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How To Hike Devils Bridge Trail In Sedona Arizona

How To Hike Devils Bridge Trail In Sedona Arizona

Devils Bridge Trail is one of the most heavily trafficked hikes in Sedona thanks to the meteoric rise of social media. We personally think there are better hikes in Sedona, but we have to admit the bridge is a fantastic photography spot, especially at sunrise.

Why would you wake up agonizingly early to hike Devils Bridge Trail for sunrise?

Well, a pre-dawn start means you will avoid an excruciatingly long line to grab a photo of yourself standing on the bridge shaped sandstone formation. Plus, you benefit from soft light and cooler hiking temperatures.

In this guide we will cover:

  • Multiple parking options
  • Which pass you need to display
  • Exactly how to hike Devils Bridge Trail at sunrise
  • Photography tips
  • Plenty of photos for inspiration

Let’s hike the famous Devils Bridge Trail for sunrise in Sedona Arizona!

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Devils Bridge Trail In Sedona AZ

Devils Bridge Trail is a short and easy hike on hard packed dirt with one tricky and rocky staircase section to navigate.

You will begin at a similar altitude to the base of Devils Bridge and start out flat, before gaining elevation and curving around to stand on top of the bridge formation.

From the true trailhead to the bridge you will hike less than 1 mile one way, for a roundtrip hike of around 1.8 miles total.

However, the only way you can park at Devils Bridge Trailhead is if you own a high clearance 4WD vehicle, or you rent a Jeep in Sedona.

As a result, this hike requires anyone without access to a 4WD vehicle to combine another trail with Devils Bridge Trail in order to reach the bridge.

We will discuss all of your parking options with additional hiking trails later in this guide.

Hiker with hands in the air on a natural sandstone rock formation with stunning view over trees and rocks

Devils Bridge At Sunrise

Sunrise is the best time to hike Devils Bridge Trail in Sedona. You will stand a better chance of getting a coveted parking spot, enjoy a relatively crowd free hike and be part of a very small group of likeminded people taking photographs at the bridge.

You can hike Devils Bridge any time of day and enjoy the trail. But the problem isn’t the trail, it is lack of parking and excessive crowds during the day.

Check sunrise times in Sedona the night before you plan to hike Devils Bridge Trail for sunrise. We will discuss parking options shortly, but you should aim to arrive at a parking area before first light.

Two other amazing hikes to consider for sunrise in Sedona are Doe Mountain Trail and Chimney Rock / Little Sugarloaf Loop Trail.

Devils Bridge Photography

Devils Bridge is a wildly popular photography location in Sedona, Arizona. You will find the bridge all over instagram and other photo or video based social media channels.

You might be surprised by what you find in reality based on what you may have seen online. The naturally formed bridge is a spectacular and photogenic landmark, but the whole area was much smaller than we imagined ourselves.

Perspective is the key.

Photographers should be positioned at an acute angle looking toward the subject standing on the bridge to obtain the classic ‘long, narrow and scary bridge’ effect.

View of a red rock formation glowing under sunlight with blue sky after dawn

Sunrise Photography

The bridge arena is relaxing, tranquil and stress free at dawn. We shared the bridge area with around 10 others in the 30 minutes we were on site after arriving at first light.

Everyone else was there to beat the crowds and grab a photo before it turned into a free-for-all.

Sunlight takes a long time to hit Devils Bridge at sunrise. The sun has to rise from behind a taller rock formation to the southeast, which means the bridge remains shadow free for quite some time after first light.

In truth, there are more impressive places to watch a stunning sunrise in Sedona. But you’re not at Devils Bridge for the actual sunrise or sunrise photos, you’re here at this time to beat the army of hikers coming later.

Parking To Hike Devils Bridge Trail In Sedona

Parking for Devils Bridge Trail in Sedona is extremely challenging year round, unless you have access to a 4WD vehicle. Most hikers will either aim to arrive as early as possible to beat the rush or accept that parking is going to be problematic.

If the parking areas listed below are full, you will find cars parked on roadsides and hikers walking along the road to reach trailheads leading to Devils Bridge.

Make sure you car is completely off the main road and take care when walking. We noticed quite a lot of frustrated drivers speeding around corners trying to find spaces.

