10 Best Things to do in Sedona in Winter [2024]

Are you looking for things to do in Sedona in Winter?  Its mild temperatures and incredibly scenic landscape make for a perfect winter getaway.  Sedona is by far one of my favorite places to visit in Arizona.  And my favorite season to visit Sedona?  Winter!

Sedona is located in the Southwest United States in Arizona.  It is famous for its signature red rock formations.  The simplest way to describe this phenomenon is the formation of iron oxide on individual rock grains.  

Winter is Sedona’s low season with less crowds and more magic.  The resort town has seen a huge increase in tourists since the start of the COVID Pandemic.  This makes winter’s low season even more appealing to escape the crowds.  

I recommend visiting Sedona in the winter as a solo traveler, as a couple, or with a group of friends or family.  It is easy to navigate and combines a balance of adventure and relaxation activities for all ages!

Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona
Boynton Canyon Trail

Sedona Planning Details

3 million tourists visit Sedona each year.  Tourists travel from all over to experience red rock country!  But winter season quiets down. 

Sustainable tourism note: Sedona’s ever-increasing visitors means more opportunity for imminent harm to the home of indigenous people and desert environment.  Please follow current best practices for sustainable tourism, such as: leave no trace, hike and bike on trails, and ultimately, leaving the environment as you found it.   

Getting There

Phoenix to Sedona: Fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and rent a car for the 2 hour drive to Sedona.  Take Highway 17 all the way from Phoenix to Sedona. 

Alternatively, take a bus or shuttle from Phoenix to Sedona.  Average bus rates are $10 and average shuttle rates are $50.  Bus service runs on select days so be sure to plan your route in advance. 

Note: There is no public transportation in Sedona.  However, the Verde Shuttle runs hourly from 6:00am-10:00pm 7 days a week.  It costs $1 per ride.  Click here for the most up to date transportation methods around Sedona in 2023-2024.  

Scottsdale to Sedona: Scottsdale is 2 hours and 20 minutes by car from Sedona.  Drive the same route along Highway 17.  There is no direct bus from Scottsdale to Sedona.  

Tip: Sunset is my favorite time to drive to Sedona with magical red lines illuminating the mountains. 

Sedona Weather

Sedona’s average high temperature in the winter is in the 60s and the average low temperature is in the 30s.  Its annual snowfall is 3.5 inches. This is equivalent to a light dusting of snow!

Sedona is a resort town drawing most of its visitors during the warmest months.  I highly recommend visiting December – February for beautiful views and less crowds.  

Tip: During my trip in March, we couldn’t find parking at Devil’s Bridge (one of the most popular Sedona hiking trails) in the morning or afternoon.  This is how drastically the crowds change each season!  

How many days in Sedona?

I recommend visiting Sedona as a day trip from Phoenix if this is what your schedule allows.  The doable 2 hour drive provides plenty of time for exploring if you start your day early.  

If you have a flexible itinerary, I recommend spending two full days in Sedona to optimize adventure and relaxation. 

In addition to hiking and outdoor adventures, Sedona is a unique town to explore.  

Sedona Entrance fee

There is no general entrance fee to visit Sedona.  However, several parking lots require a Red Rock pass. 

Red Rock day and week passes are sold in local gas stations and through automatic machines in several parking lots throughout Sedona.  The day pass costs $5 and the week pass costs $15.  Holders of the Annual National Park Pass can bypass the Red Rock pass fee.  Simply follow the automated machine onscreen prompts to insert your national park pass in order to receive the parking pass. 

Tip: You cannot place your national park pass on your windshield in place of the parking pass itself, so it is essential you follow these steps!

Things to do in Sedona in Winter

There are limitless things to do in Sedona every winter.  From scenic hiking trails to a relaxing spa visit, you can enjoy scenic red rock oasis from just about anywhere.  

1. Winter Hiking

Sedona’s epic hiking is beautiful year round.  Always check trail conditions on AllTrails before venturing off, especially during the winter season.  Snow melt or icy trails can make for slippery trail conditions.  

There are TONS of Sedona I hiked Boynton Canyon and Doe Mountain in the winter.  They were absolutely beautiful and I recommend each of these trails!  (However, there is not much in the way of outdoor scenery that I don’t recommend in Sedona!)

