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Hiking Bell Rock Vortex Sedona, AZ (Ultimate Trail Guide)

May 4, 2022

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Of all the vortexes you can visit in Sedona, Bell Rock should be among the top of your list, for sure. Bell Rock Vortex got its name from the red rock formation’s unique bell shape.

But you probably could’ve guessed that, huh? You might not know, though, that this Sedona gem is an amazing sunset destination.

It happens to be next to the beautiful Courthouse Butte formation, making the surrounding area very photogenic.

AND you can enjoy Bell Rock in more than one way. Honestly, it took me years to figure that last part out. So as an Arizona local, I’m using this blog to spill the tea on everything you need to know about visiting and hiking Bell Rock.

That way, you can choose the Bell Rock adventure for you and then continue on with the awesome Sedona trip you’re probably planning.

when you’re done reading this guide, I suggest checking out my other Sedona, AZ blogs:

Alrighty, explorer, let’s begin! We’ll start things with some need-to-know planning details, then dive into the juicy stuff.

girl watching sunset over bell rock vortex in sedona arizona

Disclaimer: Hey booskie! This blog contains affiliate links! That means when you make a purchase using my links, I get a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your consideration!

But Okay, What is a Vortex?

A vortex is a large sum of energy from the universe. Some folks believe that Sedona is like the mecca for vortex energy. Bell Rock Vortex energy is said to be some of the most powerful in the area.

Some other popular vortex hikes you can do include:

girl on the bell rock climb trail in sedona arizona

Now that we’re all caught up on the vortex tea let’s get into some things you should know for planning your Bell Rock hike.

Planning Your Hike

For this hike, you will need a $5 Red Rock Pass.

Avoid the Pass: If you’re a national park lover and have your America the Beautiful Interagency Pass handy, you can hang that on your car and you’ll be good to go!

When to Go

From my experience, Bell Rock Vortex is best enjoyed at sunset. Bell Rock is a great sunset spot because it offers 360 views of Sedona.

Surely, you can probably enjoy the top of Bell Rock for sunrise. Still, there are some other sunrise destinations I’d consider first:

Even Soldier Pass can be a great sunrise location.

Parking & Getting There

You can use two parking lots to access the trails you need to get to Bell Rock. But listen up, booskie: if you can, try to park at the northern lot.

I’ve marked this on a map for ya, don’t worry. Going to the southern parking lot will make your hike longer.

If you’re doing Bell Rock Climb, this is some added mileage you probably don’t want to have—it’ll tire you out!

Now, let’s cover some of the best ways to enjoy Bell Rock!

Bell Rock Climb

  • Bell Rock Trailhead: 34.8050676,-111.7667896
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 0.8 miles round trip (out and back)
  • Time to Top: 45 minutes to an hour
  • Elevation Gain: 600 feet
  • Parking: Limited with about 20 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunset
  • Red Rock Pass Required? Yes

To see some of the best views Bell Rock offers, you’ll want to take the Bell Rock Climb trail. But, fair warning, this hike isn’t for the faint of heart.

You will be scrambling a bit, and at times the trail can be hard to follow. If you’re uncomfortable with heights, skip this!

We will discuss another option you can use to enjoy Bell Rock Vortex. 

Once you park at the Bell Rock Trailhead, you’ll hop on Bell Rock Access Trail and begin the easy, flat walk to Bell Rock.

It’s about 0.2 miles. Once you’re near the base of Bell Rock, start looking for the sign that reads Bell Rock Climb.

You’ll want to follow rock cairns and the faint trail to the top. The trail ascends rather quickly—you’ll cover about 200 feet in 0.4 miles.

But, all of your efforts will be worth it! Once you’re at the top, you can enjoy unobstructed views of Sedona and feel all that juicy Bell Rock Vortex energy.

Courthouse Butte Bell Rock Loop

  • Bell Rock Trailhead: 34.8050676,-111.7667896
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.9 miles round trip (loop)
  • Time to Top: 1.5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 357 feet
  • Parking: Limited with about 20 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunset
  • Red Rock Pass Required? Yes

If you’re not a fan of heights, the Courthouse Bell Rock Loop is just as great an option!

