Sedona is the kind of place that draws you back, time and time again.
I’ve never been much of a repeater when it comes to travel destinations but there’s just something about Sedona that makes you want to keep coming back for more.
I created this 3-day Sedona itinerary with avid hikers like myself in mind. Will three days feel like enough time in Sedona? Not a chance. However, it is enough time to explore some of the best hikes in the area, as well as partake in an activity or two.
It’s also just enough time to make you want to return. If you’ve spent any time exploring Utah’s Mighty 5 you understand, if this is your first time in the southwest — well, you’re in for a treat.
Once you experience the subtle magic of the desert you can’t stop thinking about it. The desert will begin to beckon you back, season after season.
Enjoy this 3-day Sedona Itinerary outlining the area’s best hikes, can’t-miss adventures, and everything you need to know before you go.
Epic 3-Day Sedona Itinerary for Hikers
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Things to Know Before You Go
Is Sedona Worth the Hype?
Absolutely. Sedona is brimming with adventure, offering enough outdoor activities to keep you busy for days. The town itself is small and quaint, similar to that of Moab, and may appear upon first glance to be nothing special.
However, much like Moab, lying just outside the heart of the city is some of the country’s most enticing views and raw adventures.
While this Sedona itinerary will help you understand what the hype is all about, it barely scratches the surface of everything the area has to offer.
How Many Days Do You Need in Sedona?
For hikers, three to four days is enough time to explore some of the best hikes in Sedona, while also allowing enough time for a tour or two.
We spent three days adventuring around the area, cramming multiple hikes and activities into each day. Did we have much downtime? Not even a little.
Relaxing on vacation isn’t really our style anyways and since you’re reading this guide, it’s probably not yours either. This Sedona itinerary is guaranteed to help you maximize your three days.
What Is the Best Month to Visit Sedona?
As far as hiking goes, the best time of year to visit Sedona is between March and May. During these months, the weather is warm but not overly hot. We visited in March and couldn’t have asked for better weather.
With that being said, the mellow temperatures bring with them many visitors. Make sure to set realistic expectations for your time in Sedona. It’s a popular destination for outdoor lovers; therefore, you will be sharing the trails with others.
However, don’t let the crowds deter you. Instead, use the possibility of crowded hikes to motivate you to wake up and hit the trails before sunrise.
Is There a Shuttle in Sedona?
Yes! The Sedona Shuttle is a great resource for visitors for a couple of reasons.
For starters, it’s free. There is no fee to ride the shuttle and it runs year-round Thursday to Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Additionally, the shuttle services several hikes.
Stop locations for the shuttle include Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Devils Bridge, to name a few. Opting to ride the shuttle is a great alternative to driving as the parking lots at popular trails fill up quickly. Taking the shuttle not only eliminates the stress of finding a spot but is also an eco-friendly way to explore the town.
You can read more about the shuttle times and locations here.
3-Day Sedona Itinerary for Hikers and Adventurers
Use this 3-day Sedona itinerary on your trip to help you squeeze in all the best hikes and adventures the aread has to offer.
Wilson Mountain Trail
Kick-off day one of your Sedona trip by hiking the stunning Wilson Mountain Trail.
Wilson Mountain was our favorite hiking adventure during our trip. It’s the tallest peak in Sedona and rewards hikers with endless views of Sedona and beyond.
Wilson Mountain Trail takes you to a spot named aptly Sedona Overlook. The overlook provides an unobstructed, panoramic view of Sedona and the surrounding areas. The best part? We only shared this view with two other hikers.
The trail is long and challenging (11.5 miles) but worth every step. While your legs are fresh, kick start your Sedona Itinerary with a hard-to-top Wilson Mountain adventure.
If you didn’t already pack a lunch for the summit, return to town to rest your legs and grab a bite to eat or drink before heading back out to explore.
Cathedral Rock Trail
For sunset, head to the iconic Cathedral Rock Trail. When trails are as popular as this one, I never put too many expectations on the hike. Cathedral Rock, however, was even better than I could have ever imagined.
The trail is short at just 1.2 miles and scrambly, rewarding hikers with breathtaking, panoramic views. While the trail is far from being a hidden gem, the extraordinary views at the top keep hikers returning to this trail time and time again despite the crowds.
While your legs may be convincing you that you want to sit this one out, don’t. Hiking Cathedral Rock at sunset just might be the most magical and memorable sunset you’ve witnessed to date.
Doe Mountain Trail
Don’t worry, day two of this Sedona itinerary gives your legs a bit of a break. Start your morning off with a sunrise hike up Doe Mountain Trail.
While the Doe Mountain hike is short, clocking in at just 1.5 miles, the trail over-delivers on views. In my opinion, it’s one of, if not the most, underrated hike in all of Sedona.
Part of what makes this trail so enticing is the summit — the top of Doe Mountain Trail is vast, permitting hikers to explore in every direction. Take your time scouting the summit, searching for the best spot to soak in the view.
Despite its short distance and spell-binding views, Doe Mountain is relatively uncrowded compared to other hikes in Sedona.
