of good food and great company, then this is the place for you. I love the cozy treehouse vibes and the amazing food. I highly recommend the pasta dishes and the Pizza Blanco (it’s pure garlicky goodness)!
Do try and make a reservation though, because this place is always busy! Trust me, it’s worth the effort of calling/booking ahead.
And there you have it, my list of some of the best sunset hikes in Sedona, plus a few bonus sunset viewing spots! I hope after reading this, you’ve found the perfect sunset adventure for your trip. Safe and happy travels!
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