10 Best Stops on a Los Angeles to Sedona Road Trip


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The Los Angeles to Sedona road trip is a long trek through the desert. Sure, seven hours of driving through a part of the map that is definitively brown might not sound intriguing, but don’t let the barren landscape fool you.

As you make your way from the white sand beaches of southern California to the red rock formations of central Arizona, there’s plenty to see and do. From stunning architectural wonders to one of California’s most unique National Parks, there are countless stops worth making on the drive.

Check out our favorite spots below to make the most of your drive from Los Angeles to Sedona.

Planning a Los Angeles to Sedona Road Trip

There are two main routes from LA to Sedona: the southern route, along I-10, and the northern route, along I-40.

In general, the two routes are about the same length (the latter adds a grand total of 20 minutes to your drive) and of similar quality. However, unless the Mojave Desert is high on your bucket list, the southern route takes you through more interesting spots and offers a lot more to see and do on your LA to Sedona drive.

With that in mind, the best route from Los Angeles to Sedona is taking US-101 S out of LA. From there, you’ll connect via CA-60 E to I-10 E until you get to Phoenix. From Phoenix, AZ-179 N will take you to your final destination: Sedona! There are also a number of interesting places to see on the stretch of the drive to Sedona from Phoenix.

The road is pretty flat, well kept, and easy to drive. However, keep an eye on road signs warning of long distances between gas stations and fill up whenever you can, especially during the long trek through the desert that starts in Palm Springs and ends in Phoenix.

It’s hundreds of miles of road with only a few gas stations dotted along the route, so plan ahead.

If you need to rent a car for this trip you can browse Rentalcars.com which aggregates prices across a number of companies. Alternatively, it is also possible to rent an RV or campervan from Outdoorsy.

Red Rocks of Sedona
Red Rocks of Sedona

How Far is Los Angeles to Sedona?

If you follow the above route, without stops, the distance from Los Angeles to Sedona is 478 miles. Though it can be done in a day, the Los Angeles to Sedona drive time is about 7 and a half hours.

So if you can split it into a few days and enjoy the stops along the way, it’ll definitely make the LA to Sedona road trip more enjoyable.

A few hours into the drive, you’ll reach the western end of Joshua Tree. If you choose to drive through Joshua Tree (which I would highly recommend), it’ll add a little over an hour (and around 40 miles) to your drive from Los Angeles to Sedona. 

Beautiful Joshua Tree National Park
Beautiful Joshua Tree National Park

Best Los Angeles to Sedona Road Trip Stops

There are tons of interesting stops on the Los Angeles to Sedona road trip that balance out the long stretches of desert you’ll be driving through.

For nature lovers, you’ll have the chance to see a variety of State and National Parks. For those more interested in history and culture, there are a ton of unique destinations that add flavor to the Los Angeles to Sedona drive. 

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandhir Hindu Temple, California

A little less than an hour after you leave LA, you’ll hit Chino Hills. The most obvious stop here is the State Park (we’ll get to that soon), but a lesser known and equally incredible destination is the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple.

This ornate temple is an architectural wonder full of intricate stone carvings and thrilling water features. The campus is open every day from 9am to 7:30p, however, the inside of the temple is closed to the public from 12p-4p on weekdays.

You have to have your shoulders and knees covered to enter, so keep this in mind when planning a visit.

Chino Hills State Park, California

If you continue past BAPS on your drive from Los Angeles to Sedona, you’ll hit the Chino Hills State Park. Home to countless trails, this is a great place to stretch your legs and go for a hike or bike ride.

If you’re visiting in spring, you’re in for a real treat, as the vibrant green hills of the state park come alive with the state flower—the orange poppy—and a variety of other multi-colored wildflowers. During the summer, the hills change from rich emerald green to a bright golden hue.

Chino Hills State Park
Chino Hills State Park

California Citrus State Historic Park, California

Next up on the list is a less famous state park with a fascinating history. The California Citrus State Historic Park may not boast endless trails and lively wildflowers, but it’s home to one of California’s most important plants: the citrus tree.

