Be sure to have our camera ready when the sun goes below the horizon. Sedona is picture-perfect at sunset and it never gets old. What makes this town unique is that you can watch the sunset near downtown and not be distracted by road lights. Sedona city ordinances minimize outdoor lighting at night so light pollution isn’t distracting.
My favorite spot is Airport Mesa, which is probably the most popular spot. If you want to avoid the crowd, I’ll let you in on several other options.
Top 3 outdoor sunset hikes
- Airport Mesa – easy
True to its name, this location is an elevated mesa next to the local airport. There’s about a 3.5 mile loop around the mesa that gives you 360 views of Sedona. You can view some of Sedona’s iconic landmarks on this hike, such as Courthouse Butte and Cathedral Rock. I recommend arriving an hour before sunset so you have time to complete the loop then rest and enjoy the sunset.
You also have the option to not do the hike at all, which makes this a good spot for families and large groups. There is a fantastic viewing area just outside the parking lot. Bear in mind that this place does get crowded because of the views and easy parking access. The parking lot costs $3 and does not accept the Forest/Park Passes.
- Doe Mountain – intermediate
The Red Rocks pass is accepted at this parking lot. The Doe Mountain trail is 1.5 miles with about a 500 feet elevation gain. This trailhead is directly across from Bear Mountain. The peak of Doe Mountain is below the Bear Mountain peak. Though the walk back to your car is short, I also recommend having a headlight or flashlight to guide your way down here.
- Bear Mountain – hard
This is a hard hike. If you want to end the day feeling exhausted, I suggest going here. It’s only 5 miles long but the elevation gain is about 1,975 feet. Arrive early and bring snacks because the climb up the mountain may take you longer than expected. I personally find that the best sunset view is at one of the false summits on this trail and not at the top. Have a headlight ready for the hike down after the sunset.
- Bonus mentions
Crescent Moon Ranch at Red Rock Crossing is also great for families to watch the sunset. Another option for hikers is the saddle at Cathedral Rock; this view will have you facing west.
If you like night sky photography, go to the Boynton Canyon trail and walk to the base of the vortex. You can capture the milky way galaxy here depending on the time of year. It’s a quick hike but bring a flashlight for the walk back to the parking lot.
Just a heads up– Some snakes like to come out in the evening to hunt, especially when the day is extremely hot. I almost stepped on a baby snake in the evening once because I didn’t see it. Luckily it wasn’t a rattler. So take care!
Restaurants with a sunset view
If you’re looking to splurge for a fine dining dinner experience, go to Che Ah Chi at the Enchantment Resort. This is my number one recommendation for dinner, but this is also a nice place to have breakfast or brunch. Ambiance is unbeatable. The restaurant is at the Enchantment Resort located just past the Boynton Canyon trailhead. It’s tucked away from the crowded Sedona downtown. Definitely make advance reservations here.
Of course, I can’t write a blog series on Sedona without mentioning Elote Cafe. This place is also a little pricey but the food is fantastic. The cocktails are good too. It does get a little loud here but it has a great view. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the sunset can be enjoyed from the dining room or the outdoor patio. They don’t take reservations so either come early or prepare to wait.
The Hudson also has floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor patio that faces red rocks. This place also has a happy hour from 3-6pm daily! The lemon drop martini is yummy. Hideaway House is a popular tourist destination that offers sunset views from their outdoor patio. Get the garlic cheese bread blossom to start.
The neighboring town of Jerome also offers sunset views at Mile High Grill, The Haunted Hamburger, and Asylum Restaurant.
Get some knowledge on a tour
The Full Moon Hike is led by a naturalist and hosted by the Red Rock State Park. Advance reservations are required. There is a small registration fee and a parking fee to participate.
The Sedona Trolley sunset tour is fairly affordable compared to other tour options. It costs $25 per adult and $20 per child. The tour begins an hour before sunset and lasts for 90 minutes.
No sunset tours are offered for a hot air balloon ride, but if you want to watch the sunrise, this is a creative way to do it. It’s $250 per adult at Northern Light and $225 at Red Rock Balloon. I’m afraid of heights so I haven’t tried this experience. Both companies offer free transportation to and from your hotel.
Lastly, the iconic Pink Jeep tours are a fun way to be out during sunset. I know this is a very touristy thing to do but it’s fun! Plus, their tour guides know their stuff. I don’t believe they offer sunset-specific tours. Just schedule your tour late in the day so you see the sun start to descend. If you’re going to open your wallet at this tour agency, I recommend going on the jeep tour not the walking tour.