Sedona in January

Sedona is a gorgeous year-round destination in Arizona and definitely worth visiting in January. We have spent a lot of time here each January over the last few years and have always been intrigued.

All attractions, restaurants, state parks, and shops are open. However, the days are shorter in January, and it’s colder compared to spring, fall, or summer, but daytime temperatures get into the 50s, sometimes in the 60s, and are great for hiking.

You need to come prepared with the right clothing. More about that later.

You’ve come to the right place if you want a thorough, first-hand experience and detailed tips! Here’s everything we learned about the weather, packing, and activities in Sedona after our visits during this winter month.

One Must-Do Tour

Once, we were asked the following: ‘If you only do one thing while in Sedona, what would you recommend?’ Our definitive answer (and the answer from every other Sedona visitor and local):

These tours are just incredible, and everyone there is hands down the best tour guide we’ve ever had. Vince, Shan, Chris, and Mike are awesome!

Tip: Book an afternoon slot in January if you get cold easily, as it’s chilly in the mornings. However, we did this stunning tour at 9 AM and loved it!

Is January a Good Time To Visit Sedona?

Because it is a quieter month, January is a very good time to visit Sedona in Arizona. It’s not too cold; there are fewer people and lower prices. The afternoon skies are frequently clear, providing opportunities for hiking and a potentially stunning view of the snow-dusted rock formations.

If you’re a fan of relaxing winter getaways and don’t mind some cooler temps in the morning, Sedona during this month is a very good choice.

However, don’t expect winter sports or a landscape completely covered in snow. While it does get cold, temperatures don’t drop as low as you might expect.

What to Expect in January | From a Local

The Red Rock Buttes with the built-in Chapel of the Holy Cross in January. It flurried a little but snow doesn’t really accumulate.

You can expect the weather to be chillier but usually pleasant and warm in the afternoon. That is typical for this month here. On rare occasions, it can snow, mostly at night. However, heavier snow is uncommon.

Days in January are typically sunny, with highs in the 50-60s. It’s not swimming weather, but perfect for hiking, golf, and other outdoor explorations. Nights generally approach freezing, and frost is likely

Barring heavy snowfall, you can enjoy the hiking trails, which can be muddy until mid-morning but are far less crowded than in fall or spring. Especially the parking areas at the trailheads. Restaurants are all open. I love the winter here!

Weather

Average high temps in January. Photo: It doesn’t snow often, and it typically melts before noon.

Sedona is in a desert, but its high elevation means the winter months aren’t as hot as one might guess. So what can you expect from a visit in terms of weather?

During January, the average high temperature in Sedona is 55°F (13°C). It gets significantly colder at night, with temperatures around freezing. The average precipitation is 2.09 inches, either falling as rain or snow. Days are mostly sunny but cooler in the mornings and evenings.

Sedona’s average high temps during this month:

  • Early January: 53°F (12°C)
  • Mid-January: 55°F (13°C)
  • Late January: 57°F (14°C)

It’s good to know that temperatures climb a little toward the end of the month.

Temperature progression on a typical day:

  • Morning (8:30 AM): 38°F (3°C)
  • Afternoon (3 PM): 54°F (12°C)
  • Evening (9 PM): 45°F (7°C)

Days are shorter in January compared to the warmer months. Sunrise is around 7:30 AM, and the sun goes down between 5:30 and 6:00 PM. It’s best to hike during daylight hours for visibility and warmer temperatures.

Mornings are colder, and temperatures peak in the afternoon around 3 pm at 55°F. On many days temps are in the 60s during sunny afternoons and sometimes even in the 70s.

When you visit Sedona in January, you might experience four seasons in one day. It will feel like winter when waking up, spring before noon, and summer in the afternoon. In the evening, it might feel like fall, and then again, like again when it’s dark.

Sedona gets slightly warmer throughout the month. However, the chance of cloud cover is still relatively low, even in the first week.

We could get outdoors throughout the entire month, experiencing mostly pleasant temperatures, especially in the warmer afternoons. We used an extra layer in early January.

Hiking Weather: When we visited once in late January, it was in the 60s during the afternoons and very sunny. We sweated on our hikes, and for our friend’s dog, it was almost too hot in the direct sun. However, on other hikes with mostly shaded sections, it was cold and muddy with patches of snow from last night. Wearing layers is key!

Is It Too Cold in Sedona in January?

January is not too cold in Sedona for any outdoor activities like hiking or sightseeing. However, it is one of the coldest months here, with average high temperatures around 55°F  (13°C) and colder temps above or around freezing during the night. Despite the cooler weather, there is a low chance of snow cover or rainfall.