Airport View Trail

Pink and purple hues in Airport Mesa
Airport Mesa

Length: 1.4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate 

Airport Trail is a lovely out and back trail.  Visitors love the incredible views and lowkey hike.  You can alternatively get amazing Airport views from its viewpoint after the parking lot.  

Tip: If you have more time and energy, I recommend hiking Airport Loop trail.  It is the most popular Airport trail and is double the distance of Airport View.  I haven’t completed this hike yet but it is beloved by many.

Boynton Canyon Trail

Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona
Boynton Canyon Trail

Length: 7.2 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Boynton Canyon is one of the most popular hiking trails in Sedona.  It is known for its red rock canyon and vortex at the end of the trail.

Snow on trail increases the higher elevation you are at on this out and back trail.  I recommend shoes with great tread for the winter and trekking poles if you have them!  I did not have trekking poles, but I did not complete the entire hike due to timing!  

Doe Mountain Trail

Doe Mountain Trail in Sedona
Doe Mountain Trail

Length: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Doe Mountain is a heavily trafficked out and back trail.  I would consider this easy for experienced hikers.  The incline makes it moderate for beginner hikers.  The Doe Mountain parking lot requires the $5 Red Rock pass.  

Tip: Use your National Parks Annual Pass to waive the $5 red rock parking fee.

Fact: I walked into Prickly Pear Cactus on this trail (Story for another time..?!)

Top rated winter Sedona hiking trails include:

 

2. Viewpoints

Views at Yavapai Vista in Sedona
Views at Yavapai Vista

When you are surrounded by red rocks, there really is no “best” viewpoint.  However, two of my personal favorite Sedona viewpoints are Airport Mesa and Yavapai Vista

Airport Mesa is known as one of the best panorama views in Sedona.  It provides 360 views of Sedona’s famous rock formations such as Bell Rock, Chimney Rock, and Cathedral Rock. 

There is a very accessible viewpoint only footsteps away from the parking lot.  Pack a picnic for the pink and purple vista views!

My second favorite Sedona viewpoint is Yavapai Vista.  The light .5 mile walking trail places you in the middle of panorama views.  Even on busy days, the Yavapai Vista parking lot is much quieter than more popular hiking routes like Devil’s Bridge.

Fun fact: Yavapai Vista is a popular engagement and wedding location!

3. Red Rock Scenic Byway

If you’re looking for an indoor adventure, consider slowly cruising the Red Rock Scenic Byway.  It is known as one of the most scenic roads in Sedona!  You might conveniently find yourself on this road on the way to one of your hiking trails or viewpoints, but consider spending longer on the road to slowly admire all of the stops along the way.

4. Rock Climbing

Wonder what those beautiful red rock mountains look like from above?  I absolutely love rock climbing and Sedona is one of my FAVORITE places I have ever rock climbed.  (I also recommend climbing in Bishop and Alabama Hills).  

I have my own rock climbing gear and use Mountain Project to read detailed reviews of rock climbing routes in advance.  I also recommend carefully assessing the safety conditions of a rock climbing route upon arrival before beginning your vertical journey!

5. Pink Jeep Tour

Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona
Pink Jeep in Sedona. By James A. Molnar via Unslash

Taking a pink jeep tour is by far one of the most popular things to do in Sedona during any season of the year.  Plot twist- I have NEVER taken one of these tours!  But they come highly recommended by most travelers and I absolutely plan on taking one at some point.  

6. Peace Park

Amitabha Stupa at Peace Park in Sedona
Amitabha Stupa at Peace Park

Peace Park sits at the base of Thunder Mountain.  It was built as a spiritual park for peace for visitors of all faiths.  Many visitors come to admire the beautiful, coral Amitabha Stupa.  A stupa is part of the Buddhism community and serves as a location for mediation, peace, and prayer all over the world.  

 

The park hours are daily from dawn to dusk.  There is no entry fee but donations are welcomed. 

7. Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village in Sedona
Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

Shopping at Tlaquepaque is a fun experience, and kind of a right of passage in Sedona!  It’s hard to miss the two shopping center entrances located across the street from one another in Downtown Sedona.  

