The sandstone cliffs surrounding Sedona
contain numerous alcoves, or short caves, the walls of which frame the red rock scenery below, and several locations have become well-known in recent years, including Keyhole Cave east of Capitol Butte, Subway Cave towards the upper end of Boynton Canyon, Kachina Tree Cave also in Boynton Canyon and, the easiest to reach, Birthing Cave
, in a southeast-facing cliff on a spur ridge off Mescal Mountain, near Long Canyon.
The cave, supposedly so-named because women from local Native American tribes used to give birth here on account of its elevated and uplifting location, is reached by an easy walk of just less than a mile, starting along the road to the Seven Canyons Golf Club - nearly level for most of the way, through pinyon-juniper forest, becoming steep only at the very end. The opening is relatively shallow and wide, so not so easy to photograph effectively, yet the views are quite spectacular, across the Dry Creek valley towards Capitol Butte and other peaks. The cave is often very busy, due to its easy access.
The hike to the Birthing Cave starts from the Long Canyon trailhead, the last parking place on Long Canyon Road, soon before it enters the gated grounds of the golf club. There are plenty of verges nearby for overflow parking, though even they can all be full at busy times. The route is a wide trail for half mile, also used by mountain bikers - through the pinyon-juniper trees, across a dry wash and up to an unsigned junction, where the spur to the cave departs to the west. The remainder of the hike, 0.4 miles, is still fairly level, heading towards the line of vertical cliffs that projects northwards from Mescal Mountain, a broad butte topped by whitish Coconino Sandstone.
The cave can be seen from some distance away, and looks quite high from beneath. The last part of the route steepens gradually, ending with a slickrock scramble, into the U-shaped bowl, the sides of which are crossed by narrow ledges, allowing walking back towards the entrance. A few trees grow at the base, but otherwise the remainder of the sides are bare rock, worn smooth in some places by the many visitors. At the rear of the cave is a small cavity, the best place from which to take a photo, though even here a wide lens is needed to fit all in, or merging of two individual photos.