Oak Creek Canyon
One of Arizona's Most Scenic Drives.
Part of the Sedona area of central Arizona, Oak Creek Canyon is a serenely breathtaking stretch that attracts a wide array of travelers each year. Noted for its scenic splendor, Oak Creek Canyon lies within the Coconino National Forest between Sedona and Flagstaff Arizona. Besides astounding canyon views, visitors here enjoy picnic areas, campgrounds, trout fishing, amazing hiking trails, and even world-famous "Slide Rock" swimming area. Anyone traveling to Sedona will want to make this scenic drive to enjoy this lush setting-so unique from the surrounding red rock country. And visiting Oak Creek Canyon means that the journey along Oak Creek Canyon Road is half the fun! Notably, one of Rand McNally's Top Five Scenic Drives in America, the road beckons with its immense beauty and incredible landscapes.
The Oak Creek Setting.
The crystal clear Oak Creek flows throughout the year. This steady presence of water ensures a picturesque setting filled with lush greenery during the growing season and spectacular outbreaks of colored foliage during the fall. The canyon itself is about fourteen miles in length and was carved by the creek. It sits on the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. Less than a mile wide from rim to rim, the canyon's deepest point lies about a mile and half from the top of the rim. The canyon's walls are quite steep, but visitors marvel at the various colors of the rocks that seem to tower above the quiet water below.
The Oak Creek Scenic Drive.
The scenic drive begins just north of Sedona up the canyon to Flagstaff on Highway 89A. It is important to note that whether going up the canyon from Sedona or down the canyon from Flagstaff, it is equally breathtaking as you slowly descend or ascend through picturesque forests. The canyon opens to the golden foliage of oaks interspersed with evergreen pines with the incredible backdrop of red-faced rocks and cliffs in the backdrop. Passengers have the best opportunity for enjoyment; the road is fraught with some hairpin turns and switchbacks that require the driver's full attention. In any case, there are various locations along the drive that allow for a chance to park and take in the glorious setting that offers all the enchantment the southwest can offer.
If you are lucky enough to make the drive after a rain, be sure to lookout for the appearance of azure cascades spilling over the cliff towers above-and be sure to have a camera ready! There are also various Native American vendors near Oak Creek Canyon vista at the canyon top-who sell various Indian crafts and artisan created jewelry. This stunning area is also home to many rustic cabins, cottages and bed and breakfast inns that add considerably to the charm of the creek. In all the beautiful scenic drives of Arizona, this is the one that no one should miss!
Silver Spur Tours offers an all day "Magical Day in Sedona Tour". The tour
of the Sedona area includes VIP Sedona area hotel pickup, a scenic drive of
Oak Creek Canyon, tour of the popular Sedona Red Rocks and a tour of
Montezuma Castle Indian Ruins. A maximum of eight guests sightsee in
the luxurious comfort of a Mercedes built touring van that features soft leather
captain's seats. Silver Spur also offers other Tours of Sedona and its famous
VIP Loop Tour of the Grand Canyon.
Oak Creek Canyon Activities.
Many visitors come to the area to hike within the beckoning scenery. The hiking trails are maintained by the U.S. Forest Service. Photographers enjoy the area throughout the year. The still waters of the tree-lined creek provide captivating shots. The autumn foliage is abundant and bright with color. During the winter, the snow and icicles cover the cliffs and compliment the rocks with their icy displays.
To the east of Oak Creek Canyon Road lies some marvelous wilderness areas that features spectacular hikes like the "West Fork". Trails farther east of the canyon boasts the ancient appeal of Native American ruins such asd the Palatki Ruins and petroglyphs from ancient pre-Columbian tribes who once made their home in this setting. It is a hiker's paradise complete with challenging trails and unsurpassed scenery.
Slide Rock State Park and Slide Rock Swim Area.
Slide Rock State Park is located at the mouth of the canyon and is a favorite getaway spot for the desert-dwellers in Phoenix and Scottsdale when summer arrives. A natural water slide (Slide Rock) makes this one of the regions most beloved attractions. It has been featured on various lists as one of America's ten best swimming holes in America, yet alone in Arizona. The slippery rocks and refreshing spills of water are the perfect destination for cooling off amidst a scenic wonderland. There are plenty of recreation areas here for picnicking as well.
West Fork Trail.
© Helmut Kuhn
Popular with hikers, West Fork joins Oak Creek Canyon ten miles north of uptown Sedona. Rock formations, cliffs, and spectacular overhangs provide this twisting gorge with an ancient mystique. Gorgeous lush green vegetation with colorful flowers compliments the hard rock faces of the towering cliffs above. It would seem that each new twist in the trails provides another view that could easily wind up as a postcard, lovely as they are.
Getting To Oak Creek Canyon.
Oak Creek Canyon is traversed via U.S. Highway 89A, which connects Flagstaff and Sedona. There are twenty-eight miles between these towns and half of them are comprised of the canyon. Most travelers driving the route, through the various switchbacks, stop at the Oak Creek Canyon Vista for spectacular viewing opportunities.
From Phoenix. Take Interstate 17 (Black Canyon Freeway) north towards Flagstaff about 98 miles. Take Exit 298 east which is just north of Camp Verde, Arizona. Then take Highway 179 about 14 miles to State Route 89A and you'll soon begin the trip up the canyon.
From Flagstaff. If the weather is good, take Interstate 17 south from Flagstaff. Only 2 miles south of the junction of I-40 and I-17, exit at US Highway 89A (Exit 337). This begins the scenic 25 mile drive that initially starts in rather flat elevation through thick Ponderosa Pine forest until you come to the the crest of the canyon rim beginning the descent into Oak Creek. The route from Flagstaff takes about 45 minutes. The ideal way to enjoy the area is to spend some time sightseeing, shopping the shops of Sedona and then head back up the canyon for an entirely different perspective.
Oak Creek Canyon Map.