Visiting Sedona? The Crescent Moon Ranch and Picnic Area Offers Stunning Cathedral Rock Views!

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

One of my favorite things about Sedona is the sheer number of different places you can spend time taking in the stunning Red Rock views! Crescent Moon Ranch & Picnic Area is no exception to this rule.

It's easily accessible from West Sedona by driving south towards Oak Creek. The historical ranch is situated along the northern side of Oak Creek, near the base of Cathedral Rock.

While Cathedral Rock is close - the trailheads leading up to Cathedral Rock aren't easily accessible from here unless you're prepared to get wet crossing Oak Creek so keep that in mind when visiting.

Arizona Red Rocks in Sedona
Views of Cathedral Rock seen from Crescent Moon Ranch

Like many locations in Sedona the parking situation here isn't great. You'll pay $11 for a vehicle day use pass and on a nice day you may have to circle the lot more than once to find a spot. We circled the lot a couple times before snagging an 'unmarked' parking spot.


Access Popular Oak Creek Swimming Area From Crescent Moon Ranch!

If the weather is warm - consider taking a dip in Oak Creek! Plenty of tourists and locals come to this area to take a dip and sunbathe along this relaxing outdoor area.

The swimming area is easily accessible from the parking lot and it's a great place to bring children if you're traveling with your family. Did I mention the views are amazing? This popular swimming spot is located near the base of Cathedral Rock!

Kids swimming in Oak Creek
Swimming area located along Oak Creek in Sedona

Don't forget to pack a towel, bathing suit, water and plenty of sunscreen if you plan to spend the day hanging out here! Outside of bathrooms near the parking lot, there aren't really any other facilities so you'll need to bring food and other critical supplies.


Check out Andrew Baldwin's Historic Water Wheel

If you're interested in the area's history, be sure to check out Andrew Baldwin's water wheel which in the early 1900s provided electricity to the ranch. The area previously served as a water source for surrounding homes through the use of canals and irrigation systems.

The well preserved water wheel and shed allow you to step back in time and get a feel for how the area earned its name.

Historical wood shed and water wheel
Well preserved structures at Crescent Moon Ranch

The water wheel is located near the parking lot - it's hard to miss. A nearby sign provides an overview of the historical significance of the area.


Can You View Cathedral Rock From Crescent Moon Ranch?

There are primarily two ways to enjoy Cathedral Rock. One is to view it from afar and the other is to hike up it. We planned to hike it at sunset later during our stay - but those plans were derailed by the horrid parking situation at the Cathedral Rock trailhead.

Looking for tips to save on airfare? Check out a full post I wrote on the subject here!

We arrived around 4:00pm on an April Tuesday afternoon to find hoards of cars camping out to snatch up parking spots when hikers returned. Although disappointed we wouldn't be doing the Cathedral Rock hike, we were able to visit the Bell Rock area instead (I'm planning a post on that as well!) which served as a suitable alternative if parking is an issue.

If you only plan to view Cathedral Rock from afar - the Crescent Moon Ranch and surrounding areas offer one of the best spots to do so. I snapped the photograph below from a pull off near Crescent Moon Ranch.

If you're renting a car for your Sedona visit, I'd definitely recommend grabbing an SUV. You'll stumble across a number of dirt roads, rocky pulls offs and makeshift parking spaces where the extra clearance can be a huge plus!

Cathedral Rock
Enjoy views of Cathedral Rock from nearby pull offs

I found that some of the best Sedona views can be had by pulling off along the main roads to enjoy unique views of the stunning Red Rocks!


Sedona is Perfect For the Outdoor Enthusiast

Crescent Moon Ranch is a great place to spend an afternoon especially if you're traveling with kids or looking to take an afternoon dip in Oak Creek. This area is unique in that it offers a more laid back experience as it's more of a picnic & recreation area than a hiking area.


Looking for Hiking Gear Recommendations?

Chances are if you're visiting Sedona you'll be doing some hiking. If you're doing some hiking you'll want to have the right gear in order to have the best experience possible.

Finding gear that's functional, not overpriced, that also looks good can be a challenge.

For your convenience I've laid out some of my favorite hiking apparel below. All of the gear I link to below are items I personally own and have tested out on the trails. Quick disclaimer, I am an affiliate of several referral programs and I may earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

Hiking day pack - If you're in the market for a hiking day pack I'd suggest browsing REI's selection. If you've never owned one before you can go into a retail store and they'll ensure you find one that fits properly with any of the bells and whistles you may require!
Water reservoir - I have reservoirs from Platypus and Gregory that I really like. While these come in a variety of sizes I wouldn't bother with those smaller than 3L. You can always just fill up the larger ones part way if you're concerned about weight since they collapse to the same size.
Moisture wicking t-shirts - Patagonia makes really great hiking t-shirts that keep you dry all day long. They also perform well under multiple layers of clothing.
Hiking socks - I absolutely love the FEIDEER brand of hiking socks. I've tried some other hiking sock brands, but I think these take the cake! They make great socks for both women and men.

There's nothing worse than missing out on a great hike because you didn't come prepared, don't be that person!


Looking for Sedona hiking ideas?

Be sure to check out my post on hiking Devil's Bridge. It was my favorite hike from our trip to Sedona. Depending on where you start this one you're looking at about 4.0 miles of hiking a moderately difficult trail.

Looking for a more comprehensive Sedona travel guide? Check out our guide on 17 of the top activities to do in the area here! We also have a video guide version available on YouTube located here.

Devil's Bridge Arch in Sedona Arizona
I actually don't do well with heights.. but Devil's Bridge was worth it!

Most of the trek is easy - but there are a few trickier spots you'll need to climb near the end. If you can keep your fear of heights in check you'll be rewarded with stunning views of Red Rock Vistas and a once in a lifetime photo op! You can check out my guide to hiking Devil's Bridge here. Thanks for reading!