Slide Rock and 89A

March 21, Tuesday

Seven miles north of Sedona on 89A lies Slide Rock State Park. It doesn’t look like much on a map, a short road with a parking lot and a couple buildings. When you see it in person though, the beautiful red rock walls of Oak Creek Canyon clue you in as to why there’s a park here.

The entrance fee is $10 per vehicle. There’s a little store and cafe on site, but they’re still closed for the season today. The parking lot is almost immediately after the entrance, and the road is walking traffic only. Numerous grills and tables line this road and make great picnic areas. If you visit during the fall, the apple orchard across from the picnic area can be a big draw.

If you walk to the end of the road, I hear there’s a little unmarked trail with good scenery people say. I don’t get that far, I’m here for the slide.

Oak Creek has cut a channel through solid rock creating a natural water slide with multiple little rapids. This time of year the water is flowing high and strong, and is quite cold. I’m here with Brian (a fellow full-timer, I hung out with him and his girlfriend Vanessa in Borrego Springs recently) who arrived in Sedona a couple days ago. Today’s the last 80 degree day for the foreseeable future, so if we’re going to brave the slide, it has to be today.

This park is popular and gets a lot of visitors, especially in the summer when the water feels more refreshing and less I-can’t-feel-my-extremities. There are a good number of people here today, but most of them aren’t getting in the water. There’s no wait for the slide.

Brian gets pictures of me going down. There’s more water flowing through it than a regular water slide, my head goes under briefly in some of the dips at the bottom of the falls. But the current is strong enough that it does work like a real slide. The thin layer of algae growing on the rocks keeps it from being abrasive. All in all, I count the experience as being worth $10!

Just downstream from the slide the water gets very deep in a narrow channel. There’s a spot where you can jump off the rock cliff above into the water. I don’t do this, but Brian demonstrates how it’s done with an action pose.

I get in farther downstream after the deep channel to dunk my head under and swish my hair around. Ideally, I go no more than seven days between hair washings when I’m boondocking out west. I’m fortunate to have thick hair that can go a long time without looking greasy in drier climates like this, but nine days is stretching it. I’d have paid for a shower before now if I hadn’t known we’d be coming out here ahead of time. This rinsing will help, but because I’m not using soap it won’t be as good as a real wash. I’ll be paying to take a shower soon.

After drying off (and warming back up) we walk to the bridge where 89A crosses over the creek. The cliffs here are massive. There’s a young man and woman in swimsuits on the steeper cliffs of the south side looking over what I estimate to be a 40 foot drop to the water below. Friends of theirs are standing at the top of the cliff and down below at water level. Brian and I look at each other. β€œThey aren’t really going to jump….are they?”

The water on the northern bank is shallow enough to see the bottom in the slanted rays of sunlight, the southern bank is cast in shadows from the bridge and cliffs, it’s impossible to see how deep it is. The man and woman look at each other, and jump simultaneously.

Yikes. The water must be quite deep, because they emerge unscathed. Good for them, but it’s not something I’d ever want to try!

After leaving the park, we continue north on 89A towards Flagstaff. This road goes all the way through, but I17 that parallels it just to the east gets more traffic. It’s a very scenic road going up Oak Creek Canyon, but it’s narrow and winding.

At the north end of the canyon the road has a lot of curves and three tight switchbacks. Brian remarked that as he was coming down it the other direction in his motorhome, he saw on his GPS that the road squiggled around like intestines and got concerned. I can see why! The hairpin turns are all 15 mph.

The top of the canyon is at 6,420 feet. There’s a little ranger station up here and an overlook. The sun is in the wrong place to get a picture of the switchbacks on 89A but I try my best.

You’ll notice the rock at these higher elevations is sandy colored and not red. My last post showed a picture near my camping area with the cliffs in the distance and there’s a clear line between the red rock below and the tan rock on top. An informational sign explains the various layers of rock, why they’re colored the way they are (iron oxide) and how old each formation is. The Schnelby Hill Formation is the famous Sedona red rock, it’s 700 feet thick and is the only group of strata in the Oak Creek Canyon that is not found in the Grand Canyon north of here.

The rock here is of the Kaibab and Toroweap formations.

We turn around and head back towards camp. What little I can see of Sedona from the car looks touristy but also very pretty with the red rocks as a backdrop. That’ll have to be a future outing!

* * *

Phew! After a couple weeks of work, the Useful Stuff page has been overhauled and is now known as the Resources page! For newer readers looking for more information about how to go RVing and live a more deliberate life, this is the place where I list my most helpful articles, all in one easy to find place:

Shiny new Resources page, ooooh, aaaah.

All articles have been reviewed for relevancy. Some have been culled from the list while new ones have been added, and some have been edited to bring them up-to-date. This summer I’m also going to be tackling the tagging system on all 500 (yes, this is #500!) of my blog posts to make it easier to sift through the ever-increasing content on IO to make specific subjects easier to find, this will be added to the Resources page when complete.

