One of the underrated hikes is the Red Rock Crossing Sedona, which is a surprise, given its proximity to the famous Cathedral Rock, one of the magnificent and iconic landmarks in Arizona. If you want to get away from the crowds and experience the blissful energies of Sedona Vortex, swim at the peaceful Oak Creek, unwind in nature and soak in the spectacular Sedona sunset, look no further than Red Rock Crossing in Sedona. 

Red Rock Crossing, also known as the Crescent Moon Ranch, is of the best Sedona swimming holes known for its stunning views of the Cathedral Rock and Red Rock Country Park. Given its easy access and excellent location, it is no wonder one of the famous Sunset hikes in Sedona.

If you’re coming to the area for the first time, it may feel confusing as there are many ways to reach it.

But do not worry, as, in this post, we cover the ways to access Red Rock Crossing Sedona, where to find parking, valuable tips and the best time to hike.

BEST TIME TO HIKE RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA

Spring and fall are the most popular seasons in Sedona, as these months offer the best weather conditions, beautiful landscapes and the ideal time to be outdoors. 

March to May and October and November are the best months to hike the Red Rock Crossing Sedona. But this means that the attractions and famous landmarks get crowded during these months, accommodation can be expensive, and securing parking is a challenge if you get there early in the morning.

The temperatures in Sedona in the winter, from December through February, are cold, but hiking is more enjoyable with fewer tourists and cooler weather. Accommodations are also less expensive in winter.

The best time to hike Red Rock Crossing Sedona is around sunset or in the afternoon, as it is one of the favourite Sedona Sunset spots among hikers. For the gorgeous sunset spectacle of colours, hike during the fall.

Red rock crossing hike

QUICK INFO AND HIKING DETAILS OF RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA

  • Distance – 1 to 2.5 miles round trip
  • Type – Out and back
  • Duration – 1 to 2 hours
  • Elevation Gain – 125 feet
  • Hike Difficulty – Easy
  • Parking – Limited parking
  • Best Time –  Afternoon and Sunset
  • Pass Required – Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass is needed
  • Dog Friendly – Yes
  • Kid Friendly – Yes

IS A PERMIT REQUIRED TO HIKE RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA?

You must display a Red Rock Pass or America National Parks Pass to access the Red Rock Crossing Vortex in Sedona. You can buy the day pass for $5 at the entrance.

RED ROCK PASS 

If you plan to do multiple hikes in Sedona, we recommend getting a Red Rock Pass, as many trailheads and roads require a permit, and you can save a few bucks by having this pass handy.

1-Day Red Rock Pass costs $5, $15 per week and $20 for one year. You can get the Red Rock Pass at recreation.gov.

HOW TO REACH THE TRAILHEAD OF RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA?

From the intersection of State Routes 89A and 179 in Sedona, head for about 6.3 miles. Here, turn to the right on Bell Rock Boulevard in the Villages of Oak Creek. 

Keep driving on Bell Rock Boulevard for 1.1 miles. Here, turn right onto Verde Valley School Road. Drive 4.1 miles on this road until the end to arrive at the Trailhead, located on the left side of the road. Although the last mile of the road is unpaved, it’s suitable for all vehicles. 

The picnic area is open daily from 8 AM to 8 PM throughout the year.

WHERE TO PARK?

There is limited parking near Baldwin trailhead near the end of Verde Valley School Road. Depending on the time of the trip, it can get busy. 

Parking at the end of the Verde Valley School Road is not allowed. Alternatively, you can park at Yavapai Point or the more popular Cathedral Rock trailhead.

You’ll need to display either a Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful National Parks Pass to access the parking here. There are kiosks to buy the day Red Rock Pass, which costs about $5.

Without passes, the parking fees are $11 per vehicle for up to five people; extra passengers and walk-in visitors are $2 each. Carry cash, as credit cards are not accepted.

HOW TO HIKE RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA

No matter which route you take, the Red Rock Crossing hike isn’t long, with all routes being relatively flat and taking only about 20 minutes one way, making it one of the best easy hikes in Sedona.

After parking at the area near Verde Valley Road, go across the street to the right, where you will find the Baldwin trailhead, which is well-marked. 

red rock crossing Sedona swimming

The trail begins beautifully amidst the junipers and pines as you pass through iconic buttes towering around. The area opens into a big grassy field, widening further, leading to a sandy stretch to Oak Creek.

You can stop here to relax, swim or admire the gorgeous views. After relaxing, continue to the right on this Red Rock Crossing Trail for 0.5 miles for about 10 minutes to reach the curve in Oak Creek to arrive at the fork leading to the Templeton trail.

Continue on the Templeton trail for about 0.2 miles to arrive at Buddha Beach, which is your last point before spending time at the Crescent moon picnic area. This is the easiest way to hike the Red Rock Crossing Sedona without having to navigate on the water.

ACCESSING RED ROCK CROSSING DIRECTLY FROM THE VERDE VALLEY ROAD

However, if the water levels are low and you are up for fun, you can cross Oak Creek at the end of Verde Valley Road. After crossing the creek, you’ll reach the Crescent Moon Day Use Site. 

From here, if you go right, you will reach Buddha Beach. It is only recommended when the water levels are low, and watch out for slippery rocks in the creek. 

Red Rock crossing Sedona Arizona

THE VORTEX AT THE RED ROCK CROSSING IN SEDONA

While Cathedral Rock is famous for being a vortex site, many people believe Red Rock Crossing Sedona near Oak Creek also has vortex energies making their sacred sites as the region is worshipped by 

Native Americans as a home of gods.

