We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

London, United...
Level Contributor
130 posts
5 reviews
Save Topic
Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

Hi everyone,

A friend and I will be travelling from Phoenix to Flagstaff this Saturday. Our flight lands just after 9am in Phoenix and we need to be in Flagstaff by 3.30pm at the latest. We are driving and were hoping to stop and explore a little bit on the way (this will be our first time in Arizona). Sedona looks like it might be a nice place to detour to. I was hoping that someone might be able to point us towards a couple of things we should see and a possible lunch stop (we are very open minded on type of food). I am guessing we will have around 3 hours when taking into account the 3 hour drive time.

I have to apologise for being ill-informed; we have only decided on this plan at the last minute and it seems to make more sense to ask what I'm sure is an elementary question for a local than to spend hours agonising over trying to find out myself.

Thanks.

West Yellowstone...
Destination Expert
for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
Level Contributor
2,317 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

I think it's worth a detour but you should probably plan on closer to 2 hours to spend in Sedona. Figure on an hour to get out of the terminal and collect your bags and rental car, then navigating your way out of Phoenix.

If your 3:30 arrival time in Flagstaff is non-negotiable, you should plan on an hour to get from Sedona to your destination. The traffic through Oak Creek Canyon the weekends can vary from requiring 45 minutes to an hour or more on a really nice day when lots of other travelers are in the area taking advantage of the weather and views.

I struggle to find good lunch spots in Sedona, so I'm sure others will have something to offer in that regard. I like the outdoor seating at Junipine Resort in Oak Creek Canyon (north end of Sedona area) but it isn't positioned well to take advantage of the red rock beauty.

Wickenburg, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Wickenburg
Level Contributor
2,753 posts
830 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

You can't have the geography of the whole world down pat - absolutely no need to apologize ... anyway. If you drive up I-17 from Phoenix you could stop and see Montezuma Castle (an impressive ancient native dwelling in a limestone cliff - less than an hour to explore; north of Camp Verde) and, a few miles further north, Montezuma Well, a neat and absolutely picturesque more or less circular limestone sink with cliff dwellings below the rim and a drain to the creek - less than an hour to explore as well.

There's also the artsy town of Arcosanti if that intersts you. That would actually be before Camp verde, after Coprdes Lake, just off I-17.

Then take 179 thruogh Oak Creek to Sedona, then drive on up 89a through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff.

Are you going to be driving back to Phoenix after Flagstaff? If so, you could take the scenic and somewhat longer way through Sedona, Jerome (old mining town), Prescott (old frontier town) and Wickenburg (authentic western town (mining), basically down 89 and then, from Wickenburg, 60, back to Phoenix.

Edited: 04 April 2012, 16:09
London, United...
Level Contributor
130 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

Thanks so much for your replies.

As some background, we are doing a hike to Phantom Ranch for 3 days starting on Sunday morning. We need to be in Flagstaff in time for a 4pm orientation with our guides (3.30 arrival time will allow us to check in at the hotel and drop our stuff before walking over to the store).

Thanks for your timing recommendations- that helps a lot. I will also check out the Junipine Resort.

Esty666- your advice looks great, thank you! We will be driving back to Phoenix after Flagstaff. Our guide says that we should be finished with our hike by 4pm and we have a hotel booked in Phoenix for that evening (Tuesday). I will be looking to play it by ear on which route to take on the way back. If we are absolutely exhausted (which I have a feeling we might be), we may just want to crack on and get to the hotel. If we are still feeling ok, the scenic drive sounds lovely (although I would want to be careful about driving too late at night- we are coming from the UK so a combination of lingering jetlag, the other side of the road and darkness doesn't appeal too much!)

West Yellowstone...
Destination Expert
for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
Level Contributor
2,317 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

If you're out of the canyon earlier, and up for a side trip for a scenic drive, by all means do it! The southbound trip through Oak Creek Canyon toward Sedona is superior because you catch the views without having to stop or (dangerously) craning your neck.

You can travel through Flagstaff on Milton Ave. which turns into I-17 then take the exit that says Sedona and the Coconino County Fairgrounds. Take the right off the exit, then left on Beulah / 89A and keep driving. You'll still be in the tall pines at this point, heading south parallel to the highway for awhile, but you're going the right way.

We have seen lots of confused people at this intersection, so keep these notes handy.

