cathedral rock viewed from afar

Sedona in January: Why You Should Plan a Winter Visit + Things to Do

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If you’ve chosen to visit Sedona in January, know that you are in for a treat! While many go to this Southwest red rock paradise in the Spring or Fall, January offers a fantastic winter retreat.

As the temperatures drop and the crowds thin out, visitors have the opportunity to experience a quieter side of this desert oasis.

Whether you seek adventure among the many rugged trails or a relaxing experience in one of its many resorts, Sedona in January offers the perfect winter escape.

But, since Sedona sits at a high elevation, the temperatures can get lower than you’d expect and there’s a few things you might want to know before visiting!

So let’s explore the wonders and hidden gems that make this Southwestern gem shine during the winter months!

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Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!

Accommodation – Booking.com to find the best deals on hotels.
FlightsSkyscanner to look for the best prices and deals on flights.
Rental carsDiscoverCars to shop around at multiple car rental agencies.
Travel insurance Safety Wing; keep your trips insured to protect yourself while traveling.
Tours/experiences – Viator or Get Your Guide are excellent sources for tours.

✅ Why You Should Visit Sedona in January

  • Less crowds: The winter months of December, January, and February are apart of the tourist low season in Sedona. After myself having been to Sedona all throughout the spring, late summer, and fall months- I could absolutely feel the crowd difference in January. Hiking trails and restaurants were much less crowded and there was less traffic on the roads. Being such a small town with a few very popular trails, Sedona can feel crowded very quickly. The crowds can even make you question if Sedona is worth visiting. So for me, less crowds is the biggest pro of visiting Sedona in January!
  • Perfect hiking weather: Winter in Sedona kicks the crowds out.. and also the heat! Who likes hiking in 90+ degree weather? I sure don’t! The average daytime temp of about 57°F makes for the most comfortable hiking weather.
  • Chance of seeing ‘Snowdona’: Oh.. you haven’t heard of her?! Snowdona- when white snow graces the red rocks and people drive from nearby cities and towns to have a glance. It’s really a spectacular and special sight!
  • Bolder sunsets: In the wintertime, there is generally less humidity in the air, which in turn can create more dramatic and bold sunsets- as if a sunset in Sedona could get any better! One thing I love about the winter is that the sun rises later and sets earlier, so the alarm clock isn’t as painful as the summer months and you can get more sleep! 😂
snowdona
‘Snowdona’ aka Sedona in the Snow!

🌤️ Average Weather in Sedona in January

Expect a typical visit to Sedona in January to be neither a hot Arizona desert nor a winter wonderland.

Chances are, you’ll have cool and comfortable days with temps freezing early in the morning and overnight. And expect a much higher probability of clear skies than snow.

Snow in Sedona really only comes around once in a while, with the town receiving only an average of 3.5 inches of snowfall each year.

When I went to Sedona in mid-January 2022 for 4 days I had mostly clear and bright blue skies with cold mornings and comfortable days. The kind of weather you can walk around mid-day with leggings and a sweater or light jacket… AKA my favorite kind of weather!

  • Average daily high temperature: 57°F
  • Average daily low temperature: 36°F
  • Average cloud cover: 37% of days are cloudy with about 50% of days being totally clear.
  • Average rainfall: There is about a 15% chance of precipitation throughout the month with only about 4 days on average receiving rain or snowfall.
  • Daylight hours: The days in January slowly get longer as the month progresses, with an average of 10 hours of daylight.

P.S. Sedona makes one of the best weekend trips from Phoenix, especially in the winter!

cathedral rock viewed from afar

Sedona in January: Things to Keep in Mind

Expect to wake up to freezing temperatures so pack accordingly with winter clothes even though you’re going to Arizona! Early mornings and overnights will see temperatures into the 30s so it’s important to be prepared for that.

Pack a warm jacket, long socks, a hat, and gloves. The key is to dress in layers, so if you start a hike early in the morning but end when the temperature has increased by 20 degrees- you can easily take stuff off and pack it away in your day pack.

Prepare for the occasional rainfall or snowfall (if you’re lucky!) and be mindful on trails.

Many hikes in Sedona involve hiking and climbing on slick rock and red rock. With rain or snow, this could potentially make hiking slippery and treacherous.

Wear hiking boots with good traction, don’t hike alone if you’re not experienced and it has recently snowed, and never hike or walk on something you don’t feel comfortable on.

But one thing to know about the snow in Sedona is that it usually isn’t a large amount at one time and it doesn’t stick around for very long.

photo of girl sitting at a viewpoint at cathedral rock in sedona.
View from Cathedral Rock right before sunrise.

⭐ 8 of the Best Things to do in Sedona in January

Sedona is a year round destination and most tour companies operate year round so luckily for you- mostly everything you can do in the season you can also do in January!

Sedona also makes a great stop on a winter road trip from Las Vegas to Monument Valley!

1. Go for a hike (or 2 or 3 or more!)

There are a seemingly endless number of hikes in Sedona. A great thing about this little red rock paradise is that trailheads are super close to the center of town, and many of the best hikes are pretty short, so you can pack a few hikes in one day if you’re up to it!

