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4 Incredible Sedona Caves You Don’t Want to Miss

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Sedona, Arizona is known for its stunning red rock formations that tower over the town’s Ponderosa pine tree forests. Over the millennia, the colorful sandstone here has been carved into everything from dramatic mesas and canyons to arches and even some seriously cool caves. Here’s four incredible Sedona caves for you to explore on your next visit to this desert paradise. 

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Couple holding hands in the Subway Cave with red rock formations out the opening in Sedona, Arizona
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Psssst… Sedona, its caves, and the surrounding red rock formations are extremely special and home to many sacred Native American sites. Please be sure to treat this area with the care and respect it deserves by always following the Leave No Trace principles.

Best Caves in Sedona

1. Birthing Cave 

The Birthing Cave is a tall, diamond-shaped cavern on the edge of a short cliff, offering beautiful views of the surrounding red rock mesas. 

It’s not clear how the cave originally got its name. While I first assumed it was named after the cave’s striking similarly to, ahem, the female anatomy, I’ve also heard some folklore that Hopi women once used it as a birthing place and that it’s one of Sedona’s famed “energy vortexes” for feminine or sexual energy. 

Woman standing at the bottom of the Birthing Cave in Sedona at sunset, with the surrounding red rock mesas alit with the glow of the sun

What trail do you take to get to the Birthing Cave?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, you take the Birthing Cave Trail.

About the Birthing Cave Trail

  • Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Elevation gain: 242 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Pass required: None

Where to park for the Birthing Cave

There’s parking for a handful of cars at the Birthing Cave trailhead, and some additional parking spots along the western side of Long Canyon Road a bit north of the trailhead. 

Woman walking along the Birthing Cave Trail in Sedona, Arizona, with a red rock mesa in the background

How to get to the Birthing Cave

This is one of the only caves that you can reach via one of the easy hikes in Sedona, so it’s a great option for beginner hikers or those that are short on time.

The Birthing Cave Trail starts along the well-trodden Long Canyon Trail. However, after the first 0.6 miles, these trails diverge and it can be a bit confusing to know which path you need to follow to reach the cave, given there’s no signage and lots of social trails leading off in every direction.

Man hiking along the Birthing Cave Trail in Sedona, Arizona through a forest

There’s no cell service here, so I’d strongly recommend downloading the trail map on AllTrails+ ahead of time, so that you can follow the correct path using GPS. My husband, Justin, and I actually hiked this trail twice and somehow managed to get lost BOTH times.

Pssst… you'll need an AllTrails+ membership in order to download offline trail maps, but luckily, our awesome readers get a sweet 30% off discount to AllTrails+ — just use this link to save 30% on an annual AllTrails+ membership!

After hiking along the flat desert floor for about a mile, you’ll see a heart-shaped opening in the cliff in front of you, which is actually the Birthing Cave. To get into the cave, you’ll need to climb up a short but steep and rocky incline into its opening.

Woman sitting on the wall of the Birthing Cave in Sedona, overlooking the surrounding red rock mesas at sunset

Once you’re inside, it’s SO much fun to climb along its walls and take in the views of the surrounding red rock formations. If you REALLY want a spectacular show, head here at sunset, when the light of the setting sun makes the red rock mesas that the cave overlook turn a fiery shade of red. 

2. Soldier Pass Cave

Soldier Pass is one of the most unique-looking Sedona caves, with a long and narrow cavern that you climb into from the bottom and an arched window (with the perfect little ledge to sit on!) that overlooks the surrounding red rock mesas.

Woman sitting on the ledge of a window in the Soldier Pass Cave along the Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona, Arizona

What trail do you take to get to the Soldier Pass Cave?

You’ll take the Solider Pass Trail, one of the most popular hikes in Sedona.  

