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 a 286-acre nature preserve and an 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.
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 create a 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 whereas 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 the 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.
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.
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.
For more information please visit our Slide Rock info page.
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, including hiking, camping or rental cabins, kayaking or canoeing, biking and if that isn’t enough, venture into Cottonwood or Sedona for the day.
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: https://azstateparks.com/dead-horse
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.
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.
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.
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