This trail can be best enjoyed at sunset or early in the morning. 

From the same parking area, you’ll jump on the Bell Rock Access Trail and walk 0.2 miles to the start of Bell Rock Trail. You can then take a left or right to start your loop!

Taking a left, walk 0.3 miles to the Llama Trail junction. Walk Lllama Trail for a mere 300 feet until you reach Courthouse Butte Loop Trail.

This is the loop trail you’ll be taking for about 2 miles until it reconnects will Bell Rock Trail. The entire loop almost 4 miles and pretty flat! So it’ll be a super easy, scenic hike for you.

The blue line indicates your route when you take a left to begin the loop going clockwise!

trail map of courthouse butte bell rock loop in sedona az

The best part about taking the loop is going between Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. So you still get to enjoy all the Bell Rock Vortex fun but see different views along the way.

Best Bell Rock Vortex Photo Spots

Bell Rock Vortex is one of the most Instagrammable places in Sedona, AZ. The whole area is so photogenic, so get your memory cards ready!

As far as where to take the best photos, you’ll find that along Bell Rock Climb trail is pretty great for pictures. So is the top of Bell Rock. 

However, if you don’t want to climb, you can take some amazing images along Courthouse Butte Loop Trail! Best Friends Lookout Point is a popular photo spot.

I also suggest going across the street to Yavapai Vista Point! This will give you a different perspective of Bell Rock Vortex and Courthouse Butte.

Yavapai is SUPER underrated but is a gorgeous sunset spot with no hiking required! It’s free, too.

What to Bring

Regardless of whether or not you decide to climb Bell Rock, there are a few items you’ll want to make sure you have with you!

Sturdy Hiking Boots

IDK about you, but I am a CLUTZ on trail. And when it comes to hiking in Sedona, tripping on some red rocks is no joke!

That $h*t hurts!

To protect my feet, I always wear my Keen Targhees. I like them because they’re sturdy and have such good grip. That extra grip power goes a long way when you’re doing something like Bell Rock Climb!

Sunscreen

Bell Rock trails have no shade, so you will be fully exposed to the sun’s harsh rays!

To protect your beautiful skin, get some sunscreen like Elta MD—their UV clear sunscreen does wonders for my acne-prone skin!

Small Pack

Whether it’s a stylish fanny pack or a small day hiking pack, I suggest you have a vessel to carry your belongings! You’ll want your hands completely free while doing the Bell Rock Climb.

You don’t need anything large. However, if you don’t have pockets, at least have a tiny waist pack on you for your wallet and phone!

You should also bring: a cute sun hat, a headlamp, a reusable water bottle, and sunglasses.

Final Tips for Hiking Bell Rock Vortex

Let’s cap things off with some last tips for exploring Bell Rock Vortex!

Avoid in the Rain

I would skip Bell Rock’s climb and the surrounding hikes in the rain. The trails can become slick, muddy, and sometimes unsafe. Going to Bell Rock for sunset on a clear day will give you the best chance at seeing an epic sunset.

So that’s another reason to do this hike during fair weather!

Get an Annual Pass

If you’re planning a multi-day Sedona itinerary, you’ll probably be visiting some other Sedona vortexes and hikes. Most require a Red Rock Pass.

However, you can completely skip the Red Rock Pass if you bring an America the Beautiful Pass!

That’ll also act as your national park annual pass—woohoo!

Get There Early

If you’re hiking around here for sunset, consider getting to the trailhead 30 to 40 minutes before the sun goes down! Bell Rock Vortex is one of the most popular hikes in Sedona!

The trailhead locations are near the city entrance, so visitors always come around to explore!

The parking lots are small, so getting there early will help you secure a spot!

I hope this blog helps you enjoy hiking Bell Rock Vortex and the surrounding area!

To help you plan your best Sedona trip ever, I suggest checking out my other Sedona AZ blogs!

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I'm a burrito loving explorer who got fired from corporate America and turned that into my dream career as a photographer and blogger. Now I'm here to help you explore life's magic. Thanks for stopping by!