Grandfather's Cave

Grandfather’s Cave is one of the largest alcove sites in Sedona, and easily visible from the Boynton Canyon parking area. It is directly above Grandmother's Cave (shown below) and is basically a continuation of that hike, which is described on a separate page. This is a social route off the Boynton Canyon system trail.
Grandfather's Cave is high in the cliffs above Grandmother's Cave
From Grandmother's Cave drop down to the ledge just below and continue around to the small cliff dwelling (shown below). There is a small arch that you can climb through just to the left of this cliff dwelling.
 Climb through the small arch to reach continue the route to Grandfather's Cave
There are actually two arches, and the one you can climb through is pretty small (shown below). There is a little bit of scrambling required to get up into this arch, but it's also possible to walk around the point to reach the other side if you prefer. Most people enjoy going through the hole.
The arch that you can climb through might be a tight fit
Once you are on the other side of the point the ledge continues to a break in the cliffs where you can go up to the next ledge above. There is a sweet little cliff dwelling directly above the arch you climbed through (shown below). Some locals call this ruin the "Love Shack" because it is fairly well hidden. There is a little side trail that breaks to the right as you climb up to the next ledge heading toward Grandfather's Cave. It's easy to miss this one.
Some locals call this ruin the "Love Shack"
Once you reach the next higher ledge, above Grandmother's Cave, there will be another cliff in front of you. To reach Grandfather's Cave follow the ledge you are on to the right. But before you go bend around to the left and you'll come to another cliff dwelling directly below Grandfather's Cave (shown below).
 The cliff dwelling directly below Grandfather's Cave is beautifully streaked with water marks
Continue along the narrow ledge to the right and you'll be heading back toward the parking area. This narrow ledge will give you access to the next break in the cliffs so that you can reach the Along the way you'll pass several more cliff dwellings (shown below).
Another cliff dwelling on the route to Grandfather's Cave
The next break in the cliff requires you to scramble across a steep section of sandstone. Don't worry though, because the ancient ones who built these ruins cut some convenient steps into the rock to help (shown below). You can make it just on friction alone, but spotting these steps makes it easier. 
Steps cut into the rock help you reach the cave
Grandfather's Cave does have a cliff dwelling inside, but there is one last obstacle to overcome. To get into the cave itself you'll have to climb up a dead tree that has been propped up against the rock (shown below). In this case climbing up is more difficult than coming down.
The last obstacle is to climb this dead tree
Once inside the cave you'll find some impressive ruins and a lot of small artifacts (shown below). The artifacts are not worth any money and should be left where they are for others to enjoy. If you take any of this stuff home is not only illegal, but it you'll quickly lose interest in it. The only magic it has is when it is in the ruin.
Inside Grandfather's Cave
The small artifacts in the cave are not worth any money and are protected by law.  
One of the best reasons to make this difficult hike is simply for the view (shown below). This photo was made by walking around the ledge from the alcove to get a look deeper into Boynton Canyon.
The view from Grandfather's Cave is worth the climb
From the view above I continued up the canyon on this ledge, wrapping around and making it all the way to Warrior’s Pass, where I found a break in the cliffs that allowed me return to the system trail. Walking along this ledge in the late afternoon, high above the crowded system trail, was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve done in the Sedona area.
The route I followed is not shown on the overview topo map below, but the ledge is visible. Like Grandfather's Cave itself, the route I followed is for hikers with extensive experience navigating through canyon country.


From the parking lot at Boynton Canyon take the system trail around the Enchantment Resort (shown below).
Boynton Canyon system trail
Just BEFORE the trail system trail drops down to the canyon floor, look for a social trail going to the right (shown below). The social trail to Grandmother's Cave goes to the left of the cliff in the foreground (in shade below).
Grandfather's Cave route
Grandfather's Cave is visible in the upper portion of the photo above.


RATED: Difficult due to elevation gain, rugged terrain and route finding
3 miles out and back from the parking area
400 ft
3-4 hours round trip
Sept - May
No. The terrain here is too rugged for dogs. Also, please do not visit ruins with your pet.
Grandfather's Cave detail map
Note: this profile is from the Boynton Canyon system trail, which is about a mile from the parking area, so the total distance will be a mile longer and the total elevation gain will be about 75 feet more.
Grandfather's Cave elevation profile