Sedona is crowded. It’s about a given these days, and there’s not much one can do about it. However, if you stay out through the dinner hour, you can tackle the best sunset hikes in Sedona, with considerably fewer people on the trails. Additionally, you’ll realize this is when your photos will pop and look the best, thanks to the glow of golden hour.
After countless trips hiking throughout Sedona, here are some of Sedona’s best hikes that I recommend for your sunset adventures.
Sunset In Sedona: Best Hikes You Should Check Out
Why trek in the off hours around Sedona?
I’m sure Sedona’s been guilty of gaining popularity due to social media, but I also think it was destined for a glow-up. Only 100 minutes from Phoenix’s growing population center, people need a place to adventure and escape the heat. Considering the great hikes in Sedona and other activities, it is no wonder it’s a nightmare to travel here (especially during the day on the weekends).
But if you can avoid the crowded section of Sedona during peak hours, you can find harmony on the trails.
Is Cathedral Rock better at sunrise or sunset?
I think it’s better at sunrise because you’ll have fewer people hiking it, letting you enjoy the peace and quiet it provides. Plus, the early morning light will look incredible inside the vortex and spire area. It’s a lace you don’t want to miss! However, if you can’t be there for sunrise, it’s definitely one of the best sunset hikes in Sedona.
Gear you’ll want while doing the best sunset hikes in Sedona:
- Sun Shirt: REI Sahara or this one, or this
- Pants: Prana
- Shorts: Prana
- Socks: Darn Tough
- Trail Runners: Altra or Salomon
- Hiking backpack: Gregory daypack
- Hat: Outdoor Research sun hat
- Fleece: Cotopaxi
- Headlamp: Black Diamond
Remember to Leave No Trace:
Hiking in Sedona is insanely popular, and the trails only hold so many people. So please remember to stay on the trails, respect ruins, and do your best to leave your destination as you found it.
Related: Top day hikes throughout Arizona
Experience Sedona’s 9 best hikes at sunset
One of my favorite hikes in all of Sedona. It’s one I backpacked after beating cancer, and I can safely say the views from the top are stunning! Wilson Mountain is hands down one of Sedona’s best hikes and, with a westward-facing view, is a finalist for the best sunset hikes in Sedona.
However, the parking lot at Midgely Bridge is relatively small and can only hold a few cars. In addition, the second trailhead further up Oak Creek Canyon connects to Wilson Mountain.
Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
A pretty chill hike that brings you up to a mesa opposite Bear Mountain. It’s far enough from usual hikes in Sedona that you might have the entire place to yourself as you watch the sunset behind the far mountains. This is one where you’ll be able to get down fast enough without any additional lights. make sure to add it to your best sunset hikes in Sedona list!
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Related: 12 things to do in Page, AZ
An area that is becoming more popular but still doesn’t have the crazy crowds like in other spots. This six-mile trail will bring you to a nice overlook of Sedona’s red rocks. In the early evening, I’d suspect you’ll have the place relatively to your lonesome. Considering the vast views, it’s one of the best sunset hikes in Sedona.
Elevation Gain: 920 feet
Yes, this is a classic and one of Sedona’s best hikes. And yes, it is insanely busy during the day. But once you let the dinner hour hit, the crowds disappear, allowing for a more natural environment. Of course, I’d still expect people there, but it won’t be like it is at 1 pm on a Saturday.
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Cathedral Rock is a hiking favorite in Sedona, with hundreds trekking up and down its red rock daily. Whether you want only to go up part ways or head into the vortex, it’s still a strong frontrunner for the best sunset hikes in Sedona. If you can, go all the way up – it’ll only take 35 minutes – and the views won’t disappoint.
Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous at times
Related: Arizona’s best waterfalls
Bear Mountain doesn’t get as much fanfare as it’s further away from the classic Sedona hikes, but that doesn’t make it any less epic. After a short flat approach, you’ll start climbing, and your views improve. No matter the time of day, I usually recommend this one when people ask me for hikes in Sedona. (If you go in April or May, watch for flowers blooming on the cacti.)
Elevation Gain: 1,800 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
During the summer, you can get an incredible sunset from Keyhole Cave as it sets behind the spires outside the cave. Just be careful of your descent with waning light. I haven’t done this hike in years and am unsure if there’s a rope to help pull yourself up. I also imagine wear and tear have made the rock slicker, so be careful.
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
This one’s for those looking for easy Sedona hikes. You can drive to the top of Airport Mesa, park, and walk 50 feet to a nice view overlooking the city. Here, you’ll get the Redrock glowing as the sunsets to your left. You won’t have a great view of the physical sun, but the view will be stunning.
Elevation Gain: Mostly flat
We’ll wrap up with one of Sedona’s best hikes to Secret Slickrock. This one’s a favorite for wedding photographers as it’s a short hike but packs a powerful punch with Cathedral Rock as your backdrop. If you’re looking for a quick trek, I’d rate this as one of the best sunset hikes in Sedona for your effort. The sun will be setting behind you here, so the glow on the rock will be magical!
Elevation Gain: Less than 100
Planning my trip to Sedona
What is the best month to visit Sedona?
I love visiting in March and April as the temperatures are cool, but you’re not in busy tourist season. Plus, longer days mean you get to enjoy the best sunset hikes in Sedona while also doing other activities during the daytime.
How many days do you need in Sedona?
A weekend is perfect for an introduction to Sedona. Obviously, you’ll have to come back for more, but two-three days is perfect. Plus, you should be able to knock out a couple of these best sunset hikes in Sedona while you’re here!
Where to stay in and around Sedona
Looking to spend the weekend while tackling the best sunset hikes in Sedona? Take a look at the top hotels in the city.
The Best sunset hikes in Sedona – Wrapping Up
Red rock county is exquisite, and these best sunset hikes in Sedona are some of the best in the entire area. Enjoy your trip and remember to Leave No Trace and leave the area how you found it to ensure others have the same memorable time that you did.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
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