I have done many hikes in Sedona, some that are very popular and others where we’ve been the only ones at the viewpoint.

So below I have a list of all the hikes I have personally done and would recommend!

  • Subway Cave via the Boynton Canyon Trail: 7 miles & 1100 ft elevation gain. The Subway Cave has grown in popularity a lot over the recent years, but it remains one of my favorite Sedona views. It does take a little scrambling and rock climbing to access the cave itself.
  • Merry Go Round Rock: 6.5 miles & 1100 ft elevation gain from the lower parking lot if you don’t have a high clearance, 4×4 vehicle to take you right to the rock. This is a gorgeous hidden gem of a hike, perfect for sunset too.
  • Cathedral Rock: 1.2 miles & 740 ft elevation gain. A staple Sedona hike, but the trail is very steep and those who are afraid of heights may struggle with this. It gets very crowded for sunset, so try it for sunrise instead!
  • Devil’s Bridge: 4 miles & 520 ft elevation gain. One of the most popular hikes in Sedona. Start this one early to avoid the crowds. This is an iconic photo spot.
  • Bell Rock: 0.8 miles & 200 ft elevation gain. The perfect little hike to great views. I love this spot for sunset when you want a low-effort hike for a big reward.
  • Doe Mountain: 1.5 miles & 500 ft elevation gain. Quick but rather steep hike to an expansive and panoramic view of Sedona.
  • Keyhole Cave: 2.2 miles & 475 ft elevation gain. This is quite a challenging cave to get into due to scaling a rock wall, but the view is amazing inside.
  • Shaman’s Cave: 3 miles & 450 ft elevation gain. A total hidden gem in Sedona, this trail is located about 1 hour from downtown. This is a large cave-like structure with a large window naturally created into the rock.
  • Soldier’s Pass Trail: 4.5 miles & 840 ft elevation gain. The trail includes multiple viewpoints including the Seven Sacred Pools and a turnoff for a hidden narrow cave. The main trailhead only has 10 spots available, so get here early or midday. There is also a dog park 1 mile down the road where you can park and walk to the trail.
  • Fay Canyon: 2.3 miles & 200 ft elevation gain. A relatively easy and short trail with red rock views that has an offshoot to a neat arch.
  • Birthing Cave: 2 miles & 240 ft elevation gain. Short and sweet hike to a very large cave.
photo of girl standing at the edge of the subway cave in sedona. this hike definitely makes sedona worth visiting!
The Subway Cave right after sunrise in Sedona.

2. Head out on a 4×4 adventure

Take a break from the hiking trails to give your legs a rest and join an off-roading Jeep tour! You’ll be able to visit parts of Sedona other vehicles and trails can’t get you to. Plus, it’s just a bunch of fun!

Join this highly rated tour from Viator, or the ever popular Pink Jeep tours.

photo of girl jumping around the seven sacred pools in sedona, red rocks in the background and reflection in the pools of water.
The Seven Sacred Pools on the Soldier’s Pass trail.

3. Wine tasting in nearby Verde Valley

What better to warm up in winter than with some wine?! The Verde Valley makes a great stop on a road trip around Arizona.

Sedona is located in the Verde Valley, the best wine region in Arizona. You can easily make an afternoon trip from Sedona to visit a few wineries in the area.

Or join this tour to visit 4 wineries, enjoy a gourmet lunch, and most importantly- not having to worry about driving to and from all of your destinations!


4. Watch the sunset

There are plenty of great places to watch the sunset, but one of my favorites is from Red Rock Crossing. It is such a large area it’s easy to find your own spot to connect with nature and enjoy the views.

Plus, as I had mentioned before, sunsets in the winter are sometimes bolder and more intense due to lower humidity- so you should definitely make an effort to catch one!

photo through a red rock window of a girl sitting on a large red rock in sedona at sunset.
Photo through the window/cave at Merry Go Round Rock at sunset.

5. Visit a spiritual vortex

Some come to Sedona seeking out the so-called ‘vortexes’ located here. People travel here to meditate and absorb the energy coming from these magnificent red rocks.

You’re likely to encounter folks meditating or doing sound baths at the top of trails, especially where there is a vortex located. These vortices are supposed to be ‘swirling centers’ of energy, healing in nature.

I’ve been to Sedona many times.. so do I think this is true? I’m really not sure! One thing I definitely know is that looking out amongst the red rocks inspires me and gives me a deep sense of calm.

Really all of Sedona is considered a vortex, but there are areas with supposedly even higher energy. These are: Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, and Boynton Canyon.

picture of the red rocks in sedona at sunset from bell rock.
View from Bell Rock in Sedona at sunset.

6. Go shopping

Head to the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, a gorgeous adobe-style outdoor shopping market and see you what treasures you find.

Filled with craft shops, art galleries, jewelry & apparel shops, and crystals & gem stores- you never know what you’ll find. Plus, the mall itself is beautiful filled with arches and cobblestone paths.


