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Desert Canyon Scenic Drive

The Desert Canyon Scenic Loop is a scenic feast of colorful canyons and lush oasis along West Clear Creek. It's a trip into ancient history that takes you near Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well, ancient habitats of the Sinagua Indians and their cliff dwellings. The habitats are just a short side trip from the scenic loop drive. The scenic drive is open all year. The best time to visit is in the spring, summer and early fall.

There are two campgrounds along the loop and a picnic area at Wet Beaver Crossing and along West Clear Creek. There is also a very primitive road that leads to a primitive, undeveloped campground near ancient Indian Ruins and back country ranches. Recreation includes swimming, fishing and wildlife watching. Roadside signs point the way to hiking trails and spur roads leading to back country areas. The scenic drive could take from about 3.5 hours to all day depending upon how often one stops to see enjoy the sights. Of course, overnight camping is an option.

Road Conditions

The main entry (FR618) into the scenic drive and back country is graveled and suitable for passenger vehicles but can become slippery during and after rains. Back country spur roads can be rough and slow-going. Always check with the Ranger Station for road conditions.

Directions To Desert Canyon Scenic Drive

From Sedona. The scenic drive begins where Highway 179 from Sedona, Az crosses Interstate 17 to become Forest Road FR618 just north of Camp Verde, Arizona. See the map below.

From Flagstaff. Drive South on Interstate 17 for about 45 miles and Exit East at Highway 179. Turn East under the highway onto FR618 and begin sightseeing.

More Information

  • Red Rock Ranger District
  • (928) 282-4119

Desert Canyon Drive Map

Desert Canyon Drive Map
Click to enlarge

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