Sedona  Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

27.3 mi
3,331 ft
1.9 %



Cycling Sedona - The Dolomites of the US. Along this bike ride you will encounter some of the most beautiful rock formations in the US.
This ride is much more about breathtaking scenery than challenge.  The 1.9% average grade for the climb does increase to 2.9% with descents removed from the gradient calculation.  69% (18.8 miles) of the climb is at grades 0-5%.  The steepest quarter-mile is 7%. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Two lane highway in fair condition.  There is minimal to no shoulder to ride in for most of the climb.  

Traffic:  Moderate to heavy.  This ride is not for the traffic averse.  I have done it twice and was somewhat uneasy at spots on the climb, and I am fairly calloused to traffic. 

Parking:   I have parked in Sedona and also at the start of our route which is at the Welcome to Red Rock sign - Map;  Street View
Provisions:  You can get food and beverages in Sedona at mile 11, Slide Rock Market (mile 18, and several other spots along the way. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
I have driven the 110 miles to the climb on the two times I have done it (along with Mingus - Highway 89A) from Scottsdale because I was staying there for our Spring Training baseball trip.  However, it would be a nice vacation to stay, hike, and ride (including MTB) around gorgeous Sedona.  Sedona is an awesome destination and has no shortage of hotels and unique vacation rentals.



Difficulty: Moderate



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Jun 9, 2021
difficulty: Moderate
scenery: 5
traffic: 2
road: 5
Jun 9, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 2
road: 5
Thanks for the warning about no shoulder with lots of traffic north of Sedona. I climbed that half before 7am, and I'm glad it did - traffic was very light before 7am (on Wednesday, June 9). I did the descent about an hour later, and traffic was indeed heavy with no shoulder. But I was surprised at how comfortable I was: I was descending about 30mph - about 10mph slower than traffic - so we had plenty of time to see each other during which I covered enough distance to find a suitable place to pull over (which I did about 6 times to let traffic pass). With a relative speed of only 10mph with respect to me, not many vehicles actually passed me. The magic of a quick descent! Well worth it!

Climb Profile Not Found

Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - aerial drone photo of Baby Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte 

Baby Bell Rock (left center) and Courthouse Butte (right center).

Climb summary by PJAMM’s John Johnson.

WOW - what an exceptionally scenic ride!  If you’re in the Sedona area with a bicycle, this is a must do, at least from the start at the Red Rock Scenic Byway to Sedona, where there is a nice bike lane along the way.  The 14 miles north of Sedona to Oak Creek Viewpoint is along Highway 89A which has no shoulder and has moderate to heavy traffic.

We recommend doing this ride Sunday morning at dawn.

Bike climb Sedona and Hwy 89A - Red Rock Scenic Byway sign. 

Our start.

We started the ride (it really doesn’t become a true “climb” until the last three miles) south of Sedona and Village of Oak Creek, because the red rock formations of the area are quite visible for the first 10 miles to Sedana.  Thus, despite the first 10 mile segment averaging a nearly flat .9%, it is well worth beginning this one at the earlier start point.

Bicycle ride Sedona and Hwy 89A - Courthouse Butte between Village of Oak Creek and Sedona 

Courthouse Butte on the right.

Photo taken at mile 5.7 between Village of Oak Creek and Sedona.

A Bit on Sedona’s Unique Geology:

Every year thousands of people travel to this otherworldly location to take in the sights of Sedona’s unique “red rocks”.  These monolithic sandstone formations almost appear to glow in their signature vibrant reddish-orange as the sun rises and sets upon them each day.  Sedona’s one-of-a-kind red-orange rocks are formed by a layer of sandstone called the Schnebly Hill Formation, which is found only in Sedona and the surrounding vicinity.   Of course, this landscape didn’t come to be over night.  It was formed during the Permian Period, and actually took about 320 million years to become what we see today.  As sea levels rose and fell during this geological time period, layers of mud would be washed in, and as the sea levels would subsequently recede, winds would bring in layers of sand.  Over years of this phenomenon happening again and again, these sedimentary layers were transformed into the hard rock there today.  The specific red color comes from a layer of iron oxide caused by the weathering of the minerals in the area.  As the iron oxide weathered, the rock turned it’s signature red color.  More on Sedona’s geologic composition can be found here and here.


We rode this beautiful route two years ago and are creating this summary from memory.  The climb begins just north of the intersection of Interstate 17 and Highway 179, 11 miles south of Sedona.  As we travel through Village of Oak Creek and Sedona we are in sight of gorgeous red rock formations.

Climbing Sedona and Hwy 89A by bike - Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock

Aerial view south midway between Village of Oak Creek and Sedona.

We travel through a canyon following Oak Creek for many miles and have many extremely scenic Arizona-style red rock formations along the way.  

Bicycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - Oak Creek

Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - Oak Creek at Slide Rock State Park.

    Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - Sterling Canyon past Slide Rock - aerial drone photo

We travel through a tight canyon from Sedona to the finish.

Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - Sterling Canyon aerial drone photo

At mile 25 we begin a set of four exceptional switchbacks that give us a fantastic view back down Sterling Canyon.  

Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - hairpins near Oak Creek Scenic Viewpoint - aerial drone photo - mountains near flagstaff in background

Cycling  Sedona and Hwy 89A - view south towards Sedona of Sterling Canyon - aerial drone photo

Aerial view back towards Sedona from hairpins.

Cycling Sedona and Hwy 89A - Oak Creek Viewpoint - native american crafts and jewelry

We finish our climb at Oak Creek Viewpoint.

Pictured are stalls where artisans are selling Native American crafts and jewelry.

Aerial view of Oak Creek View Point and Hwy 89a to Flagstaff.

Suffice it to say that this is a beautiful ride, albeit along a moderately busy highway, through classic Arizona surroundings and scenery.

Also visit our Arizona Climb Page.

Photos clockwise from top left:

Mt. Lemmon; Mt. Graham; South Mountain; Kitt Peak

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