Travel Tips

4 FAQs for the Best Time to Vacation in Sedona, Arizona

If you’ve wondered when the best time to visit Sedona is, read on

The Vacationeer
Desert landscape and cactus in sunset in Sedona, Arizona

There are plenty of fun things to do in Sedona, Arizona, no matter the season. When planning your vacation, determine how you want to see Sedona’s red rock majesty. Then make the most of your getaway by tailoring your timing to your itinerary.

These frequently asked questions can help you find the ideal time to visit this world-class destination.

1. When Is the Best Time to Visit Sedona?

Cathedral Rock and its reflection in a pool of water in Sedona, Arizona 

The typical shoulder months (March to May and September through November) are some of Sedona’s busiest. Plus, holidays like Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend draw crowds. So if you want to experience time alone in nature, avoid those months and try to visit in the off-season.

Luckily, Sedona’s stunning scenery and mild, four-season weather are desirable any time of year. There are a few sweet spots for minimal visitor traffic. Most winter holiday vacationers return home between mid-January and late February. Mid-August also offers an opportunity to experience Sedona solo after students return to school (but before the Labor Day rush).

2. What Is Traffic Like in Sedona?

Good news: you'll never experience hectic traffic in Sedona. The area's roadways are one or two lanes in each direction. However, avoid driving on Highway 179 from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday year-round (assuming you don't want to see the scenery at a five-miles-per-hour crawl).

A road winding through the red rock formations in Sedona, Arizona, at sun rise 

Expect an influx of bumper-to-bumper traffic if you’re traveling on the weekend or during a national holiday. Holiday weekends can also see slow-moving traffic from Friday morning through mid-Monday afternoons. Plan to arrive early, or tweak your timing to roll into town in the late afternoon.

When heading back from Slide Rock State Park or other Oak Creek Canyon activities, plan to wait until after 6:00 p.m. during summer and other busy times. Grab a burger or bring some grub to grill at one of the national forest picnic areas to ensure a stress-free drive back to your resort.

Ride-share services, such as Lyft and Uber, are also available in Sedona. It's best to schedule your ride in advance to avoid long waits due to a limited number of drivers.

3. When Is the Best Time to Hike in Sedona?

Thanks to fair Sedona weather, you can hike all year with few exceptions; however, plan your treks to take advantage of the best weather. In summer, avoid 100-degree temperatures with early morning or late evening hikes. Spring and autumn temperatures stay in the 70s and 80s, making for fair weather for outdoor adventures. No matter the time of day, bring plenty of water, as the arid climate can dehydrate you quicker than you realize.

Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona, at sunset 

Parking lots at Sedona's popular scenic hiking locations fill up as early as 9:00 a.m. during the warmer months, so plan to get an early start. Major hiking areas such as the Bell Rock Loop have kiosks where you can buy a daily or weekly Red Rock Pass, which you must display on your windshield. On your way into town, stop by the ranger station on Highway 179 to get free maps of the trails, see displays of local flora and fauna and find answers to all your hiking questions.

Although Sedona hikes in the rain can be pleasant, dry washes can quickly turn into flash floods as water races down the red rock canyons. Although gullies usually dry up within a few hours of a shower, it's best to keep to higher ground, provided there isn't lightning nearby. For those inclined toward adventure, head out a day or two after it rains to enjoy hard-packed clay trails on your mountain bike.

4. When Should I Plan To See Fall Foliage or Spring Wildflowers in Sedona?

Spring wildflowers and autumn foliage add brilliant color to the captivating landscape, making for a gorgeous getaway.

Fall foliage at Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona 

March through May brings abundant wildflowers, particularly after a wet winter. Stay at Sedona resorts like the Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort, a Hilton Vacation Club, and capture Insta-worthy photos of fields of owl's clover, desert poppies and other blooms at the foot of Courthouse Butte. Or, settle in at Sedona Summit, a Hilton Vacation Club, and explore the Chimney Rock Trail to see the blooms.

Autumn is slow and sweet in Sedona. You might catch a few trees starting to sport yellow leaves as early as late August, and it's not uncommon to find cottonwood trees decked in fiery hues in mid-December. However, the best time to catch the flaming red and orange tones through Oak Creek Canyon falls between the end of October and mid-November.

No matter your timing, count on plenty of thrilling things to do in Sedona during your stay. Bring your camera to capture silvery waterfalls trickling down the red rocks during a rainstorm. Or cool off at Slide Rock State Park on a hot summer day. When you're ready to relax, head back to your Hilton Grand Vacations home-away-from-home to kick back and enjoy the view.

Read “Sedona by Starlight: 5 Family-Friendly Adventures for Sunset and Beyond” and beat the heat with these after-hours adventures.

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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