Sedona Travel Guide: Camping, Dining, & Essential Tips

Sedona is a top destination for many adventure travelers. There are endless opportunities for amazing hikes, world-class mountain biking, great dining, and so much more. Plus, the views are incredible no matter where you are in town!

But planning a Sedona getaway can be tricky. It’s a popular destination that receives thousands of visitors every year. While I do love Sedona, every time I go back there are more people and traffic to navigate. Having some insider Sedona travel tips can go a long way.

To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together this Sedona travel guide that includes essential information like where to camp, the best hotels, dining recommendations, helpful tips, and more.

Looking for a day-to-day itinerary? Head to our 4-Day Sedona Itinerary for Adventure Travelers.

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    Getting to & around Sedona

    Beautiful views at sunset over Sedona landscape from Airport Lookout

    Flying to Sedona

    The closest airports to Sedona are Flagstaff (45 minutes north) and Phoenix (two hours south).

    Groome Transport offers several daily shuttles to and from Sedona from both Flagstaff and Phoenix airports.

    Getting around Sedona

    A car actually isn’t necessary for your Sedana trip, depending on what your plans and goals are.

    Traffic in Sedona has gotten pretty bad over the last few years, so the town has put a lot of effort into making its bus and shuttle systems more efficient.

    Here are a few ways to get around Sedona with a car:

    • The Sedona Shuttle: a free and easy-to-use shuttle system that accesses a number of trailheads and stops within Sedona.
    • The Verde Shuttle: For $1 a ride, you can hop on the Verde Shuttle and travel between South Sedona, Uptown, and West Sedona.
    • Groome Transport: Travels between Flagstaff, Sedona, and Phoenix.
    • Trail Lovers: Offers private adventure shuttles to trailheads
    • ATV Rentals: There are a number of businesses in town that rent off-road vehicles if you want to explore the dirt roads and OHV areas around Sedona.

    Best time to visit Sedona

    The best time to visit Sedona is in late fall, winter, and early spring. October through April offer the coolest temperatures.

    You’ll want to avoid the hottest months of June – August as highs are consistently in the 90s or even 100s. May and September can be quite hot as well.

    Springtime in Sedona from March – April is when the desert is in bloom and is a beautiful (but popular) time to visit.

    Winter can be chilly, but that’s no problem if you’re prepared with winter hiking layers. Plus, you’ll have a chance to see the red rocks dusted in snow and enjoy the area without the crowds!

    We most recently visited Sedona in the middle of October, and it was still very hot. The highs were in the 90s during the day, and the sun was very strong. We were able to make it work by hiking early and late in the day and finding some shaded hikes outside of town.

    Cathedral Rock in Sedona at sunset from Crescent Moon Picnic Site
    Spring, fall, and winter are the best times to visit Sedona for cooler temperatures

    Where to Camp & Stay in Sedona

    Sedona has plenty of lodging and camping options depending on what you’re looking for.

    Hotels and accommodations do tend to be a little pricey in Sedona, especially in the high season.

    You’ll also want to book campground reservations in advance as they tend to book out fast.

    Camping in Sedona

    Paid campgrounds in the Sedona area include:

    • Manzanita campground: a 10-minute drive north of town near Slide Rock State Park, a beautiful swimming area with a natural water slide.
    • Cave Springs and Pine Flat campgrounds: also north of Sedona up Oak Creek Canyon.
    • Lo Lo Mai Springs Outdoor Resort: located on the other side of Sedona toward Cottonwood, this is a beautiful campground. Advanced reservations are required.
    • Dispersed camping: Sedona has several free dispersed camping areas. You can read more about where to find them on the USDA Forest Service website.
    Two people sitting in camp chairs outside a Storyteller Sprinter van
    There are a number of camping options in Sedona, both paid and disperesed
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    Sedona Hotels

    There are plenty of other hotel options in and around Sedona. Here are a few options

    • The Arabella: During our recent trip to Sedona, we stayed at The Arabella, a three-star hotel within walking and biking distance of the city center. It provided quick, easy access to some of the best restaurants in Sedona and made for a short drive to a variety of hikes both north and south of town. The hotel has a fleet of cruiser bikes they loan out, a mountain bike wash station, and they are pet friendly.
    • Best Western Plus Arroyo Roble: The no-fuss Best Western Plus Arroyo Roble is conveniently located uptown with outstanding Sedona views.
    • Amara Resort and Spa: If you’re looking to add a massage or a yoga class to your stay, the Amara Resort and Spa offers a serene atmosphere at a lower price than some of the high-end spa hotels in Sedona.
    Arabella hotel in Sedona

    Book your Stay

    See pricing and availability for the most popular Sedona hotels and book your stay on Trip Advisor.

    Sedona Airbnbs

    When initially researching for my Sedona trip and putting together this Sedona travel guide, I found lots of beautiful, unique Airbnbs in the area. However, they were all booked by the time I was ready to reserve our lodging.

    So if you’d like to go the Airbnb route, book early for the best choices!


    Best Places to Eat in Sedona

    Sedona has no shortage of great restaurants, cafes, and other dining options. Here are a few of my favorites:

    Tamalazia

    Tamalazia is an unassuming spot serving up some delicious and authentic Mexican food, specializing in tamales. Everything is made from scratch and incredibly fresh, and they have lots of vegan options too.

    Hideaway House

    Hideaway House is perhaps the most classic Sedona restaurant that we visited. It’s a cute, welcoming, down-to-earth cafe with sunflowers painted on the walls and a casual, happy vibe. The outside patio is where it’s at, with the most incredible views that will make you want to linger for as long as possible.

