Sedona is a picture-perfect town in central Arizona. With its mild climate and surrounded by red-rock buttes and steep canyons Sedona offers photographers more than their share of photographic opportunities. Our Sedona photography guide will take you to the best locations at the best times of the day. So sit back, relax, and enjoy exploring one of Americas most photogenic cities.
We are kicking off our Sedona photography guide with one of the easiest to reach and most dramatic views in the area, Airport Meas. Perched on the top of a tabletop mountain with sweeping views over the city it’s surrounded by hundreds of buttes. To find Airport Mesa you need to head up Airport Road located in the east of the city. Airport Mesa can be identified by a small layby on your left as the road bends round to the right. Park up there and take the short and well-marked hike up the Butt to the viewpoint. From here you have a 360-degree view over the city to the south-west and the never-ending valley of red rock buttes to the east.
Best time to shoot – Personally I prefer this spot at sunset. But it is also lovely at sunrise as the hot air balloons fill the sky. The skies are often very dramatic in the late afternoon/evening and make for some fantastic images.
Getting there – The small car park at the bottom of the viewpoint fills up quickly so you will need to get there in plenty of time to get a spot. If it’s already full when you arrive you can carry on a short way up Airport Road where you will find a much larger car park which will almost certainly have space.
Devils Bridge is one of Sedona’s secret spots. But thanks to the help of Instagram it is fast becoming one of the worst kept secrets in the area. It’s not without good reason that this spot has become so popular.
The Devils Bridge is a natural sandstone arch (the largest in the area). The arch makes for a stunning foreground point of interest before the sweeping views over the forest and buttes in the distance. If you can find a model who is happy to take the walk on to the bridge, you can add a real sense of scale to your images.
Best time to shoot – Devils Bridge is great any time of the day but it can get very busy in the mornings so I personally prefer shooting here later in the day when you will often have the place to yourself.
Getting there – Head east out of town and take a right onto Dry Creek road. After roughly 2 kilometres, go right to Vultee Arch. After a further
2 kilometres you will find the very poorly marked turn off to the carpark for the Devils Bridge trailhead. from here the hike is about 1 mile to the bridge. The hike is very easy until the last section when there is a 400ft climb to reach the Devils Bridge viewpoint.
Cathedral Rock is one of the most iconic buttes in the Sedona area. This iconic rock can be seen and photographed from multiple locations in Sedona. From the reflection on top of surrounding buttes after it rains to the saddle of the rock itself. My personal Favourite option is to take the Baldwin trail stopping to climb one of the surrounding butts to get an elevated view. Or if you are lucky, you’ll find a puddle to capture the rock reflection in. After this, you can continue along the path before reaching the trailhead that will lead you into the saddle of Cathedral rock.
Best time to shoot – Sunrise is generally best as the light is soft on the rocks and the walk to the saddle is far quieter. You can also capture a great sunrise shot over the valley from roughly halfway up the trail to the saddle.
Getting there – Head south out of town on the 179 before turning right onto Valley Verde School road. The road turns to dirt after the school. Shortly after this, you will see a car park on your left. Once you have parked, cross the road on foot to find the start of the Baldwin trail.
Red Rock state park
Red rock state is located a short drive south of Sedona just off the Red Rock loop road. Situated on the Oaktree river you can get some great shots of Cathedral Rock reflecting in the river. Or you can take a walk around the park and use of the traditional barns to create some foreground interest.
Best time to shoot – Sunrise is best as the park gets very busy later in the day. The park doesn’t open until 8 am so you either need to get someone to drop you off or park on the road and make the walk down.
Getting there – Head East out of town on the 89a before taking the left at the Marriot on to Upper Red Rock loop road. Follow this round for a few miles before turning left to the state park.
Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic chapel built into the buttes and makes for some really interesting images. It offers something a little different from your normal Sedona style images. You have viewpoints of the church from the road below or from the buttes above.nIf you are lucky enough to get inside the chapel you can also capture some stunning images from within the chapel as the wall to ceiling windows offer some great views across the valley and buttes.
Best time to shoot – The church looks great any time of the but I prefer the afternoon. As the church gates don’t open until 9 am the soft morning light has often disappeared.
Getting there – Head south on 179 and turn left onto Chapel road. You can’t miss it as the chapel looms large above the road.
Courthouse and bell rocks
Last, on our Sedona photography guide are Courthouse and Bell rock vistas. Conveniently they are located right next to each other and both provide great photo opportunities. Whether you choose to shoot from the viewpoints or take the trails around the rocks you are guaranteed some fantastic images.
Best time to shoot – Both sunrise and sunset work really well. In the morning, the soft light gives a kind of magical glow to the rocks whereas the afternoon sun makes both rocks glow a strong colour of red.
Getting there – Head south out of Sedona on the 179 and both trailheads are clearly marked.
Hope you found our Sedona Photography guide useful. We would love to hear from you if it helped your shoot plan so please do let us know either in the comments or directly over email.
Jordan Banks is a successful travel photographer with almost 20 years of experience shooting assignments and campaigns for some of the world’s leading brands and companies. If you would like to learn more, why not join one of his travel photography marketing courses.
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