Tours start at 10am on Friday through Sunday and feature a guided walk through the citrus grove, complete with fruit tastings.

However, tours are not necessary, so no matter when you come you can see the fruit trees and learn about how citrus agriculture shaped California through the years.

Palm Springs, California

Another hour of your Los Angeles to Sedona road trip will bring you to Palm Springs. Beloved by LA natives as a popular vacation destination, Palm Springs is particularly popular for those seeking a relaxing desert retreat.

Soak in the hot springs, go for a hike, explore the local vintage stores, dine on delicious Mexican food, and get to know why Los Angelinos love this town so much. With so much to do, Palm Springs is a great place to plan on staying a night or two.

Palm Springs Highway
Palm Springs Highway

Joshua Tree National Park, California

The entrance to Joshua Tree National Park lies about an hour north of Palm Springs, and though the extra mileage will make your LA to Sedona drive a little longer, it’s well worth the detour.

If you enter via the West Entrance Station, you can drive along Park Boulevard until it connects to Pinto Basin Road.

From there, it will take you out via the Cottonwood Visitor Center and connect you back to I-10. This route goes through most of the driveable area of Joshua Tree and allows you to see all of the park’s incredible flora and fauna.

Driving through Joshua Tree
Driving through Joshua Tree

Phoenix, Arizona

From Joshua Tree to Phoenix, Arizona is more or less 223 miles of nothing. Don’t get me wrong, the desert is a cool backdrop for a road trip and watching the sunset in your review window is amazing (if you’re doing a Sedona to LA drive instead, you’ll be driving into the sunset, which is always cool).

But the reality is, it’s a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Joshua Tree to Phoenix with little to do on the way. So fuel up, turn on some good music (which you’ve downloaded ahead of time because there’s a high likelihood of losing service) and enjoy the road trip part of the LA to Sedona road trip.

Once you do reach Phoenix, the tone changes. As both Arizona’s capital and largest city, Phoenix has everything you expect to find in a major city. Shops, bars, restaurants, museums… the list goes on.

Whether you spend an afternoon getting some authentic Mexican food or add a few days to your trip to really get to know the city, Phoenix is a must on your drive from LA to Sedona. 

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix

Camelback Mountain, Arizona

While technically part of Phoenix, Camelback Mountain gets its own slot on the list. Located in the heart of the city, Camelback Mountain is a 2,680-foot summit that dominates the Phoenix landscape.

There are a couple different routes to the summit, and a few hiking trails that allow you to explore the park without making the climb, but the most popular route is the 2.4-mile trail via Echo Canyon.

It takes about 2 hours to complete and involves over 1,000 feet of climbing, but if you’re willing to do the work, the reward is a stunning, sweeping view of Phoenix and the desert surrounding it. 

If you would like to climb Camelback but don’t want to tackle the strenuous Echo Canyon trail, the Cholla trail is a bit longer, but also a lot easier and can be a good option.

Camelback Mountain in Phoenix
Camelback Mountain

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Arizona

As you head out of Phoenix, the most direct route to Sedona will be north on I-17. However, a slight detour via AZ-87 will take you through Tonto Natural Bridge State Park en route to Sedona.

The highlight of this park is the natural rock formation that gives the park its name.

Years of erosion have turned the red rock into a natural bridge that visitors can view from one of the park’s many hiking trails.

The Tonto Natural Bridge
The Tonto Natural Bridge

Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona

The second to last stop on your Los Angeles to Sedona road trip is Montezuma Castle National Monument. The monument consists of preserved dwellings built and used between AD 1100 and 1425.

These dwellings were home to the Sinagua people, a pre-Columbian culture indigenous to the southwestern United States. The Montezuma Castle National Monument is an incredible site to learn more about the country’s pre-colonial history.

