The Oak Creek Watershed is about 300,000 acres. It has long been celebrated nationally and internationally as a year-round destination. Trails for hiking and horseback riding, campsites, and settings for wildlife-watching abound. Cool shady pools of water provide an ideal setting for water recreation and a refuge from the dry, hot, prehistoric surroundings.
There are two federally designated wilderness areas and two Arizona state parks in the watershed.
Fire restrictions and closures may be imposed to reduce the likelihood of wildfire. Always make sure your campfire is completely out, and never throw cigarettes on the ground.
If you spot a fire or unattended campfire, call 911 to report it. For fire restriction information, call toll-free 877-864-6985 or visit www.azfireinfo.com.
Thanks to a partnership among the US Forest Service, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, Recreation Resource Management, and the Arizona Natural History Association, four visitor centers provide information about the Sedona Red Rock area. Three of these are called “gateway” visitor centers because they are at the main entrances into Sedona. The centers offer recreation resources, Arizona Natural History Association maps and guidebooks, Federal park passes and Red Rock passes, Chamber of Commerce information, and restrooms.
Attractions and Some Activities
Red Rock–Secret Mountain Wilderness
Along these pleasant paths you’ll discover wonders made both by nature and by some of the area’s earliest human inhabitants. Hunt for rock art on canyon walls and high cliffs, and for abandoned dwellings. Watch the horizon for exquisite vistas and breathtaking overlooks.
Wilderness solitude, trails for hiking and horseback riding, backpacking, swimming, fishing, red rocks, pinnacles, arches and buttes, photography, wildlife-watching, and cultural resources
Trails in the Wilderness
Mooney #12, Vultee Arch #22, Dry Creek #52, Sterling Pass #46, A.B. Young #100, West Fork Trail #108, Secret Mountain #109, Secret East #144, Wilson Mountain/N. Wilson #123, Brin’s Mesa #119, Fay Canyon #53, Loy Canyon #5, Boynton Canyon #47. Please stop at a visitor center to obtain detailed maps highlighting trails in the area.
Munds Mountain Wilderness
Partly in Oak Creek Watershed
You can get to know Red Rock Country from top to bottom in the Munds Mountain Wilderness. This 8,150-acre area stretches from the tops of Munds and Lee mountains to the bottoms of Jacks, Woods, and Rattlesnake canyons.
Slide Rock State Park
Located in Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona and south of Flagstaff off State Route 89A, the park’s unique natural waterslide gave it the name “Slide Rock.” Pets are allowed on the “upper shelf,” but not allowed near the slide.
Red Rock State Park
Located south of Sedona and north of Cottonwood off State Route 89A, the park is focused on environmental preservation, specifically on riparian habitats (which are situated near the banks of a river, stream, creek, or wetland) associated with Oak Creek. The park provides limited, passive recreational opportunities. Pets are not allowed.
National forest camping is limited in Red Rock Country. Campfires are prohibited outside of campgrounds.
Collection of most natural objects (rocks and branches) from national forest lands in Red Rock Country is very limited and if allowed, requires a permit from the Forest Service. To protect the area’s beauty, please leave all natural objects in place. Collection of cultural artifacts is illegal.
A number of companies, with permits from the US Forest Service, provide guided trips in the national forest. For information, contact a visitor center.
Fishing, Hunting and Firearm Use
Oak Creek is stocked with trout during summer months. Fishing licenses are required. Fishing and hunting in the national forest in Red Rock Country are allowed under Arizona Game and Fish regulations. Hunting is prohibited within the city limits of Sedona. Fishing licenses are available at most grocery stores and through the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Shooting is prohibited within 150 yards of any residence, building, campsite, developed recreation site, or occupied area. Shooting across roads, trails, or bodies of water is prohibited.
Horseback Riding Trails
Cockscomb (multiple trails, mileage varies)
This area features rolling terrain with picturesque old trees, views of red rock cliffs, and the Cockscomb rock formation.
Mountain Biking and Cycling Trails
Oak Creek Watershed offers mountain biking experiences for most skill levels. The majority of trails are moderately to very challenging. To protect the fragile cryptobiotic soil, it’s important for bicyclists to stay on the trail and not create new tracks. While bicycles are prohibited in the wilderness, there are many excellent trails outside the wilderness open to bicycles.
Red Rock State Park Nature Center offers interpretive programs year-round. Located on Lower Red Rock Loop Road off west State Route 89A.
Driving a vehicle off designated roads is prohibited in Red Rock Country. Many primitive dirt roads do offer recreation for 4X4 and high-clearance vehicles. Contact the Red Rock Ranger Station Visitor Center for more information.
A picnic is one of the best ways to enjoy Forest Service facilities in the Oak Creek Watershed. There are many day-use areas with picnic tables and trash receptacles. Picnic sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking is very limited at most sites. RVs, trailers, and buses are not recommended. If food or other items are packed in, please pack them out. Leave no traces of food. Even crumbs can cause problems. An animal can become habituated to humans through dependence on them as food sources. If the animal approaches people for food or becomes a threat, it might have to be destroyed.
Oak Creek Watershed has spectacular scenery, and driving is a way to see a lot of country.