Sedona in December is fantastic, one of the best months to visit.
December in Sedona has fewer visitors, which means less competition in parking lots; you pay lower prices for accommodation
This gorgeous city is beautiful year-round, but I prefer being there at the end of the year as there are many incredible things to do in Sedona in December, which also sees the best Christmas celebrations with holiday spirit everywhere.
December is also the best time to explore the outdoors, especially hiking the many fantastic trails.
If you wonder whether visiting Sedona in December is worth it, read on to find out how to have a fun trip with your loved ones this holiday season.
Planning to visit Sedona during other winter months? Check this guide to spending winter in Sedona this year!
If you are visiting Sedona during a specific month in the winter, check these guides:
If you are planning to go here in January, check this guide to visiting Sedona in January.
OTHER RECOMMENDED POSTS TO PLAN YOUR SEDONA TRIP
WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE IN SEDONA IN DECEMBER?
If you visit Sedona in December, expect the mornings and evenings to be freezing, but daytime temperatures are excellent for being outdoors.
Bring many layers when visiting in December as this is the coldest month of the year, but do not let that discourage you as these chilly temperatures are mostly overnight, leaving you with the daytime for explorations
Daytime temperatures of 52 F on average are great for hiking, drives, and watching sunsets.
DOES IT SNOW IN SEDONA IN DECEMBER?
Sedona is one of the places to experience Arizona snow.
Yes, it does snow in Sedona in December, but the snowfall is not more than 2 inches, creating sprinkles of white on the landscapes.
If you want a magical white Sedona, it is best to visit Sedona in winter in the later months of January, February or March.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN SEDONA IN DECEMBER
VISIT THIS ARTS AND CULTURE SHOPPING VILLAGE
Located on the banks of beautiful Oak Creek, Tlaquepaque is a year-round top attraction in the city, but it is known for its signature event during Christmas in Sedona.
This 50+ years old tradition is anticipated by locals and tourists alike as Tlaquepaque transforms into an even more enchanting winter wonderland.
The Tlaquepaque arts and shopping district has been the central attraction during Christmas in Sedona as the area comes alive with over 6000 luminaries.
These luminaries are icons for holidays in the Southwest, traditional paper-bag lanterns with candles set in sand.
Check out the arts and crafts village with shops where you can taste hot chocolates and Christmas cookies and shop for antiques.
The festivities begin after Thanksgiving, as the village basks in thousands of lights and kicks off the season with a Tree Lighting on Dec. 6.
Once the tree lights up, the festivities will begin with a visit from Santa, live music and other entertainment.
The Tlaquepaque Arts & Craft Village is one of Sedona’s most well-loved areas for its many boutiques and shops selling regional and hand-crafted goods.
Listen to choirs, and get your kids to meet Santa after the parade.
Opening hours – 11 AM to 7 PM
INDULGE IN WINTER SPORTS
About an hour from the city, Arizona Snowbowl is one of the most popular resorts skiing in Arizona, located atop mountains formed by an eroded volcano millions of years ago.
It is a popular option for a day trip from Flagstaff and Phoenix.
It is one of the best places to visit during Christmas in Sedona to enjoy winter sports with your kids.
Nestled in the majestic San Francisco Peaks, Arizona Snowbowl is known for its magnificent views of Humphreys Peak, the highest mountain in Arizona.
The weather at Snowbowl is pleasantly sunny, even during the winter.
But notorious, unexpected snow storms lead to heavy snow quickly piling up.
Because of the cool weather and traces of snow still remaining, spring is also a popular time for skiing at Snowbowl.
The Snowbowl is also home to the only gondola in Arizona.
Also called Telemix, this lift combines eight-passenger gondolas, whipping you up 2,000 feet in just 7 minutes.
From the top, you will be treated to fantastic views of the valley below blanketed in snow.
From here, you can access the bowl area, glades, and all the intermediate runs.
Note that Weekends and powder days are generally crowded, and long queues for the lifts are standard.
You can also hike along the diamond trails in the Upper Bowl.
With 777 acres of skiable terrain, this is the destination in the state you should visit if you’re serious about skiing in Arizona.
Considered by many to be the premier Arizona ski resort, its location at 11,500 feet makes for an epic ski experience since it boasts the best ski slopes in Arizona.
With five lifts serving 32 runs ranging from easy to complex, the Arizona Snowbowl is one of the most challenging ski areas in the West.
If you are a beginner or families with small children, head to the Hart Prairie Chair to enjoy a gentle slope with many wide-open spaces.
If you are a seasoned skier looking to up your game, head near the Humphreys Peak chair, the Grand Canyon Express or Sunset Chairs.
After you’ve made it up and down, head to the beautiful outdoor patio area, The Hart Prairie Lodge patio to relax.
Have your favourite drink amidst new fire pits, in your perfect lounging spot, soaking up the sun.
