Boynton Canyon in Sedona

One of the walls of Boynton Canyon.

This stunning canyon is sacred to the Yavapai Apache. Spend a few hours here, and you’ll know why.



Scenic Boynton Canyon near Enchantment Resort is one of Sedona’s most popular trails and deservedly so. But because it’s in danger of being loved to death, we haven’t written about it in 12 years. Instead, we’ve focused on sending hikers to less-traveled locales, but we recently became reacquainted with the trail when we were out searching for autumn foliage. Locals know to avoid West Fork at this time of the year due to the enormous crowds – especially on weekends – so we headed for Boynton Canyon instead. In certain areas of the canyon, the colors were every bit as spectacular as in West Fork. Don’t count on having the trail all to yourself and definitely don’t count on your GPS (or cellphone) working once you make it to the back of the box canyon (thus the lack of specific mileage info in this article), but do bring your camera.

The Boynton Canyon Trailhead is located on Boynton Canyon Road. The trail immediately enters Secret Mountain Wilderness. For the first mile, it hugs the cliffs and skirts Enchantment Resort. The red-rock spire known as Kachina Woman towers above you to your right (Boynton Canyon Vista Trail, an offshoot of Boynton Canyon Trail, leads to the spire). In our opinion, the trail only gets prettier as you leave Enchantment. It remains relatively flat and forested with magnificent sandstone cliffs on both sides. A keen eye will spot multiple Native American ruins high in the cliffs above you (note that it’s a federal and state crime to disturb ruins or artifacts).

The trail is mostly shaded after the first mile. You’ll cross a dry wash several times and, after 2.75 miles, you’ll come to a small amphitheater-like area. It was here that our GPS stopped receiving a signal and that the trail began to make a rocky, steep climb. It ends approximately one-quarter of a mile later at the back of the canyon at an end-of-trail sign. At the sign, turn right and (carefully) explore the sandstone ledges. The further out you walk, the better the views become. In fact, we think some of the best vistas in all of Red Rock Country can be found along this ledge, so take your time and watch your footing. According to Yavapai Apache legend, it was in Boynton Canyon that First Woman gave birth to their tribe, and we’d have to say she couldn’t have picked a better spot. When you’ve soaked up all the beauty you can handle, return the way you came for an approximately 6.5-mile round-trip hike.

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