What To Do in Sedona for an Adventure Packed Vacation on a Budget


Sedona is a popular vacation destination in the Southwest United States. Known for its red rock desert landscapes, it is one the best places to plan an adventure getaway.

On top of the area’s vibrant beauty, it is popular due to its world-class outdoor recreation and new age atmosphere attracting “spiritual junkies.” In this article, we’ll share what to do in Sedona for an epic desert vacation on a budget.

We’ll also talk about the top places to hike, provide the scoop on Sedona’s mysterious vortexes, other sights to see in the area, along with when to visit, where to stay, how to get there, and what to pack.

Top Things To Do in Sedona on a Budget

Hiking in Sedona.

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Sedona, Arizona, is an outdoor recreation mecca surrounded by the Coconino National Forest. Because of the abundance of outdoor activities, visitors can plan a fun Sedona vacation while sticking to a budget. Most of the activities in this article are free to do.

When we travel, to keep trips budget friendly, we hike and bring our own food or buy local groceries. We also visit popular destinations in the off-season.

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Go Hiking Around Sedona

image credit: iStock.com/skitzafrenic.

One of the top outdoor activities to do in Sedona is go hiking. Jaw-dropping high desert trails are abundant in the immediate area and Coconino National Forest. Plus, hiking is free!

Here are our favorite places to hike in Sedona.

Devils Bridge Trail

Rated as the number one trail to hike in Sedona, Devil’s Bridge is a famous natural sandstone arch. The 4.2-mile route takes roughly two hours to walk and is rated as a moderate hike.

Cathedral Rock Trail

Taking in the views at the top of Cathedral Rock.

There are a few different ways to get to Cathedral Rock, depending on how long you’d like to hike. Cathedral Rock is one of the most popular Sedona area hiking trails and natural attractions to see.

Bear Mountain Trail

Bear Mountain Trail.

If you’re down to see epic views, hiking Bear Mountain is a must. Roughly 5 miles round-trip, the trail ascends to the top of the mountain and is ranked as difficult.

Big Park to Bell Rock Loop Trail

Big Park to Bell Rock Loop makes for a perfect day hike. Walk the 4-mile loop trail to the famous Bell Rock. This route is ranked as moderate.

Little Horse Trail

Hiking in Sedona.

A 4.3 mile out and back trail, you’ll see incredible red rock formations during a roughly 2-hour hike. This trail is ranked as a moderate hike.

Oak Creek Trail

Oak Creek Trail.

It is always fun to find places with water in the desert. The Oak Creek Trail wanders through the creek bed and offers views of Cathedral Rock. It is an easy and short 1.4-mile walk out and back. 

Birthing Cave

Super popular for adventure photographers, a 2-mile trail and a moderate one-hour walk to the Birthing Cave makes for excellent views as well as photo opportunities.

Sugarloaf Loop Trail

For incredible views of Sedona’s red rock cliffs and mountain range, the short 2-mile Sugarloaf Loop trail is a must. The hike only takes about an hour.

Wilson Mountain Trail

For some of the Sedona area’s best views, plan an all-day 11.5-mile hike along the Wilson Mountain Trail. Be sure to plan accordingly since this trail is so long. It is also ranked as difficult. If you are shorter on time or energy, it is still worth trekking along some of the trail.

Airport Loop Trail

Check out this rocky loop with epic views of red rock country. The trail is about 3.2 miles, is ranked as moderate, and takes roughly an hour and a half to hike.

Check Out the Energy Vortexes

Big Park to Bell Rock Loop Trail.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “What are the Sedona Vortexes?”

The vortexes are supposed to be powerful healing energy sources from the earth. The vortexes help with self-exploration, healing, and meditation; hence, why so many spirit junkies are attracted to Sedona.

The main Sedona Vortexes are located at Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, and Bell Rock. Be sure to add these natural rock formations to your list of places to visit in Sedona.

It is a perfect opportunity to stop and see if you feel anything while you’re hiking since all of these vortexes are on popular hikes mentioned above. If you feel the energy, you might notice a tingling sensation in your body. Or maybe you feel extra calm.

When in nature, pausing to hear the sounds, feel the breeze on our face, smell the air is always a great way to reset the soul and spirit. Now you have more reasons to stop, take a quiet moment, and experience the vortexes.

Do Yoga or Meditate at a Vortex

Hanging out at the Vortex.

While hiking, pause to soak in the earth’s energy. Maybe sit and meditate or do your best downward dog in nature. Yoga at a vortex in nature is a fun thing to do in Sedona. Outdoor reflection, meditation, and yoga silently scream happy places and fun vacations.

Stroll Main Street and Downtown Sedona

Take time to explore main street and the Sedona city center on your trip. There are places to shop, eat, grab a coffee, and many other cool new age, boho-type shops full of really cool crystals, clothes, and books.

Explore Tlaquepaque Art & Crafts Village

Enjoying prickly pear cactus margarita.

