If you're heading to Sedona this year, make sure you check out the Devil's Bridge trail. 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 Devil's Bridge is one of the more popular destinations in this area. If you've been doing research on top activities in Sedona you've probably stumbled upon this iconic arch.
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Why is it called Devils Bridge Sedona?
The hike gets it's name due to the large sandstone arch at the end of the trail.
Given the vibrant red rock landscapes and sheer drops once you hike out onto the bridge, it's easy to see how it earned the nickname.
The uniqueness of Sedona 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.
Devils Bridge Sedona Parking
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.
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!
If you're looking for a less congested area of Sedona to visit I'd recommend checking out Crescent Moon Ranch. It's a great place to have an afternoon picnic and you won't have to deal with the crowds you'll face when hiking the Devils Bridge trail.
How busy is Devil's Bridge Trail Sedona
If you wait until later in the day, you could end up waiting an hour to have your photo taken on Devils 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 Sedona 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.
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 Sedona Devil's Bridge Starting Point is Best?
I realized when researching Sedona 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.
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.
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.
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 Sedona
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 or Coconino Forest as it will not survive.
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.
On our hike out to Sedona 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.
Other hike ideas near Sedona Devils Bridge
A trip to Sedona usually involves attempting other hikes as well. Once you're done researching the Devils Bridge trail I'd recommend taking a look at my posts on visiting Bell Rock, West Fork of Oak Creek Trail and Soldiers Pass.
These are a few of my favorite hikes from our trip and I'm sure you'll enjoy them as well!
If you're still looking for inspiration beyond these hikes be sure to check out my full length Sedona Travel Guide which will walk you through some of the best things to do in the area.
Looking for suggestions on what to pack for hiking?
Chances are if you're visiting Devils Bridge Sedona you'll be doing some hiking. If you're doing some hiking you'll want to have the right gear handy in order to have the best experience possible.
For your convenience I've put together an extremely thorough hiking checklist to make sure you don't overlook anything.
That guide is geared towards longer day hikes, so if you're doing something more casual you probably won't need everything on that list. But rest assured you won't overlook a thing!
Be sure to read our guide on reducing airfare costs
One of those most unavoidable and dreaded travel costs is airfare.
Even if you budget carefully for food, accommodations and find budget friendly activities the cost of airfare can make many destinations prohibitively expensive.
But if you're a savvy traveler like me then you know there are ways to beat the airlines! I have a full post dedicated to all of the tips and tricks I use to pay the absolute minimum for airfare when I travel.
Looking for quick advice on how to book your next trip?
It's easy to forget how much time, effort and planning can go into putting together a vacation.
Booking flights, shuttles, rental cars, hotels, activities and making sure you've packed everything you'll need for where you're going is no small task!
Not to mention all of these things tend to add up in cost very quickly. With so many things that can go wrong what's a savvy traveler to do? Read my post on travel planning hacks that's what!
In that guide I will highlight all of the strategies I use to streamline the trip planning process while making sure I cover all of the tricks I use to save money along the way.