Breathtaking natural beauty and pleasant tranquility are what Sedona is all about. And while there is no shortage of activities in Sedona to keep you busy, heading out of town to explore the surroundings is just as rewarding. From top-notch state parks and historic national monuments to charming desert towns, the top day trips from Sedona, AZ, offer travelers plenty of fantastic options.
Sedona is embraced by terracotta-hued rock formations, deep canyons, and verdant pine forests. Explore these incredible landscapes at nearby state parks like Red Rock State Park and Slide Rock State Park, offering a variety of outdoor activities, from climbing to hiking. Visit the little towns dotting Sedona and discover the unique character of each of these desert oases.
Not sure where to begin? Add these unforgettable Sedona side trips to your desert adventure!
Looking for more ideas? Check out all our other day trip guides and our Arizona Travel Guide for more ideas on where to go, when to visit & what to do!
Top-rated Sedona side trips
Located in the heart of the Verde Valley Wine Country, Cottonwood is a charming blend of history, water, and wine. Set above the heat of the desert to the south and Arizona’s high country to the north, Cottonwood is a bustling enclave with friendly locals and a lively vibe.
The quaint Old Town is the beating heart of Cottonwood, where you’ll find a lovely mix of eclectic boutiques and gift shops, casual restaurants, and laid-back bars. Wander through the Old Town on a self-guided tour and pop into one of the tasting rooms to sample some of the Verde Valley’s famous wines.
If you prefer tasting wine surrounded by vineyards, venture into the lush Verde Valley and visit some of the wineries dotting the countryside.
When the outdoors starts calling, head into the Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Located less than two miles from Old Town, this state landmark is a bird lover’s and hiker’s paradise.
Meander along one of the trails that wind through Cottonwood and sycamore trees along the banks of the Verde River. Enjoy a picnic in a shady spot and keep an eye out for the many bird species that call the park home.
Red Rock State Park
Soak up the spectacular natural beauty that surrounds Sedona in Red Rock State Park. Just a 20-minute drive from Sedona, Red Rock State Park is a haven of natural beauty, wildlife, and recreational activities.
Make your first stop at the Miller Visitor Center. Watch two films and check out some excellent hands-on exhibits highlighting the diverse habitats of the park. When you’re done, grab a map and hit the trails.
One of the most popular things to do in Sedona is to wind your way through the iconic red rock formations on hiking, biking, and horseback riding tracks. Over five miles of paths cater to all levels of fitness. Top hikes include Apache Fire Loop, Coyote Ridge Trail, and Eagles Nest Loop.
Join a guided morning walk with a naturalist to learn about the fascinating geology and local wildlife in the park. Meander through the riparian habitat along the banks of Oak Creek to spot a variety of bird and wildlife species. Relax with a picnic and soak up the scenic beauty of the buttes, pinnacles, and peaks surrounding you.
Slide Rock State Park
Beat the heat with some slipping and sliding fun at Slide Rock State Park. Named after a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek, Slide Rock State Park promises tons of fun. Situated in Oak Creek Canyon, just seven miles north of Sedona, Slide Rock State Park makes for a perfect quick road trip.
Once a vast apple plantation owned by Frank L. Pendley, Slide Rock State Park still features several historic buildings that can be visited as well as over 300 apple trees dotting the grounds. Hike along the Pendley Homestead Trail to view the family homestead, historic farm equipment, and the apple-picking shed. Enjoy the fruits of the apple harvest in late summer and fall.
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Slide Rock State Park’s main attraction is the exhilarating 80-foot-long red-rock slide in Oak Creek. Fly or float down the slide on a tube or find a swimming hole to cool off in. You’ll also find picnic areas with barbecue grills and two large pavilions for group gatherings. It’s best to take water shoes as the rocks can be very slippery!
Nestled in the Black Hills of Yavapai County, Jerome was founded in the late 19th century and fast became a booming copper-mining town with a dubious reputation. Once known as “The Wickedest Town in the West” during its copper mining heyday, Jerome’s rough-and-tumble spirit has tempered into a creative haven for artists and craftspeople.
Today, Jerome is a charming hillside enclave with quirky appeal. Visit the 1916 Douglas Mansion in Jerome State Historic Park to learn about Jerome’s fascinating and somewhat tainted history.
Head up to the Tuzigoot National Monument to view a beautifully preserved ancient hilltop pueblo. Peer down into the depths of an old 1918 mining shaft from the glass viewing platform in Audrey Headframe Park.
Spend a few hours meandering around the lovely downtown district, where meticulously renovated historic buildings house antique shops, eclectic boutiques, trendy art galleries, and casual restaurants.
The quirky side of Jerome comes out in the Bordello eatery on Main Street, which “sates guests’ appetites for burgers only.”
Best known for being home to the famous Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, Flagstaff has so much more to offer beneath the snow. From beautiful botanical gardens and glorious national monuments, this beautiful Arizona mountain town offers a variety of attractions and activities to explore.
The world-renowned Arizona Snowbowl ski resort is a major drawcard for the town. Head up the slopes of the resort to enjoy some of the best downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding in the world.
But it isn’t all about winter fun – you’ll find plenty to do in Flagstaff year-round. Just 80 miles from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is a popular jump-off point for top tourist destinations like Humphreys Peak and Grand Canyon National Park.
