Cathedral Rock is a popular trail in Sedona, Arizona. It’s a short and straight- up climb to some magnificent views of the surreal desert valleys and vistas. If you’re looking for where to elope around Sedona, this might make the top of your list! Being so stunning and pretty accessible, it’s no wonder people from around the world flock to soak in these views. If you want to get married at Cathedral Rock, here’s a helpful guide on how to prepare and what to expect.
The hike to Cathedral Rock is a short one; only a little over a mile total roundrip on the most popular trail! There are a couple different ways to get there though, so take a look at the map before hitting the trail. While it is a mildly moderate hike, there are a few areas of scrambling up rocks to get the best views. And keep in mind it is most entirely an uphill climb, and proper hiking boots will make the hike much more enjoyable (and safer!)
Most of my couples prefer to hike up in their hiking attire and then change at the top- especially at sunrise. We just find a hidden spot of the trail for privacy and for those extra busy times- I bring along a pop-up changing tent!
Because parking can be hit or miss (especially during the peak day/times) Sedona offers a FREE shuttle to and from some popular trails. The shuttle for Cathedral rock is a convenient way to make sure you get to the trailhead, and not have to battle over finding one of the limited parking spots available! The schedule can vary based on the season, so be sure and double check the times before heading out!
Also, consider the shuttle schedule when planning around your elopement. Sometimes the shuttles last trip is before the sun is officially set, so you might miss out on peak sunset lighting. Navigating that is something I’ll help with in the planning process though, so don’t worry.
To elope in Sedona you may need a permit, however, this is location and detail dependent. The trails in Sedona most often do not require any special use permit, but State Parks may require a permit and an additional fee. National Parks will almost always require a special use permit and/or photographer’s permit. Sedona does have rules that you must follow:
For trails in Sedona, you may need a Red Rock Pass to park at trailheads for $5 per day/per car or $15 weekly. You can purchase this in advance online here, or at self-service machines at the trail. However, not all areas require the pass, but charge a separate admission fee. You can find more information about Sedona Tourism here!
It is best to contact the Forest Service or a Sedona Elopement Photographer to make sure a permit is not required for the location you want to elope. This is something we can discuss in the elopement planning process!
June through September in Sedona usually hosts days with temperatures of 100 degrees, not fun! Summer in the sun takes on a whole new meaning in Arizona, so be prepared! Trails like Cathedral Rock don’t have a ton of shade. As for the cooler months, snow can happen anytime between November and March. While a winter coat may be super gorgeous in the desert landscape, there are a few extra precautions that need to be considered. Ice on the trails can be a hazard, we don’t want to be slipping on those rocky cliffs! Flash floods can also be an issue during the rainy months, so it’s important to be prepared and then always have a backup plan.
I’ve compiled a list of amazing elopement locations in Sedona, including Cathedral Rock! I’ve been there several times now, for elopements and to location scout for my clients! I’m always happy to offer my input on where to elope in Sedona, and can guide you to the perfect spots at Cathedral Rock. Take a peek at some of my clients fave ones below!
While you can elope any time of the year; there are some months that may be more difficult with tourists and temperature! Generally speaking, Fall-Spring is the best time for weather. Places like Cathedral Rock can become over-saturated with tourists on school breaks, and the heat can be a tricky thing. Crowds are busiest in March/April and October/November.
During these times, you can definitely expect a line at the top of Cathedral at sunset to take that infamous cliff photo. When navigating this on your elopement day, we go through the line a few times and only spend about 2-3 minutes on the cliff at a time to respect other visitors. For chances at more privacy at this location, consider sunrise, a weekday, and/or off season dates.
For some sunrise inspiration check out this Sedona Sunrise Elopement! If you don’t have a set date in mind, I can always help plan out the best time for an elopement at Cathedral rock!
To make your elopement experience a breeze, start by booking an experienced Cathedral Rock photographer! Hiring a local who knows all the ins and out of eloping in Arizona can be SO helpful. I have done countless hours of research and location scouting for my clients, and can offer help in the planning process before your elopement day!