Oak Creek Canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff, home to the idyllic Oak Creek and framed by towering red rock formations, is by far one of the most beautiful canyons in Arizona. The canyon begins just outside the northern city limits of Sedona, and the journey up Oak Creek Canyon on Highway 89a has been deemed one of "America’s Top 10 scenic drives" by Rand McNally. You will definitely want to have your camera ready for this amazing drive! Also, don´t forget your bathing suit, hiking shoes, and fishing pole – this marvelous canyon welcomes you to explore its many splendors.
The softly winding road from Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon offers dramatic panoramic views of the serene creek, massive colorful cliffs and a surprisingly lush forest just a few miles from an arid high desert environment. Hike through amazing scenery at West Fork, play in the pools and natural water slides at Slide Rock State Park, find a quiet place to fish for trout or just sit on a boulder by the softly murmuring waters and soak up the tranquility in the shadows of magnificent sycamores and cottonwoods.
While it is entirely possible to enjoy the scenery here without leaving your car, we recommend you step outside and get up close to these crimson cliffs and crystal pools. There are plenty of overlooks, picnic areas, swimming holes and hiking trails all along the drive. At Midgely Bridge, which stretches across a deep gorge of Oak Creek just a mile outside of Sedona, there is a vista point with an especially unforgettable backdrop where you'll want to stop and use that wide-angle lens.
As you drive further into Oak Creek Canyon, marvel at red rock formations evoking Indian heads, animals and mythical creatures. See if you can spot the giant hole in the rock just south of Slide Rock State Park, and check out a historical marker remembering one of the earliest white settlements near Sedona at Indian Gardens. Follow the road into an ever narrower canyon whose moist meadows are a preferred hunting ground for mushroom collectors, and pick a snack right off a tree at the ancient apple orchards at Slide Rock and West Fork!
Once you have ascended the switchbacks at the far end of the canyon, you'll want to stop at Oak Creek Canyon Vista. Here you can get a bird's eye view of what you have just traveled through! You can also shop here for Native American jewelry, arts and crafts offered by local Native American artists who set up displays along the pathways.
Oak Creek Canyon is truly one of Arizona´s greatest natural treasures – and while Grand Canyon may loom far more prominently among Arizona´s attractions, you should not miss the secret beauty of its little brother to the south.