Daytrip Drive 3 of 9: Sedona & Oak Creek Canyon to Bootlegger

Oak Creek Canyon’s towering red rock cliffs, mature forest, and creekside views make it one of Arizona’s most scenic areas, and our personal favorite. If you have time, take a hike or stop at one of the many picnic areas to get the full experience. (Even better- book a campsite and stay the night!)

The drive transforms from season to season, offering snow-capped mountaintops in the winter, wildflowers in the spring, lush greenery and babbling brooks in the summer, and an array of colorful foliage in the fall. (The photos and video below are from a drive up in May.)


Take a quick drive through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon: 


How to get there:

↠ Take the I-17 North out of the valley, towards Flagstaff. Stay on this for a good hour. Take exit 289, and as you exit, turn left onto the 179 North towards Sedona. You’ll start to see red rocks within about 5 minutes of exiting the freeway.

Gilbert to Sedona: 2 hours

Glendale to Sedona: 1 hour 45 minutes




↠ This road will take you to the main roundabout in Sedona. After passing Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, take the first exit (turn right) onto the 89A North into Uptown Sedona.

↠ Drive (slowly) through Uptown, and once you pass the Sedona Arts Center on your right, your journey into Oak Creek Canyon begins.





↠ Now it’s time to go slow and enjoy the views! You can pull over and take photos, have lunch at Indian Gardens, visit one of the many picnic areas, take a swim, or go on a hike. (Be sure to only park in designated areas though- you’ll get ticketed and towed if you just park wherever.)

Uptown Sedona to Bootlegger Day Use Area: 20 minutes (without stopping)




About Bootlegger:

Cost: When you park, be sure to purchase a Red Rock pass at the pay station. Set it inside your vehicle on your dashboard.

Hours: 8:00am to dusk

Restroom: yes- vault toilet

Drinking water: no

Picnic tables: yes

Grills: yes (*Note: Always obey park signage and rangers regarding charcoal and campfire bans.*)







↠ If you continue past Bootlegger on the 89A North, in about 10 minutes you’ll hit the switchbacks heading up the mountain towards Flagstaff. The views are pretty spectacular, so if you have the time, drive about 10 more minutes until you reach the scenic viewpoint on your right, Oak Creek Vista.

Bootlegger to Oak Creek Vista: 20 minutes




About the drive:

Gas: Gas up before you go! But there are several small towns like Black Canyon City and Camp Verde that have services.

Restrooms: There are 2 public rest stops along the I-17 between Anthem and Sedona- one at Sunset Point and another just before the exit for the 179. Once you arrive in Sedona, there are numerous gas stations and welcome centers with restrooms, including one in Oak Creek Canyon.

Bring: Always bring drinking water (and snacks!) for the road. If you plan to hike or explore around a day use area, be sure to bring appropriate footwear. You may even want to bring water shoes for splashing around in the creek.

Check: Check current traffic conditions on the way there and the way back- occasional closures happen with sections of the I-17 and the 89A.




Thanks for taking look at our post! We hope it was helpful for you in planning your own drive. Comment below or send us an email at if you have any questions, or if you want to tell us what you did with our advice! We’d love to hear from you 🙂

Click HERE to see our other recent blog posts and click HERE to see a list of ALL of our free travel and hiking guides!


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