Cathedral Rock is an oft-photographed butte near Sedona. It is quite popular and deservedly so, given the rock formation’s striking beauty. To get a good view of it and the surrounding landscape, pay a visit to Red Rock Crossing or Red Rock State Park. If you are interested in a more intimate experience with Cathedral, read further.
There is a short but steep trail you can take to the saddle of Cathedral Rock, where imposing views of its red sandstone pillars can be enjoyed up close. It’s only 1 1/2 miles out and back with 600 feet elevation gain, but after the first quarter mile, the dirt footpath gives way to a slick rock scramble. The hike is non-technical, the route is well-marked by cairns, and it is sure to get your heart rate up.
- Distance: 1.5 miles out and back
- Hike Time: 1-2 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 feet
- Fee: Free, but Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass are required to park
- Dogs: Yes
- Difficulty: Moderate
If you have read about or spent any time in Sedona, then you have probably heard about “vortexes”, defined as specific locations where energy inspires self-healing and good feelings.
I do not lay claim to any mystical knowledge about vortexes, but I can tell you that Cathedral Rock is a special place; if only for its heavenly views, colorful sandstone palette, and the way its rocks contour delightfully against magical skies.
This is a fantastic hike at sunrise, sunset, and even at night – for star gazing or astrophotography. If you happen to go here at night, be sure to bring a headlamp as it is difficult to follow the route down, even with one.
From Sedona, turn onto Arizona State Route 179 and head south. Turn right onto Back o’ Beyond Road, continue 0.6 miles then turn right at Cathedral Rock Trailhead.
Cathedral Rock is located within the Red Rock District of Coconino National Forest, just a few miles from Sedona.
- Sedona Trail Map
- Flagstaff, Sedona [Coconino and Kaibab National Forests] (National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map)
Want to hike Sedona’s best trails? Check out our other Sedona Hiking Guides.