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Many things make Cathedral Rock trail a special hike. Yes, it’s the only upflow vortex in Sedona, but I think I’m the only person whose captured it’s “mass-iveness” from this unique angle…Yes, that’s a cathedral pun.

Cathedral Rock trail in Sedona is famous for a few reasons. One: It’s a stunning sandstone monument. Two: It’s one of the 4 vortexes, or a “power place,” in Sedona. And three, and something I am 100% certain nobody else knows that I recently uncovered: It’s shadows create the shape of a Cathedral on the ground, hence why I think it got its name Cathedral Rock. More on how to see and where to find this shadow below… Cathedral Rock is an Upflow Vortex. It’s the only one of the 4 vortexes in Sedona with “feminine” energy – which means the energy enters the earth allowing for introspective power that connects you to memories and some say past lives. It’s great for greater oneness and serenity, calmness and ease. Still not sure what a vortex is? Learn more here.

When’s the best time to hike Cathedral Rock trail and vortex?

The best time to hike Cathedral Rock is at sunrise so you can watch the sun’s rays begin to peek through the canyon walls of Sedona. To do so, you need to start hiking about an hour before sunrise. Pat and I did what we never do, wake up at 6AM, to go get one of the first parking spots at the hiking trail. You need to get there before sunrise because the parking lot fills fast in the morning. Remember to have your Sedona Red Rocks pass with you. If you manage to snatch the last parking spot, like Pat and I, you are golden – no pun intended.

How long does it take to hike Cathedral Rock Trail?

Cathedral Rock trail is 3.7 miles round trip. If you’re going at a leisurely pace, it can take you as long as 3 hours round-trip to hike Cathedral Rock. If you’re a bit more fit and used to hiking and rock scrambles, you can speed by it and it will take you only about 1.5 hours – round-trip.

Is Cathedral Rock Trail an easy hike?

Cathedral Rock trail is not an easy hike. Not because of it’s length, but because of it’s rock scrambles. There are points where you will be using your hands to pull your body up rocks and on your butt sliding down rocks. I’m afraid of heights, but thought it was fine. Just stay focused on the rocks. However, because of the rock scramble, you definitely need proper hiking shoes to hike Cathedral Rock trail. You can purchase my hiking shoes below from Salewa (which I actually bought from a store in Sedona!). Ankle length hiking shoes are the way to go to keep your ankle locked in place and avoid any sprains.

To begin park your car at the Cathedral Rock Trail and follow signs. As Pat and I made our way up, we could hear the sounds of hot air balloon burner’s hissing away in the distance as colorful airships – red, purple, blue, yellow – ascended into the clear blue sky above the canyon. We watched as dawn’s sun brushed the canyons from black to pink, orange, red and yellow. It’s always hard to describe a sunrise, but this one turned the rocks an unbelievable rosy scarlet. It’s fairly easy to hike up, except for the rock scramble part, pictured here on Walk My World (thank you to her because I forgot to document!). But once past that, it’s fairly easy once again.

The end of the trail is marked by a wooden sign in what looks like a shape of a cross that reads “End of Trail.” With a name like Cathedral Rock, it’s quite fitting for the end trail to look like a cross. The end is an open canyon with red striated rocks jutting out of the ground. There was a path on the left hand side that looked like it may lead elsewhere, so Pat and I followed it. It led us to a rock scramble that wasn’t for the faint of heart. We had just watched people get down from it though…so there must be something there worth seeing. We gave it a go.


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We scrambled up and saw what is known as Cathedral Rock Needle or Pillar. We sat down and watched it for a while. We could choose to descend the needle and continue circumambulating Cathedral Rock trail and vortex, but the trail was a bit steep for my taste and I was afraid of what I couldn’t see, which was the part beyond the canyon. Being afraid of heights, I didn’t want to push myself too much here.

Before leaving I turned around and saw the rock leaving a cool shadow on the land. I snapped a picture and didn’t think much of it. When I later was editing my pictures, I realized what I had witnessed. Was a divine sign or was I just tricking my brain to see what I wanted to see? I don’t know how many people know this about Cathedral Rock, but if you take a picture from this very specific angle, at this very specific needle rock, at sunrise, Cathedral Rock actually creates the shape of a cathedral in it’s shadows. Pretty cool right? This is an image I don’t think anyone else has captured, from what I’ve seen. It was the perfect high note to end the hike on and get some breakfast in us. We scrambled back down the rocks and left Cathedral Rock vortex feeling grounded, calm and – quite special.


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Where’s the best spot to take a picture of Cathedral Rock?

Ok, well aside from actually hiking Cathedral Rock, where is the best spot to take a picture in front of Cathedral Rock and what is the best time of day to do so? Head on over to Secret Slick Rock at sunset for some of the most epic views of Cathedral Rock. The spot is called Slick Rock because there are times when there are puddles of water on the rock that reflect the beautiful Cathedral Rock. When we visited, there was no water, but god – it had to be one of my favorite overlooks of the whole trip. Pictured above is our local guide, Shakti Sita, her husband Dan, Patrick and myself on Secret Slick Rock.

The beauty is that it’s super easy to get here. It’s a 0.7-mile out-and-back trail. When here, take off your shoes and try and ground yourself in the rock while meditating. Try and block out any other people who may be on the rock experimenting with other things, Sedona is known for being a bit of a hippie spot for mystics and for escapists – let’s call them that 🙂

>> Next: All About My First Sedona UFO Tour Experience

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