There are 3 main parking options for hiking Devils Bridge:

Jeeps parked in the Devils Bridge Trail trailhead parking lot right after sunrise in Sedona Arizona

1. Devils Bridge Trailhead (4WD Only)

If you rent a Jeep in Sedona or you drive your own 4WD high clearance vehicle into town, you are in a very strong position for accessing not just Devils Bridge, but almost every attraction in the area.

A Jeep allows you to drive all the way to the very beginning of Devils Bridge Trail. This gives you an even greater chance of arriving for sunrise and beating any other early risers.

Here’s how to reach Devils Bridge Trailhead in a 4WD vehicle:

  • Drive out of downtown Sedona on Dry Creek Road for 2 miles.
  • The road naturally transitions into Boynton Pass Road, but you will turn right onto a narrow paved road to stay on Dry Creek Road.
  • After 0.2 miles you will pass by Dry Creek Trailhead and begin driving on “Vultee OHV Trail” as you enter Dry Creek Basin. This is only suitable for high clearance vehicles.
  • Follow OHV 4×4 road for a further 1.1 miles until you reach a small lot on the right side at Devils Bridge Trailhead.

Hiking Statistics From Devils Bridge Trailhead

  • Trail Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time Required: 1.5 – 2 hours

2. Dry Creek Trailhead

Dry Creek Trailhead is the first of two parking options if you are visiting Sedona with a 2WD vehicle. It is slightly closer to downtown Sedona and has a similar hiking distance to starting at Mescal Trailhead.

If you’re hiking Devils Bridge Trail for sunrise, you shouldn’t have a problem getting parked here. There are quite a few spaces in the one way system parking lot but they fill very quickly later in the morning.

You can either hike 1.2 miles one way on Dry Creek Road (Vultee OHV Trail into Dry Creek Basin) or hike 2 miles one way on Chuck Wagon Trail. The road isn’t nice to hike and you’ll have to share it with 4WD vehicles but it is much more direct.

Here’s how to reach Dry Creek Trailhead:

  • Drive out of downtown Sedona on Dry Creek Road for 2 miles.
  • The road naturally transitions into Boynton Pass Road, but you will turn right onto a narrow paved road to stay on Dry Creek Road.
  • After 0.2 miles you will arrive at Dry Creek Trailhead.

Hiking Statistics From Dry Creek Trailhead On Vultee OHV Road

  • Trail Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 450 feet
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time Required: 3 hours

3. Mescal Trailhead

Mescal Trailhead is the better option if you are looking for a more scenic hike to reach Devils Bridge Trail. It is only slightly further out from downtown Sedona vs Dry Creek.

This parking lot is also a backup option for hiking Long Canyon Trail to Birthing Cave but mostly it is used for accessing Devils Bridge.

There are around 20 parking spaces in this lot and they will also fill quickly after sunrise.

Note: If you park at Mescal Trailhead, you will hike 1.2 miles one way on Mescal Trail and Chuck Wagon Trail until your reach Devils Bridge Trail.

Here’s how to reach Mescal Trailhead:

  • Drive out of downtown Sedona on Dry Creek Road / Boynton Pass Road for 3 miles until you reach a T junction.
  • Turn right and follow Long Canyon Road for 0.3 miles until you arrive at Mescal Trailhead on the right side.

Hiking Statistics From Mescal Trailhead

  • Trail Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time Required: 3 hours
Devils Bridge Trail #12 in Sedona Arizona

Sedona Shuttle

If you are not intending to hike Devils Bridge Trail at sunrise, we highly recommend you consider taking the Sedona shuttle to avoid the stress of finding a parking spot during the day.

You can park for free at Posse Grounds park and ride, jump on the #12 Dry Creek shuttle and relax. Here’s more information about the shuttle.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The shuttle runs from Thursday through Sunday to cover the busiest periods
  • Check to see if the shuttle is running Monday through Wednesday just in case
  • The first shuttle leaves Posse Grounds at 8.12am and the last shuttle back leaves Dry Creek at 6.11pm
  • Total journey time is 14 minutes each way
  • The shuttle is completely free to ride to any of the major trailheads in Sedona

Note: If you are hiking Devils Bridge at sunrise you will have to drive because the shuttle won’t be running until after sunrise.

