Summer in Sedona can be a bit of a challenge for our companion animals. The days are long and hot, and finding the right window for walks and outdoor time is the most important item on everyone's to do list. Every. Single. Day. So, when is a good time to walk, and where should you go?
Whether your dog loves the water or not, the creek tops the list. It's always several degrees cooler along the banks of Sedona's Oak Creek, with plenty of big trees providing shade. Even a brief paddle can cool off the hottest dog (and human) and make the rest of the day feel more bearable. There are plenty of access points in Oak Creek Canyon, but be aware that it gets extremely busy on weekends and holidays (and often during weekdays too when schools are out for the summer). Early morning is probably the best time to go - keep an eye out for native animals (raccoons, skunks, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes) that also choose the cooler time of day to hunt and hydrate there. A Red Rock Recreation Pass is required to park at any of the Forest Service pullouts or picnic spots in the canyon.
One of the easiest ways to get to the water is via Crescent Moon Ranch. (Take the Upper Red Rock Loop Road and follow the signs.) There is a $10 entry fee per car, if you don't have a Grand Annual Red Rock Pass. This is the best option for small dogs. The paths around the ranch are paved, and those that aren't are easy to navigate once you get alongside the water. If you follow the trail to Buddha Beach, you'll find plenty of places to get in the water.
,If a hike followed by a swim (then another hike back out) is more what you're looking for, one of the best we know of is the Templeton Trail, which you can join at Cathedral Rock for the last part of the trail that descends to Oak Creek (the opposite side from Crescent Moon Ranch). Be aware that it's steep, so leave the water in plenty of time to hike back up before the heat of the day really hits. You'll want to park at the Cathedral Rock trailhead off Back O'Beyond. It fills up quickly, so arrive early to snag a spot.
Grass is always welcome underfoot when the mercury starts to rise. Sunset Park, although small, is an easy, in-town option. Follow Sunset Drive from 89A until you see the entrance on the right. Another cool place to walk that's good in the early morning is the golf course at Oakcreek Country Club in the Village of Oak Creek. Walkers have to be off the golf course by 6:30 am and are not allowed to walk in the evenings, although there are always a few dogs and their people around sunset, before the lawn sprinklers turn on. Obviously the dogs can't read the posted signs!
Of course, there's always Yappy Hour at Posse Grounds Recreation Park every Thursday morning, 8:00 - 9:00 am. It's getting hot near the end of the hour now, so arrive for the start if you want some good, cool, running and playing time.
But what about things to do with your dog in the evenings, I hear you asking? Patio dining at one of Sedona's many dog-friendly restaurants is always a welcome and cool way to spend an evening.
The Pavilion at Posse Grounds Recreation Park puts on events throughout the summer. Even though the concert and outdoor movies series are over for this year, there are still some one-off events coming up. Sedona Showcase is on July 27th. Well-behaved dogs are welcome and it makes for an enjoyable evening when you can stretch out on the grass with a picnic and your pup by your side.
To round out the summer, there's the Sedona Red Rockin Blues Festival on September 7th (afternoon) and, the one we've all been waiting for, Sedona WagFest and Fair on September 28th (morning). Both these events are also at the Pavilion.
Sometimes, no matter how much effort you put into finding cool things for your furkid to do during the summer, at some point you'll inevitably hear (even if it's only the voice of your own conscience), "Mom, I'm sooooo bored!" And when that happens, it's simply time to get out of town and go camping in the mountains.
Note: this video was taken in a tent, at night, with nothing but a flashlight for lighting, so it's quite dark. No complaints, please.