Wickenburg, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Wickenburg
Level Contributor
2,753 posts
830 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

Hm, the scenic drive doesn't make sense when it's dark, and it's tough at night with the road going through many bends for a couple of short stretches along the way - can't you put in another night near the canyon after your hike, that would be so much more relaxing for you rather than drive straight back to PHX.

But congratulations on getting to do the Phantom Ranch hike, you'll be ever so thrilled. Wow, good for you!

If you do drive back too late to do it all in daylight, I'd recommend you'd better stay on I-17 after Flagstaff and drive straight down.

Edited: 04 April 2012, 16:41
London, United...
Level Contributor
130 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

Flagstaff Traveler: Thanks for the info- I do hate being one of those confused tourists so I will be sure to print off all the detail on this thread!

Esty666: Thanks for the heads up- I don't want to get stuck on an unfamiliar winding road in the dark. We have already booked our accommodation in Phoenix since we have to catch a flight back to London via Dallas the next day. This really is a short trip! I am hoping that we will set off early on the final day of the hike and make it back up in good time, in which time the scenic route may still be an option. Do you have an estimate of how long this drive would take (at a leisurely pace and a few photo stops) and of what time proper darkness sets in around this area?

Sedona, AZ
Destination Expert
for Sedona, Arizona, Monument Valley
Level Contributor
60,097 posts
243 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

While Montezumas Castle ad Well are interesting diversions, I like the OP with a drive through Sedona. You should have a good 2 hours to at least see what it has to offer. The Red Rock country is unique and you can only see it by getting off I-17 onto highway 179, then travel via 89A and Oak Creek Canyon back up to I-17 just south of Flagstaff.

Stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross for a few minutes on the way into town. You'll get some great views and sense of the spirit of Sedona.

For a great lunch between 11-2 stop at Sedona Memories on Jordan Road and enjoy a huge, homestyle sandwich and some soup and a cookie.

Another favorite is the Indian Garden deli in Oak Creek Canyon.

Sedona has no shortage of restaurants, but smart travelers gear their days to enjoying lunches on the trails or picnics outdoors.

West Yellowstone...
Destination Expert
for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
Level Contributor
2,317 posts
62 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

Sunset is around 7 p.m. right now.

It will take you about 90 minutes to get from the south gate of GCNP to Flagstaff. From the Flagstaff to Uptown Sedona will be about 45 minutes, give or take depending on traffic and photo stops. It could be more if you choose to drive through Sedona on the way north because of the different time of day and day of week (weekends are busy, especially during pleasant weather).

I didn't think about the fact that you may have to wait for others to leave the canyon since you're on a tour? If 4 p.m. it is, then that might be cutting it close and you're wise to be safe. The road is winding and steep and driving on the opposite side from what you're accustomed to can be confusing, so do what works best for you. Also, beware of large wildlife (deer and elk) on roads at and after sunset. They are a site to see, that's for sure! But driving slowly is wise.

There is a great photo/gawking spot at the top on the east side of the road (on your left if you're descending and on the right if you're ascending). There is a clearly-marked rest stop there you'll want to take advantage of, even if just for the vistas.

Wickenburg, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Wickenburg
Level Contributor
2,753 posts
830 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

At a really leisurely pace with stops you'd look at up to five hours. Pity you don't have more time. It'll be getting dark after 8.

Sedona
Destination Expert
for Sedona
Level Contributor
3,332 posts
58 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Sedona on the way to Flagstaff?

My guess is that by the time you get through the airport and drive to Sedona, it will be almost noon. (You don't have to go through customs, do you?)

I would suggest saving other stops on the way for another trip, take Hwy. 179 to Sedona, take some pictures in front of Bell Rock and/or other rock formations, enjoy the scenic highway going from the Village of Oak Creek, and then if you have time stop at the Chapel or Tlaquepaque for a quick walk through. Then I would suggest stopping for lunch at the Hideaway (just before the Y in Sedona) which overlooks the creek. (You may want to look at their menu and order by phone, so it will be ready. Service could take time, which you don't have.)

After that take 89A through Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. Allow one hour; it should be less than that..

Be sure you have clear directions (or an IPad or Iphone) to your stop in Flagstaff. Don't rely on GPS to get to Sedona.

Too bad you don't have more time, but at least you will have a peek at Sedona!!