State Parks Near Sedona

If you have the time and a need for more adventure, you need to visit these three wonderful State Parks located near Sedona. Slide Rock State Park is located in the middle of Oak Creek Canyon and is scenic eye candy with sandstone bluffs, beautiful trees and flora and the creek offers the park's namesake slide for adventures seekers and those looking for a place to cool off. Dead Horse State Park is located north of Cottonwood and provides enough activity for the adventurer in you with camping, hiking, canoeing and fishing. This beautiful state park name begins with the Ireys family, who came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy in the late 1940s. At one of the ranches they discovered a large dead horse lying by the road. After two days of viewing ranches, Dad Ireys asked the kids which ranch they liked the best. The kids said, “The one with the dead horse, Dad!” The Ireys family chose the name Dead Horse Ranch and later, in 1973, when Arizona State Parks acquired the park, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of sale. Red Rock State Park is located just west of Sedona on 286 acre nature preserve and environmental education center with stunning scenery. Trails throughout the park wind through manzanita and juniper to reach the rich banks of Oak Creek. Green meadows are framed by native vegetation and hills of red rock. The creek meanders through the park, creating a diverse riparian habitat abounding with plants and wildlife. This riparian habitat provides the setting and the opportunity for the park to offer a focus on environmental education.

Slide Rock State Park:

The Travel Channel has named Slide Rock State Park in their list of “10 Top Swimming Holes in the United States”. Sedona's red rocks form the "ultimate water slide". The channel compiled the list for its new series, "Top Secret Swimming Holes." Situated alongside an apple orchard, Slide Rock is 80 feet long and 2.5 to 4 feet wide, with a 7 percent decline from top to bottom. Algae on the rocks creates the slippery ride.

Slide Rock includes a 1/2 mile of Oak Creek that is open for swimming, wading and sliding. The world-famous slide that our park is named for is an 80 foot-long slippery chute that is worn into sandstone. Slide Rock State Park, originally the Pendley Homestead, is a 43-acre historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon. Frank L. Pendley, having arrived in the canyon in 1907, formally acquired the land under the Homestead Act in 1910. Due to his pioneering innovation, he succeeded where others failed by establishing a unique irrigation system still in use by the park today. This allowed Pendley to plant his first apple orchard in 1912, beginning the pattern of agricultural development that has dominated the site since that time. Pendley also grew garden produce and kept some livestock. As one of the few homesteads left intact in the canyon today, Slide Rock State Park is a fine example of early agricultural development in Central Arizona. The site was also instrumental to the development of the tourism industry in Oak Creek Canyon. The completion of the canyon road in 1914 and the paving of the roadway in 1938 were strong influences in encouraging recreational use of the canyon. Hence, Pendley followed suit and in 1933, built rustic cabins to cater to vacationers and sightseers.

Today’s visitors can still enjoy the fruits of Pendley's labor. Not only in the orchard but historic cabins are available for viewing, and the creek offers the park's namesake slide for adventures seekers and those looking for a place to cool off.

Slide Rock Hiking:

The park has short trails including a nature trail. It is also close to several Coconino National Forest hiking trails. This area is managed on a pack-it-in, pack-it-out basis, and any type of glass containers are strictly prohibited.

  • Pendley Homestead Trail: 0.25-mile trail with a difficulty rating of easy. This paved, level trail is suitable for all visitors and travels through a portion of the historic Pendley Homestead of Slide Rock State Park. Features along the trail include some of the original apple orchards, Pendley Homestead house, tourist cabins, apple packing barn, various farming implements that were used historically in the homestead, a new orchard of semi-dwarf apple trees, and spectacular views of the canyon walls of Oak Creek Canyon.
  • Slide Rock Route: This is a 0.3-mile trail with a difficulty rating of moderate. This primitive route along Oak Creek is the main access to the Slide Rock Swim Area. This extremely popular area features a natural water slide along Oak Creek.

    This path begins near the apple packing barn. It descends to the creek via steps where it then crosses the creek via a small footbridge. During periods of high runoff, the footbridge will not be in place and visitors will need to stay on the west side of the creek. After crossing the footbridge, proceed north along the sandstone shelves. In the summer months, many sunbathers will be using some of this route for sunbathing, therefore, you may have to step over quite a few of them. As you proceed, you may notice a 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. You will arrive at an eight-foot wall that can be your turn-around point. If you decide to negotiate the wall, you can explore the remote areas upstream where the route becomes more primitive.

  • Clifftop Nature Trail: This is a 0.25-mile trail that begins near the apple barn and offers scenic views of the Slide Rock Swim Area.
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    Dead Horse State Park:

    Dead Horse Ranch State Park is located adjacent to and across the Verde River from the community of Cottonwood. A great place to explore, experience the abundant beauty and solitude, a wonderful place to be with your family or just by yourself. This park has many offerings, hiking, camping or rental cabins, kayaking or canoeing, biking and if that isn’t enough, venture into Cottonwood or Sedona for the day.

