Red Rock Scenic Byway is that rarest of roads—a road that is itself a must-see attraction. The 15-mile road that comprises Red Rock Scenic Byway—also known as Arizona State Route 179—cuts a winding, wondrous path through the spectacular red-rock formations of Sedona and the sprawling ponderosa pine forests of Coconino National Forest. Along its lovely route you’ll encounter all manner of natural attractions and desirable amenities. Overall, Red Rock Scenic Byway is another jewel in the crown of this treasured region of the country.
Red Rock Scenic Byway History and Background
Arizona State Route 179 as we know it today was named and established in 1960. State Route 179 runs for roughly 15 miles: at its southern end it terminates in a junction with United States Interstate 17, while in the north it ends at a roundabout with Arizona State Route 89A. Today, though, Arizona State Route 179 is much better known by the name Red Rock Scenic Byway. About half of the Red Rock Scenic Byway travels through Coconino National Forest, a stretch of road that ranks among some of the most beautiful in the entire country—the entire drive is a remarkable one, however. As a result of the natural beauty on display throughout its 15-mile duration, in 2006 the United States Department of Transportation awarded Red Rock Scenic Byway its highest possible honor by naming it an “All American Road.” This designation is intended to signal to visitors that the road in question is a “destination unto itself.”
What’s on the Red Rock Scenic Byway
Red Rock Scenic Byway is that rare road that stands as an attraction in its own right; that is, if you’re visiting the Sedona area for any reason, you’re going to want to make sure you experience this drive. And this isn’t too difficult to do, as Red Rock Scenic Byway is one of the main roads most visitors use to get around the Sedona area during their time in the region anyway.
You can easily drive the entire route up and down, back and forth, as many times as you like while enjoying what is in essence a free tour through a breathtaking portion of country. Along the way you’ll see all manner of famous Sedona landmarks, such as Cathedral Rock, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Bell Rock, and more. All throughout the drive you’ll have great views of the red-rock landscapes that make Sedona world famous.
However, Red Rock Scenic Byway is more than just a collection of splendid views—it’s also your gateway to many of the area’s most popular attractions and amenities. A great number of hiking trails and biking paths are easily accessible directly from Red Rock Scenic Byway, as are the majority of Sedona’s plentiful dining and lodging options.
Tips for Visiting the Red Rock Scenic Byway
- Many of Sedona’s most popular hiking trails can be accessed right off Red Rock Scenic Byway. However, in order to hike here you must first purchase a day-pass. This day-pass costs $5 and is good for all trails in the entire area. However, please keep in mind that the machines at which you must purchase your day-pass typically only accept payment by credit/debit card.
- Don’t let the remarkable scenery outside your car’s windows draw you into a driving daydream: Red Rock Scenic Byway is still a highway, with regular traffic laws and posted speed limits. You’ll need to be aware of such stipulations as you drive along, especially if you want to make certain you don’t bring home a speeding ticket as a souvenir!
- Red Rock Scenic Byway is also a very curvy road in places, so drivers need take caution, be alert, and aware at all times.
- There are a tremendous number of places to stop along Red Rock Scenic Byway. It’s a great idea to take advantage of these stops, as arguably the best way to experience the route is to make frequent stops—that way everyone in the car can get out and enjoy the scenery to its fullest extent.