Visiting Montezuma Castle is a great stop on a Phoenix to Las Vegas Road trip
Montezuma Castle National Monument

Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, Arizona

On the southern edge of Sedona, just before you hit the city, you’ll reach Tlaquepaque Art & Shopping Village. Whether you stop her on your way into town or come back to visit during your time in Sedona, it’s worth reserving an afternoon to explore the shops and restaurants.

This internationally renowned arts and crafts village is home to everything from handcrafted jewellery to local art galleries to my personal favorite place in the United States for a cup of authentic Indian masala chai: The Chai Spot.

Delicious chais
Delicious chai from The Chai Spot

Where to Stay on the LA to Sedona Drive

You can easily drive from LA to Sedona in the span of a day, but if you want to make any of these stops, it’s a good idea to spend a night or two on the road. Both Palm Springs and Phoenix make good options if you’re interested in seeing the majority of the places on this list.

Palm Springs

Inn at Palm Springs – This hotel is a great option for mid-range travelers. Located in central Palm Springs, it makes for a great base for exploring this desert city and also nearby Joshua Tree National Park. They have a great location, a wonderful swimming pool, an on-site bar and lounge and a number of clean and comfortable rooms available. Click here to see their availability

Alcazar Palm Springs – If you want a luxury option on your LA to Sedona road trip, then this hotel is the perfect option. They have a number of plush rooms on offer, a lovely swimming pool and hot tub and two great restaurants on site among plenty of other amenities. Click here to see their availability

Private Rental – For those who would like their own space, a private rental such as this romantic cabin near Joshua Tree is a good option. There are countless properties to choose from that can suit many travel budgets and styles. Click here to browse more Palm Springs private rentals

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Palm Springs hotels!

Phoenix

SureStay Hotel Phoenix Airport – Those travelling on a low to mid-range budget will love this comfortable hotel. Located close to downtown Phoenix and within easy reach of all the Valley has to offer, they have a range of basic yet clean and comfortable rooms on offer, 24-hour reception, and a great breakfast included in your room rate. Click here to see their availability

The Saguaro Hotel – If it’s luxury you’re after, then this cool hotel in downtown Scottsdale is an excellent option. They have a number of luxe rooms available, an inviting swimming pool to help you beat the heat and are excellently located for experiencing some of the best shopping and nightlife in the Valley. Click here to see their availability

Private Vacation Rental – If you want to stay in your own place in Phoenix or Scottsdale, then there are a number of excellent options for you such as this 2-bedroom apartment in Scottsdale or this private casita. Click here to browse more Phoenix private rentals

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Phoenix hotels!

Sedona

Sedona Village Lodge – If you’re looking for a comfortable and convenient mid-range option in Sedona, then this hotel is a great choice for you. Situated in central Sedona, it’s well-located for exploring everything this gorgeous Arizona town has to offer. They also have a range of clean comfortable rooms to choose from. Click here to see their availability

A Sunset Chateau – This luxury bed and breakfast is the perfect choice for visitors who want to treat themselves while visiting Sedona. Located close to the highlights of this beautiful town, they have a number of lovely rooms available and a hearty and healthy breakfast included each morning. Click here to see their availability

Private Vacation Rental – A private vacation rental is another very popular option in Sedona. There are a number of places to choose from such as this lovely private cottage near all the hiking trails that can suit all travel styles and budgets. Click here to browse more Sedona private rentals

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Sedona

Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock in Sedona

For the unaware, the LA to Sedona road trip can seem like a long, boring drive through the desert. But the reality is that the 400+ miles that separate these two incredible destinations is full of interesting history, unique natural wonders, and plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy the beauty of the country’s southwestern region.

Are you driving from Los Angeles to Sedona? Have any questions about this route? Let us know in the comments!

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Sarah is a writer for The World Was Here First who has spent over a decade traveling the world and writing stories inspired by the people and places she encounters along the way. She is an avid adventurer who is always seeking new opportunities to expand her worldview and, thus, her writing.

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