Red Rock Canyon Day Trip
It’s time to hit the open road and experience Red Rock Country – a land of unrivaled beauty and stunning landscapes. If you are short on time but still want to experience all this gorgeous destination has to offer, we have you covered.
In just one day, you can explore the secrets of this majestic landscape from your own home on wheels. So gather your friends, throw your bags in the RV, and embark on a journey through Red Rocks and beyond – we guarantee you won’t forget it!
Day 1 Start: Red Rock Visitor Center and Ranger Station
Here’s where you’ll find brochures, fact sheets, and trail map handouts – all you need to know for staying and playing in Red Rock Country: comprehensive history/geology information, trail maps, hiking/biking tips, lodging, food, and entertainment. For this itinerary, pick up a trail map handout with “Little Horse Trail” on it — and buy your Red Rock Pass for parking and recreating on Forest Service lands.
Red Rock Country is an oasis of natural beauty and adventure, set amidst a stunning landscape of sandstone cliffs and red rock canyons. Here, visitors are invited to explore the history and geology of this unique region while hiking and biking through winding trails, discovering the secrets of its majestic beauty. And to make your stay all the more comfortable, plenty of lodging, food, and entertainment keeps you entertained for days. Pick up a trail map handout to get started, and don’t forget to purchase the Red Rock Pass for parking and recreating on Forest Service lands. With Little Horse Trail as your guide, embark on an unforgettable journey into the heart of Red Rock Country and experience its splendor and grandeur firsthand.
Stop 1: Insta-Friendly Red Rock Crossing on Oak Creek
Directions from Visitors Center: As you exit the Visitors Center driveway, turn north (left) on SR 179, and you’ll see a major intersection with a stoplight. Turn west (left) onto Verde Valley School Road and go 4.7 miles, where the road dead ends into the Red Rock Crossing parking lot. Do not park anywhere but the parking lot. This road travels through residential areas, so be aware of the 30-35 mph speed limit; also, for the last 1.2 miles, the road is unpaved as well as curvy, hilly, and subject to flooding after excessive rains. It is a very short walk from the parking lot to the pathway leading you down to the unique red rock banks of Oak Creek.
- Distance from Previous Site: 5 miles / 8.0 km
- Travel Time from Previous Site: 17 minutes
- Suggested Time at This Site: 1 hour
Don’t forget your camera because you’re at one of the most photographed sites in the country and one of the most naturally beautiful settings in Sedona. If it’s a Saturday, chances are there’s a small wedding taking place at the north end of the crossing. Most days, there will be artists painting or photographers setting up their shots, or people just soaking up the inspiring view. If the creek water’s low enough, step across the red rock stepping stones, crossing to Red Rock State Park on the other side.
Cradled in the striking beauty of Sedona, Red Rock Crossing on Oak Creek is a sight to behold. On any given day, you might find artists perched atop the red rocks capturing the landscape’s beauty with their brushes, or photographers setting up their shots. At the same time, couples exchange their vows in the peaceful solitude of their wedding ceremony. If the creek water is low enough, the intrepid explorer can cross the red rock stepping stones to Red Rock State Park on the other side, taking in the breathtaking view. With its stunning backdrop and many activities, Red Rock Crossing is an Insta-friendly paradise—so don’t forget your camera!
Stop 2: Bell Rock Vista and Pathway Southern Trailhead
Directions from Red Rock Crossing: Turn east (right) out of the Red Rock Crossing parking lot and take Verde Valley School Road 4.7 miles back to its stoplight intersection with SR 179, where you will turn north (left). Proceed straight through the Village of Oak Creek, and just past the next stoplight, on your right-hand side will be the entrance to the Bell Rock Vista and Pathway parking lot.
- Distance from Previous Site: 5.8 miles / 9.3 km
- Travel Time from Previous Site: 45 minutes
- Suggested Time at This Site: 45 minutes
Here’s where you’ll discover the size and power of the red rocks; this is a traveler up-close experience with mystical Bell Rock and mammoth Courthouse Butte. Feel the red rock energy and enjoy the views. There are many pathways to choose from, all going to or near Bell Rock that can be done in a half hour or as long as you feel like walking.
Stretching beneath the open sky, the red rocks of Sedona are awe-inspiring. The wind carries a feeling of mystery and adventure, as if each step could lead to untold secrets. As you stand close to Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, the energy of the red rocks surrounds you. Walking along one of the many pathways, you explore the area, taking in the beauty of the desert landscape.
With each step, the towering rocks seemingly reach out to you, beckoning you deeper into the area. From the highest point, you take in a breathtaking view of the valley below and can’t help but feel moved by your intimate experience with this majestic rock formation. Whether you choose a short stroll or an all-day hike, your journey through the red rocks of Sedona will be one you remember for years to come.
End: Little Horse Trail and Bell Rock Pathway Northern Trailhead
Directions from Pathway Southern Trailhead: Turn north (or right) out of the parking lot onto SR 179; proceed straight and be on the lookout for signs that say “Little Horse Trail” and “Bell Rock Pathway”; entrance to this stop’s parking lot will come up fairly quickly, on your right.
- Distance from Previous Site: 2.6 miles / 4.2 km
- Travel Time from Previous Site: 5 minutes
- Suggested Time at This Site: 3 hours
Discover a little serenity among the glorious hiking and biking trails that meander to hidden washes and breathtaking red rock panoramas. Little Horse Trail is a local’s favorite, rated moderate, and 6.5 miles if you make the full round trip. Remember the rules of the trail, and have fun! Also, at this stop, view the “Three Nuns” with the renowned Chapel of the Holy Cross perched below.
Officially, the scenic road ends just beyond this point, so after your hike and before resuming your drive, take a moment to look West and gaze upon the famous Cathedral Rock, a massive rock formation with multiple red rock spires. Whether silhouetted against a glowing sunset or shining in the midday sun, it is considered one of the most beautiful red rock formations in the Sedona area and a fitting way to end your day of Red Rock Splendor.
Meander through the blissful terrain of the Little Horse Trail, a moderate 6.5-mile round trip favored by locals. Follow the rules of the trail and take in the magnificent views of the Sedona area as you traverse through red rock washes and panoramas. As the path ends, savor the stunning Three Nuns and Chapel of the Holy Cross — a breathtaking sight. A fitting finale awaits: the renowned Cathedral Rock stands tall, an ethereal formation with multiple spires that seems to glow in the midday sun or silhouetted against a golden sunset. Take a moment before continuing your drive to admire this beautiful piece of Red Rock Splendor.
- Total Distance Traveled: 13.4 miles / 21.4 km
- Total Travel Time: 1 hour 7 minutes
- Total Stopping Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
Your RV day trip has been an exciting journey full of incredible sights and unique experiences. Yet the very best part might be all the memories made with the ones you love most. Now, if only you could hit pause and make this moment last forever. But since that’s not the case, remember: everything you’ve seen today is just the start of something much bigger—life. So, on your way back home, keep your eyes open for more opportunities to explore and adventure. Embrace the unknown because you never know what unique experiences await.