Stretching above Sedona, Arizona’s red rock monoliths, skies unmarred by light pollution provide an ideal opportunity to watch a clear sunset, view celestial bodies and relax beneath a full moon.
Below are a few of the best ideas for family friendly activities beyond day’s end in the International Dark Sky City that’s one of the best in the country.
1. Take a Sky Tour
Look up at the sky on a moonless night after Sedona sunset time, and you’re sure to see a breathtaking amount of stars and other celestial bodies. Ramp up the wonder factor with Evening Sky Tours led by professional astronomers.
Check out some of the largest, custom-built and state-of-the-art telescopes in an intimate astronomy tour that’s limited to a dozen guests. The tour travels to a viewing site 20 miles from uptown Sedona for 90 minutes of viewing star clusters, planets, galaxies and more.
Marvel at Mars, Saturn and other planets, stare into the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy and check out red supergiant stars, white dwarf stars and more.
2. Hike Under the Full Moon
With two state parks in town and three more nearby in the Verde Valley, buying an Arizona State Parks Pass can provide economical access to a variety of Sedona family activities. The adventure doesn’t stop when the sun goes down: Check out full moon hikes, star parties and more after dark.
Head to Red Rock State Park for a guided evening tour. Park rangers guide you to optimum vistas to watch the red rocks glow at dusk, view the sunset and see the full moon rise over the canyon. Along the way, your naturalist guide will regale you with stories of ancient people that once lived along the area, point out wildlife and plant life and inform you of the area’s history.
After watching the moon and stars, head back to the visitor center where telescopes are set up for taking a peek at the stars. Be sure to bring a flashlight for the after-dark portion of the journey. Not only will it light your way, but it will help you catch a glimpse of some of Sedona’s after-dark wildlife.
3. Sunset Views and Full Moon Drumming
Head to Sedona’s iconic Cathedral Rock to join kindred spirits to drum and dance under the full moon. Get a Red Rock Pass and drive down Back O’Beyond to the Cathedral Rock trailhead, and follow the well-marked trail to the saddle between the spires of the famous formation for amazing views of the setting sun. The trail is short but steep, climbing 600 feet in three-quarters of a mile. Wear appropriate footgear for rock scrambling if you want to watch the sunset over the desert vista from this perch.
As the moon rises, join a drum circle at the formation’s base. Bring your own drum or rhythm instrument, or just watch and dance. The fun lasts well into the evening, but bring a flashlight to find your way back along the well-worn trail.
Although a suitable adventure for all ages, the climb to the sunset vista and uneven trail isn’t recommended for small children or adults with mobility or balance issues. Older kids will have no problem. Toilets are available at the trailhead, but you’ll want to bring your own water.
4. Look for UFOs
Many don’t realize that Sedona is a hotbed of alleged UFO activity. Have an unforgettable after-dark experience when you book an adventure with Sedona UFO and Vortex Tours.
Head out to secret viewing spots to look for strange sky phenomena such as plasma craft or lights hovering in the sky that make sudden changes of direction. Using third-generation military night-vision goggles, you’ll see things not visible to the naked eye on the rock formations and in the night sky, including more stars than you ever dreamed were out there. The company guarantees sightings of UFO activity.
5. Take a Sunset Tour
No matter where you stay in Sedona, you’ll find a magnificent view of the red rock formations’ glowing shades of mauve and lavender as the sun sinks below the horizon. Out of Diamond’s four resorts in the area, you’ll get the best views from Sedona Summit Resort, which is just a short drive outside the city center.
When it’s time to venture out from the comfort of the resort, consider booking a sunset tour with one of the city’s Jeep® tour companies. Pink Jeep Adventure Tours is the original Jeep touring company in Sedona, and you’ll marvel at the views from atop the dramatic red rocks on when you book a Broken Arrow tour at sunset. The company has exclusive access to this journey, which travels through the filming location of the Academy Award-winning Western movie by the same name. As you return, enjoy the thrill as you descend the Road of No Return.
For a milder adventure, head into Sedona’s red rock canyons with Safari Jeep Tours on the Outback Trail. Learn about history, archaeology and ecology on a tour that’s not too tough. The company also rolls out a sunset thrill ride along the Diamondback trail. Bring the whole family or take a romantic tour for two accompanied by a picnic. Enjoy views of the stars on the return trip.
Sunset and after-dark adventures make for ideal Sedona family activities. Start planning your adventure today when you book with Diamond Resorts.