Sedona & Oak Creek Travel Guide
Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona
by Joseph A. Sprince - Photography by Gerald B. Allen
The Sedona-Oak Creek Travel Guide is a resource for those planning to tour the famed red rock country of
northern Arizona. This guide includes coverage of Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Prescott, and the Verde Valley
including the historic town of Jerome. The area features diverse outdoor recreation, spectacular sightseeing,
shopping and culture, Indian ruins, historic sites, even wine tasting.
(Right: Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon)
Using the Interactive Map
Place your mouse pointer on any purple KEY item or place name on the map.
A brief description will appear. Click on the box for a link to detailed information. For easiest use, scroll map to top.
Detailed Sedona, Oak Creek, & Verde Valley Map in separate window.
(Index at bottom of this page.)
Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona
Green, forested Oak Creek Canyon with its clear perennial stream provides a strong contrast to the Sedona's red rocks and the canyon's spectacular multicolored cliffs which rise high above the forests. In autumn, flaming red foliage provides a beautiful display. A network of trails, from easy to difficult, provides access to wilderness areas. The natural water chutes at Slide Rock State Park have enamored generations of families. The easy walk up the West Fork of Oak Creek is a must-see for anyone.
Oak Creek Canyon is accessed by Highway AZ-89a which runs north from Sedona and through the length of the 16 mile canyon. The highway then switchbacks out of the canyon and eventually reaches Flagstaff. The Oak Creek Vista at the top of the switchbacks provides outstanding views into the canyon. The North Gateway Visitor Center is located at the vista turnout and is a good starting point for those entering the area from Flagstaff.
The canyon is located within Coconino National Forest, and Red Rock Passes are required to park your vehicle within the canyon. The passes may be obtained at any visitor center. There are additional fees for camping. The Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness lies generally to the west of the highway. The wilderness is penetrated by numerous trails with outstanding opportunities for hiking and backpacking. Oak Creek holds trout, and fishing is therefore popular in the canyon.
- South Gateway Visitor Center. In the Village of Oak Creek south of Sedona on AZ-179. (928-284-5324)
- Sedona Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce. In uptown Sedona near junction of AZ-179 and AZ-89a. Address is 331 Forest Rd., Sedona, AZ 86336.
- North Gateway Visitor Center. At the north end of Oak Creek Canyon, on AZ-89a near Flagstaff. Located in the Oak Creek Vista (the overlook at the top of the switch-backs entering the canyon).
- Oak Creek Watershed Council - Public service task force combines useful visitor info with environmental issues.
Oak Creek Canyon Campgrounds
- Pine Flat.
March to November. Wooded sites, some on banks of Oak Creek, 13 miles north of Sedona on AZ-89a. Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Wildlife viewing, Photography. Showers available. 56 sites, of which 18 are reservable.
Pine Flat Campground Reservations.
- Cave Springs.
April to October. Wooded sites, some on banks of Oak Creek, 12 miles north of Sedona on AZ-89a. Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Wildlife viewing, Photography. Showers available at Pine Flat. 82 sites, of which 11 are reservable.
Cave Springs Campground Reservations.
Open all year. Tent camping only, no trailers or RVs. Wooded sites, some on banks of Oak Creek, 6 miles north of Sedona on AZ-89a. Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Wildlife viewing, Photography. 18 sites, of which 11 are reservable.
Manzanita Campground Reservations.
Food and Lodging
Things to See and Do in Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive. The scenic drive on AZ-89a through Oak Creek Canyon provides exciting and scenic driving and opportunities for picnicking, hiking, and fishing. A complete loop can be made using Interstate-17 which meets AZ-89a in Flagstaff. This scenic stretch of I-17 connects to the south end of Oak Creek Canyon via AZ-179 (freeway exit #298) which meets AZ-89a in Sedona.
Observing Fall Colors. Oak Creek Canyon is an outstanding place to observe colorful fall foliage. One of the best places is the West Fork (see below). The foliage usually peaks in October. The Fall Color Hotline is active from mid-September through mid-November and is updated weekly. For more information, please visit the Coconino NFS Fall Color webpage or call 1-800-354-4595.
Oak Creek Vista. The popular vista point is off of AZ-89a about 14 miles south of Flagstaff. The switchbacks below the vista are the northern entry into Oak Creek Canyon. Besides the outstanding views, there is also the North Gateway Vistor Center (which is closed in the winter). Local Native Americans also vend their jewelry and other crafts from booths in the parking lot. Right, view of switchbacks from Vista.
West Fork of Oak Creek Trail. The most popular and perhaps most beautiful hiking trail in Oak Creek Canyon. The side canyon has a perennial stream and towering, colorful walls above the heavily wooded canyon bottom. The trail passes the remnants of the Mayhew Lodge near the confluence of West Fork and Oak Creek. The lodge was one of the earliest resorts in the area. There are also remnants of apple orchards with trees that still produce fruit. In autumn, you can smell the pungent aroma of ripe apples. Further up the West Fork, the canyon shows flaming fall colors. Look for Fall Foliage Reports around September.
You can easily hike about three miles up the West Fork. There are several easy stream crossings on stones. The canyon can be hiked for many more miles but it becomes narrower and more challenging - wading or even swimming may be required.
- Call of the Canyon Day Use Area. A picnic and parking area at the confluence of Oak Creek and the West Fork. This is the parking area for the West Fork Trail. This is a fee area. Fee waived for weekly or annual Red Rock Pass. The trail and day use area are heavily used during the summer, especially on weekends.
The Sedona area was first discovered by the movie industry in 1923 when Victor Fleming filmed "The Call of the Canyon", a black and white silent movie, adapted from Zane Grey's novel. The movie was actually filmed here at the confluence of West Fork and Oak Creek, at the site that was to become a popular early resort, the Mayhew Lodge.
More Hiking Trails. There are many more hiking trails in Oak Creek Canyon and Red Rock country (about 200 miles worth). Most of the canyon west of highway AZ-89a is part of the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness. Mountain bikes are prohibited in wilderness areas. Horseback riding is permitted on designated trails. When hiking, you must remain on the trails.
Trails recommended for equestrian use. Based on the trails, trailheads, and available parking. Generally, horseback riding is not recommended in Oak Creek Canyon due to very limited parking for RVs and horse trailers.
Trails recommended for mountain biking.
- Fishing in Oak Creek Canyon.
Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness (NFS).
Slide Rock State Park. One of the most popular stops in Oak Creek, the park protects a rocky bottomed section of the creek bed which includes a slippery natural water slide and other rock formations. It is a favorite place for wading, sliding, sunbathing, and picnicking. There are also spectacular views of the canyon walls. The park is on the site of the Pendley Homestead, an early apple farm. A trails passes by several of the farm's early structures and various implements on display.
Due to heavy human usage, the creek's water quality is tested on a daily basis, and Slide Rock may be temporarily closed due to high bacteria levels. For the current status, call (602) 542-0202.
Guided Recreational Activities
Note: Some of the links in this guide are to publications in PDF format. The PDF's can only be viewed or printed using
Adobe Acrobat Reader (available free, online).
Sedona & Oak Creek Travel Guide Index
<Back to Interactive Map>
- Introduction & Index to Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Verde Valley, Prescott
- Sedona, Arizona
- Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona
- Verde Valley & Jerome, Arizona
- Prescott, Arizona
- Camping in Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Verde Valley, & Prescott
- Lodging & Travel Services in Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Verde Valley, & Prescott
- Northern Arizona Travel Guide
- Grand Canyon Area Travel Guide
- Las Vegas Travel Guide
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