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A Traveler's Guide to Exploring Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona

35.1983° N, 111.6513° W

Golden hour in Sedona, Arizona

EXPLORE OUR IN-DEPTH TRAVEL GUIDE ON THE AMAZING CITIES OF FLAGSTAFF AND SEDONA IN NORTHERN ARIZONA. THIS GUIDE COVERS EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW; INCLUDING, HOW TO GET THERE, WHERE TO STAY, AND THE BEST ADVENTURES TO CHECK OUT.

 



Located far out in the northern Arizona mountains are two of the coolest and most exciting towns around. Flagstaff - or "Flag" as the locals call it - and Sedona are not only drop dead beautiful, but are also full of numerous outdoor adventures, a rich culture and a whole lot of energy (especially the spiritual kind).


If you are looking for a fun destination for a long weekend away or if you are just looking to explore some other amazing areas in Northern Arizona that aren't Grand Canyon National Park, then we cannot recommend these two Arizona towns enough.


Below you will find our ultimate travel guide for both Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona, which includes everything you need to know about visiting both adventurous towns, like the best time to visit, where to stay and what to explore while visiting.




A BRIEF HISTORY OF FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA


The cute mountain town of Flagstaff lies near the southwestern edge of the massive Colorado Plateau and within the San Francisco volcanic field. The town is also located along the western side of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the whole continental United States.


In the 1920s local Flagstaff businessmen began lobbying for Route 66 to pass through the city (which it did). This helped turn the local industry from lumber to tourism, which then helped develop downtown Flagstaff. Another important thing to happen in Flagstaff was the discovery of Pluto in the 1930s at the nearby Lowell Observatory (which you can learn more about in their daily tours).



POPULATION: 76,831

ELEVATION: 6,910 feet / 2,106 meters




A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEDONA, ARIZONA


By far Sedona's main tourist attraction is its wide array of red sandstone formations that often appear to glow in amazing orange and red shades when illuminated by both the rising or setting sun. The monolithic red rocks form a popular backdrop for many outdoor activities that range from various spiritual pursuits to hiking and mountain biking.


The first white settler to the area was John J. Thompson, who moved to the Oak Creek Canyon in 1876. At the time, the area was well known for its peach and apple orchards. Around the turn of the century, the Sedona post office was established. At the time 55 residents - mostly ranchers and farmers - called the area home. Interestingly, it took until the mid-1950s for the first telephone directory to arrive in town. It would then take another ten years for the whole town to get electricity.


More recently, Sedona has become famous for two things: as a spiritual center and global power spot and as the home for the only McDonald's without golden arches (they are instead turquoise).



POPULATION: 9,684

ELEVATION: 4,350 feet / 1,330 meters




EXPLORE MORE | THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EXPLORING GOBLIN VALLEY STATE PARK IN SOUTHERN UTAH






\\ How to Get to Flagstaff and Sedona


Both towns are located in Northern Arizona - an area of the state that is known for its rocky, volcanic mountains and pine forests. While the two towns are somewhat remote, they are also centrally located to many larger cities and outdoor adventures. Below are the standard driving times from a few of the closest major metropolises as well as from some of the most exciting nearby adventure destinations (hello Grand Canyon National Park!).



FROM…


PHOENIX

2 hours and 45 min to Flagstaff via Interstate 17

2.5 hours to Sedona via Interstate 17 and Highway 179


LAS VEGAS

4 hours to Flagstaff via Interstate 40, Highway 93 and Interstate 11

4.5 to Sedona via Interstate 40, Highway 93, Interstate 11 and Highway 89A


ALBUQUERQUE

4 hours and 45 min to Flagstaff via Interstate 40

5 hours and 20 min to Sedona via Interstate 40 and Highway 89A




CLOSE ADVENTURES TO FLAGSTAFF AND SEDONA


Grand Canyon National Park

This beautiful national park is roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes from the edge of Flagstaff and 2.5 hours from Sedona. To reach the Grand Canyon from either town, you will need to head north out on Highway 180 and 64.


❔ GOOD TO KNOW: if you are hoping to head to Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim, then you will have to first head out Highway 89 towards Bitter Springs, Arizona (just south of Page). Then drive out on Highway 89A and Road 67 until you reach the rim and the various trails located there. From Flagstaff, it is roughly 4 hours to the North Rim and from Sedona, it is roughly 4 hours and 35 minutes.



Nearby National Monuments

Located quite a bit closer to both towns are three amazing nationally protected areas: Sunset Crater National Monument, Wupatki National Monument and Walnut Canyon National Monument. From Flagstaff it is around 30 minutes to the monument entrances and from Sedona it is just over an hour.


| Sunset Crater National Monument is a great spot to head to to learn more about the areas volcanic history, go for a hike, and explore some interesting lava flows.


| Wupatki National Monument is another fantastic place to do a bit of exploring - especially if you are looking to learn more about the ancestral Native American tribes that used to call this part of Northern Arizona home.


| Walnut Creek National Monument is the third national monument within a short drive of both Flagstaff and Sedona. This federally protected area is also home to many archeological wonders, including 25 cliff dwellings.






\\ Where to Stay in Flagstaff and Sedona


There are many options when it comes to finding a place to stay the night in both Flagstaff and Sedona. From uber-lux all-inclusive resorts, to cute mountain cabins, you can find something for every type of style and budget.



HOTELS AND RESORTS


In Flagstaff

| High Country Motor Lodge: this funky, mid-century style lodge is centrally located near Flagstaff's bustling downtown. The lodge has a pool, gym, free parking and is pet friendly. | BOOK YOUR STAY


| Little America Hotel: this hotel is actually located on the grounds of the Little America Travel Center. The hotel comes with a seasonal pool, gym, wi-fi, and free parking. | BOOK YOUR STAY


| Basecamp at Snowbowl: for something a bit more outdoorsy, consider booking a night at one of the Basecamp at Snowbowl's cute cabins. Located north of Flagstaff, this adventure-focused lodging option is within easy distance of many hiking and biking trails and, in the winter, skiing at the namesake Arizona Snowbowl ski resort. | BOOK YOUR STAY



In Sedona

While Flagstaff has many of the standard run-of-the-mill hotel and motel options (with of course a couple of fun spots thrown in), Sedona definitely focuses more on upscale lodging options. In truth, many of the top places to stay in Sedona are actually all-inclusive, wellness focused resorts - including one of the most famous, the Enchantment Resort.


| Enchantment Resort: this upscale resort sits on 70-acres of beautiful desert terrain near Boynton Canyon on the outskirts of Sedona. Many of the rooms at this resort come with patios with views of the glowing red rocks and access to pools, spas and other wellness amenities. | BOOK YOUR STAY


| L'Auberge de Sedona: for an even more upscale and luxurious stay in Sedona, consider booking a night at the very fancy, very beautiful L'Auberge Resort. Located on the banks of Oak Creek, this resort includes numerous types of cabins, a couple of restaurants and many wellness-focused amenities. | BOOK YOUR STAY




AIRBNB


If you are looking for a bit more privacy or if you want something a bit more homey, then maybe an Airbnb is the way to go. Below are a few of the coolest Airbnb's in both towns.

In Flagstaff

| Quaint Downtown Loft/Studio: relatively small but very pet friendly, this loft is a short 10-minute walk to downtown. | BOOK HERE