The Seven Sacred Pools Sedona is one of the popular stops for those hiking Soldiers Pass Trail or the nearby caves, and it is worth adding to your trip for many reasons.
The Seven Sacred Pools hike in Sedona is an easy hike appropriate for all skill levels. The trail is easy and flat, and it takes only 30 minutes if you plan to just visit the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona without exploring further on the trails.
It offers plenty of photo opportunities if you time your visit right. In this guide, we’ll share the three ways to access the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona, the parking information, permit details and valuable tips to enjoy visiting these beautiful pools.
WHAT ARE THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDONA?
The Seven Sacred Pools are a series of seven natural trickling blue pools or potholes originating from the red rocks mountains near the Soldiers Pass trail. They are carved out of red sandstones and fed by a seasonal stream.
Located between the Oak Creek Mountains and Sedona’s arid desert in the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness, these pools are essential both for human spirituality and for the needs of animals, who come to the pools to drink before venturing further into the dry surrounding landscape.
They are considered sacred by the Apaches and Yavapai, the native American communities inhabiting these parts near Sedona. Seven Sacred Pools Sedona cascade into waterfalls over layers of deep ochre sandstone during the rainy months or after the rains.
What makes the Seven Sacred Pools more special is its fantastic location amidst deep green juniper, agave and oak trees on one side and a series of towering red rock mountains and canyons.
Seven Sacred Pools Sedona hike suits hikers of all experience levels, including kids. You can climb down to the bottom of the last pool easily to explore.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDONA
Spring and fall are the most popular months in Sedona, as these months offer the best weather conditions, beautiful landscapes and the ideal time to be outdoors. It is the best time to hike the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona.
March to May and October and November are the best months. 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.
Depending on when you visit, the Seven sacred pools can either be dry or flowing with water.
Avoid the pools around May and June and summer in general as those are some of the hottest times of the year and they may be empty. It’s best to go during July and August or after the rains.
QUICK INFO AND HIKING DETAILS OF THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDON
FROM THE SOLDIERS PASS TRAILHEAD
- Distance – 4.5 miles round trip
- Type – Out and back
- Duration – 3 to 4 hours
- Trailhead – Soldiers Pass Trailhead/Soldier Pass Trail No. 66
- Elevation Gain – 850 feet
- Hike Difficulty – Moderate
- Parking – Limited parking at a 14-car gravel parking lot
- Best Time – Morning to afternoon
- Pass Required – No
FROM THE JORDAN ROAD TRAILHEAD(JIM THOMSPON TRAILHEAD)
- Distance – 6 miles round trip
- Type – Out and back
- Duration – 3 to 4 hours
- Trailhead – Jordan Road Trailhead/Jim Thompson Trailhead
- Elevation Gain – 850 feet
- Hike Difficulty – Moderate
- Parking – 50 slots available
- Best Time – Morning to afternoon
- Pass Required – Yes, Red Rocks Pass or National Parks Pass
IS THERE AN ENTRY FEE TO HIKE THE SOLDIERS PASS TRAIL IN SEDONA?
If you access Seven sacred Pools by hiking the Soldiers Pass trail, you will not need a permit to drive down the road.
If you plan to head to Jim Thompson trailhead, you must show either a Red Rock Pass or America National Parks Pass. You can apply for your permit at recreation.gov.
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.
HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD TO HIKE THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDONA
One way of reaching the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona is by taking the Soldiers Pass trailhead, located about 3 miles from the city centre, at the end of Forest Service 9904 Road.
From Sedona’s centre, start by heading south on 89A for about a mile. After driving for a mile, take a right turn onto Soldier Pass Road. Continue for about 1.5 miles, going through a little residential area.
After about 1.5 miles, take another right onto Rim Shadows Drive and continue for a short way on Canyon Shadows Drive. Soldiers Pass trailhead will be on your left at the end.
You can also hike the Seven Sacred Pools from Jordan Road Trailhead, also called the Jim Thompson trailhead, located off W Park Ridge Drive.
