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If you’ve ever driven through the Sedona area of Arizona, you’re wowed by the majestic red rocks. Streets line with hikers heading to Devil’s Bridge and Cathedral Rock. ATVs rumble through downtown. It’s a popular place to visit! But have you heard of the Chapel of the Holy Cross?
If not, we’re here to give you the details of this sacred place and popular attraction. You’ll want to add it to your road trip itinerary. Let’s dive in!
What Is the Chapel of the Holy Cross?
Sitting high atop the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is one of the more popular attractions in the region. Not only is it aesthetically beautiful, but the engineering is awe-inspiring.
This chapel is built right into the rocks that make this area of Arizona so famous. Millions of visitors come to the Chapel of the Holy Cross each year to view the 250-foot building jutting out of a thousand-foot rock wall.
Where Is the Chapel of the Holy Cross?
The chapel was completed in 1956 and remains in its original location at 780 Chapel Road in Sedona. It’s less than a 10-minute drive from the Cathedral Rock trailhead, the Bell Rock trailhead, and the popular Tlaquepaque shopping center.
Due to the limited parking spaces, RVs and trailers aren’t permitted at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It only has 45 parking spaces, and the lot remains full year-round.
When Is the Chapel of the Holy Cross Open?
Thankfully, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is open year-round. No matter when you visit Sedona, you can check out this popular attraction. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. The gift shop is closed on Christmas and Easter.
This is also an active chapel. Mass is held at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. A Taize prayer service is held on Mondays at 5 p.m. In addition to these worship services, adoration and confession are both available on Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon.
Tips for Visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross
You can visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross for free. When you enter the chapel, you’ll see benches, candles, and a stunning sculpture of the Living Christ.
Be mindful of others when you enter. Some people are there to pray and meditate, others are there to honor a loved one by lighting a candle, and others are simply enjoying the beauty.
Arrive Early on a Weekday
As mentioned already, it has limited parking. Don’t drive around looking for the best spot. Choose the first one you see available. It’s a very popular area. To avoid heavy crowds, try to arrive early on a weekday.
Use the Golf Cart Shuttle If Needed
There’s a golf cart shuttle for anyone who needs help climbing the steep incline to the chapel. It’s a tough walk.
You’ll see the golf carts driving up and down the hill, dropping off visitors at the ramp that leads to the chapel doors. The shuttle is a free service, but tips are appreciated.
Enjoy the Views of Sedona Outside the Chapel
Once you arrive at the top of the hill — either by foot or by golf cart — take a moment to breathe in the beauty of this place. You’ll see plenty of visitors taking selfies and posing for photos outside the Chapel of the Holy Cross. So take a few moments to enjoy the spectacular views of Sedona.
Spend Several Minutes Inside the Chapel
Although the surrounding landscape is breathtaking, step inside the chapel. The interior is just as beautiful. You’ll immediately notice the floor-to-ceiling windows that peer out into Red Rock Country.
The Living Christ sculpture, which lies against these windows, is a stunning work of art that illustrates various symbols of the Christian faith. For example, the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head represents the 99 plus one for the lost sheep of the parable from the Gospels.
You can also light a candle for a loved one. Candles line the front of the sanctuary. Lighting a votive candle costs $1, and a three-day candle costs $5. The community prays over these lighted candles every Friday at mass.
Check Out the Gift Shop In the Basement
After you’ve spent a few minutes inside the Chapel of the Holy Cross, head downstairs to the basement. Hand-crafted items, jewelry, ornaments, and other religious items fill the rooms of the gift shop.
It has replicas of the Living Christ sculpture available for purchase as well. All of the proceeds support St. John Vianney Catholic Church, the custodian of the chapel. The gift shop is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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Hike One of the Surrounding Trails
The Chapel of the Holy Cross isn’t just a sacred place of beauty. It also has trails to explore the surrounding area. One of the most popular trails is a loop that includes the Chapel Trail, the Broken Arrow Trail, and the Mystic Trail. This 3.8-mile hike is a moderate walk with less than 500 feet in elevation gain.
For those of you who may want an easier trail, the Mystic, Peccary, Hog Wash Loop is less than 3 miles long with a 209-foot elevation gain.
Both trails travel a similar area around the Chapel of the Holy Cross and through the red rocks of Sedona. You’ll enjoy beautiful views no matter which trail you take.
When Is the Best Time to Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross?
We’ve already mentioned that you want to try to visit early on a weekday in order to avoid heavy traffic and crowds.
Although you can enjoy Sedona year-round, we would avoid going in the summer when temperatures can reach over 100 degrees. The late winter and springtime months are ideal.
Especially if you’re a hiker, this time of year has cool mornings and comfortable afternoons. But it’s also popular among tourists and snowbirds.
So if you choose to visit during the peak season, arrive at trailheads and attractions like the Chapel of the Holy Cross early.
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Is a Visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross Worth It?
If you plan a road trip through Monument Valley, heading south into Flagstaff, consider venturing a bit farther to spend some time in Red Rock Country.
If you spend a few days at the Grand Canyon, leave time for a detour to Sedona. Enjoying the breathtaking scenery of this part of the Southwest will be well worth the time and money spent.
And put a visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross on your must-do list. If you hike one of the trails, plan to spend a couple of hours here. If you just go to visit, give yourself at least 30 minutes to enjoy the views, sit inside, and walk around the gift shop.
Have you ever visited the Chapel of the Holy Cross? Are there tips you would add?