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Cathedral Rock Overview

Towering above Sedona’s red rock country, Cathedral Rock is considered the iconic rock formation in the area. A trip here is basically a “rite of passage” to becoming a veteran Sedona visitor. This outing will not take you a full day, but the stunning views will stick with you forever. It is reasonable within one day to hike both Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek Canyon’s West Fork Trail (just north of Sedona) or Devil’s Bridge

The short hike is moderately difficult at times, with a bit of scrambling up rocks to get to the top. That said, if your kids are used to hiking and you’re able to help them along, this could be a fun family trek. The view is great from almost any point along the trail, so if you — er, I mean, the kids — are feeling tired or wary of the heights, you can stop without feeling like you’re missing out.

As a “must see” attraction in Sedona, the trail is usually fairly busy. Don’t let that deter you from this classic, beautiful sight! Plan to bring the basics along in your day pack and be sure not to forget your camera or hammock; you will enjoy using both! Sorry, no drones allowed. 🙁

Logistics

As you are traveling along State Route 179, turn east onto Back O Beyond Road (yes, really); this turn is about 3.5 miles south of the junction of State Route 89A & State Route 179. A little over half a mile later, you’ll come to the trailhead parking lot. The pin at the below map will take you to the trailhead parking lot. 

As Cathedral Rock is such a popular destination, parking can be a bit hectic. Only a lucky few will be awarded one of the handful of parking spaces at the actual trailhead. There are various other legal locations to park along Back O Beyond Road; they may add an additional quarter- to half-mile on your walk to the trailhead. Whatever you do, don’t park illegally! You will learn the hard way that the police are eager to ticket parking offenders.

Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona

Cliff-side Photo Opportunity Location

The trail up to Cathedral Rock is about 0.7 miles one way with a 730 foot elevation gain. When you reach the end of the trail, there is an “End of Trail” sign that you won’t miss. While most people stop here after getting the classic cliffside photo (to the right/north of the End of Trail sign), I recommend going a bit further up as well. Take a left at the sign and walk for less than a quarter of a mile to come to a split in Cathedral Rock. An enormous rock spire juts from the formation (banner photo above), and there are amazing views of Courthouse Rock in the distance. The extra hike is worth it; you can get some great photos!

Gear & Gadgets

Much of the hike is directly on the red rocks; make sure you wear shoes with good grip. Do not bring hiking poles or any other sharp object that could blemish the red rocks.

If you are visiting in the summer and surrounding months, remember that it will be hot! Sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water are all recommended in our Day Trip Gear Guide, but it is worth mentioning them again.  

Further Reading

Outdoors and Wilderness First Aid

Leave No Trace Principles

Sedona – Wilson Mountain Summit

Sedona – West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon

Sedona – Devil’s Bridge

 

About The Author

Jeremy Meek is a native Arizonan with a passion for adventure and discovery of unique experiences. Whether exploring Arizona or setting out on an adventure abroad, Jeremy is constantly scouting truly great adventures and experiences.

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