Slide Rock State Park
- Where to Go
- The Best of the Valley of the Sun
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- Finding Water in the Sonoran Desert
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- Chilly Drinks and Cool Eats in Scottsdale
When the temperatures start to climb in late spring, the cool waters of Oak Creek can be irresistible. Take the plunge at Arizona’s best swimming hole in Slide Rock State Park (6871 N. Hwy 89A, 928/282-3034, www.azstateparks.com, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. May–Sept., 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Oct.–April, $8–10 per vehicle), situated seven miles north of Sedona.
Glide down the 80-foot-long natural rockslide, which was carved into the granite and red sandstone canyon floor by Oak Creek. The chilly water that started as snowmelt on neighboring mountains can be a little brisk—and the ride can be a little hard, so be sure to bring an old pair of sneakers to navigate the slickrock.
There are small wading pools for a more relaxed swim, or you can sunbathe like a lizard on one of the warm red rocks. The Slide Rock Market sells snacks and water, though you may want to bring a picnic and cooler if you plan to stay the day.
Like any well-loved attraction, Slide Rock has become too popular for its own good in recent years. Families from Phoenix and across Arizona descend upon the park on weekends and during holidays in the summer, causing temporary closings when the parking lots fill up or when daily water tests reveals high levels of E. coli bacteria. In the fall and winter, the park can be blissfully quiet, providing a nice opportunity to explore the former homestead’s historic buildings and apple orchard.
A little bit closer to Sedona and just over Midgely Bridge, you’ll find Grasshopper Point, another popular swimming hole and picnic area. In the summer, be sure to get there early before it gets too crowded, as the deep pool attracts cliff-jumpers on the weekends. Head down the access road off of Highway 89A and follow the signs. There is an $8 parking fee unless you have a Red Rock Pass.
Before you set out to explore Sedona’s famous buttes and hiking trails, be sure to purchase a Red Rock Pass, which is required to park your vehicle in national forest areas. Most of the pull-offs on Highways 89A and 179 will require the pass, as well as parking lots at trailheads. The pass must be displayed in the windshield of your vehicle, though it is not required if you are simply pulling over for a quick stop or photo-op.
You can purchase the $5 daily and $15 weekly passes at visitors centers, many hotels, and automated kiosks at parking areas and trailheads, including Bell Rock and Boynton Canyon. Money generated from the passes is used to maintain and protect this “high-impact recreation area.” For more information call 928/203-2900 or visit www.redrockcountry.org.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition