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Red Rock Crossing Vortex Sedona: A Magical Swim & Sunset Hike

Apr 5, 2022

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Okay, let’s be honest. Sedona, AZ, is pretty impressive for many reasons, but sometimes, you don’t want to hike all over the place, which is what Sedona is known for! What if I told you that there’s a magical little spot in Sedona where you can feel vortex energy, take a swim, AND marvel at a glorious Sedona sunset? I’m talking about the Red Rock Crossing vortex. 

As part of Oak Creek, Red Rock Crossing is a famous Sedona swimming hole with an unobstructed view of Cathedral Rock. And it’s easy to find! All of this makes it a Sedona favorite for travelers and locals alike.

If you’re coming to the area for the first time, you must visit Red Rock Crossing Sedona. Now, where things get a bit confusing, multiple routes will lead you there. Some are more straightforward than others, so I’m writing this blog! We’ll discuss the different ways for getting to Red Rock Crossing Sedona, AZ, and other must-know details for your trip there. 

If you’re currently planning a trip to Sedona, AZ, make sure you check out my other write-ups that can help:

Let’s get into it, starting with some tips for planning your trip to the vortex.

Sunset view of Red Rock Crossing Vortex Sedona Arizona

Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links!

Planning Your Trip to Red Rock Crossing Sedona

The Red Rock Crossing hike isn’t long and will take you just over half a mile to get there, regardless of which route you choose. All routes are relatively flat and take 10 to 15 minutes one way. So it’s pretty easy to get here!

And yes! You can swim at Red Rock Crossing, so you’ll want to pack a swimsuit. Here is a quick list of items to consider bringing:

Pack: comfy sandals, a swimsuit, a cute sun hat, a towel, sunscreen, a reusable water bottle

As far as when to go, Red Rock Crossing vortex Sedona is best enjoyed mid-day and at sunset! Sunset will cast a gorgeous red glow over Cathedral Rock, the red rock formation that towers over the Crossing. And finally, make sure you purchase a Red Rock Pass ($5) or bring your America the Beautiful Pass to display on your dash.

Sunset at red Rock Crossing Sedona AZ

That’s really all you need to know for planning a trip to the Crossing! Now let’s discuss the routes for getting there.

Verde Valley Road Route

  • Baldwin Trailhead: 34.8217445,-111.8080694
  • Route: Verde Valley to Red Rock Crossing Trail to Templeton Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1.4 miles round trip (out and back)
  • Time to Crossing: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 50 feet
  • Parking at Trail: Minimal with about 15 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunset
  • Red Rock Pass required? Yes

To begin your hike, park at the Baldwin Trailhead. Then, hang a left and walk down Verde Valley Road until you get to Oak Creek. Depending on what time of day you go, you’ll undoubtedly see other visitors swimming here, so you’ll know that you’re in the right place! 

Go right and walk along Red Rock Crossing Trail for 0.5 miles to Templeton Trail, then Templeton 0.2 miles to Buddha Beachand that’s it!

As an alternative, rather than turn right onto Red Rock Crossing Trail, you can cross the creek at the end of Verde Valley Road. After crossing the creek, you’ll be at the Crescent Moon Day Use Site. From here, turn right and walk to Buddha Beach. Warning, this can be hard to follow if you haven’t been here before or if the water levels are too high.

This path is the best “hiking” route if you want an easy peasy way to get to the vortex. 

Baldwin Trail to Templeton Trail Route

  • Baldwin Trailhead: 34.8217445,-111.8080694
  • Route: Baldwin Trail to Red Rock Crossing Trail to Templeton Trail 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1.4 miles round trip (out and back)
  • Time to Crossing: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 50 feet
  • Parking at Trail: Minimal with about 15 spaces
  • Best Light: Sunset
  • Red Rock Pass required? Yes

Ready for more of an adventure? Park at the Baldwin Trailhead and jump onto Baldwin Trail. Hike about 0.3 miles until you get to Red Rock Crossing Trail. Walk Red Rock Crossing Trail 0.2 miles until you get to Templeton Trail. 

From Templeton, walk 0.2 miles to Buddha Beach. Boom! You’re there. I call it an “adventure” because it includes two trail junctions. It’s still easy to navigate, though!

Probably the best part about hiking this trail is that you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of Cathedral Rock along Baldwin Trail. It’s a little bonus the other routes don’t offer!

Crescent Moon Picnic Site

If everything I just said about the Baldwin area is too much of a hassle, no problem! You can get to Red Rock Crossing Sedona without parking in the Baldwin lot. Instead, drive to the Crescent Moon Picnic Site and pay the $11 fee! 

To get to the Crossing area, you will walk on a sidewalk. Please note that this area is CASH ONLY. Your America the Beautiful Pass and Red Rock Passes will not get you in. This is an entirely separate entrance fee.

Choosing the picnic area route is the easiest way to get to the Red Rock Crossing vortex, but that means many more people will choose this option, and you should expect crowds!

If you’re a photo lover, Crescent Moon Picnic Site features a cute barn area, making it one of the most Instagrammable places in Sedona!

Final Tips for Getting to Red Rock Crossing Vortex

So now that you know how to get to Red Rock Crossing Sedona let’s cap things off with some final tips for getting to the vortex!

Visit Red Rock Crossing Vortex at Sunset

If you want the best light for photos, you’ll want to get to Red Rock Crossing for sunset. My best advice would be to spend an afternoon here: have a picnic, or come for a dip after a hike, and stay until the sun goes down! If you want to see how to incorporate Red Rock Crossing into your trip, read my Sedona 3 Day Itinerary blog!

Be Flexible

Because the vortex is popular, you might get to the Day Use Site or trailhead parking and realize it’s at full capacity. In that case, you’ll have to turn around and try to park elsewhere, which could ultimately change what route you take to the Crossing. So be flexible with your plans! 

Hike Cathedral Rock

You can park at the Baldwin Trailhead, hike up to Cathedral Rock, and jump in the Crossing afterward! This adventure is a great way to see two great Sedona vortexes in one sitting. If you want to learn more about the Cathedral Rock vortex hike, I have a whole write-up you can read!

Regardless of which route you take to get to the Red Rock Crossing vortex, I know you’ll enjoy it! The entire Buddha Beach area is a marvel, and not to mention, having a swimming hole in the middle of Sedona makes this desert town that much more magical! 

But hey! Let’s make your trip to Sedona even more memorable! Next, read my Sedona Travel Guide for First-Timers for tips on where to stay, where to eat, etc., then head to my Best Sedona Hikes for Sunrise and Sunset blog for more trail inspo!

Happy exploring :)!

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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!