There is a lot to explore in Sedona and its surrounding areas. If you have time to continue your trip after Sedona, there are several excellent options. There is the majestic Grand Canyon, the mountains of Flagstaff, and the old cowboy town of Jerome.
Located less than an hour drive from Sedona, Jerome is a mining town turned into a ghost town. There have been a few reported spiritual sightings so beware! Below ground is what was once the largest copper mine in Arizona. Times grew tough and the mine closed down in 1953. The town experienced a small art revitalization and today its population is at about 500.
Jerome was built near the top of Cleopatra Hill which allows for great views of the plains and not so far off mountains. The best way to experience the town is to stroll its streets and enjoy the views. The town center is a small area so I wouldn’t recommend buying a tour here. The art scene is very much still active here. There is an art walk every first Saturday of the month and plenty of art galleries to view. Plus there are some nice wine tastings downtown!
Most places in Jerome close before sunset. I recommend enjoying the late morning there and leaving after lunch. There are a couple stops on your drive back to Sedona that will complete the day. At the Tuzigoot National Monument, walk the loop around the 2-3 story pueblo ruin to appreciate its history then continue the half mile trail to overlook the Tavasci Marsh. Just down the road from the monument is the Dead Horse Ranch State Park. I recommend doing the Lagoon Loop with the family. It’s a stroll around the lagoon that’s less than 2 miles.
About one hour north of Sedona is Flagstaff. In contrast to the ghost town atmosphere of Jerome, Flagstaff has a college town vibe. Northern Arizona University, a public research university, is located downtown and enrolls approximately 30,000 students. Don’t let that the deter you! Visitors here come for the scenic hikes in the nearby forests.
The town is surrounded by a ponderosa pine forest which emits a sweet vanilla scent during the summer. In the autumn, the nearby aspen forest turns a vibrant yellow. Snow falls in the winter here, covering Mount Humphrey the highest point in Arizona. Flagstaff experiences all four seasons distinctly, making this a great place to visit anytime during the year.
I recommend Flagstaff for those who enjoy the outdoors. When staying at Flagstaff, you may be able to visit the Sunset Crater National Monument, the San Francisco Peaks, Oak Creek Canyon, Wupatki National Monument, and many more. I personally recommend doing the Lava Tubes hike, which goes into a cold underground cave. Downtown Flagstaff has a fun funky scene and several breweries for a great after-hike rest.
Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. True to its name, the canyon is quite grand. From Sedona, the drive to the Grand Canyon south rim entrance is 2 hours, north rim is 3 hours, and the skywalk is 4 hours. I recommend going to the south rim to save time.
The south rim is the most popular entrance in the park. I used my America the Beautiful Pass to get past the entrance. I left my car in a parking lot and rode on the free park shuttle to travel throughout the park. Grand Canyon is internationally known so don’t be surprised by the amount of visitors. The shuttle service is an efficient way to get around because parking is limited.
I have joint issues and continuous downhill trails make my knees ache. I stuck to the rim trail while my friends hiked down into the canyon. One of them even went to the top of the north rim and came back to the south rim in one day! I don’t recommend doing this unless you’ve extensively trained for an “ultra run”. Looking at all our photos the visit was worth it regardless of how we chose to enjoy the Grand Canyon.
Bonus mention: Grand Falls
Grand Falls, also known as Chocolate Falls, is a 1.5-hour drive north from Sedona. An 8-mile dirt road leads to the falls. A sedan should be able to make it but at a slower speed. Past the parking lot, there is an unmarked hiking trail that leads down to the falls. This trail is really tricky. It’s a rocky scramble down and gets muddier that closer you get to the falls.
Whether you see the falls is entirely dependent on the weather. Water for these falls run from the Little Colorado River. This river is fed water from Mount Baldy in California and several creeks from the Colorado Plateau. Water levels are higher in the spring when the snow is melting from the mountains and also after rainstorms. Check their website before you visit to make sure water level is above 100 cubic feet. At times the waterfall is only a trickle.
No fee to visit here. There are picnic tables, benches, and a restroom. Definitely bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer if you plan to use the restroom though.