3 Day Sedona Itinerary
Sedona’s the kind of place you can easily spend 5-7 days. Even in a week you’ll never fit in all the hikes and tours and exploring that’s available. It’s definitley a place that lends itself well to multiple shorter stays. This is my 3 day Sedona itinerary, and I hope you will find it useful!
It’s exactly for these reasons that my husband and I came back a second time! We didn’t have the time to see and do everything we wanted to during the first visit.
After two visits we’ve ticked many boxes off our see and do list, but are still open to future visits.
Even though you and I may have some must-see and do differences, I’ve recreated my 3 day Sedona itinerary below to help you plan your own trip to Sedona. Of course, you can alter it to your own liking and needs, and fit in meals how you please. You can also swap out one activity for another, or choose a different hotel.
Pre-Trip Booking Info
First, you have to book your trip, or at least the components you need. These primarily being your transportation, and accommodation. Secondary could include possible tours to ensure they are available for you. For instance, Pink Jeep’s Broken Arrow tour often sells out as it’s one of their most popular tours. We had to take an alternate tour for this reason, on our first trip back in March.
We booked flights into Phoenix Sky Harbor as it’s only a two hour drive to Sedona. I opted for early morning flights to arrive as early in the day as possible.
We booked a rental (SUV since it was December) with Costco Travel online. They almost always have the best rates. We chose the airport pickup and drop off. There is a rental car shuttle to bring you back and forth, and the process was easy. Just be aware the rentals aren’t on-site, so factor a few extra minutes into your day for this.
If arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor, it’s pretty straightforward. Phoenix is south of Sedona, so take the I-17 North to Sedona. There are a few exits to choose from, but I’ll suggest you take the exit for the 179 into Sedona, as it’s very scenic and allows your sightseeing to start immediately! About an hour into the drive you’ll see lots of Saguaro cacti!
Depending on where you’re coming from, you may arrive from the North and the Flagstaff area. Most phones have GPS or maps, so set your hotels address and enjoy the views. Arriving from Flagstaff, you’ll be coming through Oak Creek Canyon, and descending over 2000 feet through a series of switchbacks. If you do come in this way, be sure to stop at the scenic look off, and Navajo Market.
We stayed 2 nights in Sedona, and 1 night in Glendale (Phoenix), as we attended an Arizona Coyotes NHL game.
Sedona-Orchards Inn of Sedona
Glendale-Home2 Suites by Hilton
- Arrival at noon to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.
- 2 hour drive via I-17 North to Sedona then via State Route 179 into Sedona.
- On arrival to Sedona, first stop-Chapel of the Holy Cross. Right turn off 179 on to Chapel Road. More details here.
- Check in to the hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Explore uptown Sedona, dine out.
Day 1 Recap, Tips and Recommendations
We chose to come in on the 179 as it’s a beautiful route (Red Rock Scenic Byway) and we wanted to stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We visited the Chapel during our first visit back in March. There was rain on the day we arrived, but by the next morning it was clear and sunny.
I recommend parking at the Chapel and going up to check out the views both outside and inside the Chapel. Visit time, 20-40 minutes depending on your own time limits. Check out my post, A Visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
My hotel info…
Hotel options are plenty and you can do some research into what suits you best. We chose the Orchards Inn of Sedona for both stays. It’s in a great location in uptown, has spectacular views of the red rocks, better rates than some other places and a few other perks including free breakfast at the 89Agave Cantina right across the driveway from the hotel lobby.
Another perk is the restaurant credit offered in the room packages, for the same restaurant. The credits vary depending on the room type booked. Ours was $35 a day (can not combine the days for a larger amount). We would have our dinner and drinks, charge it to the room, and $35usd was credited back to us and taken off the bill.
Sedona is an early to bed, early to rise destination. The uptown shops were mostly all closed by 9pm (some earlier) and the streets fairly quiet. We did enjoy a stroll both evenings all through uptown to take in the Christmas lights. I’d also recommend the Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village in the evening during the Christmas season, for the lights as well.
I was beat, so didn’t walk down that far in the evening, but I regret it!
- Breakfast 6 to 9 AM, at 89Agave Cantina
- Devil’s Bridge Trail and Chuckwagon Trail 10am-2pm
- Lunch at Tamaliza at the Brewery (Oak Creek Brewing Company) 2:30-3:30
- Crescent Moon Ranch (Red Rock Crossing) walk and photos of Cathedral Rock 4pm to sunset
- Dinner and drinks at 89Agave Cantina
Day 2 Recap,Tips and Recommendations
We were up by 7-7:30am to get ready for the day and enjoyed breakfast between 8-9 at 89Agave Cantina.
We decided on Devils Bridge as our first hike because it’s the most popular and well-known. So for these reasons, there are usually quite a few people on the trail.
I’d also recommend the Chuckwagon Trail tagged onto this either at the start or the end. If not pressed for time, I recommend parking at the Dry Creek Vista Trailhead parking lot so that you can easily add the Chuckwagon Trail.
The days hikes and info…
We hiked the road into the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead and picked up the Chuckwagon trail on our return back to the parking lot at the end of our Devil’s Bridge hike. This added a good chunk of extra distance and time but it was worth it.
If you’re pressed for time, you can just take the road back out to the lot. Alternatively, if you have a high clearance vehicle, and want to shorten your hike time, you can drive the road right to the Devil’s Bridge Trail Head and park in the lot there.
As I mentioned, this is a popular trail so expect lots of others hiking on the trail as well. This means there might be a wait at the top to get that coveted picture on top of the arch. The earlier hours are better though, as it’s not as busy.