Do You Need A Pass To Hike Devils Bridge Trail In Sedona?

No, you do not need to display either a Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Interagency Pass on your vehicle dashboard at any of the trailheads for hiking Devils Bridge Trail.

However, if you do plan to hike any other trails in Sedona, you are likely going to need either a Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass, so we will explain both below.

Note: You will need a pass to park at any of these trailheads in Sedona.

Red Rock Pass

You can buy a Red Rock Pass at this specific recreation.gov site in advance, or you can buy one at a ticket machine when you arrive in person at either parking lot listed further in this guide.

Red Rock Pass options include:

  • 1 Day Red Rock Pass – $5
  • 7 Day Red Rock Pass – $15
  • Red Rock Annual Pass – $20

If you plan to hike more trails around Sedona over a period of 2 – 7 days, you should buy the 7 day pass because you will need it at many other trailheads in the area.

America The Beautiful Pass

Are you a regular visitor to US National Parks and Monuments?

It’s highly likely you already have an annual National Parks pass, which is also known as America the Beautiful or the Interagency Pass.

Don’t have one yet?

Read our guide on why America the Beautiful national parks pass is one of the best things you can buy if you plan to visit multiple parks in the next year.

Instead of buying a Red Rock Pass you can simply display your America the Beautiful Pass.

Map Of The Devils Bridge Trail In Sedona Arizona

Map of Devils Bridge Trail Hike in Sedona Arizona Trailheads and Hiking Trails leading to Devils Bridge

The map above shows exactly what you can expect when hiking Devils Bridge Trail in Sedona, including each parking area and trails you can take to reach the bridge.

Map key:

  • Orange Line – Dry Creek Basin / Vultee OHV 4WD road (most direct from Dry Creek Trailhead)
  • Blue Line – Chuck Wagon Trail from Dry Creek Trailhead (Longer but more relaxing)
  • Green Line – Mescal Trail leading into Chuck Wagon Trail from Mescal Trailhead
  • Red Line – Devils Bridge Trail from trailhead to bridge

Devils Bridge Trail Sunrise Hike Walkthrough

Now the hard part is out of the way, let’s get into the fun part – hiking to Devils Bridge for sunrise!

We hired a Jeep for 3 days when we first visited Sedona, which meant we were able to park at Devils Bridge Trailhead and get a good head start on other sunrise hikers.

Here’s a walkthrough of exactly what you can expect with photos at every step:

Early Start And Get Parked

Dry Creek parking lot trailhead for Devils Bridge trail hike in Sedona in mid morning

Start as early as you possibly can to get the best advantage over crowds and light.

Park at either Mescal Trailhead, Devils Bridge Trailhead with 4WD high clearance or Dry Creek Trailhead which is shown above.

We took the photo of the parking lot after we had finished the hike around mid morning. As you can see, Dry Creek is not a traditional parking area with marked spaces, but more of a ‘park where you can find a space’ lot.

If you arrive before sunrise, you should have no problems getting parked at Dry Creek.

Hike (Or Drive) To Devils Bridge Trailhead

Hiker with headlamp hiking at dawn in arizona

If you have a 4WD vehicle, you can blow right by Dry Creek and park at Devils Bridge Trailhead. However, the vast majority of hikers to Devils Bridge will not have access to a high clearance vehicle.

You will need to hike either Chuck Wagon Trail or Vultee OHV road from Dry Creek, or hike Mescal and Chuck Wagon Trails to Devils Bridge Trailhead.

Follow The Easy Dirt Path

Dirt packed hiking path with rocks and trees

Once you reach Devils Bridge Trail, the path is easy and flat on a dirt packed path leading into trees.

There are a handful of easily navigable rock steps and ledges but the going remains fairly flat for half a mile, before you begin to gain elevation gradually.

Climb The Rocky Steps

Tricky section of steep sharp rocks to navigate on the Devils Bridge Trail hike in Sedona Arizona

After 0.7 miles along Devils Bridge Trail, you will reach the only moderately challenging part of the hike which is a light scramble up a series of uneven rocks as shown above.

