View Full Version : Anyone ever backcountry camp in Sedona, AZ?

11-28-2005, 20:51
Lucky enough to be going to Sedona, AZ, and was wondering if anyone here has been there to do any hiking. I see lots of day hiking info, but not too much about a multi-day trip when i search the net....

11-28-2005, 21:16
Sedona is a pretty interesting place. The town has tons of touristy stuff- food, stores that sell junky stuff, lots of good and bad artwork there.. fun place to wander around for an afternoon..
The red rock area that can be seen from town is beautiful. Absolutely worth camping in for a day or two. Its not a very large area, so any 'trail' that you do find, probably wont be very long.. I mostly just did a car camping type thing there. I would suggest schnebley hill. The road requires a vehicle with a little clearance (we made it in a broken down subaru) and theres spots at the top of the hill overlooking the red rock area. Excellent during a full moon.. There are a few companies down in town that offer a '4x4 experience' on the dirt roads that wind around sedona, so camp well away from roads so you arent disturbed. Have fun there. Northern arizona is amazing.

11-29-2005, 08:41
I've been to Sedona many times but never did any backpacking so I can't help too much there, sorry. Slide Rock State Park is neat to see. From there you can drive up 89A into Flagstaff. Depending on when your trip is this can be a beautiful short drive.

You'll be in the Coconino National Forest.

Arizona is an amazing place, I lived there for a few years, but mostly did the Jeep and ATV thing, not much hiking.

I'm sure you found many links already, but here's another just in case. :)


If you're not limited to hiking Sedona there are some other great options.

The Solemates
11-29-2005, 09:50
only been to sedona once and stayed at a b&b, so no help with camping, but be sure that you go horseback riding if you have time. its a great place to go. we just rode on someone's ranch way out in the boonies, but it was a lot of fun.

11-29-2005, 09:54
Yes, tons of hiking in Sedona....check the time of year for flash floods in the Oak Creek Canyon.....they lose hikers there every once in a while - depends on the time of year.
Free camping along the highway between Flagstaff and Oak Creek Canyon, get there early and watch out for weekends - busy - again depending on the season.
Great book can probably be found down town in Sedona, or in the outfitter in Flag...Sedona Hikes : 135 Day Hikes & 5 Vortex Sites around Sedona, Arizona (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1891517031/103-4754018-2308634?v=glance&n=283155&n=507846&s=books&v=glance) for about 5 bucks on Amazon...

Then there's a VERY cool book called Cosmic Ray's Favorite Hikes of Flagstaff and Sedona (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/096647693X/103-4754018-2308634?v=glance&n=283155&s=books&v=glance) which is one of my favorites - and hoot to read all of his side notes....he also has a fat tire guide to Mtn. Bike trails, which are one in the same with most trails up and around that area.
Here's a sample of a pretty cool moderate hike from Cosmic Ray's book:

Sedona: Long Canyon
Moderate Ramble up pristing canyon
Total Distance: 7 mi
Time: 2 to 3 hours
Elev. Gain: 740 ft
When: all year

Description: As these sedona canyons go, Long Canyon is pretty as any, but with the most boring name. Too bad, because this unique scenic walk sports view of buttes, cliffs, spires, hoodoos, windows and arches for which Sedona is so famous. I jumped a her of 30 snorting javelina right here. Big as Rottweilers and ready to rumble! These not so gentle tusk toothed wild pigs scared hell out of me as they scatterred at first then stood their ground, eyeing me with some suspicion and disdain as well they might.

Humans don't make it back to the end of Long Canyon all that often. Most poop out after a mile or so of this moderate out n' back and never see those terra cotta redrock formations, the stunning redwall cul-de-sac or the ruins and primitive pictographs at trail's end.

A side stroll just a few meters to the east face of Mescal Mountain ( see map) reveals many more ruins. Of course, to disturb touch or rob is a crime, but to pause and reflect is a most enlightening Sedona pastime.

Then he gives directions....and there is a cool full page not to scall map that is easy to follow. I've used this book many times. There's Slide Rock State Park and Red Rock State Park, with hikes for all tastes.

11-29-2005, 12:41
I have to agree with Smile - Long Canyon is a great hike, one of my favorites in the Sedona area.

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of options for long, multi-day backpacking trips around Sedona. The trails tend to be relatively short and not well connected with one another. A few other possibilities:

West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon - amazing hike in a deep canyon. You could start at the bottom, set up basecamp upstream a bit, and then spend a day exploring further upstream. There is a lot of wading and maybe some swimming, so this may be less than ideal in colder weather.

Sycamore Canyon - lots of possibilities here.

Loy Canyon - hike up this one to the top of Secret Mountain. Great views from the top.

Bear Mountain - with a bit of scrambling, you could connect this with the Fay Canyon trail to make a sort of loop

An excellent site with lots of resources is http://www.hikearizona.com. Have a great trip.

