If you’ve visited Sedona during peak season — fall or spring — sometime in the past few years, you may have noticed the growing number of visitors and the shrinking number of parking spots. With more people visiting Sedona, parking lots have been filling up regularly and illegal parking has become a bigger issue.
Last week, the City of Sedona launched a new trailhead shuttle service to help mitigate some of the issues. The shuttle will service some of the most popular trail networks in the area including Cathedral Rock, Dry Creek, Little Horse, and Soldier Pass.
AZ Central reports a 5% increase in visitation to Sedona in 2020, for a total of 3.4 million visitors that year. Overnight trips have decreased but day trips from Arizona residents are estimated to have increased by 10%. April and May, and September and October, tend to be the busiest months for the city according to data from the Sedona Chamber of Commerce.
The major concerns which prompted the new shuttle are traffic, congestion, and resource protection.
“We are still on the northern Sonoran Desert, so it’s a very fragile environment as far as rehabilitation from damage and car tracks and things like that,” Mark Goshorn of the Red Rock Ranger District told AZ Central. “And for people who are parking within neighborhoods, it’s disrupting the quality of life for the citizens that live there.” The trailhead transit program was proposed last fall.
The Sedona Shuttle will run from Thursday through Sundays, from 8a to 6:30p every 15 to 45 minutes. During peak visitation periods, the shuttle will run seven days a week.
A news release from the City of Sedona says that when the shuttles are running, the parking lots at the Cathedral Rock and Soldier Pass trailheads will be closed and visitors will have to use the shuttle to access these trailheads. The shuttle is free to use and picks up at these locations:
- Trailhead shuttles serving Cathedral Rock and Little Horse trailheads will pick up from the North SR 179 park-and-ride lot located at 1294 SR 179.
- Service to Soldier Pass and Dry Creek trailheads will operate from the Posse Grounds park-and-ride lot at 20 Carruth Dr. in West Sedona. Later this summer, service to Mescal trailhead will be added from this lot.
Bike transportation will be limited: the shuttles can hold about 20 passengers each, but only three bikes can go on a rack.
For more information, check out the Sedona Shuttle site.