Enjoy, and expect to be hearing more about other projects soon…

* * *

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Becky

At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

22 Comments

  1. Susanne on March 29, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Hi Becky,
    I’ve been following your blog since someone at Amazon in Haslet turned me on to it. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet but I worked on the A side so our paths never crossed.
    I just started full timing this year in my 20′ R-Pod and plan to boondock when not working. I’m heading up to the Sedona/ Flagstaff area which looks absolutely amazing. But I’m curious if you have had any issues or problems when leaving your Casita alone to go to town or explore. That is the one thing that worries me. My trailer is so small, it would be nothing to hook it up and haul it off, despite the hitch lock. I’d appreciate your imput. Thanks for everything you do.



    • Becky on March 30, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      Congrats on hitting the road Susanne and I hope you’re enjoying your R-Pod. I discuss this issue in my boondocking safety post: https://interstellarorchard.com/2016/03/29/boondocking-safety/

      In short, I’ve never had a problem. Yes, something could happen, but the chances are slim, especially if you exercise common sense.



  2. Pamela Campbell on March 26, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Hi, Becky –
    I have been reading your blog, but lately have not been making any comments. Busy.
    I marvel at all you need to do to keep good records for your blog activity. Wow. No small tack. I used to think I would blog my adventures, but I’m not sure it’s for me now.
    Poi – I have read your comments a couple of times, but I still don’t know what it is. The night photo was very cool and gave me a better idea, but what is it exactly?
    Really enjoy your blog! Thanks so much.
    Happy Trails!
    Pamelab, in Houston for now, with a short visit to Lubbock coming up next week.



    • Becky on March 27, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      I understand about being busy Pamela!

      Yes, blogging takes a quite a bit of effort. If you don’t want to make money from it though, you don’t need to worry about record keeping. Simplifies things a bit. πŸ™‚

      Poi spinning is hard to explain in words or photos. It’s defined as swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmic and geometrical patterns – basically having a ball on a string in each hand and spinning them in circles. The easiest way to understand it is to watch a video, this one is about a minute long: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3d8pqrIg1A



  3. Jerry Minchey on March 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    There is a Sliding Rock near Asheville, NC that you should try. It’s a long, steep slide into an 8-foot deep COLD pool of water at the bottom. Here is a link to a 2-minute YouTube video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nv228RlQs5A



    • Becky on March 27, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      I’ll add it to the list Jerry, looks fun.



  4. Christi on March 24, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Oh my goodness! That looks like SUCH FUN! I am with you – I would do the slide but not the jump!

    What a great start to Spring! Enjoy!!



    • Becky on March 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      You’ll have to come visit this place yourself Christi!

      Thanks and I hope you have a good spring too.



  5. Connie Houk on March 24, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Slide Rock and Oak Creek Canyon,….one of our favorite family vacations. When we visited in July, the water was freezing!! You are a brave soul to do that in March!! Enjoy your time there.



    • Becky on March 24, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      I think I hate cool, not cold, water the most, because you feel it more. Once water is colder than a certain point everything just gets numb and it isn’t so bad. πŸ˜‰ I only get in cold water like this when the air temperature is pretty warm.



  6. MnDreamer on March 24, 2017 at 4:53 am

    I’m loving the shiny new resources page! Thank you, Becky, for helping me keep the dream alive! And the slide looks like big fun!



    • Becky on March 24, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      You’re very welcome Mn! It’s the future RVers like you whom I keep that page updated for. πŸ™‚



  7. Jeff on March 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    What fun! and so much water – even if it was cold!



    • Becky on March 24, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      I’ve jumped into a lot more cold water since I started boondocking, haha.



  8. Judy on March 23, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    Thank you! What fun times! I’m glad it’s getting organized. We want to retrace your California adventures in 395. I will have a much harder time with my hair but hubby has an outdoor shower and even if it’s just for my hair I will be using it!



    • Becky on March 24, 2017 at 11:41 am

      395 is beautiful Judy, you’ll love it!



  9. Emily on March 23, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    I remember slide rock from my days living in Flag during the 60’s. No cost then, but lots of beer and grillin.



    • Becky on March 24, 2017 at 11:39 am

      It sure is a neat spot.



  10. RGupnorth on March 23, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    That oak creek canyon drive is really a pretty one. Didn’t they have a fire or something in that area in the past year. Seems like I remember there being a neat church not that far from Sedona to the south & east.



    • Becky on March 24, 2017 at 11:37 am

      I didn’t see any evidence of a fire on the part I drove RG, could have been elsewhere along 89A.



  11. Ron on March 23, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    How fun!!!



    • Becky on March 24, 2017 at 11:36 am

      πŸ™‚



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