If you are serious about learning skiing, Arizona Snowbowl has an excellent ski school and is a perfect place to learn.
If you are over 13 years of age and new to skiing, Arizona Snowbowl has programs that will provide you with free or deeply discounted lessons.
Open to both skiers and snowboarders, Snowbowl also boasts a Terrain Park with rails and spines.
There are two mountain day lodges nearby with restaurants and lounges.
Usually on the weekends, the area becomes more bustling as ski races happen and live music and DJs play the latest hits, making it a fun holiday getaway.
Opening Months – Mid-November to Late May
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest airport is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport about 20 miles away.
If you are flying to Phoenix(Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl. Airport), renting a car is the best option.
It will take around 3 hours on Interstate 17 and you will be treated to stunning views.
But note that the drive-up can be challenging on snowy days if you are driving. The road is filled with bends and steep, and chains are frequently required.
If you are driving from Sedona to Arizona Snowbowl, on Highway 89A up Oak Creek Canyon can be challenging on snowy days.
This journey takes around 1.5 hours(longer if conditions are tricky).
If you are visiting during January and February, on the weekends, a free shuttle runs from downtown Flagstaff every 20 minutes from two locations in town.
WHERE TO STAY?
If you want a closer stay, check out the base camp at Snowbowl, on the way up to the ski resort.
There are 18 cabins and six hotel-style rooms, Basecamp at Snowbowl is pet-friendly for a modest charge, and the on-site restaurant serves up hearty fare guaranteed to keep you going no matter how deep the snow.
ENJOY ICE SKATING
One of the many popular holiday attractions in the winter is ice skating and ice hockey.
Loved by adults and kids, you can indulge in it to your heart’s content at this outdoor ice skating rink, one of the best Arizona ice skating rinks.
Organized by the City of Sedona Parks and Recreation department, you can enjoy 30 minutes of fun skating on a first come, first served basis.
Get your skates or rent one at the premises.
STROLL IN THE UPTOWN
One of the must-stops while enjoying Christmas celebrations in Sedona is the Uptown.
The Uptown is luxuriously lit up between late November and throughout December, including Jordan Road and Apple Avenue.
Head to Canyon Breeze Plaza in Uptown Sedona between 5 PM to 7 PM to watch the lighting of the community’s 20’ tree and Santa’s arrival.
Shop for your favourite souvenirs, and enjoy hot cocoa or cider and cookies.
WATCH THE NUTCRACKER
Any holiday celebration is incomplete without watching classics.
One of the fun things to do at Christmas in Sedona is watching the holiday classic at Sedona Performing Arts Center in West Sedona.
The prices begin at $30 per adult and $15 per kid.
Another location to watch the Nut Cracker is the Blazin’ M Ranch Christmas Show, located in Cottonwood, 20 minutes from Sedona.
RIDE THE SEDONA CHRISTMAS TROLLEY
There are many unique modes of transport to explore Sedona during Christmas.
If you are only here briefly, riding the Sedona Christmas Trolley is one of the best ways to see most of the town.
The Sedona Trolley is a fun and informative tour to visit Sedona’s finest sites and landmarks.
Along this one-hour ride, you will travel through Sedona and Boynton Canyon as you listen to exciting little-known facts about the town and hear American Indian legends from your guide.
Train lovers can head to Sedona Vista Village to check out the miniature model of trains, besides taking the Verde Canyon Road train journey.
TASTE DELICIOUS CHRISTMAS CUISINE
Whether you’re traveling with the kids or going away for a romantic holiday weekend, there are plenty of restaurants to taste the best dishes in the city, from traditional Mexican to local unique to eastern cuisine.
With holiday lights at their maximum best, the ambience at the restaurants is beautiful to enjoy.
From some restaurants, you can enjoy the stunning Sedona sunset overlooking the red rocks.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN SEDONA IN DECEMBER
TAKE A HELICOPTER TOUR
Want to enjoy birdviews of beautiful Arizona?
Take this helicopter tour to admire the stunning landscapes of Arizona from above, as you fly over Sedona’s famous red rock formations, including cliff dwellings, mesas and buttes.
Unlike hot air balloon rides, helicopter rides are fast and quick but cover more ground.
When booking a helicopter in December, make sure to join in the morning to see many vibrant colours.
I highly recommend adding this 2-hours tour to your trip to Sedona in winter for fantastic aerial views stretching far across the Sonoran Desert.
GO ON ONE OF THE SCENIC DRIVES
One of the best ways to enjoy Sedona in December is by driving through the scenic routes.
There are many beautiful scenic drives near Sedona offering you the fantastic outdoors of this region, home to powerful vortexes, stunning Arizona slot canyons, hot springs, rugged views of the tremendous red-rocks landscapes, beautiful creeks amidst juniper and oaks.