WHERE TO PARK?
SOLDIERS PASS TRAILHEAD
The biggest challenge about hiking the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona is finding a parking spot, especially if you plan to take the Soldiers Pass trail during the peak hours and busy months.
At the Soldiers Pass Trailhead parking lot(save this map on your Google maps or reference), only cars up to 20 feet in length are permitted to park.
It is a small gravel parking lot that holds around 16 small cars or 14 cars at most. This parking lot has an automatic gate open daily from 8 am to 6 pm. There are no restrooms in this parking lot.
It is best to arrive at least 30 minutes before the gate opens if you plan to hike the Sedona Soldiers Pass trail in the morning during peak seasons, as every morning, hikers drive to the lot for a spot to join the long waiting line on holidays and weekends.
It depends on the season and time of your visit. But since cars will be in and out of the lot all day so you can get a spot if you arrive later, but expect to wait in a long line. Also, since this parking lot is located within a residential community, there is no overflow parking along the streets.
And it’s important to know that if you park in this lot, you must get back to your car by 6 pm as the gate gets locked at 6, and you will have to go without your vehicle that night.
JORDAN ROAD TRAILHEAD(JIM THOMPSON TRAILHEAD)
If you want to start hiking before 8 AM or during sunset and later than 6 PM, consider parking at the Jordan Road Trailhead,
This lot holds up to 50 cars, is open 24 hours, and has a restroom and other facilities. This parking lot fills around 9 AM, so if you intend to hike in the morning, plan accordingly.
To park here, you must display either America the Beautiful pass or a Red Rock Pass. You can purchase a Red Rock Pass in the parking lot for $5.
THREE WAYS TO HIKE THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDONA
SOLDIERS PASS TRAIL
The easiest way to access the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona is via the Soldiers Pass trail. It starts at the east end of the Soldiers Pass trailhead parking lot. Stay away from the gate on the north end of the parking lot, as this is for the Soldier Pass 4WD road.
You will hike for about 0.25 miles, passing through bushes and junipers, and a wash and then ascend on moderate grades to a junction for a mile. You need to take a left turn to continue on the Soldier Pass trail at this fork. Going to the right will take you to the Jordan Trail here.
DEVIL’S KITCHEN SINKHOLE
On the way to the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona, the first stop on the Soldiers Pass trail is the giant sinkhole, Devil’s Kitchen. Look out for the Devil’s Kitchen to the righthand side of the course about a quarter-mile into the hike.
Starting on this trail after continuing on the left on the Soldiers Pass trail, you’ll quickly reach Devil’s Kitchen, a splendid geological formation, a sinkhole formed by the collapse of enormous underground caverns.
The Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole is one of 7 sinkholes discovered around Sedona. Devil’s Kitchen is the most well-known and active of the 7, only about 0.4 miles from the Soldier’s Pass Trailhead. Check out the vast 150 ft by 90ft wide hole averaging 50 ft deep.
You can walk around the sinkhole but be careful because there are no railings or fences. Check out some exciting signs to read about the sinkhole here.
SEVEN SACRED POOLS
After stopping at the sinkhole, continue on the Soldiers Pass trail for another 0.4 miles until you come to the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona, one of the best spots on the Soldier Pass Trail. You’ll hike parallel to the wash towards the pools.
On your hike, stop and admire the surrounding vibrant red landscapes comprising towering red rocky mountains, buttes, and the distinct agave and juniper along the trail.
These small pools, formed into the rock, are located amidst a striking desert backdrop with red mountains and rocks. This series of small potholes hold water even during dry periods, and you can see pools filled with water depending on when you go.
Climb to the lowermost pool and enjoy the stunning views from different points, and remember to take pictures.
After spending some time at the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona, you can return to the parking lot and retrace your steps. If you wish to continue your hike to the cave and beyond, turn to your right to continue walking on the Soldiers Pass trail for one mile.
Check this guide to hike the Soldiers Pass Cave and Brins Mesa(the following points on this trail if you wish to go further)
We recommend downloading your maps and keeping an eye on the trail. Since this area is famous for jeep tours, watch for traffic.
