What better way to start the new year off than visiting Arizona’s “red rock country” right after a record breaking snow storm? Single digit temperatures and snow probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Arizona. Surprising as it may be much of the Northern half of the state is at high enough elevation to get quite cold in the winter, and some places even have skiing.
Sedona is just a 90 minute drive from Phoenix and winter temperatures there are normally quite mild, rarely dipping below 32 F at their lowest (find more on Sedona weather here). When I arrived on New Year’s Day I hadn’t planned to be welcomed with 7 inches of snow! Since I’ve spent most of the last 2 years soaking up Central America’s heat and humidity I embraced the chilly weather with open arms and slightly numb extremities.
Magical Sunrises & Sunsets
With most roads other than than the main highway still lathered over with snow and ice options were limited. One of the most popular and easy to get to lookout spots is the Airport Mesa, located right in town and next to the Sedona airport. The only problem? The lookout point is on top of a steeply inclined hill, the road hadn’t been snow-plowed. Determined not to let a little ice stand in the way I crossed my fingers and went for it. What followed was a rare glimpse of Sedona covered in snow, and the stunning sunset that followed was quite a reward.
After the sunset it would’ve been easy to feel content and sleep in but I was determined to see the sunrise the following morning. Braving single digit bone-chilling temperatures I visited Red Rock State Park to impatiently await the sunrise over Sedona’s most famous landmark, Cathedral Rock. Despite the rapidly chapping lips and thoughts of frostbite I held on until the sun’s rays peaked over the rocks.
Visiting Famous Landmarks
After a warm-up break back at the hotel it I returned to the park to do some light hiking and explore the area. Joyous visitors were having snowball fights, making snow angels and stomping through shallow patches of ice.. It still feels surreal to see things happening in place that’s normally so hot. The already high contrast between the red rocks and blue sky was further amplified by the white snow.. a real sight to behold.
Next up was a visit to the famous Chapel of the Holy Cross; perched up high on the town’s red rocks. Unfortunately the Chapel’s parking lot was closed for visitors due to the weather. Views from outside were still pretty great!
Winter is the slowest time for tourism with many hotels offering discounts and bargains. You might even get lucky and see some snow!
Check out more photos of
Snowy Sedona Winter Wonderland