The incredible beauty of Sedona is a magnet for tourism, and it’s not just because of the iron oxide in the red rocks.  Every year, millions of visitors are awed by Sedona’s breathtaking views, the rich diversity of Oak Creek, its abundance of outdoor activities, its history and cultural heritage, its geology, its famed vortexes and the special energies here, its artistic community, advanced healing modalities, spas, and, above all, the land. In fact, there is nowhere else in the world quite like Sedona.

But there is a catch.  Sedona’s exquisite beauty is also housed within such a delicate and fragile environment that, with so much usage, it could easily become irreversibly damaged without constant efforts to promote preservation and sustainable growth – for the sake of all who live and visit here, for future generations, and for the sake of the earth.

With great diligence, Sedona has addressed this issue through the development of many programs and organizations – with a special focus on sustainable, or “eco” tourism.  Since you’re probably curious about what you, as a visitor, can do to help preserve Sedona’s pristine environment, let’s explore that through a sampling of activities that are eco-friendly, along with some tips as to how you can help us keep it that way.


Bird Watching

The Coconino National Forest has over 200 miles of trails within red rock, pine forest, and alpine tundra landscapes. Go fishing at forest lakes, ride horseback, and hike and bike to your heart’s content. This whole valley is a paradise for birding enthusiasts – there is even a special festival in the spring.

Eco-tips: It’s crucial to avoid “bushwhacking” your way through brush and foliage and to stay on all established trails. This helps to protect the fragile ecosystem, including the extremely delicate, black patches of biological soil crust that help maintain it. Just one footstep or tire track can destroy decades of “cryptobiotic” growth; in fact, without these organisms, sand dunes would dominate the Sedona landscape – no kidding!

If you’re taking food along, remember to always “pack it out” and leave no litter – even crumbs!  Though souvenirs may be tempting, “Leave No Trace” also means leaving plants, rocks, pottery shards, etc. where you found them. Take photos!

Water Activities

Besides Coconino Forest lakes and streams, the Verde River, Slide Rock, and Oak Creek are the area’s water playgrounds for great fun, with lots of opportunity for other outdoor activities.

Verde River, the state’s only wild river, offers fishing (trout and other species), boating, including whitewater rafting and canoeing along some stretches, as well as hiking, biking, etc.  There is also the 480-acre Verde River Greenway State Natural Area for fishing and canoeing.

Oak Creek and Slide Rock ParkOak Creek is a great place for fishing and water play, but just a few miles north of Sedona you can wade along the creek and have a blast sliding down Slide Rock’s natural rock water chute. Kids love it!

Eco-tips: If you would like to know how to help Sedona and the Verde Valley preserve their precious water supply, here are some suggestions: take shorter showers, reuse towels and linens rather than having them laundered every day, refrain from pouring chemicals or medicines down the drain, and make sure your lodging has low flow water fixtures and energy efficient fixtures.

In addition, we suggest turning off lights and air conditioning when you’re not using them, using the recycling bins around town, and going to farmers’ markets – in short, as an environmentally minded person, just doing what you do at home!

 Environmental Education/Geology/Archaeology/Culture/History

Sure, there are hiking and biking trails and great opportunities for bird watching, but Red Rock State Park is also an important environmental education facility dedicated to preserving the area’s riparian ecosystem.  Movies, exhibits, a junior ranger program, guided nature, geology, and birding hikes, plus lectures on local geology, archaeology, and Native American culture and history make this an ideal place for understanding the area’s ecology.

V-Bar-V Heritage Site

Verde Valley Archaeology Center is “the” place for learning about regional archaeology through educational exhibits and events. The center works in partnership with other organizations as well as Native Americans and is focused on archaeological sites preservation and the care, use, and management of artifacts.

There are some fascinating Native American sites to explore, such as the Sinagua Indians’ cliff dwellings and rock art at Honanki, Palatki, Montezuma Castle, Walnut Canyon, the pueblos at Tuzigoot, and the Verde Valley’s largest petroglyph site, the V-Bar-V Heritage Site.

Eco-tips:  Archaeological sites provide valuable keys to understanding our past, but are very fragile and require diligent care. After all, they are actually remnants of our past and quite irreplaceable! Here are some tips to follow:

  • Do not climb, sit, or stand on walls – extra weight will hasten deterioration.
  • Do not pick up or move any rocks on the site.
  • Cultural deposits, including the soil, are important for scientific tests used in reconstructing past environments, such as the kind of plants utilized by the inhabitants of long ago. Adding anything (such as offerings, etc.) to a site destroys the dating potential.
  • Absolutely no fires, candles, smudging or smoking allowed.
  • Camping is discouraged at all sites, and forbidden at Honanki or Palatki.
  • No graffiti, scratching, carving, etc. is allowed. The oil from your hands can cause deterioration and even hinder the potential for dating the artifact. Therefore, do not touch the rock art in any way!
  • No bicycles or vehicles allowed past the parking lot.
  • Stay on any trails provided.
  • No pets allowed.
  • Digging, removing artifacts, damage and defacement of archaeological resources on public lands, may result in  felony and/or misdemeanor prosecution with imprisonment up to ten years and fines up to $100,000.
  • Report any vandalism on a 24-hour line at 928-526-0600.

 We know that you will love Sedona as much as we do and we very much appreciate your interest in keeping Sedona and its surrounding environs as beautiful as possible.  Every little bit counts, and with your efforts, we will all be enjoying the magnificence of Sedona and its pristine beauty for years to come!