• carson presley

The Best Guide for an Epic Trip to Coconino National Forest

Hi there!! For anyone who is new to my blog, let me introduce the whole crew here. I’m Carson Presley, and I write the content behind Girls & Dogs, Oh My. I’m graduating college

this May (err--sort-of, just not traditionally because of the Coronavirus).

The luckiest person in the world, I have two adorable Labradoodles! Scout, who is two-years-old, and Ryder, who is just 9-weeks-old.

My better half, Spencer, is the most amazing dog mom who helps me keep a handle on our two wild fur babies.

Together, we love traveling. We love packing up our Jeep and exploring new places. We’re also (until recently) first-time dog owners.

In other words, we’re young and make a lot of mistakes--which is where the inspiration for this blog came from!

I want to be able to share all of our journeys and dog mom lessons with you all--especially our mistakes--so that you all can have the best possible experiences.

Every Monday I post new content with our latest adventure, traveling advice, dog mom tips and tricks. Sometimes I post more than just Mondays, so make sure to subscribe for updates! You might also get a rockin' discount as well :)

Arizona is one of the most beautiful states to visit. There are a ton of tourist attractions, including (of course) the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Sedona. While planning our 10 day trip out West, we knew that we just had to stop at Sedona and try a hike or two.

When planning to visit, we initially planned to hike Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte Loop, Red Rock Pass, and if we had time, sneak in West Fork Trail or Devil’s Bridge. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan around the sunrise and sunset times—rookie mistake.

We spent the morning at Petrified Forest, which I will write about and share here once that’s completed!

Once realizing that we didn’t allot enough time for all the hikes we wanted to do, we went and hiked the Bell Rock Climb trail. We did a quick search through AllTrails and thought that this would be beautiful yet short and was highly rated.

This is not for the faint of heart. It is some straight up rock climbing at times, but definitely fun and definitely doable for just about any able-bodied persons.

In other words, if you or someone in your group requires a cane to walk or is not a normally active person, this hike may not be the best for you.

I would consider this definitely dog-friendly! Scout had a blast. If you haven’t ever taken your pup hiking or on rocks at all, just be cautious but you should still be fine. Also, just keep in mind that the hike down will be a little more challenging than the hike up.

We were fortunate to have both of us on the trail to help! On both the way up and the way down, one person would hike ahead. We’d then release Scout so she could run to the other person, then the second person would catch up.

Above: Scout kicking our butts up this rocky climb.

Your pup will move faster on the rocks so it’s easier if they have the ability to go ahead of you. If you are a solo hiker, maybe try a 10’ leash so that they can have the space that they need.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that regardless of the season you hike, you still need to bring enough water for both you and your pup! We were there in December and still took a couple water breaks to keep all of us hydrated.

Okay, now onto the good stuff about the hike.

As I mentioned, we went in December but the parking lot was so crowded. There were still a bunch of tourists.

According to U.S. News Travel, you should visit Sedona between March and May. The temperatures then are warm but not blasting hot like the middle of summer.

The flowers are in full bloom, making for an absolutely gorgeous hike (as if the area needed any more reason to be beautiful).


In order to hike Red Rock trails, you need either a Red Rock Pass or an America the Beautiful Pass.

You can purchase a Red Rock Pass at multiple locations, specifically for your need.

Annual and Grand Annual Pass locations:

Red Rock Ranger District Visitor Center:

8375 State Route 179, Sedona, AZ

Sedona Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce:

331 Forest Road, Sedona, AZ

Oak Creek Visitor Center:

3901 North Highway 89A in Oak Creek Canyon

Crescent Moon:

No address listed; however, there are directions from Sedona on US 89A.

Fun fact: You can also get married at this adorable spot!

Daily or Weekly Pass locations:

Sedona Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce: 331 Forest Road, Sedona, AZ

Oak Creek Visitor Center: 3901 North Highway 89A in Oak Creek Canyon

Palatki Heritage Site:

No address listed; however, there are directions from Sedona via SR 89A, from Sedona via Boynton Pass Road, and from Cottonwood.

V Bar V Heritage Site:

No address listed; however, there are directions from the junction of I-17 and SR179 on FR 618.

Crescent Moon:

No address listed; however, there are directions from Sedona on US 89A.

In my personal opinion, if you are getting a Daily or Weekly Pass, then the vending machines are probably going to be your easiest route. There are a bunch in various parking lots, which can be found at the bottom of this page.

Related Post: How to Plan for Every Roadtrip!

We have an America the Beautiful Pass but didn’t realize we could use it ahead of time, so we bought a one-day pass from a vending machine.

Learn from us: if you have an America the Beautiful Pass, you don’t need a separate pass for Red Rock!

I put a video at the bottom of this page (as well as linked here) which does an awesome job at showing you the vending machine and a sneak peak of the hike!

There are a bunch of videos on YouTube which show the hike, including this one with his dog, Sparky!

The video does not do justice to the beauty of this hike, but proof that little Fido can do it with you.

Above: Scout and Carson at the base of Red Rock.

After the hike:

We also would have explored more around the hiking trails as well. There are a bunch of cute shops and restaurants nearby. The next day we were going to trample around the Grand Canyon, so we stayed in Williams, AZ.

If you are a coffee feign, much like us, we would recommend Savaya Coffee if you want to try a local café. Some of the other highly rated cafes nearby are Firecreek Coffee Company or Wicked AZ Coffee.

There are, of course, Starbucks locations near Sedona as well, if you prefer one of those!

Williams, AZ is about a 1.5-hour drive from Sedona and another 1.5-hour drive to the Grand Canyon. The drive out of Sedona is not an easy one… it is a two lane backroad that is a little exhausting after a long day.

If you’re like us, you love staying at AirBnBs. If you’re the same way and want to stay closer to the hiking locations, there are countless (including dog-friendly options!!).

Related Post: Learn from Our Epic FAIL at Shenandoah National Park

We definitely recommend this hike. It was so beautiful. It was fun but also not a normal hike so it was awesome to be challenged and try something new.

I am, however, disappointed that we didn’t schedule in more time to explore more of Sedona and Coconino National Forest.

As promised, here's the sneak peak of the hike!

Lessons from Red Rock:

1. Plan your itinerary around sunrise and sunset times.

2. If you have an America the Beautiful Pass, make sure to research where your pass is valid.

Since we didn’t get the full use out of our pass on this trip, I’m thinking about talking about the America the Beautiful Pass in my next post—what do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo, carson presley

About Carson Presley

I'm a dog mom of two and travel enthusiast! I graduated from college this year and am running this blog part-time while I start my new career.

Read More or shoot me an email!

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

© 2023 by Going Places. Proudly created with

Privacy Policies