The 15 Best Things To Do In Sedona In The Winter

Visiting Sedona in the winter is simply fantastic. This guide goes over all of the best things to do.
April 29, 2024
Things to do in Sedona in the winter

We all know that Sedona is a stunning place to visit year-round, but the winter offers a unique experience that you can’t miss. The breathtaking red rock formations are dusted with snow, the air is crisp and cool, and there are far fewer crowds.

From hiking through snow-covered trails to relaxing with a spa or some yoga, there’s something for everyone. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in Sedona during the winter season, so you can make the most of your visit and create some unforgettable memories!

What’s It Like To Visit Sedona In The Winter?

Visiting Sedona in the winter means you’ll get mild weather, fewer crowds, stunning landscapes, exciting seasonal events, and cheaper accommodations. Unlike the sweltering summer months, the winter temperatures here are between 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (which is especially nice if you’re taking a hike).

Sedona in February

But the significant drop in tourist numbers during these months is one of our favorite benefits. You can check out all of the most popular attractions without dealing with the usual hustle and bustle. It’s also easier to secure reservations at restaurants or find parking downtown.

The scenery is also uniquely beautiful during December, January, and February. When the red rock formations are dusted with snow it creates a magical contrast that you need to see in person.

And if you’re on a budget, everything is much more affordable in Sedona during the winter. Hotels, restaurants, and various rentals are all much more wallet-friendly. So you can do more with less!

The Best Things To Do In Sedona In The Winter

There are a number of fun things to do in Sedona during the winter. Here are some of our favorites!

1. Go Hiking

One of the best activities to enjoy in Sedona during the winter is hiking, since the cooler temperatures make everything a lot more pleasant. You won’t have to worry about overheating when enjoying some outdoor adventures!

The trails are noticeably less crowded as well, so it’s a lot more peaceful and easier to enjoy the landscape. Popular trails like Devil’s Bridge and Cathedral Rock are must-dos if you’re in Sedona, and going in the winter is a far less hectic experience (it can be hard to even find parking in the summer).

But what makes winter hiking in Sedona truly special is the occasional dusting of snow on the red rocks. This awesome contrast of the fiery red landscape against the pure white snow is something that we recommend to everyone, and it adds a whole new element to your hike.

2. Hit The Town & Enjoy Lower Crowds

Exploring Sedona’s charming town center during the winter months is a fantastic idea since it’s the slow season with far fewer tourists and crowds. You can take your time strolling through the streets, popping into the unique art galleries and eclectic shops. If you’ve ever been there in the summer, you’ll probably find this a welcome change of pace (we definitely did).

You’ll find it way easier to book last-minute activities and score reservations at the town’s popular restaurants. There’s no need to plan far in advance!

Winter is the perfect time to take advantage of discounted rates and packages at hotels. So you can splurge on something fancy that’s close to town without breaking the bank!

3. Take Some Pictures

In the winter, hunting for picturesque spots to capture the landscape is quite addicting. The red rocks take on a spectacular glow in the soft light, and the presence of snow adds an extra touch of magic.

Sedona in December

Because there are fewer people around at this time of the year, you’ll have extra time and space to find the perfect angle for our shots without feeling rushed. It’s a much nicer experience than taking pictures when you’re elbow-to-elbow with someone else that’s doing the same!

Downtown Sedona also becomes a great subject for photography during the winter. The shops all have their holiday decorations up, which adds to the charm of the city.

4. Hot Air Balloon Rides

Taking a hot air balloon ride is another great thing to do during the winter months in Sedona. Companies like Northern Lights Balloon Expeditions offer daily rides, providing a unique opportunity to witness Sedona’s iconic beauty from above.

The cool, crisp winter air is perfect for this activity. The temperature is comfortable, allowing you to enjoy the aerial views without the intense summer heat or unpredictable thermals. Even if you’re a bit nervous, the experience of floating over the colorful canyons and rock formations is one of a kind.

Author Note: This time of year also provides ideal conditions for hot air ballooning. The physics of hot air balloons work well in cold weather, as the contrast between the hot air inside the balloon and the cold air outside helps the balloon rise more efficiently.

5. End The Day At A Sunset Lookout

No matter how you spend your day, we suggest ending it with a visit to a sunset lookout. Airport Mesa is one of the most popular spots for panoramic sunset views. Here, the red rocks often glow a vibrant orange and red during the winter golden hour. And the snow on top adds some nice contrast! As you’d expect, this is another great chance to get some photos.

Hiking up to Cathedral Rock is another good choice if you’re looking for a place to see the sunset. This high vantage point offers a stunning view with towering rocks right at your back.

6. Go For A Drive

Driving through Sedona’s enchanting landscapes in the winter is a fun way to explore the area’s famed red rock scenery. From the comfort of your heated car you can traverse roads like the Red Rock Scenic Byway and Oak Creek Canyon, each with breathtaking vistas along the way.

The Sedona red rocks in the winter

These roads are far less congested during the winter as well, which allows for a leisurely drive and easier parking at viewpoints.

7. Do A Wine Tasting

A wine tasting is another fantastic way to enjoy a winter day in Sedona, especially when the Verde Valley’s wineries are less crowded. There’s nothing like sipping on bold reds and crisp whites in a cozy tasting room!

What’s more, some wineries in the area take the experience a notch higher by offering horseback riding and wine tasting combos. You probably haven’t done that before!

