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Sedona Arizona Parks to Grand Canyon Travel Guide

Sedona Area Parks to Grand Canyon

Located in Northern Arizona about 2 hours from Grand Canyon’s South Rim, Sedona is not actually a park, but an area that consists of several State Parks, National Forest land, and the city of Sedona. All of public lands contain the amazing red rock formations Sedona is known for.  The Sedona State Parks and the Red Rock Ranger District of Coconino National Forest were formed to protect this unique geological landscape.  Even the city of Sedona has special regulations and restrictions to help keep the area as natural as possible.  The towering buttes, mesas, and other formations are made of amazing red sandstone sculpted by time and weather over millions of years.  Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon are not only rich in geologic history, but also human history and contain several archeological sites.  Sedona is also known for its vortex sites which are energy points located at several of its red rock formations. Read the guide below to learn more.

Sedona Area Parks to Grand Canyon Travel

Driving Distance from Sedona, AZ to Grand Canyon

  • Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim is 113 miles, a 2 hour 10-minute drive.
  • Sedona to Grand Canyon East Rim is 155 miles, a 2 hour 45-minute drive.
  • Sedona to Grand Canyon North Rim is 237 miles, a 4 hour 30-minute drive.
  • Sedona to Grand Canyon West Rim is 242 miles, a 4-hour 10-minute drive.

List of Sedona Area Parks

  • Redrock State Park: Protects the riparian area along Oak Creek and offers trails with amazing red rock vistas, as well as environmental education programs.
  • Slide Rock State Park: Originally a homestead and apple orchard, Slide Rock State Park is known for the beautiful natural slide the Oak Creek flows across making for a great place to cool off during hot summer weather.
  • Oak Creek Canyon: Oak Creek Canyon is a beautiful canyon above Sedona with a rare water source (Oak Creek) that makes-up several state parks and forest lands, as well as one of the best spots to recreate in the Sedona area.
  • Red Rock Scenic Byway: This 15-mile stretch of State Road 179, goes from Hwy 17 to Sedona. Along the way are amazing Red Rock Vistas and access to National Forest and State Parks with endless recreational activities and scenery.
  • Bell Rock: Another trail in Coconino National Forest with views of Bell Rock and the surrounding red rock formations, Bell Rock offers a more mellow trail for hikers and mountain bikers.
  • Cathedral Rock: This is part of Coconino National Forest and offers views of Cathedral Rock and the surrounding red rock formations, as well as great trails for hiking and mountain biking.
  • For more information on visiting these parks check out Arizona State Parks or Red Rock Ranger District of Coconino National Forest.

Sedona to Grand Canyon Car Rentals

Sedona Car Rentals: Whether you fly into Phoenix, Flagstaff, or take a shuttle to Sedona it is difficult to see Sedona, the Grand Canyon, or the surrounding area without a rental car.  There are car rental agencies in Sedona, as well as Flagstaff, Phoenix, and other nearby cities.

Sedona Shuttles: There are several different shuttle companies that go to Sedona from the Phoenix Airport, Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon and other local cities.

Grand Canyon Tours from Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is and outdoor mecca and like Grand Canyon Activities, there are a ton of options in red rock country.  Jeep tours are probably the most popular activity and there is everything from family friendly to bone jarring rides.  Mountain biking is another of the most popular pursuits and Sedona has a ton of great single track for all levels of riders.  Sedona is also a great place for day hikes as well as a couple multi-day backpacks in the national forest.  Oak Creek Canyon offer fishing, rock climbing, and some great swimming holes to cool off in the summer months.  Visiting one of several vortex sites is also a popular thing to do in Sedona, as is a hot air balloon ride for a birds-eye view of the area.  For those of you want to get pampered, Sedona is a resort town and there are a number of top notch spas, as well as some world class restaurants to grab a bite after a hard day of massage and facials.

Best Restaurants in Sedona and on the drive to Grand Canyon

Sedona has a full-on Restaurant Scene, as well a couple bars and nightclubs.  This is a great palace to grab a meal before or after Grand Canyon, where there are a lot fewer restaurant options. With so many eateries to choose from it’s hard to know where to start, but your local hotel or campground host can usually steer you in the right direction. Typically, the high-end restaurants are where you can get a great meal, while the middle of the road or smaller joints have low quality and high prices.  Of course, you also have several fast food options if you’re in a hurry or want to save a buck. 

