Hike to Sedona's Birthing Cave
The history of the Birthing Cave is one that is steeped in legend and tradition. According to local lore, for generations the cave was used by women from various tribes in the region, including the Hopi and the Yavapai. These women would retreat to the cave during childbirth where they would receive the support and guidance of other women in their tribe. Despite the lack of written records of the cave's use, its significance to the Native American people of the region is evident. Today, the Birthing Cave is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Sedona, thanks to its stunning views and incredible photography opportunities.
Trailhead elevation 4,518'
Don't miss Climbing into the tiny alcove in the back of the cave
Hiking to the Birthing Cave
The mile hike to the Birthing Cave starts at the Long Canyon Trailhead along Long Canyon Rd. You won't find a parking lot, so you'll have to park on the shoulder of the road. If all of the shoulder spots have been taken you can try to find a spot at the Mescal Trailhead parking lot 0.4 miles south on Long Canyon Rd or hike in from Deadman's Pass. Once you're on the trail you'll be heading northwest towards Mescal Mountain, on which the Birthing Cave is located. The path remains fairly flat until the last tenth of a mile or so when you encounter a short, but steep incline leading up to the cave. The photo below shows the opening of the cave above the trail.
Once inside the cave, you'll find a small, easy to spot alcove that is believed to have once been used by Native American women for childbirth. If the legend is true, these were some pretty damn tiny women.
The view inside the Birthing Cave is really great. For those familiar with Sedona's Devil's Bridge, it's located inside the wide canyon to the left of the two large red rock formations far off in the distance in the photo below.
If you're interested in photographing the Birthing Cave and getting the entire opening of the cave in the frame, there are a few things to know. First you'll need a wide angle lens, which most phones have. Landscape mode works best. Second, you'll need to either get inside the alcove or at least get eye level with it. Without a wide angle lens or shooting from really any other angle will result in cutting off either the top or bottom of the cave opening. The sandstone up to the alcove is steep and pretty slippery, but not overly challenging if you have shoes that grip.
Walking along the side of the cave is simple and the sandstone grips really well. It may look a little intimidating from certain angles, but it's a walk in the park. The photo above was taken about an hour after sunrise, which is a fantastic time to photograph the cave. You get just the right amount of light to show off the texture of the walls before the sun rises above eastern flank of Mescal Mountain.
That's about it. Pretty simple. Have a blast, be safe, and enjoy the cave!
If you're interested in some other really cool spots to visit in Arizona give our Eight Unforgettable Days in Arizona & New Mexico a look. Or, check out Hike to Sedona's Devil's Bridge and Hike to Sedona's Subway Cave for two other great Sedona hikes.