Is Devil's Bridge the Best Hike in Sedona?

Updated: Jan 8


Only if you beat the crowds!


If you're heading to Sedona this year, make sure you check out the hike to Devil's Bridge. I just spent a few days visiting Sedona and it was by far my favorite hike.


However, if you've never been to Sedona (or its been a while) read on to learn some helpful tips on visiting the city and specifically Devil's Bridge!


Sedona Arizona Devil's Bridge
Heights only scare me if there's a steep drop and no railing.. I was not okay in this moment

Devil's Bridge is one of the more popular destinations in Sedona. If you've been doing research on top activities in Sedona you've probably stumbled upon this iconic arch.


Why is Devil's Bridge so Popular


The uniqueness of Devil's Bridge, its reputation for a great photo op and relatively short distance (3.6 miles if you park at Dry Creek Vista Trailhead) all contribute to its popularity.



Its notorious on social media which also means that if you're hoping to catch a photo at the top you either need to arrive extremely early or plan on waiting for up to an hour to get the red rock bridge to yourself.


But! If you read on, I have a few tips and tricks to help you beat the crowds.

 

How Early Should I Arrive Devil's Bridge?


You'll quickly learn in Sedona that the most popular trails fill up each morning as soon as they open. We were able to access the Dry Creek trailhead parking lot (more on that later) at 7:45am on a gloomy Tuesday morning in April and secure a parking spot.


At that time the lot was approaching 75% full. We might have gotten lucky - the forecast that day projected almost a 90% chance for rain. I thought we were going to lose an entire day of hiking! We decided to still wake up early to re-visit the weather situation.


Luckily, it had rained some overnight but the entire day would just be overcast and dry. I think the weather may have tempered the crowds, so 7:45am might not even be early enough during busier months.


Arizona Red Rocks
View From Atop Devil's Bridge

Arriving early is first and foremost about getting parking (you could end up adding nearly a mile by parking on the road) but also beating the crowds!


How Busy is Devil's Bridge


If you wait until later in the day, you could end up waiting an hour to have your photo taken on the bridge. Departing early in the day also reduces crowds along the trails which is always a plus.


Fewer people on the trails can be really important when visiting Devil's Bridge - near the top there are a few narrow + steep rock staircases you need to climb. Later in the day when you have a large number of people trying to come up and down at the same time it can create bottlenecks.


Devil's Bridge Sign
Dry Creek to Devil's Bridge Connector

Per usual - be sure to bring plenty of water on this hike. There's some cover, but you'll be mostly exposed on this trail. Arriving early can help beat the heat and sun during the hotter months.


If it's later in the day you could be on the trail much longer than you initially think. Bottlenecks along the trail, lack of parking and crowds at the top will all slow down your trek.

 

Which Devil's Bridge Starting Point is Best?


I realized when researching Devil's Bridge, that everyone seemed to reference a different distance for the hike and figuring out where to start was a bit confusing. You'll most likely want to park at the Dry Creek Vista Trailhead (easy to locate using the AllTrails app).


If you are able to secure a spot in the lot, you're in luck! You can do the shortest 3.6 mile option which follows the off-road vehicle path on foot to the official Devil's Bridge Trailhead. If you rented a 4x4 off-road vehicle you can cut this distance roughly in half by driving the first portion. There are dirt parking spaces closer to Devil's Bridge in this case.


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

Alternatively you can take a slightly longer but much more scenic 4.0 mile hike from the Mescal Trailhead. Looking for something longer? Also branching off the Dry Fork Vista Trailhead is the Chuck Wagon Trail.


Dry Creek Vista TH Sign
Beginning of Off-Road 4x4 Trail

When picking your starting point consider how prepared you are (water, food, time, endurance) and what type of experience you're after. If you're doing a ton of other hiking in the area like we did, you might want to save the time for other activities and do the shortest 3.6 mile option. Keep in mind this is the least scenic option.



If you only have time for 1 or 2 hikes in Sedona, you might want to take in more of the surroundings and in that case the 5.8 mile Chuck Wagon Trail could be a better option. If you're unable to secure parking, you'll have to factor in extra distance to park along the main road (which could be a half mile each way!).


I know I sound like a broken record, but arrive early and save yourself the time & headache.


Map of trails leading to Devil's Bridge
Map of trails leading to Devil's Bridge

If you haven't downloaded it already - you should check out the AllTrails app. It's a free app that lets you easily research and read reviews on different trails. Reading tips from people who recently hiked trails you're visiting can be an invaluable tool.

 

A Rental SUV Can't Reach Devil's Bridge


I specifically rented an SUV for my trip since you'll come across the occasional dirt road, unfinished parking lot or gravel pull off when exploring Northern Arizona and I'd recommend you do the same.


However - chances are your rental SUV doesn't qualify as an off-road vehicle. So don't expect to take it out on the off-road trails in Sedona - it will not survive.


End of Pavement Sign
End of Paved Road Leading to Devil's Bridge

The Park Service here is kind enough to offer a small taste of what's to come at the start of Dry Creek Vista's off-road trail. If you want to do some off-roading while in Sedona, there are literal crap tons of places to rent ATVs, off-road tours and Jeeps in town.


Man on dirt road
On the Road to Devil's Bridge!

On our hike out to Devil's Bridge we had the trail mostly to ourselves. A couple hours later during our return hike there were HOARDS of people.


So if you're planning to drive an off-road vehicle here keep in mind you'll be sharing the road.

 

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!

 

Learn More About Bell Rock


If you're looking for other ideas of what to do when visiting Sedona - be sure to check out my post on Bell Rock. Bell Rock is another one of Sedona's iconic rock formations and the trail is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. You can read our post on Bell Rock here!


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.


Sedona Red Rock Vistas
Bell Rock Welcome Hikers of All Ability Levels