Slide Rock

Sedona / Coconino National Forest / Slide Rock State Park, Arizona, USA

About Slide Rock


Hiking Distance: 0.8 miles round trip
Suggested Time: at least 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2017-04-13
Date last visited: 2017-04-13

Waterfall Latitude: 34.94966
Waterfall Longitude: -111.75475

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Slide Rock was one of those waterfalling excursions that probably stretched the definition of what a waterfall was in our experience.

It was really a series of small cascades (the tallest one was probably no more than 10-15ft) on Oak Creek.

Slide_Rock_SP_063_04132017 - Slide Rock
Slide Rock

However, it was surrounded by the signature red rocks that were typical of the neighboring city of Sedona just to the south.

But it was this contrast between the red rocks and cliffs against the refreshing waters of Oak Creek that gave this place its scenic allure.

On top of that, there were numerous areas along Oak Creek amongst these cascades that made for one of the most fun natural swimming holes to be found anywhere in the United States.

The fun culminated in the namesake section where a series of cascades (pictured above) allowed people to slide their way down to a deep pool going from one cascade to another in succession.

Slide_Rock_SP_037_04132017 - Context of the very festive scene at Slide Rock
Context of the very festive scene at Slide Rock

Even our daughter found a spot where she could enjoy playing in the water.

Indeed, she made me realize that this was definitely one of those rare places where people of all ages could come and enjoy this miracle of Nature.

Given all these factors working for the Slide Rock State Park, I had no problems including this entry on the website despite there not being an obvious drop that would befit the classic definition of a bonafide waterfall.

Experiencing Slide Rock

Our visit to Slide Rock began from a very busy parking lot (see directions below) surrounded by tall red cliffs.

Slide_Rock_SP_004_04132017 - Tahia eagerly making her way to the water play area at Slide Rock State Park
Tahia eagerly making her way to the water play area at Slide Rock State Park

Given the height of these cliffs, it was clear that Oak Creek had much to do with carving out the deep canyon in which the Slide Rock State Park was located.

We then walked on a paved path past some signage saying that large-looking water snakes inhabiting this area were not poisonous and should not be killed.

The trail then went onto a more open paved section where there were relics of old cabins, a restroom facility, and some shops.

At the far end of this paved walkway, there were more historical buildings before the path veered right past some interpretive signage and down some steps leading to the banks of Oak Creek.

Slide_Rock_SP_013_04132017 - Entering a big clearing area at Slide Rock State Park where there were historical relics, buildings, and some shops along the way to the water play area in Oak Creek
Entering a big clearing area at Slide Rock State Park where there were historical relics, buildings, and some shops along the way to the water play area in Oak Creek

This section of the walk (from the parking area to the end of the concrete) alone was probably on the order of a quarter-mile long each way.

It was down at the banks of Oak Creek that the path was now pretty much red-rock scrambling on wide ledges on the left side of Oak Creek.

This was where we now had our pick of where along the creek we wanted to relax or play at.

The lowermost sections of the creek (closer to the highway bridge) contained some attractive cascades.

Slide_Rock_SP_052_04132017 - Looking upstream over the lowermost cascades on Oak Creek in Slide Rock State Park
Looking upstream over the lowermost cascades on Oak Creek in Slide Rock State Park

That said, there were far fewer people down here as the more kid-friendly and happening parts of Oak Creek were further upstream.

Roughly another 5- to 10-minute walk upstream was where the majority of the visitors were gathered.

In this section, there was a bridge leading to a real calm part of Oak Creek as well as access to a spot where it was possible to do a short cliff jump into a deep part of the creek.

Just upstream from this deep section was the namesake Slide Rock, where people sat and scooted their way down the series of waterfalls from the top to the deeper waters below.

Slide_Rock_SP_097_04132017 - Looking across Oak Creek towards some impressive red cliffs towering over Slide Rock State Park
Looking across Oak Creek towards some impressive red cliffs towering over Slide Rock State Park

Further upstream of the Slide Rock, Oak Creek mostly calmed down and the crowds thinned out some more while the hiking became a little rougher with higher concentrations of cacti.

I went as far as a short cascade, which served as my turnaround point.

Even though the overall round-trip distance of the hiking was on the order of 0.8 miles (probably taking us around 30 minutes or less on the walking alone), it was very easy to spend more time here.

Indeed, time flies when you’re just enjoying the fun ambience and feeling refreshed from the cold waters of Oak Creek offsetting the desert heat of this part of Arizona.

Slide_Rock_SP_100_04132017 - Our daughter really enjoying herself in the cool waters of Oak Creek at Slide Rock State Park
Our daughter really enjoying herself in the cool waters of Oak Creek at Slide Rock State Park

Case in point, we wound up spending around 90 minutes away from the car, and our daughter certainly wasn’t eager to leave.