12-01-2005, 12:30
Here is the forest service page with a list of all of the hikes in Red Rock country. http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/rec_redrock.shtml

You will have to stop at the Sedona Chamber of Commerce to get a Red Rocks parking pass ($4/day I think) and they can give you information on what trail roads are open. During last years rainy winter, a lot of trail roads were closed or 4WD only. They will also have the latest trail conditions and recommendations. Overall I found the staff very helpful. Temperatures will probably be at/below freezing at night and there might be snow.

If there isn't somewhere you want to go in Sedona (which I can't imagine), I enjoyed the Superstition Wilderness east of Phoenix. But it doesn't really matter where you go in AZ, you are bound to have a good time.


12-01-2005, 12:37
Thanks everyone for all your input. We will probably check out Coconino National Forrest for a 2 day hike. A lot will depend on the weather as the time gets nearer.

I do agree that the Superstition Mountain Wilderness area is great. I spent some time hiking there about 10 years ago. We are going to leave that option open if the weather in Sedona is a little too chilly for my girlfriend.

12-01-2005, 12:55
I have a membership at www.trails.com which is a great resource for finding hiker reviewed trails around the country. They have downloadable maps, topo maps, and complete trail guides. Below are three top rated Sedona area trails they list. The last one I list sounds nice as a 21 mile loop.

Check out trails.com and just click on AZ on the US map then the link for "Arizona Hiking" then the link for "Sedona & Mogollon Rim Region". There are 138 trails listed with full map support and reviews.

Boynton Canyon

Trail Preview

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Sedona, AZ
Length: 5 total miles
Trail Type: Out-and-Back
Skill Level: Easy
Duration 3 hours
Season: Year-round
Trailhead Elev: 4600 feet
Top Elev: 5100 feet

Located within minutes of Sedona, Boynton Canyon is a popular hike for locals and visitors alike. Entering a highly scenic canyon boxed in by large red rock buttes and cliffs, this trail accesses some truly outstanding scenery. Wildlife is plentiful and the flora is fascinating.

Trail Reviews:

Posted by:
Janis Rating:
Date of Trip:
Went on this hike 11/11/05. Beautiful fall weather. The hike is somewhat rocky in parts, not totally a flat trail. I'd describe it as easy-moderate, and the last 1/4 mile is somewhat steep with big rocks. The scenery is beautiful, especially once you get into the canyon. At one point the entire canyon floor was filled with fallen golden oak leaves. Incredible! The hike was marred by sightseeing helicopters flying below the canyon walls (twice)and near the beginning of the trail, quite a few planes flew over, making lots of noise. Even though it's a wilderness area, you don't feel like you're in the wilderness until you get back into the canyon. I had mixed feelings about this trail. It is absolutely beautiful, but between the helicopter/plane noise and the human noise (80+ people had signed into the trail log by the time we got back in the afternoon), there wasn't much solitude. Go early to avoid the crowds!

Posted by:
Hal Rating:
Date of Trip:
My wife and I just completed this trail two weeks ago. A few notes that may be of interest: (1) using a GPS, the round-trip was closer to 6 miles than 5 miles; (2) the first 1/3 - 1/2 of the hike is along-side a resort / hotel / homes. Although this part of the walk is very nice, it was hard to ignore the construction noise and loud voices...and the views are diminished by the buildings. (3) the second half of the hike was nice...some shady sections brought welcome relief. (4) although we didn't see it, some hikers we passed going in other direction reported a rattlesnake lazing on some rocks.

Posted by:
Stuart Rating:
Date of Trip:
Beautiful red rock views make this a great trail. Excellent family hike due to relatively easy terrain.

Bell Rock

Trail Preview

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Sedona, AZ
Length: 2 total miles
Elev. Gain: 400 feet
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Easy to moderate
Duration 1 hour
Season: Year-round

Bell Rock is considered one of Sedona's spiritual vortex centers. Many believes the rock energizes and calms those upon its slopes. This bell shaped landmark rises 550 feet and is located at the northern edge of the Village of Oak Creek. Due to its close proximity to the highway, the Bell Rock hike is not a backcountry experience. It is a leisurely, stairstep climb up and a round a dynamic rock sculpture, classified by geologists as a butte. Whatever elevation you climb to, the views of the surrounding rock formations are predominant. To the east of Bell Rock is Courthouse Butte, an enormous and stately red rock monolith.

Historic Cabin Loop (Backpacking)

Trail Preview

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Clints Well, AZ
Length: 21.8 total miles
Elev. Gain: 2860 feet
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Easy to moderate
Duration 3 days
Season: April through November

This relatively easy loop through magnificent ponderosa pine forest follows historic trails and features historic cabins and hundred-mile views from the Mogollon Rim.

Posted by:
Jeff Rating:
Date of Trip:
This is a must do trip... the daytime highs were in the 60s, the nights offered perfect sleeping weather high 30s. Many of the aspens were just past peek, but the brilliant reds offered by the maples more then made up for that. There was an abundance of wildlife, we saw several heards of whitetails throughout our late morning hikes, and even had a heard watch us eat breakfast from accross the stream. I highly recommend this trip for those searching for an enjoyable weekend trip.