About the Solider Pass Trail

  • Length: 4.5 miles (5.5 miles with the add-on to the Soldier Pass Cave)
  • Elevation gain: 839 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pass required: There is no pass required if you park at the Soldier Pass trailhead, but if you park at the Jordan Road trailhead (discussed below), you’ll either need a Red Rock Pass or an America the Beautiful pass, which gets you into over 2,000 federally-managed sites for an entire year for just $80!
Woman holding an America the Beautiful Pass in front of the mountains at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park

Where to park for the Soldier Pass Trail

This trail has its own parking lot but it’s absolutely teeny tiny, holding just 14 cars. It’s also gated and only open from 8 AM to 6 PM. 

When my husband and I arrived at the lot around 7:40 AM on a Saturday, there were already over 30 cars waiting for a spot in front of us. So if you’re visiting during a weekend or particularly busy periods, like the spring or autumn, I’d recommend showing up REALLY early and being prepared to wait until the gate opens. 

Woman hiking in front of red rock formations along the Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Alternatively, you can park at the Jordan Road trailhead, which is about 15 minutes away from the Soldier Pass trailhead, has at least 30 parking spots, and is blessedly open 24/7. If you park here, you should hike this route, which will add about half a mile to the total distance.   

How to get to the Soldier Pass Cave

Assuming you start from the official trailhead, you’ll get to pass some of the trail’s biggest highlights on your way to cave. For example, shortly after starting the trail, you’ll pass the Devil’s Kitchen, a 150-foot wide sinkhole, and the Seven Sacred Pools, a series of pools that sit along a sandstone ridge and fill with water during Sedona’s rainy season.

Woman hiking along the Seven Sacred Pools with rock formations in the background along the Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Approximately 1.2 miles into the trail, you’ll see an obvious fork in the road, located here—keep your eyes peeled for a small National Forest Wilderness sign tacked to a tree to the right hand side of the trail. This off-shoot trail is actually clearly marked as part of the path on the AllTrails trail map (the cave is called the “Soldier’s Arch” on this map).

At this junction, you’ll take a right and follow the social trail up a slickrock mesa.  From here, you should be able to see an arch in the cliff ahead of you, where the Soldier Pass Cave awaits! 

To get into the cave, you’ll need to climb up some rocks that are stacked to (very loosely) resemble stairs that you can use to hoist yourself up onto its ledge. Be forewarned—it’s much easier to climb into the cave then out of it! 

View of rock formations through a window in the Soldier Pass Cave along the Soldier Pass Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Once you’re inside the cave, it’s fun to explore around the cave’s ledges, peek out its window, and watch how the light shining in from the opening moves across the red walls.

3. Subway Cave

This is definitely one of the most Instagram-famous Sedona caves with ledges that extend beyond its opening and curiously curved walls. It’s rumored that the name came from a hiker who discovered the cave in recent years and named it after its walls that resemble a tube-like subway tunnel.

Woman walking along a ledge at the Subway Cave along the Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona, Arizona

However, this hiker definitely wasn’t the first person to discover it—in fact, what makes the Subway Cave so unique is that its cliffside is actually home to ancient ruins by the Sinagua tribe, built sometime between 500 and 1300 AD.

Pssst… I said it above, but for the avoidance of doubt, please remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles, in all of the caves and with respect to the ancient ruins here, so that future generations can enjoy this incredible site as well. Plus, it’s a federal crime to remove, touch, or otherwise disturb any  American Indian artifacts on federal land!

What trail do you take to get to the Subway Cave?

You take the Boynton Canyon Trail, which has exploded in popularity due to the Subway Cave’s exposure on social media—so definitely be prepared to share the trail (and the cave!) with others!

Man hiking along the Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona, Arizona

About the Boynton Canyon Trail

  • Distance: 7.2 miles (8.5 miles in total, with the Subway Cave add-on)
  • Elevation gain: 964 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Pass required: Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful pass

Where to park for the Boynton Canyon Trail

The Boynton Canyon Trail has its own parking lot, with about 40 parking spots. Given its popularity, it’s often completely full by 8 AM. 

