Lazy Sunday at Cathedral Rock
No Sedona trip is complete without a visit to perhaps it’s most famous rock formation — Cathedral Rock. I headed out soon after the rangers reopened it in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. I thought that it would be empty, but the parking lot was packed before 8 a.m. Granted it is nearly summertime in the desert, and things get toasty quickly. However, word to the wise: go early.
The trip up Cathedral Rock Trail isn’t entirely for the faint of heart. You can climb all the way to the spires, but doing so will require using hand-carved holds in the rock at one point and copious butt-sliding if you hope to descend safely. The rapid altitude change will increase your heart rate better than any stair-climbing routine. This hike is not for those with severe vertigo or other disabilities. Fortunately, while I have both, I’ve learned to work my way around them — at least most of the time. Today was one of my better days, which made me smile because I love a good rock scramble before breakfast.
Don’t let the climb keep you away from this legendary landmark, however. You can enjoy breathtaking views from Templeton trail, which takes you around the rock. While it isn’t wheelchair-accessible unless you have a four-wheel drive on your device, it is a flat, pleasant stroll. It doesn’t get nearly as crowded as the ascent, so you can free yourself from the madding crowds and enjoy the beauty of nature. Along with the sides of the Cathedral formation, you’ll spy Courthouse Butte and the rabbit ears.
Because I am a plant geek, I stopped to snap a few pics when a red hue more vivid than the rocks caught my eye. I was delighted to find a Parry’s agave towering nearly as tall as the surrounding trees. In case you were wondering, yes, you can use this plant to make tequila. That got me dreaming of a margarita and a siesta, so I headed back to my Jeep. My trek lasted only two miles, but you can follow Templeton trail for much longer. I elected to cut through Easy Breezy to return to the trailhead.
If you go: Take 89A north to the Y, then turn onto Highway 179. Continue on 179 until you reach Back O’ Beyond road. Follow this all the way to the end to locate the trailhead parking.