Best Hotels in Sedona near Grand Canyon

If there is one thing Sedona, AZ has a lot of it is hotels, resorts and lodges.  While Grand Canyon Lodges are known for scenic vistas and basecamps, Sedona is known for its 5-star resorts and spas and many visitors come here specifically for these luxuries.  No matter where you stay, Sedona is an expensive place, but there are all sorts of lodging in Sedona with accommodations ranging from roadside motels, to rooms that cost $500 a night.  There are also several RV parks that are also fairly expensive.  As for campgrounds, you’ll find most of them in Oak Creek Canyon and not Sedona proper.  These are small car camping sites run by the national forest and generally cost $20 per night.

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Learn More About Sedona Parks

With an average annual visitation of over 4 million people, Sedona is definitely a busy place and a great destination to add to your Grand Canyon Trip.  The Spring and Fall seasons are the best times to visit Sedona, with mid-September through October typically having the most pleasant weather throughout the area.  Summer is also a busy season due to schools being out, but it is very hot especially during the July and August monsoons season.  Winter is slow, but it is typically not cold and can be a great time to visit if you want more solitude. Almost any park or forest area you visit in Sedona charges a fee.  Sedona is generally a high budget destination, especially if you want to stay at a local resort or visit a spa.  The State Parks like Slide Rock and Red Rock State Park have separate fees for each destination, and the Redrock Ranger district has a parking pass you need to purchase to park anywhere in the forest, as well as additional fees for camping and some other activities.

  • Environment of Sedona Parks: Unless you’re climbing one of Sedona’s spires, or going off a 20-foot cliff with your mountain bike the biggest danger in Sedona is the summer heat.  It is very important to stay hydrated, wear sun block and get out of the sun when the temperature is just too hot.  Although you probably won’t see one there are rattlesnakes so be aware.  In the summer monsoon season heavy rainstorm can cause flash floods so anyone hiking through Sedona’s canyons needs to be aware of weather and local conditions.
  • Sedona is located in a transition zone between the Mogollon Rim to the North and the Verde Valley to the South.  Sedona is a desert environment with low levels of precipitation, and is characterized by hot summers, mild winters with little snowfall, and very pleasant spring and fall seasons. Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon have fairly rugged terrain filled with canyons, buttes and other rock formations.   While Sedona itself sits on a geologic layer called the Hermit Shale, the major component of Sedona’s Red Rock formations is the Schnebly Hill sandstone, which gets its red color from iron oxide.  The large tan and white cliffs high above Sedona are made of the Coconino Sandstone, with several other layers of sedimentary rock above it before you reach the top of the Mogollon Rim which has a basalt cap from volcanic eruptions that happened millions of years ago.
  • Sedona Parks Plants and Animals: The Sedona area is in a transitional zone that has a unique variety of flora that’s representative of life zones from the Sonoran Desert to the Ponderosa Forests above the Mogollon Rim.  Sedona has wildflowers and cactus, arid grasslands, chaperal, and pinyon-juniper forests, and riparian habitat and everything in between, making it a unique area for Arizona Flora.  Because of these unique life zones there is also a large variety of animal life including many reptiles, fish, amphibians, birds, small mammals, and larger wildlife like dear, bears and mountain lions.
  • Sedona Parks Culture and History: The City of Sedona was founded in 1902, while the various State Parks and National Forests where protected more recently.  Sedona proper is about 50 sq. kilometers, while the surrounding area is much larger.   Sedona was named after Sedona Schnebly whose husband came to the area in the early 1900’s.  Before the Schnebly’s came to the area, there were several settlers in Oak Creeks Canyon who moved in after the local bands of Apaches were removed.  The history of the Red Rock Country however, starts longs before modern times. The cliff dwellings at Palatki and Honanki are the largest in the Sedona area, and were constructed between A.D.1150 – 1300.  There are also many smaller ruins in Sedona, as well as some great rock art.

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