Mornings are still cold, and wearing layers is necessary during that time of day for any outdoor adventures. Read more about that later.

Snow
When it snows, it’s usually not that much in Sedona.

In Sedona, the average snowfall during January is about 1.5 inches. However, with nighttime temperatures just above freezing, it is more likely to experience rain or a combination of rain and snow.

Does It Snow in January in Sedona?

While it does snow in Sedona in January, it usually does not create a significant ground layer but a slightly visible dusting on the top of Sedona’s highest areas. Snow falls on average on two days, accumulates up to 1.5, and rarely exceeds 4 inches.

During our last visit in January, it snowed once during nighttime and lasted till mid-morning.

The rare snowfalls happen overnight, and any snow on the ground typically melts before lunchtime the next day. However, it’s an amazing sight in the early morning. Waking up to snow on the Red Rocks is a view you will never forget.

Snowstorms/Blizzards
Heavy snowfall is a rare occurrence in Sedona, Arizona.

Storms are rare but a possibility in January. Most years don’t see storms, but when it happens, it makes outdoor activities unpleasant if so.

So, there is the chance of a blizzard about twice during the whole winter. There have been a few times in the past when Sedona was snowed in for a few days, but this is rare. For example, once there was a huge snowstorm, and all main roads were closed for three days.

Local opinion on snowstorms: The good news is that winter storms in Sedona do not last for days as they do in other parts of our country. Additionally, you don’t get those feet of snow or even very many inches here. Even if there is more snow on those rare occasions, it generally melts in a day or two, anyway.

While we didn’t experience a storm when we went, we saved our spa day for a rainy day and weren’t disappointed.

What To Wear/Packing List

You are going to shed layers after hiking for a while in January.

During January in Sedona, you wear long pants, socks, warm shoes, a long-sleeved shirt, and a top layer like a fleece or jacket during the day. In the morning, evening, and night, you need to wear an extra sweater between your shirt and jacket.

While hiking during the day, wearing layers that you can shed as you warm up is best. Expect to warm up due to the movement, direct sunlight, and increased afternoon temperatures. You may prefer a short-sleeved shirt, breathable pants or shorts, socks, and hiking boots during the day.

💡 If you plan to stay outdoors during the early morning or evening hours in January, we recommend bringing gloves, a scarf, and a wool hat. Most indoor accommodations have good heating, so you do not need to worry about being cold while sleeping.

Do you need a thick winter jacket? If you plan to go to Sedona in January, you should not need a winter coat. Most visitors bring their warmer fall jackets. However, a few warm additional sweaters are useful. Some bring a winter coat when visiting early in the month. We didn’t need one.

Local opinion: Bring a warm fall jacket but not your heavy winter coat. In January, we often sit outside for dinners in a sweater, and we often hike in leggings and a sweatshirt

To give you a comprehensive idea of what to bring, we’ve created a packing list based on our experience in Sedona.

January clothing list for one week in Sedona:

  • 2 short-sleeved shirts
  • 5 long-sleeved shirts
  • 2 sweaters
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 1 warm fall jacket/fleece
  • 3 pairs of pants
  • 1 pair of hiking shorts/pants
  • 7 pairs of socks
  • Walking/casual shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • 1 dressier outfit if planning on visiting fine-dining establishments
  • Winter coat (for early January), wool hat, gloves/mittens, and scarf (if you get cold easily)

How Busy/Crowds/Rates

Sedona is not very busy or crowded during January compared to spring, early summer, and fall. There is less traffic and parking lots at trailheads and attractions are not congested during this month. Rates and prices are lower as well.

Sedona is a town with about 10,000 residents. However, their biggest industry is tourism. While Sedona used to get roughly 3 million visitors annually, that number rose to 4.5 million in 2020 due to the pandemic. That means you won’t have the place completely to yourself, regardless of the month.

The busiest tourist seasons are in spring and fall when the weather is mild, and the slowest seasons are summer and winter, with January being even less busy.

💡 Hotel Tips via booking.com: We recommend sorting the deals by ‘top picks’.  Check all deals here: Sedona Hotel Selection (via booking.com)  Bookmark the link and check rates regularly if you found one! We stayed at the Wilde Resort & Spa, and it was absolutely gorgeous in the winter!

Rates are lower now, and reservations, in general, are easier.

One other advantage of going in January is that hiking trails are not busy.  You should be able to find parking at all the trailheads and attractions much easier than during the peak seasons and enjoy an even quieter hike without as many people as usual on the trails.

Hiking | Trail Conditions

Sedona’s hiking trails are beautiful during January. Most days are sunny and in the 50s, creating ideal conditions for hiking without the extreme heat during many other months. However, after it has rained or snowed during the night, you will encounter some muddy trails.

