Cathedral Rock

Hiking Cathedral Rock In Sedona Arizona

Preparing to hike Cathedral Rock in Sedona? This article’s for you.

Cathedral Rock is one of the most beautiful hikes in Sedona.

As someone who’s not a huge fan of hiking, I was hesitant to do the hike when I saw people refer to it as “moderately challenging”. This is a 1.4 mile round trip hike, mostly uphill, to an amazing viewpoint of the red rock mountains.

It’s known for being one of Sedona’s most powerful vortex sites, so it’s especially popular amongst visitors. 

So how long does it take to hike? Where is the vortex located? And is it worth hiking?

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know before hiking Cathedral Rock. 

Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
Cathedral Rock

Parking for Cathedral Rock

There are two small parking lots for Cathedral Rock located on Back O Beyond Road that are only open Mon-Wed.

These parking lots are very limited, so the best option is to park at the N SR-179 Park and Ride parking lot, and take the free Sedona shuttle to the trailhead. 

It’s completely free to park here (no Red Rock Pass required), and the shuttle drops and picks people off at the trailhead every 15 minutes.

It operates Thursday through Sunday, from 7-5:30pm, (or daily during peak season).

I visited on a weekday, and the shuttle was completely full when we left. 

This is one of Sedona’s most popular trails, so you can expect lots of crowds any day of the week.

How difficult is the hike?

Cathedral Rock is a slightly challenging 1.4 mile round trip hike that’s mostly uphill. At the trailhead, there’s a small pit toilet.

The hike begins on a well-defined path, and gradually gets steeper as you approach the top.

Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock

About midway through the hike, there’s a few steep rock portions where you’ll have to climb up the rocks. With no prior research, I found the hike a bit challenging at first.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona

However, once you get past the climbing portions, the remainder of the hike is relatively easy.

You’ll have an amazing view of the red mountains throughout the hike, so I stopped several times on the way up to enjoy the scenery.

Cathedral Rock
View while hiking Cathedral Rock

Once you reach the end of the trail, you can walk to the right for one of the best photo opportunities.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona

This is where most people take photos, so you may have to wait around for a few minutes as other people finish up.

Cathedral Rock
View at the top of Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
View at the top of Cathedral Rock

Just remember to wear comfortable sneakers with good grip, and pants with flexible material so you can climb up the rocks. 

If you have mobility issues, I recommend skipping the hike, and visiting the Crescent Moon Picnic Area to enjoy amazing views of the mountain. 

How long does the hike take?

Most people take around 1-2 hours to hike the trail. I stopped for multiple breaks while hiking, and it took me around an hour in total. 

What is a Sedona vortex?

Sedona’s vortexes are sites that are thought to have increased levels of energy. Many people enjoy meditating at the sites and enjoying nature. 

Sedona’s four main vortex hikes are Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, and Airport Mesa

During my first visit to Sedona, I went on a Jeep vortex tour to learn about these sites. 

On the tour, I learned that these sites are differentiated by having “upflow” (masculine), “downflow” (feminine), or balanced energy.

There’s no scientific explanation for the vortexes, but they’re still interesting to visit.

I’ve visited all of these vortex sites, but Cathedral Rock was by far the most memorable. 

Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
Bell Rock, Sedona
Bell Rock
Boynton Canyon Vista Trail
Boynton Canyon (Vista Trail)
Sedona Airport Loop Trail
Airport Mesa (Sedona Loop Trail)

Cathedral Rock is considered one of Sedona’s most powerful vortexes, and is labeled as being an “upflow” site (masculine energy). 

Whether or not it has an increased level of energy, you’ll definitely feel uplifted after completing this hike! 

Where is Cathedral Rock’s vortex located?

Once you reach the “end of the trail” sign at the top, take a left and continue walking until you reach a tall pillar.

Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock

This is where the vortex’s rumored to be.

This is a great spot to take pictures, or meditate before heading back down.

Person meditating at Cathedral Rock's Vortex
Cathedral Rock Vortex (Photo by: Dennis Yu)

Most people take pictures on the right of the “end of trail” sign, so it’s often less crowded as well.

Cathedral Rock vs Bell Rock

Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock are some of the most popular vortex hikes that are both uphill.

Bell Rock is a 0.8 mile round trip hike that takes most people around 1–2 hours to hike.

Bell Rock’s trail is less defined, and steeper than Cathedral Rock, so I didn’t hike all the way to the top. 

Bell Rock, Sedona
Bell Rock

Whether you hike Cathedral Rock or Bell Rock, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views at the top. 

If you’re up for the challenge, you can also hike both trails within a day.

There is a large parking lot at the Bell Rock trailhead, and additional parking at the Courthouse Vista and Yavapai Vista Point lots.

All of these parking lots require a Red Rock Pass ($5/day), which you can purchase at the lots or online

Cathedral Rock FAQs:

Is Cathedral Rock beginner friendly?

Cathedral Rock is slightly challenging, but beginner friendly.

I’m not an experienced hiker, but the hike is relatively easy once you get past the small steep rock portion.

Most of the trail is well-defined, and you can take several breaks along the way to enjoy the scenery. 

Is it a dog-friendly hike?

Yes, dogs are allowed at Cathedral Rock as long as they’re leashed.

However, the hike requires climbing up rocks so it may not be suitable for certain breeds. 

Is Cathedral Rock kid-friendly?

Cathedral Rock requires a bit of climbing, so it may not be suitable for families with toddlers or young kids.

If you’re traveling with kids, the Bell Rock Path and West Fork Trail are great alternatives that are flat and stroller-friendly. 

When’s the best time to hike Cathedral Rock?

The best time to hike Cathedral Rock is early morning or afternoon, when the weather’s nicest and it’s the least crowded. 

What should you wear to hike Cathedral Rock?

Cathedral Rock has portions where you’ll need to scramble up the rocks, so it’s best to wear flexible workout clothing.

I recommend wearing shorts or leggings, shoes with good grip, and a sun hat.  

What should you pack for the hike?

I recommend packing a bag with snacks, lots of water, and wipes.

I was covered in red dirt after the hike from climbing up the rocks, so wipes would have come in handy!

Where can you get the best view of Cathedral Rock?

If you want to take pictures of the mountain, Crescent Moon Picnic Area is the place to go.

This is a beautiful park with rivers, picnic areas, and an amazing view of Cathedral Rock. It costs $12 per vehicle (with up to 5 people) to enter, and has plenty of parking. 

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