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 and the Crescent Moon Ranch and 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. Like many of Sedona's attractions this area falls within the Coconino National Forest.
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.
In this post I'm going to cover a number of useful things to know before visiting the Crescent Moon Ranch in Sedona.
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 the 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 wade in the creek 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!
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.
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.
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 Picnic Area 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!
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
The Crescent Moon Picnic Area 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.
If you're still trying to nail down a place to stay on your visit then be sure to check out these deals on Sedona hotels. One thing I've learned from my visits to Sedona is that the limited lodging options can book up far in advance!
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 Sedona. I also put together a video guide highlighting some of the top things to do around Sedona you should check out!
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.
I hope you find this post covering things to know when visiting the Crescent Moon Ranch Sedona helpful during your trip planning process!