Authorities

Slide Rock resides in Slide Rock State Park near Sedona in Coconino County, Arizona. It is administered by Arizona State Parks & Trails. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Slide_Rock_SP_005_04132017 - The wide open and paved walkway flanked by historic cabins, restrooms with change rooms, and shops, leading to Slide Rock
Slide_Rock_SP_010_04132017 - One of the historic tourist cabins flanking the paved walkway in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_012_04132017 - Contextual look at the clearing with a lot of historical relics and buildings in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_017_04132017 - One of the historic artifacts on display alongside the path to Slide Rock
Slide_Rock_SP_021_04132017 - Another one of the historic buildings seen alongside the walkway to Slide Rock
Slide_Rock_SP_029_04132017 - The stairs leading down to Oak Creek and the Slide Rock with the context of Hwy 89A in the background
Slide_Rock_SP_031_04132017 - Looking towards some rocky rapids and cascades in Oak Creek with Hwy 89A and a retaining wall above it in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_032_04132017 - Looking further downstream beneath the Hwy 89A bridge in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_038_04132017 - It was crazy busy with people on Spring Break during our April 2017 visit to Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_040_04132017 - Context of most of the commotion that was happening further upstream along Oak Creek in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_044_04132017 - Looking upstream over a pair of small 5-10ft cascades on the lower part of Oak Creek in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_056_04132017 - This was the series of cascades on Oak Creek making up the namesake Slide Rock
Slide_Rock_SP_059_04132017 - Looking downstream from Slide Rock where it's clear lots of people were having fun here
Slide_Rock_SP_066_04132017 - Further upstream of Slide Rock were more calmer parts of Oak Creek as well as some impressively large boulders
Slide_Rock_SP_067_04132017 - Some interesting overgrown ruin further upstream from Slide Rock
Slide_Rock_SP_068_04132017 - Looking downstream along Oak Creek in the direction of Slide Rock with the context of red cliffs and that giant boulder
Slide_Rock_SP_069_04132017 - This tiny cascade further upstream of Slide Rock was as far upstream along Oak Creek as I went
Slide_Rock_SP_073_04132017 - Back at the crazy busy scene around Slide Rock, which was quite the happening spot during our visit in April 2017
Slide_Rock_SP_076_04132017 - One person was entering the Slide Rock and about to scoot his way down to deeper waters further downstream on Oak Creek
Slide_Rock_SP_078_04132017 - The wide ledge that let us walk alongside Oak Creek without needing to get wet in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_080_04132017 - Looking further downstream along Oak Creek from the wide ledge in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_089_04132017 - Another look back in the direction of the namesake Slide Rock on Oak Creek in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_092_04132017 - zoomed in on another person sliding down the Slide Rock in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_121_04132017 - Contextual look upstream towards Slide Rock from the calm part of Oak Creek where we let our daughter play at in Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_129_04132017 - Looking across Oak Creek towards the Hwy 89A further up above the Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_133_04132017 - Julie and Tahia walking back up the steps as we were about to leave Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_144_04132017 - Play time was over, and now it was time to walk back to the parking lot of Slide Rock State Park
Slide_Rock_SP_150_04132017 - On our way out of Slide Rock State Park, we noticed this sign with a very wise saying

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The nearest towns or cities to Slide Rock State Park was Flagstaff and Sedona.

We’ll first describe the driving route from Flagstaff, then the more straightforward route from Sedona.

Driving from Flagstaff to Slide Rock State Park

From Flagstaff, we left the I-40 and headed south on the I-17.

Slide_Rock_SP_156_04132017 - Context of the parking lot at Slide Rock State Park backed by impressive red cliffs
Context of the parking lot at Slide Rock State Park backed by impressive red cliffs

After about 2 miles along the I-17 from the interchange, we then took the exit 337 for Hwy 89A towards Sedona on the right.

Following the signs towards Sedona, we took the first exit of the first roundabout, and then we took the third exit of the next roundabout.

From there, we followed the Hwy 89A south for the next 17 miles or so before encountering the signed turnoff on the right for Slide Rock State Park.

The parking costed us $10 for our vehicle, and there was an attendant who would only let people into the full parking lot the moment someone had left.

Slide_Rock_SP_003_04132017 - The parking lot for Slide Rock State Park
The parking lot for Slide Rock State Park

So we had to queue up and wait for roughly 10 minutes before we were finally able to park the car.

Driving from Sedona to Slide Rock State Park

Coming from Sedona, we only had to go north on Hwy 89A for about 7 miles from the roundabout at the 89A junction with Hwy 179.

The signposted turnoff for Slide Rock State Park was on the left.

By the way, it should be noted that this aforementioned roundabout seemed to be heavily congested, especially in the afternoon.

Sedona_17_004_04132017 - A tremendous amount of congestion (caused by a roundabout) on the Hwy 89A as we went from Slide Rock State Park to Sedona
A tremendous amount of congestion (caused by a roundabout) on the Hwy 89A as we went from Slide Rock State Park to Sedona

So that might be something to keep in mind as it might take a bit longer to get to and from Slide Rock and Sedona given the traffic delays.

For context, Sedona was roughly 30 miles (roughly an hour drive) southwest of Flagstaff, 116 miles (about 2 hours drive) north of Phoenix, and 477 miles (about 7 hours drive) east of Los Angeles.

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Right to left sweep focused more on the main Slide Rock portion of Oak Creek before panning over further downstream


Long movie checking out the lower cascades and swimming holes at Slide Rock State Park


Long movie continuing from the calmer lower-middle parts of the Slide Rock State Park all the way to the busy and populated slide rock portion

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Tagged with: coconino national forest, sedona, arizona, waterfall, water slide, swimming hole



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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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