Many people have written about hiking Devils Bridge, and for good reason. Sedona’s largest natural sandstone arch is absolutely breathtaking! Now that I’ve done it myself though, I can say I politely disagree with many of the assessments I read before going.
Everyone is right about one thing, you cannot easily drive your car down this dirt path, past the parking lot. Some people take Jeeps, 4x4s, SUVs etc. down there but I personally wouldn’t even recommend that. With the right
tank car it’s doable but honestly, save yourself the headache and hike in. Take Forest Road 152 and follow signs for Devil’s Bridge to the Dry Creek Vista Trailhead. This parking lot is free and does not require a Red Rock Pass (bonus!) We found a parking spot easily and we were glad we didn’t attempt the drive as the trail was littered with abandoned vehicles that couldn’t make it the whole way. The parking lot is definitely small though, so get there nice and early, as close to sunrise as possible!
So what else are other visitors a little off about? Most importantly, how long and strenuous this hike actually is. In my research, I found people claiming it was “arduous” and took hours upon hours to complete. My sister and I (both active and young, but not avid hikers) and a mastiff puppy hiked to the head of Devil’s Bridge Trail in about 35 minutes, which included plenty of time to stop and take photos (as you can see below). After about 3/4 of a mile, you will come to a fork, go left and you will end up under the arch, head right and you go up Devil’s Bridge Trail to the top of the arch.
Up to this point, there’s no elevation to worry about and it’s an easy path. The only concern is the heat, which even early in the morning, can be brutal and exhausting, so don’t forget to pack water! (Or just bring an older sister who will pack water for you). From here you begin to climb, up both steps and gradual inclines. Before you get to the top, there’s a section where you might need both your hands and feet to help you do a little scrambling, but this lasts maybe 10-15 steps.
This isn’t a deal breaker for most people in decent physical condition, but it was a problem for the giant dog we had in tow. (Although, I will admit, other people at the top had dogs, so I suppose if your dog is very athletic he may be able to make it up there with you). This last leg of the hike took about 20 minutes, so in total you can easily get from the parking lot to the bridge in less than an hour, especially if you choose set a pace and spend less time playing paparazzi.
The view is 100% worth the physical effort it takes to reach it. You can’t help but feel like you’ve stepped into The Lion King, with miles of diverse landscape stretching out in every direction. It is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places I have ever been. When I was there, someone was playing a flute, and people were meditating and chatting with other travelers. Don’t miss it on your next trip out West!
Photo Credits: Tara Turner