The Birthing Cave in Sedona is one of the most unique hiking experiences- not only in Arizona, but possibly the entire United States. So if you’re on the hunt for a fantastic hike in Sedona, keep on reading this post for everything you need to know about the hike, from where the trailhead is, when to go, and other tips for making the most of your visit!
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Table of contents
- About the Birthing Cave Trail
- What is the Birthing Cave in Sedona?
- Getting to the Birthing Cave
- When to Visit the Birthing Cave
- What to Bring to the Birthing Cave
- Other Hikes near the Birthing Cave
- Where to Stay near the Birthing Cave
Psssst… looking for other great trails to explore during your visit? Check out these other posts about hiking in the area:
About the Birthing Cave Trail
- Length: 1.9 miles
- Elevation gain: 242 feet
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate
- Dog-friendly? Yes, so long as they’re on a leash.
- Trail map
What is the Birthing Cave in Sedona?
The Birthing Cave is a shallow cave with a large diamond-shaped opening on the edge of a short cliff, overlooking a magnificent vista of Sedona’s red rocks.
While I originally assumed the cave earned its name from its remarkable similarity to the female anatomy, I’ve also read that there are some theories floating around that pregnant Hopi women used to come to this cave to give birth. As such, the cave is considered by some to be one of Sedona’s “energy vortexes”, with strong feminine and sexual energy.
Whether or not it exudes any sort of energy, this very cool-looking cave is accessible via a relatively flat and easy trail, so you’d think, given Sedona’s immense popularity, the cave would be overrun with visitors. Strangely enough, despite other Sedona trails, like Devil’s Bridge, being absolutely packed with hikers, this trail has seemingly flown under-the-radar and remains relatively quiet and uncrowded.
So why am I sharing this hidden gem with you?
Because I think everyone should have equal access to free and public outdoor spaces, not just folks who are too deeply-entrenched in Instagram culture. That being said, the Birthing Cave is truly a special place, so please be sure to follow the Leave No Trace principles, especially:
- Plan ahead and be prepared. This means you should plan ahead for things like weather conditions and know where you’re going (good thing you’re reading this post!) so you can plan ahead and protect the health and safety of those in your group and of the resources on the trail.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces. You should stay on the trail as often as you can, to avoid unnecessary erosion and disturbing fragile plant and animal lives. The Birthing Cave trail can be a little difficult to follow in places (some foreshadowing for later in the post), so again, it’s important to understand where the trail is.
- Dispose of waste properly. Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find. Take only pictures, leave only footprints. You know the drill!
- Be considerate of others. While the trail is dog-friendly, make sure any animal friends you bring with you on the trail are under control and keep noise at a minimum. When my husband, Justin, and I visited the Birthing Cave the first time to watch the sunset, there was a young teenage boy repeatedly screaming “Baby girl!” and literally parkouring off parts of the cave. He was so, shall we say, energetic, that Justin and I decided to leave and come back another time. Keep the parkouring to a minimum and don’t be that dude.
With all that good steward-stuff out of the way, let’s get to the trail!
Getting to the Birthing Cave
You can start the trail at (shocker) the Birthing Cave Trailhead, which handily shows up on Google Maps. There’s parking for a couple of cars at the actual trailhead and some parking spots along the western side of Long Canyon Road a bit north of the trailhead.
While Justin and I struggled to find parking seemingly everywhere in Sedona, we easily found parking here both afternoons we came during one of the peak tourism weeks for the town (spring break).
That being said, spots are fairly limited, so if you’re visiting during Sedona’s busy season (March through June and September through October), you may want to arrive fairly early to ensure you snag a spot.
Once you’re parked and at the trailhead, you may notice signage for the Long Canyon trail (the first portion of the Birthing Cave hike is actually along Long Canyon trail, a much longer and heavier-trafficked hike). There’s a lot of little off-shoot paths from Long Canyon, so be sure to follow the instructions in this post (or have the map open on All Trails as you hike) so you don’t get lost!
You’ll follow Long Canyon, a wide and flat trail, for approximately 0.6 miles, until you come to a fork, either continuing straight or leading down a slightly overgrown-looking path to the left. You know we’re taking that road less traveled to the left!
After another quarter mile or so, you’ll reach another fork, where you’ll see a small wooden fence with a path going to the right or a path to the left with some logs laying across it. Again, you’re going to go left.
The trail will start curving to the left, with a towering cliffside to your right and the path becoming increasingly steeper. Once you’ve been hiking 0.9 miles total along the hike, you’ll reach yet another fork– continue on straight or turn right, seemingly into the cliff itself. We’re finally at the cave (if you look up, you may be able to see it- it sort of resembles a heart from the outside), so we’re going to take a right this time. Keep climbing for another 0.1 miles and you’ll reach the cave!
Once you’re done climbing the walls of the cave and enjoying the epic view, make your way back to the trailhead.
The trail is not very well-defined so make sure to pay close attention and retrace your steps. Justin and I got pretty lost on the way back our second time- so I’d strongly recommend downloading the trail map on AllTrails ahead of time. While you should definitely keep an eye on the trail, make sure to look up every once and a while- the views of Sedona’s rocks looming overhead are simply stunning.
Pssst… you'll need the AllTrails+ version of the app to download offline maps. Luckily, you can get a 7-day free trial, PLUS our awesome readers get a sweet 30% off discount for their first year—just use the code “Uprooted30” at check out! If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your AllTrails account to the paid version (I know it took me, like, five years to make the jump), we wrote a whole post about whether an AllTrails+ account is worth it.