This section is narrow and you may have to allow other hikers to pass up or down depending on how busy the trail is when you visit.

Series of steps made from natural rocks and erosion

After climbing the rough rocks, you will bend to the left and spiral up an easier rock staircase. This section is steep and it can be easy to trip on the uneven rocks.

Once you summit both of these short rocky stairs, you will be level with the top of Devils Bridge. All you need to do now is walk 100 yards or so along a ridge for your first glimpse of the bridge.

Arrive At Devils Bridge

Sandstone arch with hikers on the narrow top section

As you approach Devils Bridge, you will arrive from the ‘other side’ or the back side of the classic photo. You can instantly see how wide the bridge is at its center, the drop off and the eroded arch.

Short line waiting for a photo with Devils Bridge in Sedona Arizona

Continue walking around to the right side in a crescent moon arc and you will reach the line of hikers waiting for a photo on the bridge.

The earlier you arrive the better chance you have of being closer to the front of this line. We took the photo above as we were leaving the bridge area around 30 minutes after arriving and there were maybe 15 other people in total.

Note: We visited Sedona in December, it won’t be this quiet if you visit in Spring or Fall!

Walk Out On To The Bridge

Where Are Those Morgans walking out onto Devils Bridge in Sedona Arizona

Act fast when it’s your turn to walk out onto the bridge. There will be plenty of others waiting and watching so you don’t be shy about it, just get out there and get your photo.

The photo above was taken by a photographer we met at the top, right before we left the bridge. By this point the sun was well up and slowly making its way to the bridge.

Couple standing on Devils Bridge for the classic photo

Ideally you will meet another hiker, couple or family who will take your photo if you take theirs in return. Almost everyone will be respectful and friendly, especially around sunrise.

How Wide Is Devils Bridge In Sedona?

Devils Bridge in Sedona how wide is it at its narrowest when standing on it for a photo

Devils Bridge in Sedona is around 6 feet wide at its narrowest point in the center. The length of the bridge is close to 50 feet and the drop off is also around 50 feet.

In the photo above you can see how the bridge narrows gradually but we were surprised at how wide it was, even right in the middle.

The worst part isn’t how narrow the bridge is or how far the drop is, but how long it takes to actually reach the quintessential photo spot in the middle with everyone watching!

Photography

Hiker in blue waterproof coat standing on a natural rock arch formation in arizona

Mark is standing in the exact spot at the narrowest part of Devils Bridge for the classic perspective photo. It looks like a death defying experience but it really isn’t so bad once you arrive.

The sun still hadn’t reach those huge distant red rocks by this point because it was hidden behind an even taller rock face directly behind where this photo was taken from.

Wide angle photo of Devils Bridge in Sedona showing how small the entire area is in reality

We waited for the sun to kiss the tops of the distant red rocks and went back out for a second walk once the sun had filled the valley below.

The wide angle photo above shows more of the surrounding bridge area to give you an idea about how small it actually is when you are on site.

Hike Back Down

Hiking path in arizona after sunrise dirt track and loose stones with trees lining route

Once you’ve grabbed your photo and enjoyed people watching for long enough, it’s time to head back down.

If you hiked for sunrise, chances are you missed seeing the arch shaped formation from below and now is your chance to get a new perspective on Devils Bridge.

Find a huge, flat and obvious rock and look back up at the arch. You’ll be back at the trailhead in no time, then you just have to hike back to whichever parking lot you began early in the morning.

Devils Bridge Trail Pros And Cons

  • Devils Bridge is incredibly photogenic
  • Fun to watch people at the bridge
  • Sunrise hike beats the crowds
  • Extremely popular and busy trail
  • Parking is always problematic
  • Long line for the classic bridge photo

Best Time To Hike Devils Bridge Trail In Sedona

The best time to hike Devils Bridge Trail is for sunrise year round. Arriving early will allow you to avoid the inevitable crowds and skip the bridge photo line at the summit.

Sedona is busiest in Spring and Fall, which could lead to Dry Creek Trailhead and Mescal Trailhead parking lots filling earlier.

Summer and in particular Winter are quieter periods in Sedona. This means you have more chance getting parked up at the trailhead without issue, even if you are a little after sunrise.

