I have traveled to over 50 countries on seven continents, more than half of which were visited solo. I love traveling, being outdoors, and hiking. I hope to inspire others to travel and explore further, even if that means going alone.
Hey, I'm Ashley!
Sedona is definitely known for its stunning red rock formations. But, one of its most captivating features is the natural arches that can be found throughout the area. Let’s get into some of the most scenic and Instagram worthy arches to visit in Sedona.
While Sedona can be visited year-round, the best time to go depends on your interests. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, enjoy cooler weather, and potentially see the red rocks dusted in snow, then the months of December through February are a great time to go.
However, if you’re interested in doing more hiking, the months of March through May and September through November are very pleasant times to go. The summer months of June through August can be very hot, but you can always hike early in the morning or go swimming instead.
The easiest way to get to Sedona is by flying into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, which is about a two-hour drive from Sedona. From the airport, you can rent a car, take a shuttle, or use a ride-sharing service to get to Sedona.
Although less popular, you can also fly into Flagstaff. If you arrive via Flagstaff, take the scenic route via State Route 89A, which offers wonderful scenic views.
If you prefer not to drive, check out this blog post for how to do it.
Be sure to bring comfortable and sturdy shoes. Sedona is filled with hiking trails and outdoor activities that will be a lot more fun with the proper footwear. Make sure to also pack sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and water. The desert sun can be intense. In the evenings, the temperatures can drop significantly, so also pack layers and a jacket.
One of the most popular and iconic arches in Sedona is Devil’s Bridge, which is accessible via a moderately difficult hike.
The trail is approximately 3.9 miles roundtrip and does include a steep ascent up a rocky hillside so make sure to wear good, closed-toe shoes. The hike is well worth the effort though, as there are no steep drops offs and you’ll get incredible views of the surrounding landscape
Make sure to get here very early! This arch is extremely popular and by 8 am, likely even earlier now, there will be a line of people waiting to take a photo on the arch. Parking is also a lot more difficult now as much of the street parking has been limited.
If you’re afraid of heights, the bridge looks a lot narrower from the viewpoint, in the above picture, than it actually looks once you’re on it.
Trail: Devil’s Bridge Trail
Length: 3.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 521 ft
Route Type: Out & back
The Merry-Go-Round Arch is the perfect sunset photo spot in Sedona. This arch is located on the Merry-Go-Round Rock formation and there are two ways to get there.
If you’re hiking, take the Munds Wagon Trail all the way to Merry-Go-Round Rock. This is a 6.5 mile out and back trail. When you get to Merry-Go-Round Rock, take a left. There will be one more trail marker. After this marker, keep a lookout for an open area to the left with the rock to stand on for pictures. Before this open area though, is an area to walk down a set of “steps” down to the arch. If you go down here, please be careful! It is on the side of a very steep cliff!
If you’re driving, take Schnebly Hill Rd all the way up to Merry-Go-Round Rock. Once you get to the parking area, backtrack to the bridge. To the right of the bridge (if looking at Merry-Go-Round Rock), you can take an unmarked trail to the lower level of the Merry-Go-Round Rock. Go straight from the bridge until a little before the wall of Merry-Go-Round Rock and then turn left. After one trail marker, keep a look out for the steps down to the arch and the open area with the rock spire.
Here is a blog post with some example pictures of what you can get of someone standing on the rock spire, from through the arch.
Length: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,105 ft
Route Type: Out & back
The Fay Canyon Arch is located about halfway along the Fay Canyon Trail. The trail to the arch is marked on AllTrails and I would definitely recommend downloading it! The turn off from the main Fay Canyon Trail is easy to miss without a downloaded map of the trail. There are also no signs to help direct you where to turn off the Fay Canyon Trail to the arch.
The trail before the turn off to the cave is very flat, making it great for families. All the elevation gain is really saved for the few that head to the arch. The uphill hill scramble is short and worth the effort though. The arch had much better viewpoints than if you were to continue to the end of the trail.
Trail: Fay Canyon Arch Trail
Length: 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 246 ft
Route Type: Out & back
The SECRET (like seriously secret) Kachina Tree in this arch in Sedona is one that none of the local hikers I talked to even knew about.
So I bet you haven’t found this one yet, but that’s also because it is not at all easy to find! It’s not even on AllTrails. I only saw one other experienced hiker trying to find it.
Since this trail is not marked at all, I do not recommend it to beginner hikers. You should definitely have sufficient navigation skills before you attempt this trail.
You can access the Kachina Tree via a short, but very steep in some sections, hike. There are no steep drop-offs, but there were a few tree grabs required to get up some steep inclines.
There is no marked trail to this tree, but there are a few of the following points of interest you can remember.
1. Take the Boynton Canyon Trail until right after the Enchantment Resort.
2. On the left will be a spur trail with a large tree blocking it off.
3. Shortly after taking that trail, you will see a white wilderness sign on a tree.
4. Follow the narrow, overgrown wash to the red rock wall.
5. At this point, ensure the rock spire is in view on your right the whole time.
6. You’ll get to ancient ruins and then another set of ruins until you find the tree on the second ledge.
I’ve found this post that gives you specific details and pictures for how to get here.
If you get turned around, don’t panic, just take a minute to think about where you need to be based on the points of interest referenced.
Ensure you wear long sleeves and long pants. You will be trekking through an unmaintained wash with many branches across your path. Make sure to also bring a GPS locator as there is no defined trail to this arch.
I would get here before 9 or 10am to ensure you are here before the sun hits the inside of the arch just perfectly.
If I had to pick a favorite, mine was the arch with the Kachina Tree, but that’s also because I love getting away from the tourists. No matter which arch you choose to explore, or maybe all of them, I’m sure you’ll enjoy each one of these natural wonders!
Check out these other posts for your next trip to Sedona:
September 29, 2023