Coconino National Forest and Beyond | Sedona

Exploring the area’s parks and forests

Of Arizona’s 113,998 square miles, 85% is public forest and park land, state trust land and Native American reservations. The means that from nearly anywhere you are in or around Sedona, your view is a panorama of stunning rock formations and wild land where the desert meets the mountains, unspoiled by overdevelopment. Here we’ll highlight a few of the parks and forests surrounding Sedona and the Verde Valley to help you plan your adventure.

Oak Creek CanyonCoconino National Forest

Coconino National Forest is one of six National Forests in Arizona and covers nearly 2 million acres. Some of the most outstanding scenery within this vast area includes the red rocks country surrounding Sedona and the Oak Creek Canyon just north of Sedona.

Most of the trails in and around Sedona are part of the Coconino National Forest, including the Boynton Canyon Vista Trail and the Bell Rock Trail, which are popular for their energy-producing vortexes. Trails within the Coconino National Forest can range from easy one-mile strolls to strenuous hikes stretching five miles or more, and often they intersect with one another. Each trailhead parking area is well marked with signage displaying maps and information about the trails, and frequent trail markers ensure you stay on the right path during your hike.

North of Sedona on the scenic drive to Flagstaff, be sure to stop at the Oak Creek Canyon Vista, established as one of the first roadside rest areas in the country in 1914. The overlook has ample parking, restrooms and a bookstore and information office with seasonal hours. At nearly 6,500 feet, the views from this overlook are stunning, and if you have a keen eye you may spot daring rock climbers on the cliff walls just east of the overlook. A main draw of this rest stop aside from the scenery is the Native American Arts Cooperative crafts market where Native American artisans from the area display and sell their beautifully crafted jewelry and other items.

Hours
  • Office: Mon-Fri
    8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Daily
  • Park: Daily
Good to know
Many of the parking areas for trails within the Coconino National Forest require a recreation pass, which can conveniently be purchased at kiosks in most parking areas.
The Red Rock Pass covers the majority of attractions around Sedona.
A week long pass is $15, which is a great deal for the amount of times you’ll use it within a week, or even a few days.

 

Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park (35)The Red Rock State Park offers panoramic vistas of Cathedral Rock among other stunning red rock formations and also has a network of trails covering five miles. Educational programs and special events are held regularly at the park. The visitor center includes a gift shop, exhibits and restrooms and a movie theater that plays a film about the history and wildlife of Sedona. Covered picnic areas and pavilions are available for large groups or a small family outing.

The six trails are a combination of loop trails and out-and-back trails which are connected at several points. The Apache Fire Loop Trail takes you past the House of Apache Fires, built in 1947 by Jack and Helen Frye. The fascinating architecture of the home can be viewed from various angles on different points of the trails. Most of the trails offer plenty of shade, and some follow Oak Creek through the park. Be sure to stop at the visitors’ center for a trail map and information on possible trail closures.

The Red Rocks State Park offers guided hikes and other educational sessions that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Some of the guided hike options include moonlight hikes, bird watching walks, geology hikes and nature walks. Education programs include presentations about reptiles and other wildlife as well as historical and cultural sessions about the Sinagua Indians who inhabited the area more than 800 years ago.

Hours
  • 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Daily
Good to know
  • The park is open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The visitors’ center opens at 9 a.m.
  • Admission is $10 per vehicle for 1-4 adults.
  • Pets are not allowed inside of the park.
  • If you bring a picnic, be sure to bring trash bags to remove your trash from the premises.
  • Do not remove wildlife, rocks, artifacts or vegetation – including flowers – from the park.

 

Slide Rock State Park

The main feature of this popular park is the famous natural rock water slide. In the summer season between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the park fills with families who want to enjoy the slide and approximately ½ mile of creek swimming area. There are also three short, easy trails to explore, rainbow trout fishing and picnic shelters.

The park was originally the Pendley Homestead and apple orchard in the early 1900s, and several of the homestead’s buildings are still standing today. The innovative use of an irrigation system as well as the first tourist accommodations in the area make this park an integral part of Sedona’s history.

Slide Rock can get extremely crowded in the summer months, and at times may reach capacity. To ensure a trip down the thrilling slide in the hot months of summer, arrive early – even before the park opens – and enjoy it for a few hours in the morning. Better yet, go in the weeks just before Memorial Day or just after Labor Day, when the risk of chilly waters may be worth avoiding the capacity crowds.

Hours
  • Nov. – Mar: 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
  • April 1 – May 24 and Sep.  – Oct. 31: 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
  • May 25 – Sep. 02: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Good to know
  • Summer rates are $20 per vehicle; the rest of the year admission is $10 per vehicle.
  • Pets are allowed in the park on a leash at all times. Pets are not permitted near the swimming area and may not be left in cars.
  • No fires of any kind including campfires or charcoal or propane grills are permitted in the park.
  • The last entry to the park is 1.5 hours prior to closing.

 

 

 

 

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