Tip: The shopping is pricey.  Sedona is overall a resort town, so be mindful of this!

Read next: Alabama Hills, Bryce Canyon, Olympic National Park

8. Sedona Arizona Sunset

Watching sunset in red rock country is one of the most popular things to do on a Sedona itinerary.  The sun reflects vibrantly from the red rock mountain tops all over Sedona.  I think that’s reason enough why I truly do not have a favorite sunset recommendation!  I love watching the sunset no matter where I am in Sedona.  My top tip is to simply not miss it!  

9. Turquoise McDonalds

Teal Arches at Sedona McDonalds
Sedona McDonalds

Did you know Sedona is home to the only McDonalds in the world that without golden arches!?  I’m a sucker for party facts. The design team did not think golden arches against red mountains would stand out.  But teal arches?  There you have it.  

I don’t recommend spending long here (after ordering the obligatory snack, obviously)  but I do recommend checking the photo opp (and party fact) off your list.

10. Chapel of the Holy Cross

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is an iconic Sedona photography spot.  Its architecture built into the red rock formations is incredible.  Entry to the chapel is free but donations are welcomed. 

Other Sedona Outdoor Adventure Activities:

 

  • ATV Tour
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Mountain Biking
  • Slide down Slide Rock

Where to Stay in Sedona

Sedona offers a variety of accommodations from camping to private Airbnb homes and hotels.  I stayed at a boutique hotel in Downtown Sedona.  We booked last minute and got a great rate!  More affordable accommodation is one of the many perks of visiting Sedona during slow season.  

Airbnbs in Sedona

Airbnbs in Sedona, Arizona have been on the rise as one of the most popular accommodation options.  Visitors love the idea of having a luxurious, spacious home to sprawl out among the mountains.  Most Airbnbs in Sedona are out of my budget, but there is a reason so many people are interested in this!

Some of the most unique Airbnbs in Sedona feature dome-shaped homes, yurts, and other glamping options. 

Sedona Hotels

Sedona features mostly luxury hotels.  However, a perk of slow season is that luxury hotels may have a more affordable price tag.  

Budget: Sedona Village Lodge features prices from $99 per night. Matterhorn Inn is another option with Sustainable Level 2 according to Booking.com.  

Mid-Range: GreenTree Inn Sedona is rated as Sustainable Level 2 according to Booking.com.  I strive for the most sustainable tourism possible whenever I can, but sometimes the most sustainable hotels have been out of my budget.  GreenTree Inn features Mid-Range hotel prices if you book in advance, and oftentimes during weekday visits.  

Luxury: Sky Ranch Lodge features beautiful balcony rooms and a Travel Sustainable Level 1.  

Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona
Boynton Canyon Trail

Sedona Camping

The best budget accommodation in Sedona is camping! This will be the cheapest accommodation option and is the one I recommend most if camping is for you.  The following campsites are rated as some of the best Sedona camping across the web:

 

  1. Manzanita
  2. Cave Springs
  3. Rancho Sedona RV Park

 

I have not personally camped in Sedona but it’s high on my list!  

Is it worth going to Sedona in 2024?

Visiting Sedona in winter is a magical experience.  Due to less crowds, mostly mild temperatures, and maybe a light dusting of snow high atop red mountains, I think it is worth visiting Sedona this winter.

Sedona Winter Packing List

Trail Shoes– Comfortable hiking shoes are a game changer, especially when you need good traction for winter hiking.  Sedona doesn’t have much snow, but you’ll likely run into it on certain trails like Boynton Canyon.

First Aid Kit– I recommend packing a small first aid kit on all trips.  

Water Bottle– Hydration is key always, but especially when spending the day outdoors.

Hydration Backpack– Change up your hydration game with a Camelback or similar hydration backpack!

Packable Backpack– I LOVE tossing a packable backpack into my luggage for short day hikes or even city adventures.  

Base layers– Wear warm clothing under your jacket and pants.  Alternatively, consider fleece-lined leggings with a water-resistant exterior.

Puffer jacket– I prefer a puffer jacket to a long parka because this is also packable, and easy to roll up into your backpack if you get hot.

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Alyssa

As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).