Cathedral Rock is an iconic Sedona attraction, and a must-see for all visitors. Located only an approximately ten-minute drive down Arizona State Route 179 (Red Rock Scenic Byway) from the heart of Sedona, Cathedral Rock is nearly as accessible as it is scenic. When you arrive at this famous location, you’ll be able to hike a short, 0.7-mile trail all the way to the saddle. The views at multiple points all along Cathedral Rock Trail are well-worth the effort, but in particular, the scenery on display at the summit of Cathedral Rock is absolutely unforgettable.
Cathedral Rock History and Background
While a number of other popular natural attractions in the area are a bit more remote and difficult to get to, Cathedral Rock is prominently located just south of Sedona, right off the Red Rock Scenic Byway. As a result, you’ll find not too far away from here several other sites you’ll likely want to visit during your time in the area. Bell Rock is just 3 or so miles to the southeast, Chapel of the Holy Cross is about 2 miles to the northeast, and Airport Mesa is around 5 miles to the north. Many more fine attractions are found nearby, too, and of course Sedona itself is home to a whole host of dining and lodging options.
What’s at Cathedral Rock
People come to Cathedral Rock from all over the world in order to experience the stunning views on display there. From the summit of Cathedral Rock you’ll encounter some of the finest possible views of the legendary red-rock landscapes of the Sedona area; these views are relatively unobscured in nearly every direction, making Cathedral Rock a can’t-miss for photography buffs.
The summit of Cathedral Rock may be reached via the 0.7-mile long Cathedral Rock Trail. This short hike covers extremely steep terrain, but those who undertake it almost universally report it being well-worth the effort. And you don’t have to wait for the summit to enjoy the views; the entire hike is a scenic one, with a particular highlight along the way being Courthouse Butte Vista. This beautiful spot is only about 0.3 miles along the trail—which makes it a pleasant option for those visitors/hikers you might not necessarily want or be able to undertake the entire outing.
Tips for Visiting Cathedral Rock
- Don’t be fooled by its short total distance: while it is true Cathedral Rock Trail is not a long hike (just under 1 mile), it is a very steep trail, as over the course of that mile the trail goes up some 600 feet in elevation. This makes it a deceptively difficult hike, so keep that in mind as you prepare to hit the trail.
- There are two parking lots found near Cathedral Rock. However, parking at Cathedral Rock is still known to be notoriously difficult, and competition for spots can be fierce. If you want to spend less time hunting/waiting for a parking place, it is usually best to go earlier in the day.
- There is another parking lot, able to accommodate overflow from Cathedral Rock, to be found at Yavapai Vista. Yavapai Vista is about two miles away from Cathedral Rock, so this option would necessitate adding roughly 4 miles to your hike. If you’d like a longer hike and a smoother parking experience, though, going this route is a good choice.
- There is a $5 fee for Cathedral Rock Trail. You’ll need to pay this amount at a machine near the trailhead, and it’s important to know that this machine only accepts credit cards. The $5 fee, however, is a daily rate that will cover you for all Sedona-area trails.
- There is very little shade at Cathedral Rock, or along Cathedral Rock Trail. You’ll want to make certain to bring plenty of water and use sunscreen.