Sedona offers majestic red rock beauty and a relaxing, memorable setting all year long. When planning your vacation, make the most of your getaway by tweaking your timing according to the activities that matter most — there are plenty of fun things to do in Sedona, no matter the season.
These FAQs will help you figure out the ideal time to visit this world-class destination.
1. When is “off-season” in Sedona?
Sedona can get crowded during peak season, so if you want to experience time alone in nature, you’ll want to avoid those months.
Unlike many destinations, Sedona has no true “shoulder season,” as the city’s stunning scenery and mild, four-season weather make it a desirable place to visit any time of year. The typical shoulder months of March to May and September through November are some of the city’s busiest — during this time of year, spring wildflowers and autumn foliage add brilliant color to the captivating landscape. Memorial Day Weekend, Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend also bring maximum crowds.
However, there are a few sweet spots when visitor traffic to the city is minimal. In mid-January through late February, most of the winter holiday vacationers have gone home. Mid-August also offers an opportunity to experience Sedona relatively solo in the weeks after the kids have returned to school, but before the Labor Day rush.
2. What is traffic like in Sedona?
The good news is that in Sedona, you’ll never experience hectic traffic like you would in a big city. The area’s roadways are one or two lanes in each direction. However, the inflow of traffic on weekends and national holidays means you can expect to sit in a line of bumper-to-bumper cars if you arrive at the same time as everyone else.
Avoid the hours of 10:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday year-round when heading to activities in the City of Sedona on Highway 179 — assuming you don’t want to see the scenery at a 5 mph crawl. Holiday weekends can see slow-moving traffic from Friday morning through mid-Monday afternoons, too. 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 months and other busy times. Grab a burger or bring some grub to grill at one of the national forest picnic areas before heading back.
If you’re staying at Los Abrigados Resort, you can get around the cities of Sedona and Cottonwood by catching the Verde Lynx public transit, located just outside the resort at Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village. Sit back and enjoy the view while your professional driver gets you where you want to go.
3. When is the best time to hike in Sedona?
Thanks to the mild nature of Sedona weather, you can hike year-round with very few exceptions; however, you’ll want to plan your treks to take advantage of the best weather. In summer, early morning or late evening hikes let you avoid temperatures that can soar to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring and autumn temps stay in the 70s and 80s — but you’ll want to bring plenty of water, as the arid climate can dehydrate you quicker than you realize.
Parking lots at Sedona’s popular scenic hiking locations fill up as early as 9:00 a.m. during the warmer months, so make sure 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’re required to display in 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 become raging torrents 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 vacations, head out a day or two after it rains to enjoy fast, hard-packed clay trails on your mountain bike.
4. When should I plan to see autumn foliage or spring wildflowers in Sedona?
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 still decked in fiery hues in mid-December. However, the best time to catch the flaming red and orange tones through Oak Creek Canyon usually falls between the end of October and mid-November.
March through May brings abundant wildflowers, particularly after a wet winter. Stay at Sedona resorts like the Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort or Bell Rock Inn, and capture Insta-worthy photos of fields of Owl’s Clover, desert poppies and other blooms at the foot of Courthouse Butte along the easy Bell Rock Pathway. Or, settle in at the Sedona Summit and explore the Cultural Park Trail, Chimney Rock Trail or other West Urban Trails to see the blooms.
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 in the icy creek on a hot summer day. When you’re ready to relax, head back to your Diamond Resorts home away from home to kick back and enjoy the view.
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