Cathedral Rock is the most iconic red rock formation in Sedona. The famous view is magnificent and awe-inspiring. It is a favorite of visitors to Sedona. The most recognizable view of Cathedral Rock is best seen from the Crescent Moon Picnic Area located on Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing. This area is known for swimming and picnicking, but most of all taking photographs. Cathedral Rock is the most photographed landmark in Sedona.
To get to the Crescent Moon Picnic Area, take State Route 89A in West Sedona to Upper Red Rock Loop Road, follow the signs. Park hours are from 8am until dusk throughout the year. Day use fees apply to vehicles as well as pedestrians and bicyclists.
From Crescent Moon, there are trails that follow the creek. However, if you want to climb Cathedral Rock Trail, read on for some suggestions of access points.
Cathedral Rock Trail
Hikers will love climbing Cathedral Rock Trail. The trail leads you right to the saddle of the red rock formation where the views are phenomenal. Cathedral Rock is one of the best places to see a sunrise or a sunset in Sedona. Check out our list for the Best Sunsets in Sedona here.
This hiking trail is short but strenuous, with the most difficult part near the top where the trail narrows and becomes more of a rock climb up the side of the mountain. Experienced hikers will love the challenge, while casual hikers may have trouble. The trail is dog-friendly, however it is not recommended for our four-legged friends. Because of the intensity, small children probably won’t like this hike either. Bring plenty of water, wear a hat and wear hiking boots to avoid sliding down the face of the slippery rocks.
How to Access Cathedral Rock Trail
Back O’Beyond Road at State Route 179
The Cathedral Rock Trail is extremely popular. Access to the trailhead is located off State Route 179 and Back O’Beyond Road. Due to the popularity, parking is difficult to find and traffic has caused problems for the residents on Back O’Beyond Road. During busy times, the City of Sedona may close the road at State Route 179. As parking becomes available, the police officer will let cars through. You may check with the officer as you drive by, you may get lucky. Arriving early in the day or later in the afternoon may be better times to access the trail.
Sedona Shuttle Trail Bus to Cathedral Rock Trailhead
Beginning in March of 2022, the Sedona Shuttle is offering a trail shuttle to the Cathedral Rock Trailhead. Simply park your car at the North 179 Park & Ride lot located at 1294 SR 179, corner of SR 179 and Bowstring Drive and take a shuttle bus to the trailhead. This bus will also take you to the Little Horse Trailhead. Buses run every 15-45 minutes Thursdays through Sundays, 8:00am until 6:30pm. During peak season in March and April, the shuttle bus will run 7 days a week. The fee to take the trail shuttle is free. It should be noted that the parking lot for Cathedral Rock will be closed during shuttle bus hours. Find out more about the Sedona Shuttle Trail Bus or visit their website at https://www.sedonashuttle.com
What if the Back O’Beyond Parking Area is Full or Closed?
If you are visiting Thursday through Sunday, use the Sedona Shuttle park and ride. However, Cathedral Rock can be accessed from other trails in the area. Although Back O’Beyond Road is the closest to the trailhead, you can also get to the same trail by taking the following trails. These suggestions add quite a bit of distance to your hike and may not be suitable for everyone.
Little Horse Trailhead Parking Area to Cathedral Rock Trail. From the Little Horse Trailhead, there is a walking path that takes you along the highway and to a sidewalk that leads you to the traffic circle and Back O’Beyond Road. Recently, the police have closed the road due to traffic problems and will sometimes turn hikers away who intend to walk the street to the trailhead. Back O’Beyond is a very narrow road and not pedestrian friendly. It is NOT recommended to walk this route. Instead, from the Little Horse Trailhead you can take the Bell Rock Trail to the HT Trail, Easy Breezy Trail or the Templeton Trail which all take you to the Cathedral Rock Trail. Taking these trails will add miles to your hike and may not be suitable for every hiker.
Yavapai Vista Trailhead, Courthouse Vista and Bell Rock Trailhead Parking Areas to Cathedral Rock. These parking areas have access to several trails that lead to the Cathedral Rock Trail. These access points will add several miles to your hike. There are several other trails at these parking areas that lead to some other spectacular views too, so look on Google Maps or at the trail signs for the most scenic way.
Baldwin Trail. Take Verde Valley School Road from the Village of Oak Creek. The road turns to dirt as you leave the neighborhoods, but is passable with a high profile vehicle. From the Baldwin Trail, you can access the Templeton Trail which will take you to the Cathedral Rock Trail. Check for trail signs for the most direct route.
Red Rock Crossing. If hiking really isn’t your thing and you just want to see the view and take some pictures, as mentioned before, the Crescent Moon Picnic Area is a great place to see Cathedral Rock.
All of these trailhead parking areas require a Red Rock Pass. To find out more information about these passes and where to purchase them, read our article about Sedona Red Rock Passes. Our list of Best Sedona Hikes can help you choose your next hike. Don’t forget your Sedona hiking gear, you’ll need a good sun hat, water bottle and hiking poles for this hike.