When to Visit the Birthing Cave
If you’re wondering when is a good time to visit Sedona generally, March through May provides warm pleasant temperatures, with spring wildflowers in bloom. I’ve visited Sedona in both April and May and thought the weather was absolutely perfect. September through October provides similarly moderate temperatures and clear blue skies.
Sedona can be one of the best places to visit in Arizona in the winter, thanks to its cool, but pleasant weather. The only season I’d recommend avoiding is summer, as the temperature can frequently get uncomfortably warm (90°+), particularly if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking.
If you’re instead wondering what time of day you should visit the Birthing Cave- good news! It’s spectacularly photogenic both at sunrise and sunset. Because the opening of the cave faces east, sunrise here would be amazing- you’ll be overlooking mountains, glowing golden in the sunlight and the light within the cave will be soft and dreamy.
On the other hand, both of the times I visited were during sunset and the view from the cave was absolutely spectacular- the setting sun created beautiful colors on the red rocks and we could watch the shadows of the mountains creep longer and longer over the forest floor. You may want to avoid the middle of the day, though, when the sun is directly overhead and the shadows are harsh.
Photo tip- There’s a little indentation that you can climb up to along the middle of the cave’s walls that provides you the perfect vantage point to take photos of the cave’s ultra-wide opening. Bust out your best Spiderman impression and enjoy the view!
What to Bring to the Birthing Cave
Luckily, the trail is pretty short and easy, so you don’t need much!
Reusable water bottle:
Even though the trail is short, Sedona can get pretty hot, even in the springtime and fall. Be sure to stay hydrated and be a friend to our planet by bringing along a big reusable water bottle.
Justin and I also keep a refillable jug of water in our car so that we can refill our individual bottles after hikes. After spending way too much money and creating way too much waste with disposable water bottles, these two purchases have been gamechangers.
While most of the hike is pretty flat, I wouldn’t recommend wearing regular ol’ gym shoes (or heaven forbid, flip flops) while you’re visiting the Birthing Cave. Justin accidentally forgot to change out of his sneakers during one of our visits and found hiking on the steep, rocky path up to the cave and around the cave itself pretty challenging.
For the best traction, be sure to bring hiking shoes, like a pair of hiking boots (I’ve used these Merrell’s for years and men’s equivalent can be found here) or some hiking sandals, like the beloved Tevas (women’s or men’s) or Chaco’s (women’s or men’s) .
If you’re a photography enthusiast like Justin and me, you’ll want to capture the Birthing Cave in all its glory, which, might I add, is truly no small feat. The photos in this blog post were captured with a Sony a7III, coupled with a Sony 16-35mm Vario-Tessar lens (definitely a wide angle lens), and still, it was no match for the girth of the cave (these photos were stitched together from multiple pictures).
Bottom line: if you want a photo capturing the entirety of the cave, the wider angle the lens, the better.
Other Hikes near the Birthing Cave
If you’re looking for other hikes in Sedona to hit after Birthing Cave or perhaps you’re looking for a back-up plan because you can’t find parking, consider:
- Devil’s Bridge: The parking lot for this Instagram-famous hike is a short 5-minute drive from the Birthing Cave trailhead. This 3.9 mile hike will take you to a 54-foot tall natural stone arch that you can walk across, overlooking Ponderosa pine forests and Sedona’s red rocks below.
- Sugar Loaf Loop: This is an easy and quiet 1.9 mile trail, leading up to the 250-foot tall Sugar Loaf Butte. From here, you can see some of the most-beloved red rock formations in Sedona, with close-up views of Coffee Pot Rock and, in the distance, Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock, and Castle Rock. The trailhead for Sugar Loaf Loop is about a 10-minute drive from the Birthing Cave trailhead.
- Fay Canyon: This 2.6-mile trail is partially shaded (hard to come by in Sedona), has an optional off-shoot to another natural arch, and is only a six-minute drive from the Birthing Cave trailhead.
Where to Stay near the Birthing Cave
One of the best things about the Birthing Cave is its proximity to the cute and funky town of Sedona, about a 15 minute drive away!
If you’re planning on staying and exploring Sedona for a while (you totally should!), here’s some places to consider:
Hotels near the Birthing Cave:
- Matterhorn Inn: Set on a hillside in Uptown Sedona, this budget-friendly option offers balconies overlooking red rock canyons and a pool and hot tub to boot.
- Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa: Located in West Sedona, this boutique hotel provides upgraded features like rain showers and an observation deck with a heated pool. The swanky on-site spa, in combination with Sedona’s “bougie hippie” vibes, will have you booking a stone therapy treatment STAT.
- The Inn Above Oak Creek: Nestled in a peaceful grove of trees and, yet, mere steps from shops and restaurants, this homey inn is the perfect place to relax for the night, with its in-room gas fireplaces and whirlpools.
Camping near the Birthing Cave for my RV brethren:
- For free dispersed camping, check out Loy Butte Road- the road is absolutely horrendous, but the views make it worth it- or Angel Valley Road Dispersed Camping.
- If you’re looking for a campsite with hookups, Rancho Sedona RV Park looks to be on the pricey side ($90+ a night) but has rave reviews.
I hope you enjoy the Birthing Cave’s unique beauty during your time in Sedona. How was your experience at the cave? Are there any other Sedona caves that I should check out? Let me know in the comments below!