Seasonal Sedona - Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall in Sedona
Surprisingly to most who have never visited, Sedona has 4 changing seasons, each with special opportunities and changing scenery. Most of the year, regardless of the season, Sedona weather is mild and pleasant compared to other parts of the country, but there are a few things that affect Northern Arizona seasonally and may be of help to those planning a visit to Sedona.
Spring weather in Sedona is often rain free, cool and pleasant. Some years the norm is defied by multi-day periods of clouds and rain, but other years we see no rain during March, April, May, and June.
Rain or no rain, Sedona blooms include flowers of every color, often appearing where you least expect. During spring, a multitude of cactus varieties flower: prickly pear and hedgehog cactus are found both wild and as landscaping favorites; echinopsis cactus, usually in a landscape setting, is a nightbloomer, with huge showy flowers that seem to appear out of nowhere. There are also abundant wildflowers and blooming desert shrubs like manzanita, covered in pristine white flowers bordering the many hiking trails.
There is also increased activitiy of wildlife, especially returning migrating and year-round resident species of birds. The morning is filled with the music of songbirds and others: cardinals, robins, bluebirds, grosbeaks, waxwings, orioles, tanagers (western and scarlet), house finches, towhees, goldfinches, and many varieties of hummingbirds visiting feeders all over Sedona. Ravens and scrub jays are full-time residents as well. To the Sedona newcomer, however, nothing captures the imagination as much as our comical and chatty Gambel's quail. They're often seen leading a whole slew of puffy little chicks, their little troops racing to catch up all through the residential streets. Sometimes it seems like they're inspired to cross the street right as you approach in your car—so visitors, take heed! They will run, not fly, at full speed, with babies all lined up, single file. They are truly endearing—and very funny too.
When moisture is scarce, the chance of wildfires looms large near Sedona, including those started by lightning in wilderness areas throughout the Coconino National Forest. When this happens, the smoke may seep into the low areas of Sedona, especially during evening to early morning periods. It typically clears by 9 am as the wind direction changes, but it all depends on the proximity and magnitude of the fire, so it can remain smoky for a few days under some conditions.
There have been a few, rare major fires right near Sedona: the devastating Slide Fire in spring of 2014, and the Brins Fire back in 2006. Both fires were very close to Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon and threatened structures along Oak Creek. Fortunately, Sedona and the region have amazing fire fighting teams and they risk their lives in every instance. Local Sedona firefighting is under the jurisdiction of the Sedona Fire District; fires in the Coconino National Forest are handled by wildfire response agencies in Arizona who work closely together for year-round planning, training, fuels reduction, fire prevention and education, and wildland fire response.
To see what wildfires are in the area, how large they are, and what state of control they are under, visit www.wildlandfire.az.gov/wildfire_news.asp.
Summer temperatures can typically soar to the 100s by noon (107 Fahrenheit in July was the norm my first year in Sedona), but usually, on or around the Fourth of July, Sedonans anticipate the start of the "monsoon" season. The monsoons roll through the entire Verde Valley bring dramatic thunderstorms and cloudbursts with intense lightning displays on the red rocks. We have watched from a home at a higher elevation as huge bolts of lightning seemed to hold their shape for a few seconds as they grounded into the higher parts of red rock formations near Uptown Sedona. The best thing about the monsoons to us is the photo opportunities that abound. The sky is often epically dramatic, with hues from red to orange to yellow and purple, with big rolling formations snagging onto the red rocks, with sunstruck downspouts and every shape of cloud. When ground meets sky as they do during the monsoons, you can't help but to take incredible pictures, and these days, all you need is your cellphone.
By September, the monsoon thunderstorms begin to wane and the daytime temperature cools to a pleasant average daytime high of 88, and nighttime low of 58. It's still possible to have rain, but most of the fall season will be sunshine filled and rain free.
The most dramatic effect of autumn in Sedona is the changing hues of the trees and perennial vegetation bordering Oak Creek, beginning in early October. Contrasting against the stark beauty of the red rocks and surrounding desert, a band of crimson, yellow, and gold winds through Sedona, past Uptown, by Tlaquepaque, below Elephant Rock and Cathedral Rock, and beyond Sedona south to Page Springs and Cornville where it meets the Verde River. As with the other seasons, again the views change in ways hard to describe—you just have to be here! Going north, a trek from Sedona up through Oak Creek or a hike along West Fork Trail with camera in hand is sure to be rewarding. Photographers take note!
Although uncommon, from time to time, Sedona is blanketed with multi-inches of snow, making it not only incredibly beautiful, but also challenging to normal transportation modes. Most of the time, only higher elevations are snow covered, leaving residential streets navigable to most vehicles. In any case, a four-wheel SUV is your best bet for winter weather conditions. Late December and early January are usually the coldest months (and can have days in the teens, Fahrenheit), and you'll need a suitable winter coat if you plan to visit at this time.
When the sun heats Sedona the day following a snowstorm, the effect is unforgettable. Melting snow causes clouds of water vapor to rise up through the red rocks creating an almost mystical scene with starkly contrasting color and unusual visual effects. One of the prettiest days I'll ever remember followed a Sedona snowfall in early February, looking down Dry Creek Road to Boynton Canyon.
Sedona Seaonal Temperatures and Precipitation:
|Avg high °F:||56||61||65||73||82||93|
|Avg low °F:||31||33||37||42||49||58|
|Avg high °F:||97||94||88||77||64||57|
|Avg low °F:||64||63||58||48||36||31|