We find that the off season offers a more intimate and personalized tasting experience as well. The crowds are sparse and the pace is slower, which will give you a little more time to savor whatever you end up tasting.

Some wineries have fireplaces or fire pits as well, so you can enjoy your drinks outside while admiring the view.

8. Rent An ATV Or Buggy

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, renting an ATV or off-road buggy is an unbeatable choice. This gives you a great opportunity to see Sedona’s red rocks up close, getting an adrenaline rush while taking in the stunning winter scenery. The cooler temperatures make for a more comfortable ride, and without the intense summer heat, you can spend hours exploring without getting drenched in sweat.

One option is to take a guided ATV tour that’s led by experienced guides who know the area well. They’ll take you to some of the most beautiful spots that are often hidden and unreachable by regular vehicles. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, rent an ATV or buggy and set off on your own.

With fewer people on the trails during winter, you can enjoy this off-road adventure on your own. It’s a chance to cover more ground and access remote areas while immersing yourself in the tranquil beauty of Sedona.

9. See The Festival of Lights

During the winter months, the city Sedona transforms into a wonderland, and the Festival of Lights an absolute must-do. The town is decked out in twinkling holiday lights and lively decorations that make the ultimate merry atmosphere.

One of the hallmarks of this festival is the annual lighting of the Sedona Christmas Tree. This festive community event is a cherished tradition that brings locals and visitors together to celebrate the season.

We definitely recommend taking a leisurely stroll through the city during this time (and driving through some neighborhoods if you have the time). The town goes all out with its holiday decorations!

10. Check Out The Vortexes

Ever wondered why vortex hikes in Sedona are still popular in the winter? It’s simple – the cooler temperatures make the walk to these swirling centers of energy much more comfortable and enjoyable.

These vortexes are considered by some to have healing and meditative properties. Even if that’s not your cup of tea, it’s still a serene escape away from the city. In the winter, with fewer people around, you’re more likely to find a quiet spot to relax or even meditate in these areas.

11. Horseback Riding

Another exciting thing to do in Sedona in the winter is go horseback riding. This is a fun opportunity to see the desert landscape from a fresh perspective. You’ll ride through scenic canyons, washes, and creek beds that all give fantastic views of the red rock formations.

Several stables in the area provide guided trail rides for all experience levels so you can be sure to have a safe and memorable time. Winter is actually an excellent time for horseback riding in Sedona, since both you and your horse will be able to stay nice and cool.

Author Note: Another benefit to doing this in the winter is that the trails are less dusty (which can be a pain at times in warmer months).

12. Enjoy The Stars

Sedona’s crisp winter nights present the perfect opportunity to do some stargazing. The city’s high elevation and minimal light pollution results in  the perfect setting for incredible astronomical displays. From open areas like Airport Mesa you can marvel at the Milky Way and constellations with the naked eye.

And in winter, the nights are longer. This means you have more time to search the cosmos or wait for ideal viewing conditions if you’re only in town for a night or two.

If you’re a big fan of space, there are guided stargazing tours you can sign up for. This is a great way to learn more about the cosmos and enrich your understanding of the universe while on vacation!

13. Take The Family To The Magical Christmas Journey Railroad

If you’re looking for a unique and memorable family-friendly activity in Sedona during the winter, taking a ride on the Magical Christmas Journey Railroad should be at the top of your list. This festive train ride through the Verde Canyon near Sedona is a holiday delight. With the vintage train decked out in holiday decor and lights, it’s a sight not to be missed.

What sets this journey apart is its festive spirit. Not only does the train take you on a scenic route through the winter-lit Verde Canyon, but Santa and Mrs. Claus make an appearance too! They entertain the kids with delightful stories, adding to the overall magical experience.

This ride only operates during the holiday season, which makes it an extra special winter activity. You’re sure to leave with memories that’ll last a lifetime. The kids will be thrilled with the holiday decorations, lights, and of course, the visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. So, don’t miss the chance to partake in this magical journey. It’s the perfect way to make the most of your winter visit to Sedona.

14. Limber Up With Some Yoga

This might seem like an odd thing to include in a list of winter things to do in Sedona, but it tracks with the overall culture of the city. Yoga studios pepper the town, and many offer drop-in classes or private sessions. Wellness resorts like Enchantment even have yoga classes you can take with breathtaking red rock views.

For many, the tranquility of Sedona’s winter season allows for a calm and focused yoga practice. It’s a nice way to unwind and rejuvenate, especially if you’ve been traveling recently and need to stretch out a bit!

15. Helicopter Tour

While it can be a bit pricey, a helicopter tour over the area is an amazing way to appreciate the town’s natural beauty during winter. You’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the landscape, seeing more in a short amount of time than you could by hiking all day. And there are a number of different tour lengths and routes that you can choose from.

During the winter, the visibility should be very clear for viewing and taking some pictures. And with the snow on the red rocks, you’ll see a view of Sedona that many other people never will.

Does It Snow In Sedona?

Sedona does experience snowfall, although it’s considerably lighter compared to many other parts of the United States. On average, Sedona gets about 11 inches of snow annually, which is less than the US average of 28 inches per year.

Most of the snowfall happens in March, which sees about 2.7 inches on average. February isn’t far behind, with about 1.5 inches of snowfall per month.

Closing Thoughts

There are a variety of things to do in Sedona in the winter. And in our opinion, it’s actually the best time to visit! The combination of low crowds, unique landscapes, and mild temperatures make it a fantastic winter getaway.

Visit and see for yourself!

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