Parking lot for the Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Luckily, though, unlike some of the other trails on this like, you ARE allowed to park on some of the streets nearby, like on Boynton Pass Road. Just be sure to keep a look out for no parking signs!

How to get to the Subway Cave

To reach the Subway Cave, you’ll hike two miles from the Boynton Canyon trailhead—to be honest, the beginning portion of the trail definitely isn’t my favorite, given that there’s residential housing and resorts lining the left side of the pathway.

Woman hiking along the Boynton Canyon Trail with red rock formations in the background in Sedona, Arizona

However, when you’re about two miles into the trail, keep your eyes peeled for a pretty obvious social trail, leading off to the right. While this path is narrower than Boynton Canyon, it’s still pretty wide and is pretty easy to follow. When in doubt, ask others on the trail—three people that we passed while we were hiking voluntarily told us (without us asking!) exactly where the offshoot for the cave was!

The final hike to the cave is along a dusty and rocky path that winds along gently rolling hills. After about 0.4 miles of hiking along this offshoot trail, you’ll reach a red cliffside (here’s the GPS coordinates for the cave). 

You can enter the cave one of two ways. 

One option is to scramble up a slickrock incline that will take you straight to the cave—the incline is quite steep and slippery, so if you’ve never scrambled before or are scared of heights, this might be a bit challenging for you. 

Woman scrambling up a slickrock incline to the Subway Cave along the Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Alternatively, look to your left and follow the social trail along the base of the cliff to a rocky path that leads up near the Sinagua ruins. This approach is still pretty steep and a little sketchy, but it’s definitely shorter and less technically challenging than the alternative. 

If you go up this route, you can (respectfully!) check out the ruins first and then continue along the ledge to your right to the Subway Cave. As someone who is scared of heights, walking on the ledge looks a tiny bit scary at first, but it’s plenty wide so long as you take slow and careful steps. And bee sure to look behind you to take in the absolutely stunning views of Sedona’s dense forest and red rock formations.

Ruins near the Subway Cave in Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Once you’re in the Subway Cave, you can head towards the back of the cavern to see the incredible curved walls in full effect and walk out past its opening along the ledges—they do get quite narrow, though, so be careful!

The Subway Cave can definitely get a bit crowded. Justin and I visited on a random Wednesday morning and there were always at least a handful of people in the cave with us. And, while I’ve read that people can be respectful of other hikers taking photos or videos here, that frankly wasn’t our experience—so please remember to be mindful of others in the cave during your visit!

Couple standing in a cave with red rock formations in the background along the Boynton Canyon Trail in Sedona, Arizona

When you’ve had your fill, you can either exit the cave down the slickrock incline or the rocky trail near the ruins.

4. Keyhole Cave

Out of all of the Sedona caves discussed in this article, the Keyhole Cave is DEFINITELY the most under-the-radar, due, in part, to its challenging trail and incredibly steep and sketchy climb into the cave. But if you’re up to the challenge, you’ll get to enjoy some of the best views of the town’s jaw-dropping red rock formations towering out of the cave’s enormous opening

Couple standing in the opening of the Keyhole Cave along the Keyhole Cave Trail in Sedona, Arizona

What trail do you take to get to the Keyhole Cave?

There’s no official or maintained trail, but AllTrails has a handy dandy map for the Keyhole Cave Trail.

About the Keyhole Cave Trail

Woman hiking along the Keyhole Cave Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Where to park for the Keyhole Cave                                  

There is a small parking lot by the trailhead, located here in a residential neighborhood, that fits about 15 cars.

Given that several popular trails leave from this trailhead, the lot can definitely get full during busier periods, like weekends or even after working hours on weekdays, so you may have to find street parking in the surrounding neighborhood. Just remember to be mindful of “no parking” signs and of the residents (e.g., don’t block people’s driveways, slam your door if you’re parking really early or really late, and otherwise exhibit jerky behavior). 