7. Hit the trails on an ATV tour

If you’re seeking some adventure and adrenaline on your trip to Sedona, don’t miss a chance to join an ATV tour!

The ATV adventure is a bit hair raising at times but it will lead you to places you wouldn’t see otherwise. Plus you get the freedom to explore at your own pace compared to an organized tour in a vehicle.

8. Go on a day trip North to Flagstaff

If you’re in Sedona for a few days and want to experience a bit more winter winter, then head 1 hour North to Flagstaff.

Flagstaff has the highest peak in Arizona, Humphrey’s Peak at 12,637 feet, and the town receives on average over 100 inches of snow annually.

You can go skiing or snowboarding, or warm up in a local coffee shop or one of the many local breweries.

Just be cautious driving since going up in elevation you will be much more likely to encounter wintry driving conditions including snow and ice.

Or keep heading North from Flagstaff and head to the Grand Canyon from Sedona!


🛏 Where to Stay in Sedona in January

The town of Sedona is pretty small, so you won’t be far from anything no matter where you stay. The town has two major sections: Uptown Sedona and West Sedona.

Uptown Sedona is where most of the restaurants, shops, and hotels are. West Sedona still has many restaurants and shops, but also more local neighborhoods, and is closer to many hiking trails.

However, it can get pretty pricey here. If you want to find the absolute cheapest accommodations, head to the nearby towns of Oak Creek or Cottonwood. Oak Creek is about 15 minutes from Sedona, and Cottonwood is about 30 minutes away.

There is also free dispersed camping off of Loy Butte Road about 20 minutes from downtown Sedona, but keep in mind camping in winter means freezing temps overnight!

👉 Oak Creek Terrace Resort

I stayed at this hotel the last time I visited Sedona in 2023 and thought it was the best budget option in town. Located 10 minutes from the city center going towards Oak Creek, this hotel has beautiful grounds and clean rooms.

👉 The Wilde Resort and Spa

This luxury resort is located in West Sedona and has a full-service spa on site. Perfect for winter, this resort has a hot tub, outdoor fireplace, and a restaurant onsite. Pets are allowed on request here.

👉 Orchards Inn

Orchards Inn is in Uptown Sedona and has amazing views from the rooms. There is also a balcony at the hotel with views of Snoopy Rock, Cathedral Rock, and more.

Many restaurants and shops are within walking distance. There are also pet-friendly rooms available here.

👉 Sky Ranch Lodge

Located in West Sedona, the Sky Ranch Lodge is highly rated with spectacular views of the red rocks.

The hotel features a hot tub perfect for winter, as well as a bar and spa & wellness center. They also have a free shuttle system that can take you into some parts of town. Pets are welcome here.


❓Sedona in January FAQs

Still have some questions about a winter visit in Sedona? Let’s answer ’em!

Is it worth going to Sedona in the winter?

Absolutely! Of all the times I’ve been to Sedona, January was my favorite visit.

While the early mornings and overnight temps may be freezing, daytime temperatures are comfortable and great for hiking. And while you may encounter some rain or snow, the chances aren’t very high.

Is Sedona crowded in January?

January is considered a part of the tourist low season in Sedona, meaning you’ll encounter the least crowds on a winter visit this month!

Going to Sedona in the fall or spring, you’ll likely encounter a lot of traffic and people parking a mile away from a trailhead for a hike (yes this really does happen!)- but a visit in January is likely to be more peaceful.

Does Sedona snow in January?

Yes it can snow in Sedona in January. But there is not a necessarily high likelihood.

Since Sedona sits at an elevation above 4,000 feet, it does see about 3.5 inches of snow annually.

What to wear in Sedona in January?

  • Warm jacket: I think a packable puffy jacket is perfect, especially when you layer it over a base layer and sweater if you’re hiking in the morning. You could pack a larger winter coat as well in case of snow, but a down puffy will probably work just fine.
  • Gloves: Wear gloves to keep your hands warm during the early mornings and evenings. These really come in handy if you like to photograph at these times as well.
  • Hiking boots or shoes: A good pair of hiking boots or shoes with solid grip will do you wonders in Sedona. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of the hiking is on the red rock which can be slippery at times. I recommend Danner hiking boots or Altra Lone Peaks.
  • Warm layers: Wearing layers is key when the mornings start out at freezing temps. Having a base layer on like a wool long-sleeve t-shirt, a sweater, and a jacket will ensure you stay warm when you need to. But this also gives you the flexibility of packing layers away when it warms up.
  • Wool socks: Wool socks are essential when it comes to hiking. They will keep your feet warm and dry, and help prevent blisters.

🏜️ Wrap-Up: Sedona in January

In conclusion, visiting Sedona in January offers a unique and serene experience for travelers seeking a peaceful getaway.

Despite the cooler temperatures- the stunning red rock formations, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant sunsets make it a worthwhile destination to visit with fewer crowds!

So pack your warm clothes and embark on an unforgettable journey to this enchanting desert town in January – where adventure meets serenity amidst the red rocks!

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