Sedona in Winter is the best time to explore everything, as the weather is perfect for the outdoors which looks gorgeous with sprinkles of snow kissing the splendid red rock mountainous landscapes.
Although spring and fall are the peak seasons to explore Sedona, visiting Sedona in winter lets you experience the serenity and the powerful energy of vortexes without the crowds.
Winter days are crisp and cool, plus, Sedona also receives snow, like many other snow places in Arizona, which is dreamy.
In this guide, I share the best things to do in Sedona in winter with your kids, the weather to expect and practical tips.
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WHAT IS THE WEATHER IN SEDONA IN WINTER?
Winter in Sedona is between December and February.
December is the coldest month in Sedona, but a very comfortable 57 degrees Fahrenheit means you can enjoy almost all outdoor activities and things to do.
The temperatures drop drastically as the day progresses reaching the high 20s to low 30s, and you’ll need your winter coat by night.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING SEDONA IN WINTER
DRIVING IN SEDONA IN WINTER
Sedona does not receive heavy snowfall during the months of December, the roads are well-maintained, so, you don’t require any special tires when driving in Sedona in winter.
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
A portion of the hike is very steep, almost vertical, and requires you to scramble.
It is best to wear sturdy hiking shoes with excellent grip as the rocks can be slippery after and around rain.
HIKE AROUND SUNSET OR SUNRISE
While sunset is the popular time for accessing hiking trails in 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.
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 ensure you can periodically check in and see you’re on the right path.
RESPECT THE LAND
Sedona is home to many places of 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.
Sedona is known for its vortex energy. Whether you believe in vortexes, 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.
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.
If you plan to do photography, it is best to go in the morning or late afternoon around sunset for stunning views.
But these times will be crowded, so you must wait for your turn.
Expect a waiting period of at least 30 minutes to one hour here.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN SEDONA IN WINTER
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.
HOP ON THE VERDE CANYON RAILROAD CHRISTMAS TRAIN
If you plan a trip to enjoy Christmas in Sedona with your kids, this is one of the activities I highly recommend(and it is my favourite too).
Verde Canyon Railroad Christmas Train is one of the best journeys for your kids and the kid in you to soak up Christmas lights.
The Magical Christmas Journey by the Verde Canyon Railroad, takes you on a one-hour round trip, starting from Clarkdale depot (a 30-min drive from Sedona).
The trips run from early December through Christmas Eve.
You will have a fantastic time journeying in the illuminated mystical tunnel to Santa’s Village in the North Pole.
The train ride is packed with entertainment for kids and adults, plus unique open-air viewing cars.
Kids can meet many comic characters, including a Christmas princess before meeting Santa Claus and his wife, Mrs. Claus.
ENJOY THE BEST WINTER HIKES IN SEDONA
One of the stunning landmarks in Sedona, Bell Rock, is 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.
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 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.
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
FUN THINGS TO DO IN SEDONA IN WINTER
DRINK CRAFT BEER
Your trip to Sedona in winter won’t be complete without a visit to some of the area’s best breweries.
The best breweries in Sedona should be on your itinerary whether you are a beer lover or the type that is curious to explore the local brews on your travel.
Although the beer scene in Sedona may not be well-established, it is certainly growing, with more and more Sedona breweries opening to visitors, perfect for unwinding after being in this paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
Whether you plan to take brew tours or want to end the days tasting the brews after checking out the attractions and things to do, visit the best Sedona breweries to experience delicious local craft beers, as there’s a brewery in Sedona for everyone.
JOIN YOGA SESSIONS
Considered one of the most spiritual places in the Southwest, Yoga is quite popular in the town, embraced by the locals and visitors alike.
One of the best things to do in Sedona in winter is join one of the different types of Yoga sessions, from hot Yoga to Yoga outdoors, including meditations.
Join a yoga retreat to witness the spiritual vibe of the city, a unique experience amidst the gorgeous white landscapes in Sedona in winter.
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 winter 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 Nightime UFO & Stargazing Tour where you will hear mysterious stories of hovering objects above!
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.
VISIT THE HERITAGE MUSEUM
One of the top places to get glimpses of the city’s history is the Sedona Heritage Museum, where you can explore the rich heritage of the Sedona area.
Although you can visit the museum any time of the year, add it to your itinerary of Sedona in winter amidst a gorgeous apple orchard.
Check out unique collections of artefacts from the 8th century to learn about the histories of arts, heritage, wines, and orchards.
SHOP FOR NATIVE AMERICAN CRAFTS
Who does not love shopping on trips? Sedona is known for its many unique shops ranging from crystals, gemstones, handmade crafts, and Native American souvenirs.
Head to the famous Kachina House for stunning hand-crafted pottery art, antique dolls, and jewellery, most made by the Native people.
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.
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 A KAYAK ADVENTURE
If you are planning an early trip to Sedona in winter in November, one of the best ways to soak in the stunning outdoors is by renting inflatable river kayaks on the wild Verde River.
Don’t worry about the gear since Verde Adventures provides everything you need.
Expect to see the rich wildlife along the way, such as deer, beaver, blue heron, etc.
On this adventurous journey, you may spot wildlife as you kayak along the river for over 5 miles.
It is perfect for beginners and the currents are less, so add this fun experience to your trip.
GO ON ONE OF THE SCENIC DRIVES
One of the best ways to enjoy Sedona in winter 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.
ENJOY WINTER CAMPING IN SEDONA
Sedona is surrounded by fantastic landscapes making it a paradise for outdoor lovers. One of the best ways to experience the magnificent landscapes and views is by camping in Sedona in winter.
Many campgrounds are near Coconino National Forest and Oak Creek Canyon, with some needing reservations.
Get your sleeping bags, insulated jackets, thermals and other camping essentials to camp under the stars on your winter trip.
PLAY A ROUND OF TEE OR TWO
If you love Golf, Sedona is the best place to enjoy a round or two.
Sedona is home to many fantastic world-class golf courses, with many offering beautiful views of the Red Rocks.
The winter weather in Sedona is excellent for playing golf and snacks in between overlooking magnificent views.
CANYON ATV TOUR
If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Sedona in winter, try the Sedona Canyon ATV tour.
With over a hundred miles of trails available, you can choose your adventure by joining a tour like this, which will take you through beautiful views of Verde Valley.
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.
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, 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. Here are some of the high-rated tours I recommend.
HIKE THE DEVIL’S BRIDGE
One of the popular spots for watching a calming sunrise in Sedona is Devil’s Bridge, which can be accessed via the Chuck Wagon trail.
It is a 2-mile trail one way that is primarily flat and takes about an hour. But wear proper hiking shoes as the path has many rocks.
You have the parking at the Chuck Wagon Trailhead lot off Boynton Pass Road.
If you want a shorter trail, you can drive a 4×4 vehicle directly to Devil’s Bridge Trail.
You will arrive at the Devil’s Bridge Trail junction which opens to stunning panoramas of the bridge gleaming with different shades of colours, making it a fantastic Sedona sunrise hiking trail.
WHERE TO STAY IN SEDONA IN WINTER?
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.