There are several small villages along the stream north of Sedona
in thickly-forested Oak Creek Canyon
, offering lodges, motels and rustic shops, plus many opportunities for camping, hiking, swimming and fishing. The most well-known attraction is Slide Rock State Park
, 7 miles north of town - an extremely popular section of Oak Creek where, for several hundred yards, the water descends gradually in a series of steps while flowing over smooth sandstone strata via a series of natural chutes and pools, perfect for sliding down and swimming in, though many people come just to sunbathe and picnic on the surrounding flat rocks.
Map of Slide Rock State Park
Admission to the state park is expensive, at $20 per vehicle Monday to Thursday, or $30 Friday to Sunday (2023). However, since roadside parking is allowed once about half a mile north of the park turn-off, on land now part of the Coconino National Forest, a cheaper alternative (only the $5 Red Rock Pass is needed) is to park here and climb down the cliffs to the streambed. Another parking place is at the Halfway Picnic Area
, which overlooks a bend in the creek, 0.7 miles north of the park. These options require a walk of 15 minutes or so along, and sometimes in, the creek before the sliding section is reached, passing beautiful scenery with usually no other people around - like a small-scale version of the Narrows Trail
in Zion National Park. All the surrounding rock is thick-bedded Coconino sandstone, naturally deep red in color though bleached white around the stream level, creating a nice contrast with the blue water and green trees growing at the edge of the canyon.
From the park entrance, several short trails wind around the grassy land beside the creek, and past the remains of an old homestead that was established here by Frank L. Pendley in 1907. Several well preserved wooden buildings can be seen, together with three guest cabins built in 1933, several pieces of old farming equipment, an original apple orchard, and an irrigation system used to water the trees. The most frequented stretch of the river with the best pools and sliding chutes is reached by a 0.3 mile path from the carpark and extends for about 200 yards; in summer there may be over a thousand people relaxing in this area. In places the rocks are extremely slippery due to a thin layer of algae and some caution is required. With moderate effort, the cliffs west of the creek may be climbed, to reach a flat, bushy bench about 200 feet about the water that gives great views up and down the canyon.