What To Pack For Hiking Devils Bridge Trail

  • Footwear – Footwear with good grips and traction will help with the rocky steep section and give you more confidence when walking out onto the bridge. If it has rained your shoes may get dirty and wet.
  • Water – Hiking at sunrise means you can take less water than you would during the day. However, it is important to remember this is a 4 mile roundtrip trail and if hiking later in the day you’ll need to carry more water.
  • Sun protection – Sunglasses, sun hats, long layers and sunscreen are vital if you are visiting Sedona in Summer. However, you will be protected from the sun for the vast majority of the hike to Devils Bridge if you hike for sunrise. Later in the day you will need sun protection.
  • Winter – We hiked Devils Bridge Trail for sunrise during Winter in Sedona. You might need to start in coats, gloves and hats to begin but take a backpack for storage once the morning warms.
Devils Bridge hike in Sedona leading to this awesome arch formation at sunrise

5 Tips For Hiking Devils Bridge Trail, Sedona AZ

  1. Pack a headlamp to use for light when hiking before sunrise
  2. Park on the roadside near Dry Creek Trailhead if you arrive late and lots are full
  3. Set off on the hike during civil twilight so you beat most of the morning crowds
  4. Don’t forget your camera and tripod for low light sunrise photography
  5. Rent a Jeep so you can park at Devils Bridge Trailhead

Sedona Arizona Visitor Summary

Devils Bridge Trail FAQ’s

Let’s take a look at some of the most asked questions about hiking Devils Bridge Trail in Sedona.

Is Devils Bridge Trail Easy?

Devils Bridge Trail is on the easy side of moderately difficult to hike. No matter which trailhead you use, most of the hike is flat with just one significant rocky staircase to navigate.

The hike is made easier with access to a 4WD high clearance vehicle, which effectively cuts the overall hiking distance by more than half.

Is Devils Bridge Trail Dog Friendly?

Yes, Devils Bridge Trail is a dog friendly hike in Sedona. The one steep and rocky staircase section might not be suitable for some dogs, but any experienced hiking dogs will be fine.

Dogs must be kept on a short leash at all times but they are permitted to explore all areas around the Devils Bridge formation in Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness and the Coconino National Forest.

Just be sure to pick up after your pooch, none of us want to have a surprise on the trail!

Is Devils Bridge Trail Worth It?

Devils Bridge is worth seeing on your visit to Sedona but don’t prioritize this trail over some of the other popular hikes, unless you are specifically here for the quintessential bridge photo.

We have to be honest and say that we think Devils Bridge is overrated and there are much more exciting trails to hike in Sedona.

From a photography perspective we can see why Devils Bridge is popular, but the hike itself isn’t much fun and waiting in line for a photo is very New York City, not Sedona wilderness.

Personally, we would re-hike the awesome cave trails, Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock over Devils Bridge on our next visit to Sedona.

More From Sedona
  • Cathedral Rock – Sedona is filled with amazing hikes but Cathedral Rock Trail is one of the most iconic. If you’re short on time, this is the adventure hike for you.
  • Bell Rock – Hike the Bell Rock Courthouse Butte Loop Trail for stunning Sedona views, a fun slick rock climb and our hidden loop half way up the formation.
  • Boynton Canyon – Exactly how to find the famous Subway Cave on Boynton Canyon Trail, the most photographed cave in Sedona.
  • Birthing Cave – The easiest cave to reach in Sedona is Birthing Cave on Long Canyon Trail, ending with amazing views and a crowd free climax.
  • Soldier Pass – Hike to Devils Kitchen and Seven Sacred Pools before climbing into Soldier Pass Cave on the family friendly Solider Pass Trail in Sedona.
  • Keyhole Cave – Fun off-trail hike leading to the impressive Keyhole Cave, Sedona’s biggest and hardest to access cave.
More From The Southwest

We hope this guide on hiking the Devils Bridge Trail at sunrise helps with planning your visit to Sedona, Arizona!

Please let us know if you have any questions about hiking Devil’s Bridge Trail or your visit to Sedona in the comments below.

Happy Hiking,

Mark and Kristen

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