Drive north from Uptown Sedona  on Highway 89A and you’ll discover one of Arizona’s most picturesque drives. Oak Creek Canyon may not offer the scale of the Grand Canyon  or the sculptural beauty of Sedona’s red-rock formations , but its intimate scale is far more approachable and equally fun to explore.
The scenic highway, which meanders from Sedona to Flagstaff through a series of lingering turns, traces much of the 12-mile-long river gorge. Running water along a geological fault line formed the canyon, creating sheer walls that range from 800 to 2,000 feet tall.
The wooded canyon was first made popular—like Sedona—in the 1920s and ’30s when Hollywood arrived. Films like Jimmy Stewart’s Broken Arrow captured its red-rock walls, leafy forests, and cascading waters. Today, Oak Creek Canyon attracts visitors in search of some rest and relaxation—though you won’t escape the crowds, especially in summer.
Fall is particularly lovely, when many of the sycamore trees turn golden yellow, shimmering against the evergreen pines and red rocks. No matter the time of year, it’s still possible to find a quiet area for a picnic or hike without running into other people.
Much of the area is part of the Coconino National Forest or state park land, ensuring its protection from development.
Oak Creek Canyon may be one of the easiest day trips you’ve ever taken. Simply head north of Uptown Sedona  on Highway 89A; in minutes, you’ll be wending your way through one of Arizona’s most beautiful forests, with roadside views of red-rock formations and cool, running waters. The drive to Slide Rock  should take less than 20 minutes from Sedona, and with another 20 minutes or so in the car, you can reach the mountain retreat of Flagstaff, the unofficial capital of northern Arizona.