There are certain places that every stargazer needs to have jotted down on their bucket list, and Sedona, Arizona, is absolutely one of them.
This place is a popular spot for visitors to check out at night with a telescope and a good stargazing app or two.
But why do so many people flock to this specific location? And where do they go to get a good spot?
If you are looking for the best stargazing in Sedona, you are in luck. We decided to take a deep dive into some of the most incredible places in the world to see the star clusters and come up with a great list of the top eight locations in Sedona you must check out when visiting Sedona.
Why Choose Sedona for Stargazing?
Sedona, Arizona, is hands down one of the best places to go stargazing. It is a popular spot that attracts many visitors of every kind and for many great reasons.
One of Only 40 IDA-Certified Dark Sky Communities
There are many great places in Sedona to seek out clear views of planets, stars, etc. This location is a promising spot to get a good glimpse into outer space because of its dedication to reducing light population and keeping the dark skies free for easy nighttime astronomy activity.
What is a Dark Sky Community, you ask? According to the International Dark-Sky Association, it is a city, state, town, or ordinance that tries to reduce light pollution through regulations and policies regarding proper city lights’ design. An international dark sky community is the perfect place for stargazing.
- Shielding light fixtures: Outdoor light fixtures are fully shielded (no light shines past a 90° angle) and facing downward.
- Light colors: Use warm-colored lighting, like amber, with cool temperatures of no more than 3000 Kevin. Blue lights are not permitted.
- Limit the amount of light used: Only use outdoor lighting when absolutely required. Use the least amount of light when needed.
- Install helpful devices: Using motion sensors and dimming products can help reduce the amount of light used.
Because Sedona is an IDA-certified dark-sky community, getting a good look into the night sky is much easier than in most areas.
Rocky Red Landscape for a Relaxing View
Sedona is home to many beautiful natural spaces that are perfect resting spots for relaxing and gazing at the stars.
This quaint little spot on the map is home to radiant cliff dwellings, lush valleys, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails, making it easy to set up equipment for an intense intergalactic investigation or sprawl out on a blanket and simply stare off into space.
The Best Stargazing Spots in Sedona, AZ
There are a ton of fantastic plots of land in the Sedona area that are ideal for stargazing. However, there is only a handful that is beyond exceptional.
Here is a list of our eight favorite spots for Sedona stargazing.
1. A Quaint Space: Crescent Moon Picnic Site
During the day, the Crescent Moon Picnic Site is the perfect spot to enjoy your lunch or take a brisk walk for fresh air and one of the best locations to do some stargazing at night.
If you want to stay at the picnic area until sunset, many good seats are wide open and away from trees. You could also stroll down one of the hiking trails to get a better view from a different angle.
2. A Rocky View Point: Baldwin Trail
The Baldwin trail is a well-known wrap-around route, circling Cathedral Rock’s rock formations. This 1.6-mile track is often used as a biking trail by outdoor lovers during the day. Yet it proves to be a very useful location for stargazing at night.
To get to Baldwin Trail, you must go through Oak Creek town on Verde Valley School Road.
3. Professionals Favorite: Two Trees Observing Area
There is a perfect little spot right off State Highway 89A, around 15 minutes from downtown Sedona, near the intersection of Forest Rd, 525A, and 761B. Sedona’s astronomy association often uses this location because of the perfect field of vision.
4. Roadside Parking: Dry Creek Road
Okay, this is not a specific location, but it is a perfect length of roadway with many places perfect for pulling over and parking to enjoy the view.
Consider stopping along a parking lot along one of the trail paths or simply brake for a few minutes on the side of the road. There is no one spot we would specifically recommend. Choose an area that is furthest from town and gives you a good vantage point.
5. Red Rocks Galore: Bear and Doe Mountain Trailheads
If you are looking for great hiking trails for an epic nature walk during the day, Bear Mountain Trail offers an incredible 4.3-mile journey round trip and makes a great day trip before you relax at sunset. Doe Mountain trail is another hiking trail for the outdoor enthusiast, but it is much shorter, with only a 0.7-mile track.
These locations are also infamous for the incredible wide-open skies, offering stargazers a direct line of sight into the universe.
6. A Winding Road: Merry-Go-Round Rock
Merry-Go-Round Rock is another epic location for stargazers of all experience levels if you are up for a lengthy drive up a winding road.
Travel up Schnebly Hill Road as it curves and winds up rock formations and mountains, quite far from any Sedona town activity.
Once you get to Merry-Go-Round Rock, grab a comfy blanket, red flashlight, and some good walking shoes, and find somewhere to sit without obstructions.
7. A Discreet Dirt Road: Jordan Trail Head
A nice trailhead is located near the end of West Park Ridge Drive, where a dirt road is often hidden by water or sand but is still easily accessible by car. If you spot this road, take the short drive to the end, where you will find an area to park and stare into space.
You can sit in your car, lounge in the bed of a truck, or grab some folding chairs and enjoy some fresh air while searching for constellations.
8. An Adventurous Location: Fay Canyon Trail
This location is ideal for experienced hikers unless you park at the trailhead and stay nearby.
The Fay Canyon trail is a 2.2-mile trek, making it difficult for a nighttime adventure. However, if you are up for the challenge, this is a perfect, quiet place for stargazing. Just remember to pack appropriately and take precautions.
Anyone not experienced with night hiking should go the easier route and stay close to the beginning of the trail. Don’t worry; the scene is just as astonishing.
Things to Think About When Stargazing in Sedona
Yes, this is one of the best locations for gazing at stars, but you must be prepared before heading out. Just because it offers a great viewpoint doesn’t mean it is ALWAYS a good spot to travel to.
- Time of Year: Most of the year is suitable for some decent stargazing, but there are a couple of months where storm clouds make this nearly impossible which falls between July and August (Arizona’s monsoon season).
- What to Bring: Packing the right equipment is also essential when searching the night sky. Aside from a good telescope (or binoculars), you should also pack for the weather, bring a blanket or chairs for comfort, and grab a good “red” flashlight. Oh, and maybe a tasty snack or two.
- Check the Weather Report: Weather conditions can block your view. Keep a close eye on the weather report before you waste your time driving around.
- Don’t Go Off the Beaten Path: Stargazing can be very exciting, and some people will walk deeper and deeper into hiking trails or other terrains. Wandering outside of the dedicated spaces cleared for travel can be dangerous. Stay in familiar territory to stay safe.
- Know What and Where to Look: Sometimes, staring into the sky and looking for random celestial objects is exciting. However, it can be a very successful adventure if you do a little research or bring an excellent stargazing app.
If you take our advice and prepare yourself for a fantastic adventure, you will find that the Sedona area is one of the best places in the world for all your stargazing needs.
Sedona Stargazing Is an Amazing Experience
Whether you go stargazing as a fun hobby and want to see the Milky Way, are a professional astronomer seeking great sites like Grand Canyon National Park, or are simply looking for something challenging like the Thunder Mountain trailhead in West Sedona, this city is the ideal location in the United States.
This city in the Grand Canyon State gets darker at night than most other areas in the world. Thanks to the community’s dedication to being conscious of light pollution, people everywhere have a place to learn more about the solar system and enjoy the fabulous, unfiltered, clear skies.