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  • Writer's pictureVien R. Guenther

Cathedral Rock - Sedona, Arizona

There are many rock formations and viewing points you could find outside of town of Sedona. The landscape here is simply spectacular, something you can only find in the western United States. There is something extra ordinary about the desert landscape. It's not only about the rock formations but the vegetation as well. Together, it creates an amazing vista and plenty of photo opportunities.

Arizona is desert country, but plants thrive here: Yucca, Agave (or century plant), Mormon tea Juniper, Creosote Bush (Chaparral), to name a few. These plants are not only drought tolerant but were also known to have medicinal uses with native Americans.

Yucca Plant

We didn't hike the first day (that was scheduled the next day), but there was plenty to see, even if you are not a hiker. Drive around and explore other areas not just the popular sights. Sedona has seven natural wonders (Cathedral Rock, West Fork Trail. Devil's Bridge, Oak Creek Canyon, Airport Vortex/Mesa, Bell Rock & Boynton Canyon), but not all of these afford easy access. One of the easy access points is the Cathedral Rock. This is one of the most popular sights in Sedona, due partly to its proximity to the highway. Another is the Bell Rock.


Cathedral Rock is a natural sandstone butte located at the south side of Sedona. Looking at the massive rock, it does resemble a cathedral, carved from the Permian Schnebly Hill formation. It was at one time called "Court House Rock" - not to be confused with Court House Butte which was once called "Church House Rock". To get to Cathedral Rock we followed the Upper Red Rock Loop Road to Chavez Ranch Road, then to Red Rock Crossing Drive to Forest Park.

Cathedral Rock
Reflection of Cathedral Rock

With so many stops along the way, we didn't have enough time to take the 1.2 mile back trail up to Cathedral Rock. Though it is short, it was rated as difficult. So, we just walked in the park following Oak Creek and took some pictures at several viewpoints. This trail is accessible year-round. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leash.

Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek

The Cathedral Rock trailhead can be accessed from the Back 'O' Beyond Road. It can also be accessed from Baldwin and Templeton trails. The small parking lot is not free and often fills up by mid-morning. But you can park on verges and on a stony stream bed further along the road.



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