Fay Canyon Trail
After you head back down, hop back in your car and travel just two minutes down the road to Fay Canyon. Fay Canyon Trail is short and easy at 2.3 miles and good for hikers of all ages and all levels of hiking experience.
We began the Fay Canyon hike with very low expectations, yet finished the trail with it at the top of our best-easy-hikes in Sedona list.
What makes this trail so appealing is that it shows visitors a different side of Sedona hiking.
Instead of climbing to the top of a mesa or butte, Fay Canyon Trail leads hikers deep into the heart of the canyon. Just past the ironic “trail ends here” sign lies one of the most stunning views in all of Sedona.
Take a seat and stay awhile. Clearly, we did.
Top off your epic day of hiking with a sunset at Airport Mesa. This incredible view is just a short 15-minute drive from Fay Canyon. Bring a blanket, some sundowners, or a picnic-style dinner to enjoy at the spot.
Expect there to be others appreciating this spot as well. Luckily, there’s plenty of space to spread out and enough views for everyone.
We personally haven’t had a chance to check out this spot, but we absolutely will be adding it to our Sedona itinerary the next time around, après hike style.
Devils Bridge Trail
Seeing Devils Bridge is practically a right of passage when visiting Sedona. While hiking Devils Bridge Trail wasn’t our favorite hike on this itinerary, it wouldn’t feel right to visit Sedona and not visit the bridge.
I recommend making the trek to Devils Bridge via the Chuck Wagon Trail. This route makes the hike 5.7 miles and provides a more scenic path than the more typical Dry Creek Road option.
Once you reach the bridge, I recommend taking the opportunity to walk across it. While Devils Bridge doesn’t compare to my favorite hike in Arches, it’s unique in the opportunity to do so.
Be aware you will not be the only one waiting for a chance to walk on the bridge. Expect a long line of those eager to get their picture taken in the middle of the Sedona icon.
Bear Mountain Trail
Top off your Sedona itinerary by hiking a challenging 5 miles up Bear Mountain.
Bear Mountain Trail is rugged, and exposed, and puts hikers to work immediately. The elevation never lets up, but neither do the views.
The hike is hot as the entire trail is exposed to the sun, making it the perfect trail to end an epic day of adventuring in Sedona. Pack lots of water, take breaks, and enjoy the challenge.
While it’s going to be the hardest you have to work during your time in Sedona, it will also be among the most rewarding.
Additional Outdoor Activities to Add to Your Sedona Itinerary
Hot Air Balloon
Do not sleep on the opportunity to sail above Sedona at sunrise in a hot air balloon. Doing so was hands down, the most magical thing we did on our Sedona itinerary.
During sunrise, these iconic rocks that surround the town radiate hues of red and orange.
We booked our hot air balloon tour with Red Rock Balloon Adventures and enjoyed every moment of our experience. You even get to toast with celebratory champagne at landing.
Pro Tip: Book your balloon tour for the beginning of your trip dates. Tours often get canceled because weather conditions must be perfect for a safe flight. Leave yourself some wiggle room just in case. We had to reschedule three times before we got to launch.
Sedona is an iconic southwest biking destination and a must when visiting. Whether you’re a seasoned mountain biker or just getting started, Sedona has some trails for you.
I recommend renting bikes from Thunder Mountain Bikes. The shop is a great one-stop shop for all of your rental gear.
Sedona has an extensive mountain biking route system that takes you to some popular destinations like Soldier Pass, as well as some off-the-beaten-path areas.
If mountain biking isn’t your forte, consider booking a jeep tour to explore Sedona, instead. We booked an awesome and informative tour through Red Rock Western Jeep Tours.
I recommend booking the Soldier’s Pass Trail Jeep Tour so you can explore well-known sights such as the Sinkhole and Seven Sacred Pools.
Guided tours are a great way to learn about the history of Sedona, as well as the variety of flora and fauna in the area.
Sedona is said to be home to many vortexes: churning pockets of spiritual energy entering or emitting from the earth.
While you can explore Sedona in search of these pockets on your own, joining a tour allows you to experience these locations more deeply. Guided tours aim to help visitors connect and focus inward to achieve balance.
Some popular vortex locations are Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Airport Mesa, and Boynton Canyon.
I have never personally joined a vortex tour but you can bet it’s on my list.
Wine lovers — don’t miss the opportunity to sip Cabernet in Sedona. While Sedona may not scream wine country like Napa, it has been named an up-and-coming hotspot for wine tasting.
The acclaimed Verde Valley Wine Trail passes right through Sedona. You can do a create-your-own wine tasting or book a tour.
We, unfortunately, were unaware of Sedona’s wine-tasting opportunities so we didn’t include it in our trip. If sipping on wine in one of the most magical places in the world sounds up your alley, consider adding a wine tasting or two to your Sedona itinerary.
If you have the time and gumption, consider taking a road trip from Sedona to other points of interest in the southwest.
From Sedona, you can access iconic spots like the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Lake Powell each under three hours.
While three hours may seem like a long haul for a day trip, it will most definitely be a day trip you remember for the rest of your life.
If you have any further questions about this Sedona itinerary or things to know before hitting the road, drop me a message in the comment section below.
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