The fact we went in early December likely meant it wasn’t as busy, and the weather was perfect! Dress in layers depending on the temperatures when you’re there. The mornings were cool but it warmed up nicely by afternoon. (4c-12/14c)
I took a small backpack with water and snacks, tissues, etc. I kept it light and it wasn’t an issue.
It was good to have as it kept my hands free for the bit of rock scrambling you’ll have to do nearer the top.
I enjoyed the Devil’s Bridge Trail a lot and I’m very happy to have made it to the top and gotten that photo. I have to admit I really liked the Chuckwagon Trail as well. The scenery is fantastic and the trail is fairly flat. You’ll find the Chuckwagon Trailhead across the road from the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead parking.
More photos of the Devil’s Bridge and Chuckwagon Trails, and lunch…
When we finished both trails we headed out for some lunch. We found a place called Tamaliza at the Brewery. It was a bit out of the way, but easy to find.
Devil’s Bridge at a Glance
GPS: 34°54’11.6″N 111°48’50.3″W
No Pass Required
Trail Rated: Moderate.
Directions: For Route 1 or 3 on Map-Take Dry Creek Rd off State Route 89A. Turn right onto dirt road FR152 (or look for Vultee Arch sign or Dry Creek Vista TH). Parking lot is on the left.
Crescent Moon Ranch
Next, we opted to head to Crescent Moon Ranch, arriving at 4. This is a day park, with picnic areas and walking trails, along Oak Creek. We opted to pay the $11 fee to enter and park inside since it was late in the day. Crescent Moon Ranch has great views of Cathedral Rock, and we found them. We hung around until sunset then headed back to the hotel and dinner at 89Agave.
- Breakfast 6-9am at 89Agave Cantina
- Doe Mountain Trail hike 9:30am-11:30am
- Check out of Orchards Inn at noon
- Walk to Creekside for drinks and snacks then to Tlaquepaque for souvenir shopping
- Depart Sedona at 3-3:30
- Arrive Glendale (Phoenix) 5-5:30, Home 2 Suites for the night
- Depart 6:20 for Arizona Coyotes game (10 min walk)
Day 3 Recap,Tips, and Recommendations
Once again we were up and around at 7-7:30am and off to 89Agave for breakfast before 9am.
We chose to hike Doe Mountain in the morning, before heading back to Glendale/Phoenix for the Coyotes game that night. The Doe Mountain trail requires a recreation pass, which is available at a kiosk located right at the trail head. The cost was $5/day or $15/week. This pass is displayed in your vehicle’s windshield.
My husband looked into a couple of shorter hikes and this one was highly recommended by both the visitor’s center and the guest relations at our hotel. A relatively short hike with a high payoff in the scenic views department- we took about two hours with this moderate hike, but experienced hikers or those on an even tighter schedule could be up and down in an hour 0r so. We hung out for a while at the top enjoying the incredible view!
Take care to pay close attention to this trail and to its switchbacks. There are a few deceiving places that can have you off the trail and having to back up.
Near the top, there is a bit of rock scrambling and then you’re done. There are markers to point you across to the other side and the spectacular views.
Some photos I took on the Doe Mountain Trail
We requested a late checkout from the hotel, to give us a bit more time to enjoy Doe Mountain. We took about two hours to finish, then headed back to the Orchards Inn and checked out at noon.
From here, we decided to grab a snack and do some souvenir shopping. We walked to the Creekside for a drink and snack, then on to Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village. There are more than 50 shops and galleries, and five restaurants.
We finished up our shopping and headed back to the car, parked at the hotel still. Now we were off to Glendale!
It was time to leave Sedona.
Two hours and a bit later, we checked into the Home2 Suites by Hilton, around 5:30. Enough time for a short break to stretch our legs, before a ten-minute walk to the Gila River Arena and the Coyotes game at 6:30.
This hotel was in a convenient location, not far away from both the Gila River Arena and the State Farm Stadium, (home of the Arizona Cardinals) and there are Tanger Outlet stores right there too!
Doe Mountain at a Glance
GPS: 34°53’36.7″N 111°51’54.5″W
Recreation Pass Required. Can purchase at kiosk at Trailhead.
Trail Rated: Moderate
Toilet at Trailhead.
Directions: Take Dry Creek Rd. off state route 89A. Turn Left at Boynton Pass intersections. Trailhead parking will be on the left.
- Breakfast at hotel 8:30-9am
- Flight home 12:30
This day was completely a travel day. We enjoyed the complimentary breakfast and left around 9-9:30 for the airport and rental car drop off.
We fell in love with Sedona. This was our second visit in the same calendar year … And we’ll likely be back again.
I don’t think we’d visit in the heat of the summer, but keep it to the spring or fall months (better in my opinion, for hiking). But who knows! Never say never I guess.
We also love hockey, so if there happens to be a team near the city we visit we try to plan our visit when there’s a game to see. Or we pick where we visit based on what team/game we want to go to. This has worked out for both Las Vegas and Phoenix, to be able to visit Sedona and see a game.
I hope my 3 day Sedona itinerary helps or inspires you to visit this awesome area. You can easily change out the hikes or tours if you prefer something else. You may also opt to stay the third night in Sedona, giving you the full third day to explore even more. I suggest a Pink Jeep Tour. They are fabulous and know their stuff. We did the Diamondback Gulch tour, and it was about 2-3 hours long. Another option would be their full day Grand Canyon Premiere, in lieu of the Doe Mountain hike (which could be done after Devil’s Bridge). Our family did this tour of the Grand Canyon and we had a terrific day!
Have you ever visited Sedona? Let me know in the comments! Questions are also welcomed…