Couples love eloping at Cathedral Rock Trail because of the iconic red rocks and timeless Southwest views, but what do you do when you find Cathedral Rock closed?
The Coconino National Forest closed the upper portion of the trail starting on Wednesday, February 1, 2023. But loving couples can still enjoy Sedona even if Cathedral Rock is off the list. Sedona has many beautiful, lesser-known locations like Doe Mountain, Boynton Canyon, Sugarloaf, and Courthouse Vista.
Keep reading to learn more about the closure at Cathedral Rock (including when it will open) and where you can find timeless elopement and engagement locations outdoors.
Why is Cathedral Rock closed?
Most recently, the Coconino National Forest’s Red Rock Ranger District closed Cathedral Rock Trail to conduct trail maintenance.
However, the Red Rock Ranger District has the power to close it down for multiple reasons to protect this wonderful location. The official February closure order includes all the details and a map of the closed sections. The trail will be closed from Wednesday, February 1 through Friday, March 31, or until the work is completed.
People will find Cathedral Rock closed starting at the junction with the Templeton Trail. From there, the closure extends until the end of the trail. The closure blocks off the second half of the trail. Anyone who wants a shot of Cathedral Rock in the distant background will likely still be able to get their photo.
Anyone found violating this closure can be punished with a Class B misdemeanor and a fine of no more than $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, according to the Forest Service.
Closures can occur on any trail at anytime throughout Sedona, so it’s important to find alternatives.
Doe Mountain Trail
When we say there are many trails beside Cathedral Rock, we mean it.
One of our favorites for less-experienced hikers is Doe Mountain. Our clients love this out-and-back trail with views of Fay Canyon and Bear Mountain. Clients love the short length and slight elevation gain. The view will suit any couple looking for dramatic views and a fun adventure.
Some quick facts about Doe Mountain Trail:
- 1.5 miles long
- 511 elevation gain
- An out-and-back trail
During the winter, take your time on your ascent. Also, remember to pack plenty of water and wear appropriate shoes.
Courthouse Vista Trail
Courthouse Vista Trail offers some of the best red rock sunset views in Sedona.
Hikers will find the trail longer than Doe Mountain Trail but with even less incline. The area provides multiple cut-offs with great views of the surrounding area (including a peak at the nearby Cathedral Rock.) Here are some quick facts:
- 3.9 miles long
- 357 feet elevation gain
- Loop trail
The trail is open to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, so be respectful and aware of other people.
Sugarloaf Loop Trail
With great views of Thunder Mountain and the city, Sugarloaf Loop Trail has a close-to-town open wilderness.
Sugarloaf Loop Trail offers a panoramic view and can even turn into a longer hike to Sugar Loaf Summit. With ample wildlife, red rocks, and a smaller parking lot, you can expect fewer people on this trail. Here are some quick facts:
- 1.9 miles long
- 354 elevation gain
- Loop trail
The mix of city and wilderness here provides the best of both worlds for your elopement or engagement photos.
Boynton Vortex Trail
Boynton trail features an iconic Sedona vortex.
The trail is a bit more challenging for elopements, but experienced hikers will love it. Lucky hikers can find a lone flute player serenading the surrounding canyon wilderness from ontop of a tall red-rock spire. The spire is known locally as Kachina Woman.
- 6.1 miles long
- 826 elevation gain
- Out and back trail
Oh, and be sure to keep an eye out for a man who hands out heart rocks to passersby!
Things to remember when hiking in Sedona
We love going outside here at White Desert Photography, but everyone should be responsible in the outdoors. So remember:
- Only take out what you brought in — Pack your trash out with you and leave anything you find — rocks, sticks, sand — behind on the trail.
- Hike safely — During winter and spring, hikers find snow, ice, or mud on the trail. Be sure to wear the proper footwear to traverse safely through Sedona.
- Bring water, snacks, and a charged phone — Hikers easily get lost in the crisscrossing paths throughout Sedona’s wilderness. Bringing these items can help you if you find yourself in need of help.
If you need a photographer to join you on your journey, inquire today! White Desert Photography would be happy to join.
Victoria Nabours, a Northern Arizona local, founded White Desert Photography in 2018. Since then, the company has bloomed into one of the most in-demand wedding, elopement and engagement photography companies in Sedona. Additionally, her years of expertise has taken her to international wedding destinations and attracted the eye of local and bridal magazines.