JIM THOMPSON TRAIL(JORDAN ROAD TRAIL)
The second way to access the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona is via the Jordan Road trail or Jim Thompson trail, popularly called Jordan trail for short. It goes up to Devil’s Kitchen, and you must take the Soldiers Pass trail to reach Seven Sacred Pools.
It is also easy to reach Devil’s Kitchen as the one-mile-long course is flat and adds about 20 minutes.
Start on the Jordan Trail by getting on the Cibola Trail, which is only one mile long and meet the Soldier Pass Trail at Devil’s Kitchen. Follow the Soldiers Pass trail north to the Seven Sacred Pools.
Here, you can turn back and go to the parking lot or head further to explore the Soldiers Pass Cave.
If you are visiting the Soldier Pass Cave, you can go further and follow the Brins Mesa Trail and make a loop if you want to avoid coming back the way you came. The length of this loop is over 6 miles.
DRIVE SOLDIERS PASS ROAD
There is another slightly expensive but adventurous way to explore Seven Sacred Pools Sedona. If you have a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, you can drive Soldiers Pass Road, which runs parallel to the hiking trail.
You can hire a 4×4 off-road Jeep and drive it through the Soldier Pass parking lot beyond a metal gate and onto Forest Service Pass 9904 Road to get on the Soldier Pass road.
From this road, you can drive to Devil’s Kitchen and the Seven Sacred Pools via road trails and the road dead-ends near the spur trail to Soldier Pass cave. It means you can cover all three attractions of the Soldiers Pass trail on only a 1-mile roundtrip on the road.
You can park your vehicle, hike the rest of the way to Seven Sacred Pools Sedona, and hop back into your car.
It is the best and the easiest option, where you can see the best sights along the Soldier Pass Trail without doing much hiking.
A permit, a special Soldier Pass Motorized Use Permit, is necessary to drive on this road. Permits are available all year for day use only on the Soldier Pass Road, and only 12 are given out per day, and you can get it on the Recreation.
TIPS FOR HIKING THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDONA
START THE HIKE EARLY
As mentioned earlier, 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.
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 Seven Sacred Pools Sedona and the surrounding areas, including the Sedona Subway 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.
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 are specifically planning to do photography, it is best to go in the morning or afternoon when there is sufficient light in the cave premises.
But these times will be crowded as the cave has become a popular hiking destination in Sedona, so you will have to wait for your turn. Expect a waiting period of at least 30 minutes to one hour here.
FOLLOW THE TRAIL
It is best to stick to the trail to avoid being lost although it is possible to reach the pools following the side paths.
ALTERNATIVE PARKING AND TRAILHEAD
If you are worried about the parking or hate waiting to secure a spot, consider starting at the Jim Thompson trailhead(Jordan Road trailhead). It is much easier to get a parking space here when compared to the Soldier Pass trailhead, and it only adds 2 miles to your hike.
FAQS ABOUT SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDONA
WHY IS IT CALLED SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDONA?
Seven Sacred Pools is a series of seven natural pools originating from the red rocks mountains near the Soldiers Pass trail. They are considered sacred by the Apaches and Yavapai, the native American communities inhabiting these parts near Sedona.
HOW DO YOU GET TO THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS SEDONA?
There are three ways to access the Seven Sacred Pools Sedona. The easiest and most direct way to the pools is via Soldiers Pass Trail.
DO YOU NEED A PASS TO HIKE THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS IN SEDONA?
No, if you plan to park at the main Soldiers Pass trailhead and take that trail, you do not require a Red Rock Pass or permit, but it does fill up quickly. However, you will need a Red Rock Pass or National Parks permit to use the Jordan Road trailhead(Jim Thompson trailhead).
CAN YOU SWIM IN THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS?
The Seven Sacred Pools in Sedona are small for swimming. We don’t recommend swimming as it can disturb the animals and insects that use the pools, especially tadpoles.
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