A Red Rock Pass is necessary to park or "recreate" in various popular spots in Red Rock Country. This was their way of ensuring that they have funds to maintain and preserve the various scenic landscapes and popular spots of Sedona. Every vehicle is required to display the pass prominently in the windshield, a violation thereof would receive a citation. We were told that "incidental stopping" for a quick picture is allowed without a pass, but they were not very clear on what this means. Some descriptions say, "15 min or less" but it was difficult to gauge how our stay is being timed. Nevertheless, if you are planning to visit several popular sites in Sedona, it would be wise to buy Red Rock Pass. There are 3 options which include the Daily Pass ($5), the Weekly Pass ($15) , the Annual Pass ($20) and the Grand Annual Pass ($40). They are widely available and can be bought from ranger offices, visitor center and other commercial stores, gas stations, etc, as well as online and some self-service machines in various locations (including Bell Rock pathway). But its important to remember to read the considerations carefully because some of the passes may not be allowed in certain areas such as Crescent Moon, Grasshopper point, Slide Rock or other organized swimming/picnic area or campground.
One happy note is that the national inter-agency pass, America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass ($80), or its equivalent is accepted in lieu of the Red Rock Pass. So if you are planning to visit several National parks or monuments in northern Arizona (including the Grand Canyon, etc), or other popular parks all over the country, it may be practical to invest in this inter-agency pass. But like the Red Rock Pass, it is also important to remember to read the accompanying paperwork because some organized campgrounds and recreational areas do not accept this and may still charge entrance fees. A prominent example of this exception is Slide Rock State Park.