Sedona, Arizona has so many great hiking destinations it’s hard to decide what we enjoyed the most. For us, the 4 mile out-and-back Devil’s Bridge hike at sunrise was among our favorite. Considered the largest sandstone arch in the area, the natural bridge offers stunning views of Red Rock County.
The trailhead is located off of Dry Creek Road and has limited parking during peak times of day. To combat the problem, the City of Sedona offers a free shuttle service to the parking lot.
We wanted to avoid the need to ride the shuttle and certainly did not want to visit the popular natural bridge when hordes of people were there.
The morning we chose to go on the hike, we got out of bed at 4:00 am. An hour later we pulled into the trailhead lot. We had multiple places to park our van Alice and backed into our spot with ease. The interesting thing is we were not the first visitors there that early morning. Two other cars were ahead of us.
Equipped with flashlights, we started up the rocky trail in the dark. The light beams guided the way through the woods and helped us avoid hazards that might trip us.
The beginning of the trail was originally a Jeep trail. The path was wide and a pretty easy walk through the washes and treed areas.
About 1-1/2 miles into the hike, natural light was beginning to filter its way to the pathway allowing us to turn off our flashlights. We were also beginning to notice our higher elevation. Stopping a couple times on the trail, we enjoyed the colorful views into the valley.
At the base of the natural bridge we encountered a few sections of stairs and some rock scrambles. This was the steepest section of the hike and the final push to Devil’s Bridge.
Devil’s Bridge – The Top
The first time we stepped onto Devil’s Bridge the natural light was good but the sun had not yet popped over the eastern ridge. There were a few people already there; it was a very small and friendly group. The atmosphere was such that Gail began to chit-chat with some of the folks and trade stories.
For the next 20-minutes or so, we all took turns taking pictures of each other. However, we were really waiting for the “official” sun rise to wake up the bridge and the valley with it’s soft amber light.
Several of the hikers waiting had expensive cameras. Everyone was seeking the “perfect” picture. It was important to photograph the moment when the morning sunrays first hit the bridge.
It was worth the wait. I can’t imagine a better time of day to visit and photograph this amazing site.
If you visit Sedona, this is a good desination hike. Our best advice to those who want to visit it, is to go during the week (versus a weekend) and go early. If hiking in the dark isn’t your thing, start later than we did. Our advice is to get to trailhead early enough to find a parking spot and avoid the shuttle.
My opinion: If you can arrive at sunrise, it’s the best time of the day for pictures.
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