    The Hudson

    I was skeptical about the Hudson at first since it was recommended everywhere I looked and thought it might be super touristy, but they sure proved me wrong. The Hudson is beautiful inside and out, whether you dine on their outdoor patio overlooking the red rocks or inside where the views are nearly just as expansive.

    The salad, ahi sandwich, and fries we had hit the spot for lunch after a long morning of hiking, and the service was superb.

    Elote

    I have a Bearfoot Theory reader to thank for this recommendation. Elote will blow your socks off. Elote is reservation-only and is often booked months in advance but we were lucky enough to score a reservation a week prior to our trip.

    Everything we had was delicious including the margaritas. If you’re vegetarian, the vegetable mole was incredible, and if you like seafood, try the scallops!

    Gerardo’s Italian Kitchen

    I have a Bearfoot Theory reader to thank for this recommendation as well. We didn’t have a chance to try Gerardo’s during our trip, but after seeing how amazing their food looks I knew I had to include it in this Sedona travel guide, and I already can’t wait to return.

    Their traditional, wood-fired pizzas are not to be missed, however, it doesn’t look like they accommodate dietary restrictions.

    Oak Creek Espresso

    This little coffee shop right in the center of town makes great coffee and delicious pastries, including vegan and gluten free options. It’s a great spot for a grab-and-go breakfast on your way to a hike or to sit and enjoy a coffee before starting the day.

    Indian Gardens

    Indian Gardens is a sweet little cafe and market 10 minutes north of Sedona up Oak Creek Canyon. It’s a great breakfast and lunch spot that’s perfect to hit up on the way back from a hike in the Oak Creek area.

    There’s a beautiful patio out back and a wide range of food options from full-plate meals to delicious breakfast pastries. It is also vegan-friendly.


    What to Pack for Sedona

    What to pack for Sedona depends on the time of year you’ll be traveling there.

    For a warm-weather trip to Sedona, check out our guide to What to Wear Hiking as well as our guide to Sun Protection for Hikers.

    For a cool-weather trip to Sedona, check out the following blog posts for ideas on what to pack for your Sedona trip:

    Female hiker standing at lookout on trail in Sedona surrounded by red rock bluffs and forest
    Sedona can be both very hot and very cold – be sure to pack according to the season you visit

    Sedona Travel Tips

    Now that we’ve covered all the logistics, let’s dive into some travel tips! Here are a few ways to make your Sedona adventure more safe and enjoyable:

    Start Your Hikes Early

    By early, we mean really early. Like 7am early. Sedona is a very popular hiking destination, and trailhead parking lots are usually full before 8am even on weekdays.

    For example, the West Fork trailhead parking lot was full when we arrived just before 8am on a Friday. Luckily we were able to find a parking spot at a nearby turnout just up the highway. But had we gotten there any later, we would have had to park even further away and would have had a long walk alongside the highway to get to the trailhead.

    Moral of the story and one of our top travel tips in this Sedona travel guide, the very early bird gets the worm in Sedona.

    Tip: Check, out the Sedona Shuttle schedule to be the first one on the bus (and trail!). Many trailheads fill up fast and parking is not guaranteed.

    Woman hiking on red rock dirt path in Sedona with red and white bluffs behind her
    Start your hikes early to beat the heat – and crowds

    Download maps before heading out

    Some trails in Sedona are outside of cell service, so it’s a good idea to download a map of the trail you plan on hiking before heading out.

    Plus, not all trails are well marked and in some cases, it can be easy to wander off the trail so it’s best to have a map on hand.

    Make dinner reservations ahead of time

    Until my recent Sedona trip, I didn’t realize it had such a good food scene! There are some really good restaurants with great food and incredible views.

    Since it’s such a popular destination, though, the best restaurants book up quickly and walk-in waits can be quite long during prime dining time.

    If you know that there are a couple of spots you want to try while in Sedona, make reservations ahead of time. Some restaurants like Elote and Mariposa are reservation-only and book a month out in advance at times.

    Eat at scenic restaurants during daylight hours

    This is something we learned after eating a late dinner at Hideaway House after the sun had long set. While the food is good and all, the views are what really make this place spectacular so dine during daylight hours.

    A late lunch or early dinner will likely reduce your wait time, too, and you’ll be able to enjoy dining al fresco beneath the red rocks.

    Be prepared for the sun and the heat

    Sedona can be very hot even outside of the hottest months of May – September. We visited in mid-October and the highs were in the 90s each day.

    We made it work by hiking early in the morning (remember, the early bird gets the worm!), by wearing and bringing lots of sun protection, carrying and drinking lots of water, and choosing trails with some shade whenever possible.

    Woman hiking down red dirt trail in Sedona
    Sedona can get very hot- be prepared with sun protection and lots of water

    Pack the Right Gear

    On that same note, packing the right gear for your Sedona trip will help make it more comfortable and in some instances even safe.

    As I mentioned above, sun protection is critical if you’re going during the warmer months. A sturdy, comfortable pair of hiking shoes are essential too, as is comfortable hiking clothing and a hiking daypack with plenty of water.

    On the other hand, if you visit Sedona in winter, pack warm layers for hiking so you can be prepared for swings in temperature.

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    Do you have anything to add that we missed or any questions about planning a Sedona trip? Share your experience, tips, and questions in the comments below.

    The post Sedona Travel Guide: Camping, Dining, & Essential Tips appeared first on Bearfoot Theory.

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