Hey, finally a topic we know something about!
First--THANK YOU for coming up to hike in the Sedona area. Great choice.
Second--Buy a Red Rock Pass and DON'T buy the anti-BS. Waste of time.
Third--Think MOST about the "ambiance" of your group of friends. Forget "macho."
Whenever you are bringing friends to the Sedona area you have to think like a WWII convoy--it traveled at the speed of the slowest ship! EVERY single time we have taken friends over to the Sedona area, we have found that there is ALWAYS someone in the group that wants to do something at a MUCH SLOWER pace than the rest of us.
This should NOT be scolded. This should be ENCOURAGED! Afterall, ask yourself, "WHAT is the NET benefit of being in the Sedona area in the first place?"
If you want to lay out a Type A Schedule that requires WAY TOO MUCH effort, if you want to go FAR BEYOND, sure, there are PLENTY of places in the area to do so.
On the other hand, if you want to have a wonderfully rewarding, delightful experience...if you want to look back on your day in Sedona with the Glow of Fondness, perhaps you might wish to consider a series of compromises.
Many years ago, we took people on what we now call "Death Marches." We always said, "Hey, You gotta SEE THIS! You Gotta DO THIS" Trust us, we learned the HARD way what NOT to do.
As time passed, we, too, mellowed and we learned how to connect with peoples's innate desire to relax. That's a FAR more powerful desire than to be MACHO!
Give your friends the opportunity to relax and it will be something they will never forget! That, actually, is what Sedona is ALL about!
Here is the "perscription:"
Mix up VERY short hikes with relaxing culinary and shopping opportunties.
You can drive right to the Bell Rock parking lot. You can have one of the BEST Sedona hikes, BOOM, right off the bat. If anyone in your party is slow, tired, etc. you can cut the hike short and return to the car. THEN, you have numerous food and shopping options BEFORE you even drive through the bumper-to-bumper traffic gauntlet that call Hwy 179.
Once there, you can drive out on Schnebley Hill Road and hike a portion of either Marg's Draw, Huckaby to the overlook, or Munds Wagon Trail for a mile or so and then return to your vehicle for another foray into the urban traffic snarl they call Sedona.
If that's not enough, you can drive directly into "functional gridlock" in Sedona and then eddy out to the Soldier's Pass TH or the Brin's Mesa TH. You can "duke it out" for parking spots with the obligatory Cadillacs and high dollar SUV's. Trust us, everyone of the out-of-town visitors we know is always going to someplace where all the "other" out-of-town visitors are going. When they all get there, they create a tremendous traffic jam. Simple because someone told them to go there.
Bottom line--kick back--take your time--do things that aren't in a guide book. Relax. Look around.
Enjoy! That's what Sedona is all about!