  • Dead Horse Trail System: A non-motorized 20+ mile shared-use mix of doubletrack & singletrack. Four trailheads throughout the park lead up to the high desert of Coconino National Forest. The Lime Kiln Trail leg follows a portion of the historic Lime Kiln Wagon Road. Hikers & equestrians are encouraged to travel counterclockwise on the the basic loop — Lime Kiln, Thumper, and Raptor Trails. Mountain bikers usually find that starting at the Roadrunner trailhead and riding the loop clockwise is more fun. For most cyclists, the trail is rated intermediate to expert. The Lime Kiln Trail follows a portion of the historic Lime Kiln Wagon Road from Cottonwood to Sedona.
  • Forest Loop: A 0.5-mile loop. Shared-use. Circles around and through a diversely forested area and provides river access by way of short narrow side trails. Starts and ends in the River Day Use Area.
  • Canopy: A 0.25 mile ADA accessible trail looping under a Freemont Cottonwood tree canopy giving park visitors with limited mobility an opportunity to get off the beaten path. Excellent for bird watching and wildlife viewing.  Starts and ends in the River Day Use Area.
  • Mesa: A 1-mile interpretive loop trail. Circles the top of the hill west of the Red-Tail Hawk Campground and provides scenic views of Mingus Mountain, the Verde Valley, and Dead Horse Ranch. The trailhead is located on the west side of Roadrunner Road south of Red-Tail Hawk Campground loop.
  • Tavasci Marsh: A 1-mile trail. Shared-use. The trailhead is located at the end of Flycatcher Road.
  • Quail Wash: A 0.25-mile trail. Hike, bike. Stairs and bridges prevent equestrian use. Plant diversity and flowing water in the wash make this trail popular. Intersects with Hickey Ditch Trail. The trailhead is located at the south end of the West Lagoon parking lot.
  • Hickey Ditch: A 0.5-mile trail. Shared-use. Follow along the historic Hickey irrigation ditch through a canopy of Willow, Netleaf Hackberry, AZ Black Walnut, & Mesquite trees. Intersects with Quail Wash Trail. The trailhead is located at north end of the West Lagoon parking lot.
  • Creosote: A 0.5-mile shortcut. Shared-use. Intersects with Hickey Ditch and Quail Wash Trails.
  • Lagoons: One accessible loop around each lagoon.  West Lagoon 0.39 miles; Middle Lagoon 0.41 miles; East Lagoon 0.72 miles. Hike, bike. Accessed from any of the lagoon parking lots, these trails allow you to stroll around the lagoons. We do request that horses not be taken around lagoon banks.
  • Verde River Greenway: A 2-mile shared-use trail along the river. The trail weaves through some of the best nesting habitat in the area, a bird watchers' paradise. Intersects with Quail Wash and Lagoon Trails. The trailhead is located in the River Day Use area or can be accessed on the south side of the lagoons.
  • Riverfront: A 0.5-mile trail. Shared-use. The trail runs along the south side of the Verde River and is good for walking. Trail is accessed from either the south end of the Dead Horse Ranch State Park Bridge or from Riverfront Park.
  • Equestrian Trails: Many of the Dead Horse Ranch trails are shared-use. There are 1 hour and a 2 hour guided trail rides available on the park. The rides take in the Verde River Greenway and provide scenic views of the lagoons, the Verde River and Dead Horse Ranch. 
  • Fishing and Canoeing/Kayaking:

    Excellent fishing opportunities for the beginner and experienced alike. Arizona Game & Fish Department stocks the river and lagoons with Rainbow Trout throughout the winter months. The lagoons are stocked with Channel Catfish in the warmer season. Fly-fishing the river and lagoons is becoming increasingly popular. Fish species include Largemouth Bass, Catfish, Bluegill, Crappie, and Trout.

    Canoeing and kayaking is popular in the river and lagoons. Non-motorized watercraft (oar power only, no sails) are allowed in the lower lagoons. Boating is not permitted in the upper (West) lagoon. A launch ramp and dock are available at the East lagoon. Gas & electric motors must be removed before launching. Children 12 and under are required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when boating.

    For more information please visit:

    Red Rock State Park:

    Red Rock offers a variety of special programs for school groups and private groups. There are a number of daily and weekly park events. The park offers a visitors center, classroom, theater, park store, ramada and hiking trails. 

    Hiking Trails:

    The family-oriented trail system is well marked for your safety and pleasure. The 5-mile network consists of interconnecting loops, which lead you to vistas of red rock or along the lush greenery of Oak Creek. The Eagle's Nest Loop and the Apache Fire Loop are joined together by the Coyote Ridge Trail. Eagle's Nest is the highest point in the park with an elevation gain of 300'. These three major loops are connected along the riparian corridor by the Kisva Trail, which also leads up to the short loop of the Yavapai Ridge Trail. The Javelina Trail takes you into the pinyon/juniper woodlands and back to the other loops. Stop by the visitor center desk for detailed information before starting out on the trails. Bikes and horses are only allowed on designated routes.

    Equestrian Trails:
    Red Rock State Park offers limited equestrian trails in the park, however it does offer access to several Forest Service trails located nearby. The Lime Kiln Trail (above) is located near the entrance gate to the park and the Turkey Creek trail is located out the park’s east gate. Horses should follow the painted horse tracks on paved roads. There is a hitching post located near the Visitor Center.

    While most trails in the park are off-limits to bicycles, there is access to several popular Forest Service trails from within the park. The Lime Kiln Trail (above) is located right outside the entrance to the park and there are various trails located outside the park’s east gate. A common route taken by bikers is the 6.2-mile Cathedral Bike Loop, which takes you out of the park via the east gate, down Verde Valley School Road, across Oak Creek (no bridge) and back to the park’s entrance on the Upper Loop Road.

    For more information please visit:


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