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a VirtualTourist member from Englewood


What to see/do in Sedona? Looking for suggested itinerary

I am planning a trip to northern Arizona in May, over Memorial Day weekend. Arriving Phoenix on a Thursday night, and departing in the afternoon on the following Wednesday. This gives me about 5.5 days of traveling in the area. I wish to visit Sedona, Grand Canyon, and anything else I might be able to accomplish during these 5.5 days. However, I am not familiar what how much time (days/nights) are needed to see and do what's available. Regarding Sedona, I am trying to figure out what there is to see and do, and how much time is required. Traveling is my Mother and I, just the two of us. We like to be kept busy and see and do a lot when traveling. Generally on trips, we get up early and keep busy and active seeing and doing things till as late as possible. We can often accomplish quite a bit in a day, or even a short trip. Since Mom is 69, we are probably not interested in a lot of hiking, but some walks is fine. She's active, good health, can accomplish a lot, but nothing too tiring.

I've read on some sites where some people can plan to spend 5 days in Sedona. In fact, I have cousins there now who are there for a month. But, we just have 5.5 days, and wish to see other sights such as the Grand Canyon too, and maybe some other place as well. I am looking for possible suggestions, and itineraries on how and where we should spend our days. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

9 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Los Barriles

We were just in Phoenix a couple wks ago, visitng our son with new infant, so we too, did not want a lot of time or walking when we went to Sedona, so other than a little overview of the actual town with its shops (there are a couple dif area here, one is called Tlaquepaque, like the Mexican town), we went for a short drive to the PETROGLYPH site, which has a nice short walk to the rocks with the Ps. (I am going to be loading some pics shortly, but have an appt and may not be able to get to it til this afternoon.)

The stunning RED ROCKS are visible as you drive into Sedona, and there are casual restaurants where you can get a table outside with a view to them.

So, obviously, if you were up to it and/or intersted, you can spend a lot more time, as there are many many trails and campgrounds, but even just a day or two would give you a good overview, but definitely spend more time to get to Grand Canyon.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Naperville

My wife and I were in Sedona for only a day 6 years ago, but we enjoyed 2 activities while we were there. On the outskirts of town is The Cathedral in the Rocks (anyway I think that's the name), very interesting Church built into the side of a rock. You can do a small tour with not a lot of walking involved. We also went on a Pink Jeep Tour which gets you off the road for a tour of the area. A little bumpy, so be prepared.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Apeldoorn

To be honset Sedona was a rather disappointing place during our trip through Utah/Arizona. Having been there a half day we were happy to leave.
In my opinion it is expensive, busy and kitschy.

Anyway have a nice trip and enjoy the Southwest.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Jersey

We had a nice time in Sedona. We did a hot air ballon trip, a jeep trip, and went horseback riding. I think you can spend 2-3 days there and see what there is to see. The church in the rocks is called Chapel of the Holy Cross and worth a visit.

Sedona is also considered a spiritual mecca. If that is of interest to you, you can read about various things to do.

Going south towards Cottonwood are ancient ruins - Honanki and Palatki heritage sites. (Palatki is a World Heritage Site.) Cottonwood is an Historic Old Town and a nice place to stop for lunch, explore.

You can make a couple of stops along the way to Grand Canyon at places such as Coconino National Forest (Oak Creek Canyon Area).

Memorial Day weekend is likely to be crowded in both Sedona and the Grand Canyon.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Naperville

Thanks Donna for getting the correct name of the Cathedral. This trip was obviously before my VT days, so I've forgotten a lot of the details. Thanks goodness I can now record my thoughts and impressions on my trips not only for other VT members, but also for myself.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Fresno

The Museum of Northern Arizona is in Flagstaff; a drive up the San Francisco Peaks is always nice; there are several national monuments in the area. Montezuma's Castle has been mentioned but there is Wupatki National Monumnet; Sunset Crate National Monument; Walnut Canyon National Monument

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Fresno

That should be Sunset Crater not Sunset Crate

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Marina

Sorry to say that Memorial Day weekend is going to be extremely busy at both Sedona and at the Grand Canyon. I was in Sedona on that weekend about two years ago, and ended leaving pretty quickly because I got disgusted by the crowds. People from Phoenix and the other warmer parts of our state tend to head up there to escape the heat during the weekends in the summer, and that's the first, big 3-day weekend. You'll need to book your lodging several months in advance in order to get a good place.

It'll be warm in Phoenix, but you should still spend at least a night there. Maybe have dinner and explore Downtown Scottsdale and Thursday night (try to stay in that area for the night), see the Heard Museum on Friday morning, then drive out to Sedona after lunch (traffic will be bad in the afternoon, with people getting off of work early for the holiday weekend).

You should do at least two nights in Sedona, so that you get a full day there. It's about 1.5 hours from Phoenix to Sedona. It'll be a nice temperature for Slide Rock State Park, and there are plenty of area walks (not hikes, as such) that explore the Red Rock Country. Maybe also try to take a pink jeep tour. They sound stupid, but they're actually very enjoyable and will get you into some country that you otherwise wouldn't have been able to access without a high-clearance vehicle or 4x4.

Sunday morning, continue on to the Grand Canyon, which will take about two hours to reach. If get there early enough, then you can potentially spend just one night here. Try to stay in the park (you need to book very early) but, if not, maybe Tusayan or Cameron Trading Post. Flagstaff works too, but it's 1.5 hours one-way to the Canyon. That time of year, the sun will set almost right over the canyon at many of the viewpoints, so be sure to stay there for sunset.

You may want to stay a second night. If you do, on the way up, take the east entrance (US 89 to Cameron) and do a side trip through Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments. They're right next to each other, and have a single, per vehicle fee, but they're very, very different. Wupatki is one of my favorite ancient dwelling sites in the Southwest. It'll take you 2-3 hours to see both monuments.

Coming back, maybe consider a trip to Prescott for an overnight. It's only a bit out of the way, and is a really nice town (they call it the most Midwestern city in the Southwest, because of the architecture). Make sure to spend the night in Prescott and not in Prescott Valley though.
If you're okay with mountain driving, on that last full day, you can take the back way from Prescott to Phoenix, via Highway 89 to US 93. I took that route on Memorial Day a couple of years ago when coming back from Prescott, and the manzanita was in full bloom on the side of the highway (very pretty pink flowers). It's a great drive.

Hope that helps.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Lancaster

I highly recommend the book Roadside Geology of Arizona to refer to during your drive to the Grand Canyon. You will be passing lava flows, a Pygmy forest, and other interesting sites. The book will help you see and identify them.

If possible, get down in the Canyon during your trip. It is a totally different experience than looking at it from the rim.

Too bad you're not heading south from Phoenix, as Tombstone (the town too tough to die and home to the OK Corral) has Wyatt Earp Days on Mem Day weekend. Peopl dress in period costumes.

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