Whether you believe in the energy of vortexes or not, be respectful and enjoy the stunning views in the peaceful spots in this area.

CRESCENT MOON PICNIC AREA

One of the best spots on the Red Rock Crossing Sedona is the Crescent Moon Picnic area, which has the splendid Oak Creek flowing in the front against the gorgeous backdrops of Cathedral Rock and other red mountains.

Run by the US Forest Service, the day-use site is a popular picnic spot among locals and tourists thanks to the expansive grassy area. You will regularly meet hikers, bikers, and runners in the area. 

Red Rock crossing Sedona

You can also swim or enjoy fishing in Oak Creek. Depending on when you visit, you will find the water levels at Oak Creek resembling a small stream, while the flow can be high after monsoons and snow melt. Watch out for slippery rocks if you want to cross the river.

There’s a parking lot and amenities such as picnic tables in shaded and open areas, toilets, drinking water, and a cement walkway.

You can also enjoy staying overnight at the nearby Crescent Moon Ranch, run by the Forest Service and open to the public for overnight stays.

If you want to go further, head on the unpaved Buddha Beach Trail beginning at the side of Oak Creek, following along the basket cairns, a pile of rocks stacked, easier for finding directions, and continue for about two miles along the creek’s shoreline. 

TIPS FOR HIKING RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA

START THE HIKE EARLY

As parking fills most of the time quickly, starting the hike early in the morning is best, ideally around or right after sunrise. 

Apart from securing parking spaces, you can hike without crowds and enjoy photographing and peacefully exploring the trail and cave.

WEAR GOOD HIKING SHOES

It is best to wear sturdy hiking shoes with excellent grip as the rocks can be slippery after and around the rain.

HIKE AROUND SUNSET OR SUNRISE

While sunset is the popular time for hiking Red Rock Crossing Sedona, it can be crowded thanks to its popularity. If you want to avoid crowds and love getting up early, we recommend walking around sunrise.

For photography purposes, the afternoon is the best time to visit the Red Rock crossing trail in Sedona, as the light conditions are perfect on the horizon.

If you plan to hike around sunset, carry a headlamp or a torch to help you safely get back down in the dark.

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PATH WHILE HIKING

Keep looking at the GPS and track your trail once you begin your hike to know your route and to ensure that you can periodically check in and see you’re on the right path. 

RESPECT THE LAND

The Red Rock Crossing in Sedona and the surrounding areas, including the Sedona Subway Cave and Birthing Cave, are spiritual significance and sacred sites to the Native Americans that should be respected at all times. Do not remove anything from the area, make rock piles, or move the rocks or graffiti rocks.

Also, Cathedral Rock, the summit area in Sedona, is known for its vortex energy. Whether you believe in vortexes or not, respect the idea and treat the land as such.

CARRY SNACKS AND WATER

It is better to carry some snacks and water if you plan to stay there for a while to wait for the sunset or sunrise. Although it may be a short hike, it can be moderately complex, mainly due to the scramble involved. Some snacks will surely help you.  

LEAVE NO TRACE

Please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace when hiking:

  • Packing out what you bring to the hiking trail.
  • Being considerate of other hikers.
  • Staying on the course.
  • Minimising campfire impacts.
  • Not approaching or feeding wildlife.

FOLLOW THE TRAIL

The last part of arriving at the cave involves climbing. Take the bank climb, not the rock climb, as it is steeper and more strenuous.

ALTERNATIVE PARKING AND TRAILHEAD

If you cannot park at Crescent Moon trailhead, you can try alternatively at the overflow parking at the Yavapai Point Parking Lot, about two miles south on Highway 179. 

But note that Yavapai Point also has limited parking space, and parking here means it adds more miles. Consider this into account if you plan to park here.

BRING SUNSCREEN

Wear sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses, and keep yourself hydrated, as there is no shade and the trail is in the open.

FAQS ABOUT RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA

WHAT IS THERE TO DO AT RED ROCK CROSSING?

There are many incredible things to do in Red Rock Crossing. You can swim in Oak Creek, experience the peaceful vortex energies, enjoy stunning sunset views of Sedona, including Cathedral Rock, or hike to Cathedral Rock from Red Rock Crossing in Sedona.

HOW LONG IS RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA?

The total distance of Baldwin trail Sedona ranges between 1.5 to 2 miles depending on the routes.

IS RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA HARD?

The Red Rock Crossing in Sedona is relatively easy and short on a flat route, making it suitable for beginner hikers and people traveling with kids and pets.

IS THE RED ROCK CROSSING HIKE DOG FRIENDLY?

Yes, the Baldwin trail hike in Sedona is a dog-friendly hike. But it would be best if you keep your pets on a leash at all times.

WHERE DO YOU PARK FOR RED ROCK CROSSING SEDONA?

There is limited parking near Baldwin trailhead near the end of Verde Valley School Road. Depending on the time of the trip, it can get busy.  Parking at the end of the Verde Valley School Road is not allowed.

Alternatively, you can park at Yavapai Point or the more popular Cathedral Rock trailhead.

You’ll need to display either a Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful National Parks Pass to access the parking here. There are kiosks to buy the day Red Rock Pass, which costs about $5.

Without passes, the parking fees are $11 per vehicle for up to five people; extra passengers and walk-in visitors are $2 each. Carry cash, as credit cards are not accepted.

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