Another cool thing to do in Sedona is to check out the Tlaquepaque Art & Crafts Village. The outdoor adobe mall is full of neat local stores, antiquities, history, art, and restaurants. You can wander around and take photos at no cost making this a budget-friendly activity. Maybe treat yourself to a prickly pear cactus margarita while you’re exploring.

See Chapel of the Holy Cross

For Sedona sightseeing, one of the most famous architectural attractions is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. You don’t have to pay to see it. Drive your car to the front and take photos.

It is interesting to see. However, don’t plan to spend too much time there. We recommend sneaking visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross on the way to or from a hike.

Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway SR 179

Bear Mountain Trail views from the top.

What else is there to do in Sedona? Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway state route 179. Take a break from hiking, pack some road trip snacks, and go on a drive.

The Red Rock Scenic Byway is known as the gateway to red rock desert country and America’s first All-American Road. The route is only 7.5 miles long but is full of magnificent sights and photo opportunities. Don’t miss it.

Go On a Jeep Tour

Jeep tour in Sedona.

Another fun way to see beautiful places in Sedona is to book a jeep tour. Soldier Pass is a popular jeep destination. Go on an expedition to Solider Pass to see the Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole and Seven Sacred Pools.

If you’re up for splurging a little, a jeep tour makes for a fun afternoon outing and is an excellent way to see more of the area. The jeep tours are a top tourism activity in the area.

When To Visit Sedona

Seven Sacred Pools.

Sedona has relatively mild weather, so it is great to visit year-round. Late spring and early fall make for excellent hiking conditions. Summers can get pretty hot, but if you hike early in the day, you can get away with hiking in the summer. Plus, if you’re staying somewhere with a pool, a summer visit is just the best.

In the spring and early summer, the cactus bloom. It is beautiful to see the bright colors popping from the earth tones.

It is unusual for Sedona to get snow in the winter, though it does snow every so often.

To find the best deals on accommodations, visit during shoulder seasons and off-seasons when people are working, and kids are in school to get the best rates on places to stay.

For example, when we visited Sedona, we went the first week of May. The weather was cool enough a few days to need a light down jacket, but warm enough some days to wear shorts, a tank top, and lounge at the pool.

How To Get To Sedona

Closest Airports

When planning how to get to Sedona by air, the closest airport is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG). Flagstaff is 45 minutes north of Sedona. The next option is to fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX). Phoenix is two hours south of Sedona.

Book your flights from booking.com (that is what we do).

Renting a Car

If you are flying into the area, you’ll want to rent a car (link to booking.com). You can select a budget rental.

We recommend renting a car, so you have the freedom and flexibility to access all of the hikes and outdoor recreation in the area. Most of the trails have easy paved road access.

Whenever we travel, we purchase travel insurance. With Travel Insurance Master, you can select the exact coverage you need to cover outdoor activities, gear, reservations, and more.


Where To Stay in Sedona

There are plenty of options to choose from while visiting Sedona with a wide range of budget accommodations. There are big chain hotels, boutique hotels, Vacation Rental by Owners (VRBOs), Airbnbs, and more.

Research ahead of time to find the best rate and avoid the crowds. We recommend staying in town, so you’re within walking distance to explore downtown Sedona, the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, and enjoy local restaurants if you desire.

If you’re visiting in the summer, you might want to stay somewhere with an outdoor pool.

We stayed at The Hyatt Residence Club, Pinon Point (for our honeymoon). It was awesome.

Where + How To Eat on a Budget

Scrambling down the trail.

Plan to stay somewhere with a kitchen. This way, you can swing by the local grocery store or Whole Foods to plan some easy meals. Grocery shopping will save a lot of money while visiting Sedona.

Plan to eat breakfast where you are staying, pack sack lunches and snacks for the hikes and day trips. Eat dinner and enjoy the sunset from where you are visiting. Or treat yourself to a night out once or twice.

Preparing your food and making sack lunches saves a lot of money while vacationing. Seriously, a bowl of soup somewhere is like $15+.

Don’t forget to bring your reusable grocery bags. Sedona is an environmentally conscious town.

What To Pack for an Outdoorsy Vacation

Since Sedona is at a higher desert elevation, it can have decent temperature swings.

Plan to pack for spring, summer, and fall on your trip.

The evenings and mornings can be cool, but the days hot. Or an afternoon rainstorm can come through and cool everything down.

Below is an example of what we recommend packing with links to some of our favorite items:



Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a beautiful and affordable destination for your next vacation, Sedona is the place to go. With plenty of outdoor activities and stunning scenery, you can enjoy a wonderful getaway without breaking the bank.

We hope this article inspires your trip. Enjoy the area’s vibrant beauty, world-class outdoor recreation, and new-age atmosphere for spirit junkies.

Ashlee & Pablo

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.


