Gorgeous Cathedral Rock, near Sedona, Arizona, is one of the most photographed landscapes in Arizona; the photographs coming from there are stunning.
Seeing it in person is inspiring.
Enjoying it with your family is nothing short of spectacular!
Hiking Cathedral Rock with kids in tow, has made some of our favorite memories!
We love the northern part of Arizona! There is so much to see and do, and to many first-time visitor’s surprise, it is not desert, nor stifling hot, like other parts of Arizona! With it’s temperate climate Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Flagstaff, are all great destinations year round! Mild winters, and cool summers (compared to lower elevations of Arizona!) mean that this area of Arizona is great for hiking/camping/exploring year round! Rugged mountains, enormous rock formations, and vast forests of evergreens stretch out mile after mile. And Sedona is surrounded by all of them.
Sedona, AZ has some exceptionally beautiful areas to explore! We have taken all of our kids hiking at nearby Cathedral Rock, and every age has enjoyed it since there are many path options, and miles to explore; all ages and hiking levels find something to challenge them.
From the parking lot, there is one main trail to the base of Cathedral Rock, but there are trails meandering off of the main one, and once you get to the base, you can branch off from there to hike the rock if you’d like, to walk around it, or to just take another trail to explore.
Hiking is easy, with some fun rocks to climb for the little kids, and more challenging climbs and routes for the older ones.
No matter where you chose to explore in the valley, the views are gorgeous…
Our big kids are excellent hikers, both for what they will attempt, and for their endurance and push. We attribute that to getting them out there before they could even walk. Once they are mobile, we encourage them to do all that they can on their own, without help. And while we have occasionally put them in a pack for safety reasons (or because they are napping), we do not offer to carry them, but encourage them to explore their surroundings. We are always surprised at how sure footed they are, and how much, and how far, they can do on their own!
The desert is not a very forgiving place, so we try to analyze the surroundings, and teach/warn them about potential dangers.
But learning about those dangers is also part of our time out and about! We let our kids explore, and experience, their surroundings. And everyone that knows Savanna already, knows that yes, she did get poked by the cactus. 😉
To keep up morale when we are hiking far, sometimes we will set a goal of reaching a certain place, then the promise of a break for exploring/running around/having a snack. Other times, like this trip, we just let the kids pick the pace. That meant lots of rock climbing fun for the littles while the bigs checked out nearby trails looking for the most difficult routes to anywhere (or nowhere).
Love the red rocks for photo backgrounds!
Once you get to the saddle on Cathedral Rock, that is as far as you can get unless you are a technical climber. At that point, you can either turn around and walk back down the way you came, or you can go to the right, around some of the spires, and take a different trail that brings you down the back and around to where you began. This is the boys walking a ledge around one of the spires… Not something we would let our littles do, but good for the bigger kids.
Looking up at a couple of the spires…
View from the saddle…
Any time we are taking the kids out where there is the potential for injury, we try to cover anything that some of the kids may not know. Like teaching little ones like Caleb and Molly to side hill; on a steep descent, teach your kids to zigzag across the grade in order to slow their pace down so they can better stay in control of their rate of descent. It’s also helpful to make sure they know how to stairstep down sideways instead of thinking that everything must be done facing directly forward.
(our kids love walking sticks!)
Hiking the outdoors of Arizona can be a fabulous experience. It can also be dangerous. People die every year from becoming disoriented and failing to take along adequate amounts of drinking water. While Cathedral Rock is a popular destination for visitors, it is still prudent to be prepared for the worst.
*Take adequate water for each person. Littles LOVE their own pack with a small water bottle. Ours love the Hydrapak collapsing bottle; we take larger bottles to refill theirs from so we are carrying the bulk of the weight).
*Layer, or take layers – If hiking early, dress in layers so you can remove extra clothing as the day warms up. If hiking in the afternoon, bring layers in case you are on the mountain later than planned – nights can get down to freezing.
*Before you leave the parking lot, run through emergency scenarios with your kids and what they should do in each situation. Details will depend on ages, but cover basics for the area you are in. Here for us, that is rattlesnakes, injury, and getting separated from the rest of the family.
Preparation should include being prepared to have a great time!
Hiking Cathedral Rock to the saddle is appropriate for all ages – as long as your kids obey your commands. Younger kids (think active younger kids) will need minor assistance through a crevice, and you will need to keep an eye on them once you get to the top, but as long as they obey, you can let them know about the dangers of each area, and they will be fine. It is a rewarding hike, and can be done in under 2 hours with littles (those who are used to hiking). Plan a little longer if you want to let your kids set the pace, or you want to spend time enjoying the view from the saddle.
Cathedral Rock is a great hike, especially if you are new to the area since it is so easy to access.
Sedona is on the Red Rock Scenic Byway; a beautiful drive in itself, and worth the time to take it slow and explore – you will find multiple places that you just want to pull in and check out, unscheduled! You will even find trails along the byway that are handicap accessible (stroller too!) – ask about them at the Sedona Visitor’s Center.
Even tho the byway is under 8 miles long, it is still a must do in the area!
The hike is a gradual grade, and definitely kid friendly. We would hold the littles hands over the bridge, but otherwise the hike is kid friendly. Length of hike depends on where you park – if you park out by the road, then it’s miles in, and you have to spend $5, or hang your parks pass, to park. If you have a high clearance vehicle, then you can drive closer to the bridge, and you don’t have to pay to park.
No matter how you get there, the view is worth it…
Do you have some favorite hikes that you take your kids on? We would love to hear where they are as we are always looking for new adventures!