We traveled to Sedona via I-17 North, and got off at exit 298 having no idea where we were going or what we were going to to do. All we knew is that everyone told us “you have to go to Sedona while you are in Arizona!”. I looked up some suggestions on the Internet and had some ideas, but was concerned about parking. Thankfully, we came across the Red Rock RD Visitor Center just a few miles up the road. The ranger gave us some maps and information on the area, and also suggested that we spend the afternoon hiking around Bell Rock.
Normally to hike in Red Rock Country, you will need a Red Rock Pass or Federal Interagency Pass. We have a Federal Interagency Military Pass (free for all active duty military and/or dependents), but it turns out that there are a few weekends a year when you do not need a pass and we happened to be there on way of them (Columbus Day Weekend). If you need to purchase a Red Rock pass they are currently $5 for the day or $15 for a weekly pass (7 consecutive days). 95% of the funds received from these passes are used to enhance visitor services and provide environmental protection.
Bell Rock is one of the first Red Rock formations that you see on your way into Sedona. The trailhead is just past the Village of Oak Creek. The parking lot was crowded, but we were still able to fit our 35 foot RV.
The nice thing about hiking here is that there is an abundance of trails and connector trails, so you can make your hike as long or short as you’d like. With the dark clouds and six children, this was very appealing to us.
Turns out we ended up having perfect overcast skies and 65 degree temperatures, which allowed for us to hike nearly 6 miles in and around this area.
We started out hiking Big Park Loop around Courthouse Butte. You get some wonderful views of the Red Rock Scenery on this moderately used trail.
The trail is mostly flat with a few small up and downs.
After hiking around Courthouse Butte, we hiked around Bell Rock and then allowed the kids to scramble up Bell Rock - their favorite part! They made it pretty high, but not all the way to the top.
The real reward for climbing up Bell Rock is turning around and seeing the gorgeous panoramic vista of Red Rock Country.
To head back to the parking lot, we took Rector Trail to Rock Pathway. Rector Trail is newer trail with much less traffic. There were a few spots where we had difficulty following the trail, but I’m sure as it gets used more it will become easier to follow.
One thing is for sure, we LOVE Arizona!