Sedona is a small desert city with more than 200 trails, hillside wineries and dozens of galleries spread out over 19 square miles. Although it has a public-transportation system, to access all the city has to offer, it's best to get behind the wheel. Car and motorcycle rentals are available at the Sedona Airport and in West Sedona, which also offers off-road vehicles. Rates range from about $60 a day for a compact car and gas prices in Arizona are usually cheaper than in other states.
If you'd prefer not to drive, public transit connects visitors to Sedona’s main neighborhoods and to some scenic sites, but plan wisely: there are long intervals between buses. Taxis and ride-share companies offer sporadic services, so expect to book ahead. Some Sedona neighborhoods are walkable, with amenities clustered around hotels.
Traveling by car or motorcycle lets you discover Sedona at your own pace, whether hiking an extinct volcano at sunrise or star-gazing at midnight (Sedona is an international dark sky community). Sedona stretches alongside interstate 17 and state routes 89A and 179 (also called Red Rock Scenic Byway), making it easy to navigate the roads framed by ancient mountains and mesas. If you plan to visit places only accessible via unpaved routes, like the cliff dwellings at Palatki Heritage Site [link to related article], a four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. To adventure deeper into Sedona’s expansive backcountry, consider renting an off-road vehicle.
Tip for driving off-road
In Arizona, properly licensed and registered off-highway vehicles (OHV) are street legal. That means you can drive ATVs, sand rails and dune buggies on city streets and highways to access backcountry trails.
Can you get around Sedona without a car? Absolutely. The Verde Shuttle bus is efficient and cheap (fares within Sedona are just $1), but you’ll need to do a little planning. Buses run seven days a week, following two different schedules. Depending on the day, you might have to wait between 45 to 90 minutes between buses. Nevertheless, the routes conveniently travel through Sedona’s Oak Creek Village, Uptown and West Sedona neighborhoods along the main thoroughfares SR 89A, and even the northern parts of SR 179. The shuttle buses can also accommodate up to three bikes each.
With more than 400 miles of trails traversing canyons studded with cacti and ponderosa pines, Sedona’s multi-use system lures mountain bikers of all levels to ride easy routes like the Bell Rock Pathway, or tackle the Slim Shady trail’s twisty single-track terrain. Seven mountain-biking trails even have free bike-repair stations outfitted with tools and a bike pump and air kit.
Sedona is a destination for road cycling too, with a paved bike lane on SR 179 that connects to some red-rock trails and vortex sites. Cyclists should be aware that it can be difficult to bike between Sedona’s neighborhoods without hitting the highways or crossing at intersections. Speed limits in the area, however, are usually only 35 miles per hour.
Don’t want to cycle the urban routes? Get your bike to the trailhead on the Verde Shuttle buses, which can carry up to three bikes each. Another bonus: parking at trails can fill up quickly, especially on weekends, so leaving your vehicle behind is a great option.
Though sustainable city initiatives like Walk Sedona aim to get people out of their cars to enjoy the city by foot, it may not always be possible to rely on walking as your only means of exploring Sedona, unless you stick to one neighborhood, like Uptown or the Village of Oak Creek (VOC). Walk Sedona’s interactive map lets you plan a self-guided route among the area’s restaurants, art studios and museums.
Accessible transportation in Sedona
The Verde Shuttle buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts, providing an accessible travel option in Sedona via public transportation. People with disabilities who cannot use this fixed-route bus service can take the Cottonwood Area Transit (CAT) system’s CAT Paratransit shuttle. This accessible shared-ride service will pick up people within three-quarters of a mile of a fixed-route bus stop. Since the service is on-demand, planning ahead is essential; you need to make a reservation by 5:00 p.m. the day prior (call 928-634-2287). One-way fares are $2.25.