Step back in time and explore ancient Pueblo indigenous sites like the Wupatki National Monument and the Walnut Canyon National Monument. Wander through the beautiful Arboretum at Flagstaff, located in the Coconino National Forest. Enjoy a live performance by the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra or zipline through the trees on the Flagstaff Urban Trail System.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Visiting Montezuma Castle National Monument is a must if you’re a history buff. A short drive south of Sedona along the Red Rock Scenic Byway will take you to this architectural and archeological gem. Carved out of an ancient limestone cliff, this historic five-story Native American dwelling took three centuries to complete. It’s considered one of Arizona’s best-preserved cliff dwellings.
Built in the 12th century, the Montezuma Castle National Monument is connected to the indigenous Sinagua people of Southern Arizona. European colonizers mistakenly identified the Sinagua people as Central America’s Aztecs, hence naming the monument after the Aztec Emperor Montezuma.
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Explore the museum and learn the story behind the impressive feat of building. Wander along a half-mile paved trail through a pretty sycamore grove at the base of towering limestone cliffs. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the museum’s grassy lawns along the shore of Beaver Creek.
Surrounded by the lush greenery of the Ponderosa Pines of Prescott National Forest, Prescott is a charming, historic city with an old-world feel. Home to exquisitely restored Victorian buildings, fascinating museums, and stunning landscapes for hiking, it’s perfect for a short sojourn from Sedona, just an hour and 25 minutes from town.
Touting a history dating back to the gold rush of 1863, Prescott’s roots are evident in the rich architecture around the city. Head downtown to the historic Whiskey Row to admire the turn-of-the-century saloons and gorgeous Victorian homes. Once an infamous red-light district, Whiskey Row is now a hip entertainment area with trendy gastropubs, lively bars, and cool eateries.
Learn about the region’s pioneering history at the Sharlot Hall Museum through wonderful exhibits, interactive history programs, and al fresco theater shows. The Smoki Museum offers an in-depth insight into the indigenous peoples of the Southwest. Relax in the dappled shade of American elm trees planted by Prescott’s early pioneers and admire the city’s majestic granite courthouse.
Wupatki National Monument
Journey back to the time of ancient civilizations Wupatki National Monument. Just over an hour north of Sedona, Wupatki is a beautifully preserved centuries-old community that offers a glimpse into the past. Seven ancient pueblos (villages) once inhabited by the ancestors of today’s Hopi and Zuni peoples dot the landscape.
Tucked among the red rocks and prairies at the edge of the Painted Desert, the archaeological site shows evidence of how ancient tribes lived. Built from local Moenkopi sandstone, the pueblos have a distinctive deep red color and seamlessly blend into the surrounding landscapes.
Explore the Wupatki National Monument on one of four hiking trails that wind their way through the area. Wander around the more than 800 identified ruins scattered about the park, keeping an eye out for crepuscular creatures like lizards, rabbits, and mule deer.
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If you like a challenging adventure, join a guided and off-trail ranger-lead hike where you’ll have the opportunity to see petroglyphs and distinct types of pueblo architecture. These hikes are held between November and March and are rated from moderate to very strenuous.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Another great adventure close to Sedona is a visit to the Walnut Canyon National Monument. Located about 10 miles east of Flagstaff, the Walnut Canyon National Monument gives us another glimpse into an ancient way of life.
The Walnut Canyon is a 600-foot-deep canyon carved out by the small seasonal Walnut Creek. The waters of the stream eroded the Kaibab limestone of the upper canyon, forming shallow alcoves. Local Sinagua Indians, a pre-Columbian cultural group, lived in the area at the time. They used these shallow enclaves in the 12th and 13th centuries to construct protected cave dwellings along the steep ledges.
Head to the visitor center in the park to learn more about the history of the archaic archeological site. Follow one of two footpaths – the 0.7-mile Rim Trail or the 0.9-mile Island Trail – to get a better look at the 25 timeworn cliff-dwelling rooms.
While you’re exploring the cliff caves, take note of the wonderfully diverse flora in the canyon. You’ll see fir and ponderosa pine trees on the shady north-facing walls and several species of cacti on the sunnier south-facing slopes.
Grand Canyon National Park
Home to the world-famous natural wonder, the colossal Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best places to take in its breathtaking beauty. The 277-mile-long, 18-mile-wide, and one-mile-deep canyon boasts spectacular geologic layers and colors that attract millions of visitors every year.
Begin your adventure with a visit to the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center on the South Rim. Here you’ll find an excellent and informative overview of Arizona’s famous landmark.
At the South Rim visitor center, you can also get a variety of brochures, maps, and information on various tours in and around the Grand Canyon. If you don’t want to drive through the park, you can jump on hop-on, hop-off shuttles that take you to the canyon’s edge.
Head to one of the viewpoints dotted about the park to get the best view of the immense gorge and its layered bands of red rock, revealing millions of years of geological history. For incredible wide-angle vistas of the canyon and Colorado at sunrise and sunset, Lipan Point is the place to be.
Another gob-smacking outdoor adventure is a visit to the Mogollon Rim. Undulating between 2,000 and 8,000 feet above the desert floor and stretching for over 200 miles, the rim is a geological wonder not to be missed! Vast expanses of dense pine forests stand on rock layers dating back to the Precambrian era and create a remarkable sight.
Snaking from Yavapai County to New Mexico, the Mogollon Rim features cliffs of limestone and sandstone, dramatic canyons, sheer valleys, and verdant woodlands. This natural paradise is ideal for outdoor activities from hiking and mountain biking to horseback riding, rock climbing, and hunting.
A myriad of lakes, creeks, and streams teem with fish and anglers can cast for trout in the Black Canyon, Chevelon Canyon, and Bear Canyon Lakes. Take a boat or canoe out on the lakes, enjoy refreshing dips in the summer, and relax over a leisurely picnic against a backdrop of amazing views.