Slide Rock State Park was originally a 43-acre historic apple farm, and before that, it was a pioneer homestead. Today it's an Arizona swimming oasis that beckons to those looking for an oasis from the desert heat.
Slide Rock State Park is one of the most popular parks in Sedona, an area famed for its natural beauty. Between the area’s history and the swimming in Oak Creek, it’s not hard to see why people love coming here.
When you first arrive, take the quarter-mile trail past the Pendley Homestead to see the apple orchard, barn, farming equipment, and several cabins before you pick up the Slide Rock Trail, which starts near the barn. The .3-mile trail to the creek is a little more rugged, but it’s all worth it once you reach your destination. Half a mile of the creek is perfect for swimming: It features deeper pools in addition to the ever-popular slide. The an 8-foot-long chute worn into the sandstone acts as a natural water slide, providing tons of fun and excitement for swimmers. The ledges are great spots for stretching out and sunbathing or as jumping off points!
Tips: It’s $20.00 for a carload of up to four people during the week, and $30.00 on weekends, so get a group together and plan to stay all day to get the most for your money. You're going to want to get to the park by at least 8 a.m., or earlier on weekends, because it’s a very popular park. There’s a market where you can buy sunscreen, snacks, and water in case you forget... but definitely don’t forget water shoes (the creek is rocky and slippery!)
Want more beautiful views of Sedona? Hike Soldier Pass Trail, which takes you past some of the area’s prettiest natural features, such as the Seven Sacred Pools. On your way to the pools, which a seasonal stream carved out and now feeds, you’ll pass red rock formations and a massive sinkhole (known as Devils Kitchen). The entire trail is a five-mile loop that really allows you to enjoy Sedona’s beauty!
For a shorter hike that offers equally stunning views, make the trip to Devil’s Bridge. If you’re not rendered breathless by the views here (or from climbing the natural staircase), you even can walk right out onto the red stone arch!
Tips: If you don't have a high-clearance vehicle and can’t drive to the trailhead, expect the hike to be 4.5 miles round trip: It’s still doable and totally worth it. And, while you’re here, take the other branch of the trail to the bottom of the arch.
Red Planet Diner
After all of that swimming and sliding and hiking, you’ve probably worked up quite an appetite. Enjoy classic diner fare (think burgers, malts, and pie) and the quirky, out-of-this-world alien atmosphere at this offbeat roadside gem.
Bell Rock is a strikingly red, sandstone butte surrounded by scrubby junipers and other greenery. The views here are stunning, and there’s a loop hike that’s less than a mile long that will fully envelop you in the scenery. Also, Sedona is famed for being home to several healing vortexes, or places where the earth’s energy convenes and swirls. One of these vortexes is supposed to be near Bell Rock. Whether or not you believe in the powerful energy of Sedona’s vortexes, there’s no denying that there’s something special about this place!
If natural waterslides, aliens, and healing vortexes aren’t enough for you, end your trip at Montezuma Castle National Monument. Here you’ll find some of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the country. Even though you can’t go in the dwellings, you can view them from many different angles as you hike around the base of the mesa. To get a little context before you set off on your hike, stop by the visitor center to learn all about the ruins, who built them, and how they’re being preserved.
After all of that hiking around Sedona, you might need to stop back off at Slide Rock State Park to cool down again! Remember to pack a swimsuit and hiking shoes, because after you get a taste of the natural beauty in this special part of the country, you won’t want to leave.
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