Complete Guide to Boondocking in Sedona, AZ
I spent 72 hours in Sedona and now I’m an expert
Here’s a travel guide that’s going to be perfect for you if you’re exactly like me.
That means you are living and working in a van, you hate traffic, you don’t want commercialized spirituality, you love nature, you’re a beginner/intermediate mountain biker.
I’m on a 16-week trip living and working out of a van (backstory here and documented here on instagram). My youngest sister told me Sedona was her favorite place in the world. So that’s where I went first.
Here’s the secret to Sedona: DO NOT GO INTO TOWN.
The middle of town is a traffic hell hole, with strip malls of commercial offerings that I didn’t even know could be commercialized. The shopping is like if Proctor and Gamble bought out a magic crystal store.
You can get similar main-streamified “vortex tours” and “psychic readings.”
Well, you could get all those things if you could stand the traffic. Just skip the middle of town and stick to the edges.
The magic of Sedona exists completely on the edges. So, with the one caveat about the entire central part of town, I loved Sedona. It has my full recommendation.
Below are some visuals so you can get a feel and then a bunch of logistics that will matter to you if you live in a van.
Pretty, Pretty Visuals
I recorded a video that starts at my boondocking spot and then goes through town. You can get a pretty great sense of how epic this place is.
One of my boondocking spots.
My fav #dronestagram. Check out that landscape!
Is this Bell Rock? It’s one of the main rocks, I’m sure of that much.
You’ll probably be coming from some place a few hours away. I started in Scottsdale — that was 2 hours. The driving is easy almost any direction you’re coming from.
I stayed three nights on FR 525 and tried a different boondocking spot each time: the 3rd, 4th and 5th pullouts on the right as you drive in. Each spot had great views and great internet. The trade off is that the views get better as the internet gets worse. I can quote you download rates, but the better summary is that I could make video calls in all three locations (I’m on Verizon).
I always keep track of the nearest Walmart just in case I get jammed for a place to stay. This could be helpful if it rained and the boondocking roads weren’t passable. The Cottonwood Walmart is 26 minutes away and the Flagstaff one is 44 minutes away (but doesn’t accept overnight’s).
There’s also a Cracker Barrel in Flagstaff that does accept overnights. The Cracker Barrel serves a Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict that’s one of the most unhealthy dishes I’ve ever encountered. [Google Map Link]
I also keep tabs on Planet Fitness locations in case I want a better shower than my van has. Here’s the deal: there are none nearby. [Google Map Search]
I also stopped at both a Whole Foods and a Safeway in the middle of Sedona. Even though you’ll try to avoid the town, you’ll end up passing by both of at least once. Both sell dino kale (the best form of kale). Fresh leafy greens have been very hard to get on my trip. So I appreciate that Sedona has two spots to buy kale. But… both stores drench their kale in water. So, buy it, but take the time to dry the kale out before you put in in your fridge or cooler.
For easy, start with Intro to Sedona. That’s where I started. Sometimes easy means zero technical challenges, but this trail was hard enough to wake me up. After that, go nuts on the trails from MTB Project. There is a lot of exposure in Sedona — that means steep cliffs.
I was boondocking with some former downhill racers from Washington state who were a little alarmed by the exposure. I felt the same way — I’m used to riding, and more importantly crashing, on soft dirt. So the falls, short and long, onto the Sedona rocks seemed extra severe.
I only got one hike in, West Fork. That was fantastic. The seven mile out-and-back can be accomplished in less than two hours if you hustle. That’s how I did it.
I also did have one nice dinner out at Elote Cafe. The wait is 90 minutes or more, but totally worth it. We had excellent cocktails while we waited and then the food was fantastic. I had the Buffalo Mole and tasted the Sea Bass Asado. Both were excellent.