Sedona's Best Views
Updated: Feb 13, 2022
As a native Arizonan and someone who spent their childhood wandering Sedona, I'd like to think I've seen my fair share of viewpoints in Sedona. One question I always get asked by people visiting Sedona is where they can catch the best viewpoint. In all honesty, it really depends on what kind of day, what you consider a "great view", and how many people you don't mind sharing the trail with. To help answer that age old viewpoint question, below is a list of some of my favorite viewpoints in Sedona. I've organized them by the easiest to get to, to the most challenging. Make sure to grab a Red Rock Pass (or use your National Parks Annual Pass), as most parking lots in Sedona require parking passes. And remember to leave the land better than you found it. In Sedona especially that means to not etch names or symbols into the fragile red rock or graffiti the rock. Happy trails!
Viewpoint 1: Chicken Point Overlook
This is one of Sedona's most well-loved viewpoints. This viewpoint can be accessed via a Pink Jeep Tour, but in my opinion, the best way to explore this spot is to hike in. You can hike in via the Little Horse Trail for the easiest access and best parking.
The best time of day to check out this viewpoint is at sunset, where you can get those beautiful sunset colors contrasted with the red rocks. Another plus of this viewpoint are the rock features that you can explore past the viewpoint, and you can even see a famous mountain biking trail called The White Line.
Distance: 4.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 564 feet
Viewpoint 2: Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock is one of Sedona's best known vortexes and hiking spots. The trail is fun, involves a bit of scrambling with your hands, but is totally doable for a Sedona first-timer. Views to the north showcase Sedona's iconic red rock and you can even see the top of Wilson Mountain (Sedona's highest point). There's a ton of gorgeous viewpoints along the trail too (like the one my dog Cooper is enjoying, above). This one's a little bit more difficult than the previous trail because it does require you to scramble up the rocks a bit. But, the effort is well worth it, because once you get to the top of the trail there's a great viewpoint with a ledge that will be sure to give you an insta-worthy photo spot!
Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 652 feet
Viewpoint 3: West Fork Trail
This third "viewpoint" isn't necessarily a viewpoint, but rather the entire trail. West Fork is technically up Oak Creek Canyon, but it's considered in the Sedona area, so I'm including it in this list.
Key points to know about West Fork trail are that there are multiple water crossings and the trail is pretty sandy. Depending on the season I either hike in waterproof hiking boots or water shoes if I plan on frolicking in the creek.
You don't have to hike the entirety of the trail to get some pretty gorgeous views, but the farther in you go the more the canyon closes in and due to the erosion of the water you end up with some pretty cool canyon wall formations, like this one, below:
In the fall, you can find an array of colors that are hard to find in the rest of the state, with vibrant yellow, red, and orange leaves on the trees in the canyon. It is definitely a beautiful and lush canyon trail!
No matter what time of year you visit though, be prepared to head there early, since the parking lot fills up fast. The parking lot opens at 8:00 a.m. and is $5 a vehicle a day. Dogs are welcome on the trail, just make sure to keep them on leash.
Distance: 7.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 728 feet
Viewpoint 4: Wilson Mountain
Wilson Mountain is the highest point in Sedona and offers the most expansive views of the Sedona area and in northern Arizona. The hike to get there, though, is no joke! You gain over 2,500 feet of elevation gain as you climb up the red dirt and coconino sandstone to get to the top. The cool part of Wilson is that once you get to the top, it is a plateau. There are two well-known viewpoints from the top: (1) the southern "Sedona Viewpoint" and (2) the northern "Canyon View".
The Sedona Viewpoint is guaranteed to give you views of the iconic Sedona red rock, seen below.
From this side, you can find some pine trees at the top, hang a hammock, and bask in the expansive scenery.
If you make your way across the plateau to the Canyon Viewpoint you will be rewarded with views towards the north, Oak Creek Canyon, the Mogollon Rim, and even can catch Mt. Humphreys, Arizona's highest peak, seen in the distance below.
This hike is best started early in the day and I recommend taking at least 3 liters of water, because it can get hot. I prefer hiking Wilson from the Midgely Bridge trailhead to get the best views of Sedona proper as you're hiking. The parking lot at Midgely Bridge is tiny, so if you want a spot without waiting, dawn is your best bet for beginning your hike.
Even if you don't make it all the way to the top of Wilson, there's some great views along the trail.
Wilson is 7,122 feet tall, and dogs are allowed on the trail, but remember, it gets toasty!
Distance: 11.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,805 feet