Most regular visitors and locals agree that this month offers lovely hiking weather in this part of Arizona.

Although snowfall is very low, you may have some snow dusting the trails in the early morning, but it generally melts before noon. You should be fine in hiking boots and might even enjoy the serene white coat.

Facilities/Closures

Sedona caters to tourists, and all tourist attractions, restaurants, and stores will be open throughout January. All trails and trailheads will be accessible for hiking.

 

The Best Activities / Things To Do

We did all three tours (see above) and loved all of them. However, the Nightime UFO & Stargazing Tour was really special! Bring warm clothes (see our ‘What to Wear’ section above).

There are many activities to participate in while visiting Sedona in January. Some attractions are inside, but the majority of things to do can be found outside, as there are many beautiful natural sites to visit. Especially places like the Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Sedona Heritage Museum, or hitting the easy hiking trails.

Red Rock Scenic Byway

The Red Rock Scenic Byway is a 7.5-mile (12.07 km) stretch of road with beautiful sites and stops. It is accessible during January, but be careful of icy roads in the morning and after a recent snowfall.

The Red Rock Ranger District Visitor Center is open year-round from 9 am- 4:30 pm. Here, you can find maps and information on activities in the area.

Sedona Jeep Tour

A Sedona Jeep tour is a great way to start off your trip. It’ll give you an overview of all the big sites in the area and where things are located.

Bring an extra jacket or a blanket if it’s cold out. If you have back or joint problems, you may want to skip this, as the Jeep can be a bit bumpy.

Golfing

Golfing is available year-round in Sedona at several golfing resorts. Most days in January are dry and sunny with ideal temperatures. However, keep in mind the days are shorter, so you may want to start earlier than usual. Frost delays at the golf courses are minimal and more of a rarity.

Chapel of the Holy Cross / Cathedral Rock

  • When: Open year-round (except Christmas, Thanksgiving, Good Friday, and Easter)
  • Where: 780 Chapel Rd., Sedona, AZ 86336
  • Price: Free

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a must-see in Sedona. This unique chapel sits atop cathedral rock, one of the red rock formations in the area.

It is open every day in January.

Keep in mind food, drinks, and pets are not allowed inside. Head here in the morning to avoid the crowds present in the afternoon. After a tour, the gift shop on the lower level is worth visiting to find local artisan-made items.

Bell Rock

Bell Rock is a butte that sits at 4,919 feet (1,499 m) high and has stunning panoramic views of the region. It is a .8-mile (1.29 km) hike there and back and is open year-round. We highly recommend this hike in January. It’s easy, but it has gorgeous views!

Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park is a beautiful state park with many hiking trails and some swimming areas. While it is too cold to swim in January, the hiking trails are ideal during the daytime.

Slide Rock is open from 9 am to 5 pm.

The last entry is one hour before the park closes. Parking lots are not crowded during January, which is good since you must enter with a vehicle.

Visit the Arizona State Park website for special seasonal events posted regularly.

Red Rock State Park

The Red Rock State Park is a 286-acre ( nature reserve with trails, canyons, and amazing Sedona views.

It is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm. The last entry is at 4:30 pm. The Visitor Center is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm.

More Hiking

The Turkey Creek Trail is beautiful. It is also one of the lesser-known ones. Thus, it’s less busy at the trailhead (Google Maps Location). Read more here (trail description) 

Many people head to Sedona to explore the vast hiking options. Below are some of the top hiking locations (apart from the Grand Canyon).

Fay Canyon
  • When: Open year-round
  • Where: Boynton Pass Rd Sedona, AZ 86336
  • Price: Free parking available

This trail is at a low elevation, making it a perfect trek for people of all skill levels. The Fat Canyon trail features wildlife, local flora and fauna, and impressive canyon walls. This trail is situated in the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness area and offers the option of longer trails along with free parking.

Templeton Trail
  • When: Open year-round
  • Where: Back O’ Beyond Rd Sedona, AZ 86336
  • Price: Free parking available

Sedona is known for its vortexes, which provide positive energy to people who walk or drive through them. The Templeton Trail provides sights of the famous Cathedral Rock, one of Sedona’s vortex areas.

Boynton Canyon
  • When: Open year-round
  • Where: Dry Creek Rd Sedona, AZ 86340
  • Price: Free parking available

This trek features a vortex and views of Red Rock country and a forest.

This is another excellent trail that is not often crowded. Plus, it features a wide array of terrain. The Boynton Canyon trail is slightly longer than the two previous trails, at three miles roundtrip. However, it should only take an hour for most to cover the trail leaving plenty of time for other activities.