Red Rock Scenic Byway
Explore the sculptural beauty and colors of the Colorado Plateau
|Mileage||14 miles (22 km)|
|DurationThe duration is an estimate of a one-way drive and does not include any stops or side-trips.||20 minutes|
|SeasonsThe seasons listed are the best seasons for this scenic drive. If Winter is not mentioned, the road may be closed during the winter.||Spring, Summer, and Fall|
|Roadways||Arizona Highway 179|
|Forest PassesSome of the adventures on this scenic drive require an admission fee that these passes cover. Please read the drive description for more information.||Coconino National Forest Passes for Red Rock|
|ServicesThe cities or towns listed have either Food or Services such as gas, hotels, pharmacies, etc.||Munds Park, AZ▼, Sedona, AZ▼, McGuireville, AZ▼, Rimrock, AZ▼, Lake Montezuma, AZ▼, and Camp Verde, AZ▼|
3.8 average from 16 votes
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Get a Forest Pass
Natural areas along this route require an entrance fee used to protect and maintain our most scenic treasures. Save time by purchasing your forest passes before you go.
The Red Rock Scenic Byway begins in the town of Sedona, on the southwest edge of the Colorado Plateau, the largest plateau in the United States. Revel in the beauty of its iron-infused red rocks and fascinating geological features, including hoodoos, natural bridges and canyons. This short drive is packed with adventure — from hiking, biking, golfing and the sheer majesty of the scenery.
Begin in Sedona, which can be reached from US-89A from Flagstaff and I-40/I-17. From Sedona, head south on AZ-179.
In 3 miles, turn left onto Chapel Road and visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross (A1), one of Sedona’s most magnificent man-made structures. Built into the red rock mesas, the Chapel is open to all faiths. Cathedral Rock rises a few miles to the southwest of the building and the chapel offers a spectacular view. The layered cliffs of Cathedral Rock were created by millions of years of deposited sediment carved by the forces of nature. It is one of the most photographed landscapes in Arizona.
Back on AZ-179, for about a mile is the Little Horse Trail (H1). This easy, 3-mile round trip hike offers the opportunity to explore not only the amazing rock formations in this area, but a diverse array of plant life. The path also features shady spots under the dwarfed and gnarled trees. Leaving from here as well, is Bell Rock Pathway (H2). Along this 3.6-mile trail, enjoy views of Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and many other rock formations. The trail is fairly easy, with a few steep and rough areas. Note you will need a Red Rock Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass to park at the many trailheads. This area is also fast becoming a mountain bike mecca and you’ll meet many bikers along some routes. Bike rentals are available nearby. Or if golfing is your game, the byway features two public golf courses — with fabulous views.
Continuing south, the striking Bell Rock Butte dominates the view. Stop at Bell Rock Vista (V1) and have your camera ready. Sun blazing on red rock and blue skies create dramatic and exciting images. Many hiking and biking trails leave from here and this area is also a known vortex site — a sacred place where it is believed energy emanates from the earth permitting people to realize their dreams and ambitions.
Take Back O’ Beyond Road for Cathedral Rock. Don’t miss hiking this incredible rock formation. It is somewhat challenging, but easier than it looks — especially if you like to scramble over massive rocks. In contrast to the red rock, green cactus, yucca, sagebrush and brightly colored wildflowers dazzle. The short, steep climb to the top rewards with extraordinary views of this other-worldly landscape.
The drive comes to a close as you arrive in Oak Creek. The Village of Oak Creek features a variety of restaurants, art galleries, lodging and spas. From here, consider turning around and driving through the Oak Creek Canyon and continue north to the Grand Canyon.