Carefree and comfortable in central Arizona's creative oasis
Sedona, surrounded by publicly-owned national forest, draws nature lovers to its remarkable red rock landscape and travelers seeking spiritual renewal to its vortexes – spots where beneficial energy appears. Walk from gallery to gallery, stop at a day spa for a massage or rent a jeep, grab a map and create your own adventure. Plan a trip for spring or fall when nature's colors heighten the region's beauty.
Best time to visit
Tourism in Sedona spikes in the spring as hotel occupancy rates rise and tour guides gear up for the busy season. Many tours fill up quickly, so book in advance. Moderate weather and lengthening days make this the most popular time for visitors. Summer is for hardy souls who don’t mind the heat or a high UV index of 6.4. October is the busiest of the autumn months as fall color changes turn canyons into showy displays. Sedona and the surrounding towns celebrate the season with pumpkin patches, hayrides and apple picking. December sees a festival of lights, luminaria lightings and caroling, all followed by January – typically the slowest month in Sedona. Hotel prices are lower, so look for the bargains.
Seasons and festivals
Spring, when the delicate yellow flowers of European Madwort begin to open, is a great time for hiking. Temperatures drop as the sun lowers in the sky, but daytime is warm and sunny. Bird lovers flock to Sedona in July for the three-day Hummingbird Festival. Nearby, Oak Creek Canyon, known for its red cliffs, unusual rock formations and clear pools, blazes with the colors of changing leaves in the autumn. The annual Red Rocks Music Festival, held in September, celebrates chamber music. Because of relatively high daytime temperatures in the winter, snow rarely lasts long in the city, though it may linger at higher elevations.
Umbrellas are rarely needed in Sedona, where average yearly rainfall is just 15 inches and the sun shines on 278 days. Summer highs average in the mid-90s, with lows in the 60s, and sudden thunderstorms can cause temporary road closings. Steer clear of slot canyons if storms are imminent. Flash flooding occurs whenever there is heavy rain in the region. Temperatures are moderate during the winter, with highs in the mid-50s and lows rarely dipping below 30. Route 89A, the main road through Sedona, may close during heavy winter storms. Spring and fall bring warm, but not hot, days and cooler nights. Locals recommend a light sweater or jacket for spring evenings. Fall lows hover around 50 degrees F.
Travelers combining a trip to Sedona with a tour of the Grand Canyon 100 miles north should plan to visit in the fall when crowds are smaller and the weather is still pleasant. Book rooms in west Sedona, rather than Uptown where narrow streets and overcrowded sidewalks make getting around difficult. Better yet, set up camp in the Coconino National Forest and unwind surrounded by stunning red rock promontories. Get away from the crowds with a hike in the desert. Just keep in mind that desert hiking has special considerations: Carry plenty of water, know where you’re going and how to get back – and use sun protection.