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. “They 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.
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!
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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:
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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