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Sedona vs Grand Canyon – Which One Should You Visit?

I recently visited both Sedona and the Grand Canyon whilst I was road tripping across the US.

I absolutely loved both but I did notice that they were very different.

In this post I’ll be covering all of the differences between them to help you decide where to visit on your next trip! It covers hotels, activities, atmosphere, nightlife and more!

Summary – Sedona vs Grand Canyon

SedonaGrand Canyon
Better for a
3 – 4 day trip
Better for a
1 – 2 day trip
Wide range of
Less range of
Red rock scenery
& pines
Immense canyon
No nightlife
Wide range of
Few hotels
Hiking, off-roading,
Hiking, views

I had the best time visiting both Sedona and the Grand Canyon. It’s so hard to choose between them because they were so different and I think each is suited to a different kind of trip.

The Grand Canyon is the sort of place you could spent a day or two but you wouldn’t want to stay for 3 or 4 days. In Sedona, you could easily spend 3 – 4 days there and not get bored.

I personally think the best option is to go to Sedona then do a day trip to the Grand Canyon as it’s only 2 hours away.

Top Picks For Sedona

Best Hotel In Sedona: Enchantment Resort

Top Activities In Sedona:

Top Picks For The Grand Canyon

Best Hotel In The Grand Canyon: The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Top Activities In The Grand Canyon:

Sedona scenery

Sedona is a desert town in Arizona that is surrounded by impressive red-rock buttes, steep canyons and pine forests. Uptown Sedona has a fantastic range of shops, cafes and art galleries. 

The Grand Canyon, on the other hand, is a 277 mile long, 18 mile wide deep canyon located within the Grand Canyon National Park.

Sedona and the Grand Canyon offer very different experiences. Whilst Sedona is a town featuring magnificent red rock scenery, the Grand Canyon is a large gorge carved up by the Colorado River. 

I noticed that both places were very touristy with the Grand Canyon being the most crowded of the two due to its fame and importance. Sedona did get very busy too, especially in the main uptown area.

I loved that Sedona had such a wide range of activities to choose from like hiking, off-roading and even helicopter rides over the desert.

In the Grand Canyon National Park, I found that there wasn’t much to do other than see the canyon itself however there are many different ways to enjoy the canyon including the Grand Canyon Railway or rafting along the river.

I think that you could easily spend 3 to 4 days (or even more) in Sedona and not run out of things to do however you wouldn’t really want to spend more than a day or two in the Grand Canyon. 

If you do want to visit both Sedona and the Grand Canyon then base yourself in Sedona and book onto a day-tour to the Grand Canyon. It’s just a 2 hour drive from Sedona and this allows you to see both places.

Which Is Bigger?

The Grand Canyon National Park is much bigger than Sedona in terms of area. The Grand Canyon covers 4,926km2 whereas Sedona covers just 47.4km2.

Although the Grand Canyon National Park is much bigger, there’s less things to do as the main thing there is the Grand Canyon itself. Due to the park’s size, it does allow you to get away from the crowds fairly easily if you head away from the main tourist spots.

Sedona has a much wider range of things to do as there’s lots of fun amenities packed into the town. It does get very crowded and busy and it’s a bit harder to escape the crowds here.

Which Has Better Activities?

Bell Rock in Sedona

Sedona has lots of things to do. There isn’t many things to do at the Grand Canyon other than seeing the canyon (there’s lots of different ways to see it though). 

Whilst Sedona does have some really beautiful scenery, there’s nothing like the Grand Canyon which is actually one of the natural wonders of the world. 

Activities In Sedona

Most people come to Sedona to see the epic red rock scenery and stunning landscapes. I’m not gonna lie, this is also what initially attracted me to the town too.

There are so many different ways to enjoy Sedona’s magnificent scenery both from the air or from the land.

Best Activities In Sedona:

Sedona has a huge focus on outdoor activities with a wide range of magnificent nature trails.

I spent a lot of my time in Sedona hiking as there are over 400 miles of hiking trails to choose from. 

As I only had a few days in Sedona, I joined this day tour of Sedona to ensure I didn’t miss anything. I’m so glad I did as I saw so much in just one day.

Sedona has some of the most magnificent scenery in the whole of the US. Some personal highlights of mine were Bell Rock, Devil’s Bridge and Cathedral Rock. These incredible giant red rocks & natural bridges look out of this world. 

There’s no better way to see Arizona’s incredible desert beauty than from the above. Get a birds eye view by joining a helicopter tour and see some of Sedona’s most famous red rock formations, including the ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings.

Alternatively, you can also join a Sedona jeep tour and explore the epic red rocks from the road.

I also really enjoyed heading up to the viewpoint at Airport Mesa. From here you get panoramic views over Sedona including some of the most famous rock formations like Chimney Rock and Capitol Butte

Other popular activities in Sedona are fishing, mountain biking and even ATV off-roading. The best place to go fishing is at Oak Creek Canyon.

You can also spend the day on a wine tour where you’ll visit local wineries and try out some of their beverages. This activity is super relaxing and gives you a chance to try some of Sedona’s best wines.

Sedona is actually just a 2 hour drive from the Grand Canyon so you can easily join a day tour to the Grand Canyon from Sedona!

I found that the best place for shopping in Sedona was at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. This stunning collection of Mexican-style buildings is home to over 50 boutique arts & crafts shops and a great range of restaurants. 

