On a Thursday in June, 2004 we were in Sedona, Arizona. We spent one of our days at Slide Rock State Park.
Information about the Park:
Slide Rock State Park is located at 6871 North Highway 89A. Although it is considered in Sedona you will go 7 miles north of Sedona to reach this park. It is part of the huge Coconino National Forest. The park is open in the summer from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; in winter from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and in the fall and spring from 8:00a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They can be reached at 928-282-3034.
You will pay $8.00 per vehicle to get in. What is confusing is that we got a pass for $15.00 which allowed us entrances into a whole host of hiking areas and forests but it did not cover this one.
Pets and glass are not allowed in the swimming area though you can bring them if you are going for a picnic and if they are leashed. You cannot pick the fruit. There is no overnight camping.
There are special events and programs that are offered in the spring and fall but you will have to call ahead to find out since they are not scheduled. The only scheduled program in October on Sundays is a program called Canyon colors. There are also weekly bird walks and Pendley history walks in the fall and spring.
This is an historical and really unusual park in many ways. It is a 43 acre apple farm started by Frank L. Pendley. You will find picnic tables, hiking trails, lots of wildlife, gorgeous scenery, grills, a snack par, a composting toilet, a regular restroom and a market. On this particular day it was crowded and it seems that it is a very popular spot any day.
We started by parking in the very large lot. As we walked we saw apple trees pretty much everywhere. We walked a distance going by picnic tables some of which had overhead coverings, a drinking fountain and a ranger station. We were then officially in the park and walked down the paved Pendley Homestead Trail.
This is called a trail but it is a flat, easy, level access to the water. We passed some of the historic sites. For example we saw some of the original apple orchards, Pendley Homestead house, tourist cabins from the 20s and 30s, an apple shed where various apple products are made in season, old relics as my notes say or antique farm implements as my literature says.
We also passed a volley ball court, a usable restroom and Slide Rock Market where you can get drinks and snacks. I mention usable restroom because there is another one at the beginning of this long Creek. It is the composting one that I had to hold my breath to walk by. So be warned; if you have to go, go before you get to the stairs. Once you get to the stairs which take you into Oak Creek Canyon which is where Oak Creek is you are now on a more difficult path.
If you are mobility impaired you will not be able to access the water but at the stairs there is a trail. Although it is not paved and we did not take it, there is an accessible overlook. It is called CliffTop Nature Trail and is one quarter of a mile long. In a way it is a bit of a tease because it offers views of the Slide Rock Swim Area which you cannot get to!
Once you get down the stairs you can park yourself anywhere you can find a piece of rock or do as we did and keep moving to get away from the crowd though we were never alone. You can bring a chair which will be more comfortable than the towels we brought however chairs on rocks are not that comfortable either. I would not suggest going to Slide Rock State Park if you are looking for a day at the beach of sunning and swimming. This does offer an unusual experience however sunning and swimming are not part of it in my opinion.
Definitely wear water shoes if you have them. If you do not, wear sneakers or sandals that can get wet and give you a good grip. You will read that the rocks are slippery. The rocks along the Creek are not really slippery. Some are a bit difficult to maneuver but they are manageable. The rocks in the Creek are deadly.
We stopped every now and then; sometimes for one half hour, sometimes for 10 minutes. I found just sitting on a towel made more sense than if we had carried chairs. We were now walking the main access to the Slide Rock Swim Area. It starts at the steps I told you about; you will cross a footbridge. (Unless the water is too high then you have to stay on the west side of the Creek. We were able to cross.) We just kept walking along the sandstone shelves. I do love rocks and found this fun to climb and beautiful to look at.
This is a crowded area. In order to walk you may have to go in the water because unless someone moves (and there is a good chance they may have no room) you will not be able to move either or you can walk over some people.
We saw what I now know to be an historic rock cabin on the west side of the Creek. The original homesteader used this in conjunction with a flume and water wheel to generate electricity for the homestead. We then got to a wall where you can turn around or climb the wall which we did. It is a wall of rocks so it was not like climbing a fence. It was beautiful as we continued. There were more of the same views and water but fewer people.
It is about time I tell you about the slide:
I saw one young men (early 20s) twist his ankle in a very slippery area that was not part of the slide. There should be a sign. Although it is all slippery it seemed that this one area is almost not navigable and not the place you want to cross from one side to another so just watch for that. It is after the slide quite a way down. It seems the most slippery area right here is on the west side. Really be very careful.
This is considered a natural waterslide because of the current of the water, the way the rocks form to make a slide and the fact that the rocks are slippery. My notes say it is a wonder they don’t have an ambulance waiting!
I saw children and adults at one point toward the beginning of the Creek jumping in. Apparently this is very popular to do and one place where the water is deep enough. However the rocks are really close. There is no way my kids would have been jumping!
The natural water slide which you will come to is not too far from where people are jumping. Basically this is slippery red rock that is sloped and fairly steep but not so steep as to be dangerous. This is probably the least dangerous part of Slide Rock State Park. The area where this slide is has some current so it is easier to get a little push down the slide. By no means is this a waterslide like I envisioned. I really thought I was going to see a huge wall that was shaped like a slide going into water. This is not so. You cannot even see the slide until you are on top of it. It is under water and small. Do not be too disappointed. If you have children especially in the 8 to 10 year old range they will love it.
The area has been listed by Life Magazine as one of America ’s ten most beautiful swimming holes and I would agree. It is beautiful and it is a hole. Just do not expect a lake or a slide!
The water is on the cool side at 66 degrees (compared to our Massachusetts water that is warm but the Creek looks warmer.) It was 81 degrees outside so it was warm but not hot enough to make 66 all that enticing. Still we had to go in and we did. It is cold because of the melting snow in the mountains located upstream. We did not swim here. Although it is called a swimming hole it is narrow and not at all deep. In the middle of it I was barely up to my waist so it was a day of playing in the water, enjoying the beautiful scenery and doing some exploring.
My final Thoughts:
If you are in the area I would certainly suggest you make a stop here. Even if it is only for a short time, it is quite unusual and I think you will enjoy it especially with children. It was a great place for us to spend the day as a change for all the hiking we had been doing. My only recommendation is that something is done about the restroom. Be prepared not to lie down for any length of time unless you bring a lounge. Then again you may not want to carry it unless you are planning on just staying put in one place for the day. Slide Rock is really a place to have fun, keep moving, get wet and play.
I am keeping track of the reviews I am writing chronicling our 3-month cross country trip. Please feel free to leave a question or comment about this review, any below or traveling cross country. jo
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