These routes range between 30 minutes to a few hours, so depending on your preferences, pick one of these routes for a fabulous time on the road.
The Red Rock Scenic Byway is one of these enticing, 30-minute long road trips as you will be treated to 7.5 miles of stunning scenery featuring red rock formations and plenty of lookout points and ending up in Oak Creek.
VISIT THE CHAPEL OF THE HOLY CROSS
One of the top attractions worth visiting in Sedona in December is the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
This Roman Catholic chapel was built from 1954 to 1956 in the red rock buttes of Sedona, Arizona, within the Coconino National Forest.
It is known for its brilliant architecture and engineering accomplishments in constructing the buttes, with windows framing buttes and rock outcroppings.
ENJOY STARGAZING IN SEDONA
If you are like me and love gazing at the stars, you will love it here at night as the clear weather in Sedona in December at night means sparkling stars above you everywhere.
Bundle up and enjoy stargazing in Sedona at night, one of the fun romantic things to do.
Sedona is one of only twenty certified Dark Sky Communities in the world, and make the best use of your time by picnicking under the stars or driving to the best viewpoints around the city.
For a fantastic night, I highly recommend this Night time UFO & Stargazing Tour where you will hear mysterious stories of hovering objects above!
But wear layers as the temperatures are chilly, and check for storms
CATCH THE SUNSET OR SUNRISE
Watching a glorious sunrise in Sedona is one of the best things to experience when you plan a trip to this desert town.
Packed with gorgeous geological wonders, including vortexes and red rocks, you have plenty of spots to watch the golden, bright orange and yellow sunshine colours transform the panoramas into beautiful scapes.
In addition to Sedona Sunsets, add watching the sunrise to your itinerary, especially if you love early mornings.
The distinct landmarks make these early dawn hours special, surreal views you will remember for a long time.
No wonder photographers from all around the world flock to capture the phenomenal spectacle every day.
Also, if you are visiting Sedona in winter, especially in December, the sun sets at around 5:30 PM so you can easily add a drive to watch the setting sun amidst gorgeous landscapes.
TOUR THE WINERIES NEAR SEDONA
Your trip to Sedona is incomplete without visiting the best Sedona wineries, whether you are a fan of wine specialities or the rich rolling vineyards.
Thanks to its excellent location in the flourishing Verde Valley Wine Region, Sedona is one of Arizona’s most famous wine destinations.
You can taste local at the charming tasting rooms in downtown Sedona, drive through the canyons and spectacular Verde Valley wine country, or book Sedona wine tours to discover the hidden gems along the Verde Valley Wine Trail.
A Sedona wine experience can also be a romantic getaway, a fabulous destination for girls’ weekends, and bachelor/bachelorette parties.
No matter how you do, you will love the lush, thriving vineyards, tranquil tasting rooms and a community of wine connoisseurs keeping Arizona’s wine history rich.
The first Verde Valley vineyards date back to the 17th century.
The earlier members of the Franciscan missionaries started harvesting grapes as they discovered the beautiful high-altitude oasis, perfect for syrahs, merlots, and chardonnays, thanks to the abundant sunshine, rich soil, and the flourishing Oak Creek and Verde River.
Today the valley is famous for its award-winning wineries and tasting rooms, popularly called the Verde Valley Wine Trail.
If you are looking for the top Sedona wineries, you will be spoilt for choice, as there are over 30 vineyards and tasting rooms within 25 miles of the city.
Check this list for 15 Best wineries in Sedona Worth Visiting For a Fabulous Day Trip
TAKE A HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
One of the most popular tours loved by visitors and locals alike is the hot air balloon ride over Sedona in December, where you can tower above the red rocks, and mesas, and soak in blissful views of Red Rock County.
It is undoubtedly a romantic idea to experience Sedona in winter.
I highly recommend taking the tour in the morning to watch the stunning sunrise.
As the balloon starts to rise from the ground, you get to see one of the most beautiful sunrises from above, colouring the landscapes in vivid colors.
Here are some of the high-rated tours I recommend.
VISIT CATHEDRAL ROCK
Hiking to Cathedral Rock is an essential experience while visiting Sedona in December.
Cathedral Rock is a natural sandstone butte that is one of the most photographed places in Arizona.
Cathedral Rock Sunrise is one of the best in Arizona, and it is no surprise, given the gorgeous views you will encounter.
One of the best things about choosing this spot for watching a sunrise in Sedona from this place is that you will witness beautiful panoramas throughout your hike, not just at the Cathedral Rock itself.
Although it is a challenging hike, you will pass through many beautiful points where you can rest and enjoy the views.
You will arrive at the base of the rock in about some time, opening to stunning views.
You can continue climbing further after you have admired the views here.
To the left of the viewpoint, there is another smaller trail leading upwards to the Cathedral spire, which feels slightly more challenging than the journey so far, but soon you will notice that it’s only the rocks.
