Crescent Moon Ranch
is a USFS-administered recreation site beside Oak Creek
, 4 miles southwest of downtown Sedona
; reached by the Red Rock Loop Road that also passes Red Rock State Park
; both are very popular locations, for picnicking, paddling, photography, fishing and walking the short creekside trails. The ranch was established in 1880, though visible relics, including a cabin and water mill, date from the 1930s. The ranch adjoins another historic site, Red Rock Crossing
, once a vehicle ford across Oak Creek, disused since a large flood in 1988 washed away parts of the road at either side.
The ranch and the crossing are surrounded by typical Oak Creek scenery, of meadows, cottonwood trees and red slickrock, and the site is particularly favored by photographers owing to the distinctive formation of Cathedral Rock
to the southeast, rising above the creek and the trees, often reflected in pools and potholes. The main path, through the ranch grounds and along the creek, is just half mile in length, while other hikes that begin here are the Secret Slickrock Trail to the north and the Baldwin Trail on the south side of the creek, starting at the crossing.
Map of Crescent Moon Ranch
Sedona location map
History of Crescent Moon Ranch
The homestead, originally named OK Ranch
, was established in 1880 by a cattleman from Prescott, John Lee, who built a cabin and created an apple/peach orchard using irrigated water from the creek. He soon sold the property to the Scheurman family, whose name is given to the nearby mountain
, and it later (1936) passed to local entrepreneur Andrew Baldwin, who constructed a new, larger ranch house and the water mill, used both to pump water and to generate electricity. The ranch and the orchard flourished for over 40 years, until declining revenues led to its sale, to the Forest Service, after which it became a tourist attraction. The ranch was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.
Crescent Moon Ranch is situated at the end of Red Rock Crossing Road, off Chavez Ranch Road, in a peaceful residential area along Red Rock Loop Road. A day use fee of $11 is charged, collected by staff at the entrance, from where a short road accesses several parking areas; RVs have to use the one closest to the entrance. The historic crossing site is immediately south, where there is currently a trail across the creek, requiring wading, this 350 feet downstream of the old ford, the road from which (now Verde Valley School Road) resumes a short distance up the slope on the south side of the valley.
The ranch grounds extend a little way to the east - the old house and water mill are on the edge of a meadow, bordered by cottonwoods and the creek to the south, and red rock slopes to the north. A path continues through thicker woodland to a sizable red plateau containing seasonal potholes, one of the best places to photograph Cathedral Rock, then a little further is another open area known as Buddha Beach, next to a deep section of the creek suitable for swimming, a place also accessed from the opposite side via the Templeton Trail.