This Sedona stargazing tour was another highlight for me. I learned so much about the night sky from my guide that I left feeling like an astronomer (Galileo watch out!).

Activities In The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is considered to be one of the most impressive natural wonders of the world and after seeing it for myself, I totally agree.

There are many different activities available which give you the chance to observe this incredible deep red canyon.

I actually visited the canyon myself on a day trip from nearby Flagstaff which was just a 1.5 hour drive away.

Best Activities In The Grand Canyon:

The main highlight for me was hopping aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. This scenic train ride took us on a journey through the Northern Arizona countryside with epic views of the canyon itself. 

For an incredible birds eye view of this natural wonder, book onto a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. You’ll be able to fly over the canyon in a helicopter, giving you the chance to get a new perspective of the immense canyon.

I did spent a large part of my day at the canyon hiking. The Grand Canyon National Park is a hiker’s dream as it’s largely undeveloped. There are hundreds of miles of trails to hike and explore.

My favorite trail was the South Kaibab Trail which you can take up to Skeleton Point for excellent views. Another popular trail is the Grandview Trail which leads to the Horseshoe Mesa

To get the best views of the Grand Canyon, visit one of the many viewpoints that can be found within the park. Some of the best include Mather Point, Redwall Bridge, Hopi Point and Plateau Point.

If you’re going to be in nearby Las Vegas, then you can easily reach the canyon by booking onto a coach tour. Once you arrive, you can enjoy some of the canyon’s most popular attractions including El Tovar and the Bright Angel Trail

One of the most exciting ways to experience the Grand Canyon is to float through it on a raft. The Colorado River flows through the canyon itself and is the perfect place to go rafting. You’ll get unparalleled views and an experience you won’t forget. 

Before you leave the canyon, I’d also recommend heading over to the Grand Canyon Skywalk which is a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway that extends almost 70ft out over the canyon.

The bottom of the Skywalk is clear glass so you can look down and see the canyon below you. It’s pretty cool but if you have a fear of heights you may wanna skip this one.

Which Has Better Accommodation?

Sedona scenery

I found that there was a much wider range of hotels available in Sedona compared with the Grand Canyon.

Sedona has a good range of hotels including some impressive luxury 5-star hotels.

The Grand Canyon has some lovely hotels too but there’s less to choose from and you’ll have to book well in advance to get a room.

I was booking pretty last minute and couldn’t find anything decent so I ended up just visiting the Grand Canyon on a day trip instead.

Accommodation In Sedona

In Sedona most people stay in the uptown area as this is where all the shops, restaurants and amenities are.

Accommodation in Sedona is very pricey as most of the hotels and resorts are luxury. 

I ended up staying at the Enchantment Resort which was like a dream come true. It was super luxurious, modern and the service was just outstanding.

Best Hotels In Sedona:

Accommodation In The Grand Canyon

There is a small range of hotels located close to the Grand Canyon. It’s important that you reserve a room well in advance of your trip to ensure you’re able to get a room.

Due to the Grand Canyon’s immense fame and popularity, rooms book up fast. 

Best Hotels In The Grand Canyon:

Which Is Better for Nightlife?

Grand Canyon

Neither Sedona or the Grand Canyon have a huge nightlife scene however Sedona’s is much better than the Grand Canyon.

Nightlife in the Grand Canyon is virtually non-existent.

Nightlife In Sedona

Sedona isn’t really known for being a party city. There are no nightclubs in Sedona at all and I noticed that almost all of the bars and restaurants were closed by 11pm even on weekends.

Despite closing early, Sedona does have a very sophisticated nightlife scene. 

Most of Sedona’s bars are within resorts, hotels or upscale restaurants. Here you’ll find hand-crafted cocktails and luxurious lounges. 

Some of the best bars in Sedona are The Hudson, SaltRock Southwest Kitchen and 89Agave

There’s also a great range of wine bars in Sedona such as The Secret Garden Café and Oak Creek Brewery & Grill.

Nightlife In The Grand Canyon

Nightlife in the Grand Canyon National Park is virtually non-existent and there is little to do after the sun goes down. 

Stargazing is a popular activity within the park and a great way to spend the evening.

If you’re looking for something a bit more lively then you may be able to catch a live band/singer and enjoy a quiet drink at the Bright Angel Bar or the El Tovar Lounge

The El Tovar Lounge is a top choice as you get epic canyon views from the back porch area. Grab yourself a margarita, sit back and relax whilst enjoying the views.

Which Is More Affordable?

In terms of day to day spending, you’ll probably spend a similar amount in both Sedona and the Grand Canyon. 

As a whole, a Sedona trip would likely cost more as I’d recommend staying for 3 – 4 days to get the most out of the area.

In contrast, you’d only want to spend 1 – 2 days in the Grand Canyon National Park so you’ll spend less money overall.

The best thing to do is base yourself in Sedona then book onto a day-tour to the Grand Canyon. This allows you to see both areas easily.

And that’s it!

I hope you’ve now decided where to visit on your next trip.

If you’re still struggling to decide then you might find these useful:


Megan Jones is a travel expert and founder of Traveller's Elixir, who has been travelling the world full time since 2021. Megan's travel tips been featured in numerous media outlets including Metro, Timeout, Thrillist and more.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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