Recommended – A Complete Guide To Hiking The Cathedral Rock, Sedona
On your way down, be cautious and take care of your steps as they can get slippery.
If you do both hikes, it may take about 2 hours and a little more time if you include the time to watch the sunrise and photograph the same.
HIKE THIS VORTEX
Sedona has long been regarded as a place both sacred and powerful, and people come from around the world to meditate and experience the mysterious cosmic forces within the area.
These vortexes or powerful energy fields, are used for healing, meditation, accessing psychic abilities, and spiritual and self-exploration.
One of the popular vortexes in Sedona is Bell Rock, one of the first red rock formations that you will notice in the city.
Due to its more accessible trail and gorgeous formations, the Bell Rock Loop Trail is a popular spot among locals and visitors.
Although it is a short trail, the uphill climbing will make it a 30-minute journey to get to the base section of Bell Rock from the parking area.
A vast viewing platform offers splendid views of the sunrise in Sedona.
For more adventure, you can climb further to reach the upper portions of the rock.
Also, check out Courthouse Butte in the early morning sunlight.
ENJOY THESE WINTER HIKES
One of the best things about visiting Sedona in December is accessing the many hiking trails that give you splendid views of the panoramas.
BOYNTON CANYON TRAIL
Also known as Bandito Spire, one of the beautiful landmarks in Arizona is Boynton Canyon, which is also a fantastic spot to watch a colourful sunrise in Sedona.
It’s about 6 miles round trip from the Boynton Canyon trailhead and parking lot, easy and ideal for everyone, and one of the best things to do in Sedona in winter.
You will pass through another landmark Kachina Woman, an 80-foot weird tall mushroom-like tower towering over the entrance to Boynton Canyon.
You will also reach Subway Cave, another spot worth stopping by for its unique formations.
SOLDIER PASS TRAIL
Sedona’s most accessible trail for witnessing a sunrise is the Soldier Pass trail, which passes through different caves, pools, and even sinkholes.
It is one of the most beautiful hikes I highly recommend while visiting Sedona in winter.
You can access the Soldier Pass trail via the Cibola Pass Trail, with a mile-long hike length. For parking, you can use the Jordan Road parking lot.
This trail, open throughout the year, is very popular for mountain biking, running, and trekking.
The best time to do this hike is after rainy months as the pools will be complete.
GO ON A PINK JEEP TOUR
Hop aboard a Jeep and prepare to take in the stunning views of the 1,500 ft towering cliffs of Oak Creek Canyon and its gorgeous natural panoramas.
One of the best adventurous things to do in Sedona in winter, you can admire views of the Colorado Plateau by climbing 2,000 ft along its south rim on one of these Pink Jeep tours.
Here are some of my recommendations for the best Jeep tours to enjoy Sedona sunrise:
Private Gambler Trail: Rugged 4×4 Hummer Tour in Sedona – Recommended if you are looking for a private tour. Check details here.
WHERE TO STAY IN SEDONA?
APARTMENTS AND LUXURY HOTELS
A Sunset Chateau – This bed and breakfast features an outdoor pool and hot tub, A fully equipped kitchenette and stunning mountain views from select rooms.
Junipine Resort – Offering apartments with a full kitchen and a living room with a fireplace, this resort boasts rustic elegance. Close to the creek and many attractions, it is one of the best places to indulge. Check out rooms and the latest prices here.
Enchantment Resort – If you want a luxurious experience, check out Enchantment Resort, known for its spectacular vistas of Boynton Canyon.
Enjoy luxurious delicacies and outdoor activities, besides enjoying the comforts of suites and villas with private balconies. Check out rooms and the latest prices here.
Adobe Village Villa with Private Patio – Sunset Villa – Boasting air-conditioned accommodation with a patio, Adobe Village Villa with Private Patio – Sunset villa offers access to a balcony and free private parking.
It is one of my favourite recommendations for its rich exteriors and comfortable villas. Check out rooms and the latest prices here.
El Portal Sedona Hotel – El Portal Sedona Hotel is 20 20-minute drive from Red Rock State Park. You can also enjoy a spa bath, which is also featured in some rooms. Check out rooms and the latest prices here.
Matterhorn Inn – Matterhorn Inn provides excellent accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool and free WiFi throughout the property. The 4-star hotel has mountain views. Check here for the latest prices and deals.
If you are looking for a B&B, I recommend Whispering Creek Bed & Breakfast, which features accommodation with free WiFi, barbecue facilities, a shared lounge and free private parking. They have excellent reviews and great prices. Click here for more details.
Hilton Vacation Club Sedona Summit – Situated in the Sedona Plateau and offering stunning views of the Arizona desert, Hilton Vacation Club Sedona Summit features studios and one and 2-bedroom suites. Check out their reviews and prices here. Check out rooms and the latest prices here.
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