  1. Farrah on March 25, 2021 at 12:17 am

    I love Sedona so much! I’ve done several hikes there but there are many many more I still wanna do! Hoping to go back there again at some point to visit! *-*

  2. One Second Journal on March 3, 2021 at 10:13 am

    It is just incredible how many beautiful places there are in the US! It’s a endless travel bucketlist and Sedona is now on it too haha the pictures are so beautiful, I would love to hike there 🙂

    • Ashlee Fechino on March 3, 2021 at 3:36 pm

      Hi there! Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you can make it to visit Sedona and hike someday!

  3. Nora on February 28, 2021 at 8:46 am

    These hikes look amazing! I would love to visit and soak in all those views.

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Nora! Thanks for reading. Hope you can visit Sedona someday.

  4. Krista on February 28, 2021 at 7:09 am

    It definitely looks like there are a lot of beautiful hiking trails to go on here. And the weather looks great for outdoor activities as well.

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      Hi Krista! Oh yeah – Sedona is an outdoor vacation mecca!

  5. Charlotte on February 28, 2021 at 6:37 am

    Sedona looks so gorgeous! And I love your take being on a budget. It’s so helpful! Thank you x

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      Hi Charlotte! Thanks for reading. Yes, Pablo and I are into budget travel. We usually hike, pack our own food, camp, or stay in VRBOs on all of our trips!

  6. Jamie Sharpe on February 27, 2021 at 10:47 pm

    Sedona is a fascinating place to me. Spiritual side, natural beauty – so many reasons to visit!

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:54 pm

      Hi Jamie – agreed. Sedona is really special. Has a great vibe.

  7. William B Randall on February 27, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    Sedona hiking sounds fun, and so does the town’s sightseeing !!

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:54 pm

      Hi Uncle Burt! Thanks for reading and commenting! Sedona is soooo awesome! We thought hiking was the best part about visiting as well. Have a great day! 🙂

  8. Daphna on February 27, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    Love this! I was just looking for a Sedona guide- thinking of a road trip for spring break. Really excited about all the hiking options!

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Daphna – you and your family would have a great road trip to Sedona. Hiking is definitely awesome there.

  9. Amy Harneiss on February 27, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    The view from the Bear Trial looks AMAZING! I am hoping to visit Arizona next year, as flying to the US to get married in Vegas, then looking to do a road trip. Love this post, we love hiking and the outdoors. The Jeep tour sounds like fun too. Thank you for an informative post!

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Amy! The Bear Mountain trail hike was actually our favorite. Pablo and I were the only people out there! It was incredible.

  10. Jenni / Out in the Nature on February 27, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    I was just reading about Arizona destinations and thinking about my old friend over there! I would love to pay her a visit someday and explore the nature. It looks hot! (Why did I get image of Paris Hilton in my head?!)

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Jenni! Sedona is a great vacation destination in Arizona. Hope you have a great trip. Maybe you saw a picture of Paris Hilton somewhere in Sedona at one time? It is a popular vacation destination for West-coasters.

  11. Hannah on February 27, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    Yoga and meditate at a Vortex sounds like an amazing experience! I think we could all do with that after Covid! Tlaquepaque Art & Crafts Village sounds like a lovely place to seek out some unique souvenirs! Thanks for sharing this great guide!

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Hannah – thanks for commenting. Sedona is such a cool place. And yes, we are over COVID too! So hopeful for cases to go down and things to be safer again. The cool thing about trips like this is you can be outdoors and practice social distancing easier. Anymore, we only go places in the middle of nowhere without crowds and pack all of our own food!

  12. Char on February 26, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    Wow these trails looks incredible! Particularly with that sunshine and hot weather! Really informative guide 🙂

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:48 pm

      Hi Char – thanks for reading our article on what to do in Sedona on a budget! 🙂

  13. Nina on February 26, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    I only knew Sedona was good for hiking – I had no idea about the vortexes. They sound really fascinating and I definitely want to try them out. Even without the vortexes, those views are a perfect backdrop for meditating

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:48 pm

      Hi Nina! Yes, the Sedona vortexes are really interesting to learn and read about! Agreed – perfect for meditating and reflecting.

  14. Josy A on February 25, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    The hiking trails all sound fantastic! If the boarders were open I would be very tempted to come down to hike in Sedona at this time of year while it is cold and snowing in Canada. The Cathedral Rock Trail (well, all the trails) look so inviting in the sunshine!

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 28, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Josy! You would love hiking in Sedona. We went in early June a few years ago and the weather was perfect! Some days hot, great for the pool, and other days a little more overcast and cooler for long hikes!

  15. Cristina Sala on February 24, 2021 at 4:37 pm

    Hola Ashlee estuve mirando tu nueva pagina sobre Sedona. Que fotos increibles. Roca de la Catedral.
    me atrapo los vortices de energia curativa. Que bueno y necesario escuchar y ver la naturaleza para poder encontrarnos con el espiritu……..meditar. Que lugares tan especiales y llenos de magia que han recorrido con Pablo. los amo

    • Ashlee Fechino on February 25, 2021 at 7:26 am

      ¡Hola Cristina! Gracias por leer y comentar. Significa mucho para nosotros. Tuvimos un gran viaje a Sedona cuando fuimos.