Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by groundwater circulating through them. As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground. Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a while until the underground spaces just get too big. If there is not enough support for the land above the spaces, then a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur. These collapses can be small or, as this picture shows, they can be huge. They can and sometimes do occur where a house or road is on top.
When we hike on the Soldier’s Pass trail, we pass the Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole. Click if you’d like to read more about how that one came about. This is probably the most visited sinkhole in the Sedona area, however there are several others, a total of seven. The biggest sinkhole of the seven is Red Canyon — 225 feet in diameter by 100 feet deep. It is reachable by a trail heading northeast from the Palatki Ruins. This link allows you to access a report on an extensive study on Sedona area sink holes if you’re interested in knowing where the others are.