The first thing you need to realize is that Flagstaff is high. It’s higher than Denver, the “mile-high” city. Flagstaff’s elevation is 6,910 feet. To get to Sedona, you need to go down. Down a lot. Down to 4,300 feet. And the ~2,600 vertical drop happens all at the same time.
Take highway 89A south out of Sedona. You’ll parallel I-17 a bit, then peel off. For a few miles, the road is a pleasant drive through the forest, then the drop begins. The speed limit drops from 55MPH to 20MPH and 20MPH feels fast — especially with the weather-worn pavement and inconsistent guard rails.
Honestly, it’s fun, but as Lisa remarked at the bottom, it’s “more of a controlled fall than a drive!” Don’t let the exhilaration of cheating death and staying alive distract you too much — there’s a natural artesian well at the bottom and it’s worth a stop. Bring a bottle to fill because the water’s great. And it’s nice to get out of the car and let your ears pop a bit. When we were there, a family was filling up 5-gallon jugs they had hauled from Phoenix. They maybe had 30 jugs. They’d brought two vehicles to haul them. Some people really like this water.
The rest of the ride is a pleasant jaunt along the valley floor as the red rocks of Sedona slowly reveal themselves through the forest. Keep driving right on through Sedona. Nothing worth seeing there.