How to get to the Keyhole Cave

As mentioned above, there’s no official or maintained trail to the cave. Instead, you’ll start at the Sugarloaf Trailhead, hike along the first 0.3 miles of the Teacup Trail, and then follow social trails to the cave, which is carved into a red rock cliff that overlooks the surrounding mesas. 

Woman hiking along the Keyhole Cave Trail, overlooking red rock mesas, in Sedona, Arizona

There’s about a bazillion social trails along the Teacup Trail and it’s incredibly easy to get turned around, so I’d highly recommend just following the map on AllTrails. To be honest, Justin and I followed along with this trail map and still got lost a couple of times. Most of the social trails you follow are quite narrow and lined with pointy cacti—so be super careful not to get stabbed!

Once you get about 0.3 miles away from the cave, you’ll start to climb up to its opening along an EXTREMELY steep, rocky, and crumbly trail. I really wouldn’t recommend this hike to inexperienced hikers, given it would be SUPER easy to fall and hurt yourself on this portion of the trail.

Eventually, you’ll crawl your way up to the opening of the cave, which is absolutely ENORMOUS—at least over 100 feet tall!

Opening of the Keyhole Cave with red rock formations in the background along the Keyhole Cave Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Here, you’ll face your your final challenge—trying to get onto the top ledge of the cave. There’s three 40-foot walls that you can choose between to attempt to climb up.

They’re all EXTREMELY steep—more akin to rock climbing than hiking or even scrambling (the photos don’t really do it justice). We tried to climb up the left wall and couldn’t figure out a route that felt safe enough, so we actually didn’t make it all the way to the top.

Since our visit, I’ve read that the easiest option is along the rightmost wall, towards the front of the cave. I’ve also read that there are, at times, a rope attached to one of the walls to help you climb up. However, it was decidedly not present during our visit, so I wouldn’t count on it! 

Cliff to the top of the Keyhole Cave along the Keyhole Cave Trail in Sedona, Arizona
This is the right side of the cave, which is allegedly the easiest way to reach the top ledge of the Keyhole Cave.

Either way, please know your limits and, if you don’t feel safe, turn around—no cave is worth injuring yourself (or worse!) for! And even if you make it into the cave, remember to walk carefully, as it would be pretty easy to fall off the ledge!

Pssst... if you decide to hike this trail, be sure that you're familiar with the most important hiking safety tips, including the one app that could save your life!

Whether you climb to the very top of the cave or don’t quite make it to the ledge, like us, be sure to take plenty of time to soak in the incredible views of the surrounding red rock formations and the impossibly green forest. During our time in the cave, we kept saying that it was one of the best views of Sedona that we’ve ever seen! 

Red rock formations from the Keyhole Cave along the Keyhole Cave Trail in Sedona, Arizona

When to visit the Sedona caves

Generally, most visitors think that the best time to hike in Sedona is in the fall and the spring, when the skies are clear and the weather is pleasantly warm.

I’ve visited Sedona multiples times during a number of different seasons and, while the weather here is absolutely lovely during these timeframes, the town can feel like it’s absolutely bursting with tourists (especially around spring break!), making parking, driving, and even hiking more difficult.

Couple holding hands and walking across the Devil's Bridge along the Devil's Bridge Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Accordingly, I think Sedona is one of the best places to visit in Arizona in the winter. Although it’s definitely cooler, with highs in the low 60s, there’s usually considerably less tourists. And if you’re lucky, you might even get to see Sedona’s famed red rock formations dusted with snow!

The only season that I’d recommend avoiding is summer, given that the temperatures can often exceed well over 100 degrees. If you do decide to hike to any of Sedona’s cave in the summertime, please remember to bring along sun protection and PLENTY of water—dehydration is real, y’all!

Woman hiding in the shade with red rock formations in the background with Sedona, Arizona

I hope you enjoy exploring these Sedona caves as much as we did! Do you have any questions about any of these unique spots? Let us know in the comments below!

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