Cathedral Rock – Sedona, Arizona

pat Blog, Photography, Travel

You may not of heard of Cathedral Rock, but I’ll bet you’ve seen pictures of it.  Sunset shots of Cathedral Rock are one of the iconic images of the Southwest and it is on the ‘bucket list’ of many a photographer.  Situated near the beautiful little town of Sedona Arizona, it is in the heart of the famous “Red Rock” landscape that has captivated so many of us.  If you plan to make a trip to the area, here is what I’ve found to make the most of your visit to Cathedral Rock.

Finding Cathedral Rock

  • Cathedral Rock is located in a park about 7 miles from ‘downtown’ Sedona.  If you look online you may get confused as to exactly where the park is and what it is actually called.  Sometimes it is referred to as Red Rock Crossing…other times, the Crescent Moon Picnic Area Park
  •  Here is a map and great directions.  If you are using GPS, be careful that it selects the right place.  You specifically want the Crescent Moon picnic area in Red Rock Crossing Park. Leave early and give yourself plenty of time.
  • From the “Y” (intersection of US89A and 179) in downdown Sedona, drive west on US 89A.   Just outside of town, turn south on FR 216 (Upper Red Rock Loop Road). Drive about 1.5 miles and follow the signs to Red Rock Crossing. All roads except the short segment leading from Red Rock Crossing Road to the picnic area are paved

Plan to be at the park at least an hour and a half before sunset

  • Why so early?  Well the first reason is because sunset will actually be 30 minutes before the “official” time because mountains to the east will block light on Cathedral Rock. 
  • Traffic in Sedona can be challenging.  It’s one of the few places I’ve photographed in the Southwest where you have to add extra travel-time to your schedule because of traffic.
  • You will need time to find your spot

My favorite vantage points

  • The park is pretty big and if you don’t know the best vantage points you should invest a lot of time scouting locations.
  • Below is a map of my favorite locations – may save you some time, but feel free to scout the area and pick your favorite

  • Below is a larger map which points out the direction I shot

  • Don’t try to cross the river unless you have a waterproof bag for your camera.  Although parts of the river are shallow (there are even ‘stepping stones’ at one location), the rocks are very slippery. 

Make the best of it and plan, get there early and take in the sights. I drove around quite a bit and found my favorite shot. We all want to capture something unique – make it your own