Oak Creek Canyon Road, Arizona

Oak Creek Canyon Road, Arizona
Photo Courtesy USDA Forest Service

Oak Creek Canyon Road (U.S. 89A) is a spectacular short, scenic drive that covers a diverse terrain and rates as one of the best scenic drives because of the variety experienced in just 14 miles.

Due to the rapid elevation variations, the drive covers seven major plant varieties with geologic formations similar to the Grand Canyon. The drive begins near Sedona and takes you north through Oak Creek Canyon, to the top of the Mogollon Rim, ending 15 miles short of Flagstaff.

Begin your journey north of Sedona near Midgley Bridge to Oak Creek Vista and experience prickly pear cacti and yuccas amongst sycamore, cottonwood, ash and e trees along Oak Creek. As you ascend higher elevations, the cacti and riparian growth give way to junipers and oaks.

The real beauty of the drive through the various switchbacks can be experienced at the Oak Creek Canyon Vista for spectacular viewing opportunities.

The Oak Creek, having carved out a beautiful canyon of red and orange canyon walls, is spring-fed but also receives a large amount of run off from above the Mogollon Rim.

The canyon is located within Coconino National Forest, and Red Rock Passes are required to park your vehicle within the canyon. The passes may be obtained at any visitor center.

The drive has many hairpin turns and switchbacks with a number of places to stop off and park and take in the sights, and perhaps do a little hiking. You might be fortunate to to see some wildlife that roams the area such as black bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, javelinas, horned toads and coyotes. If you are fortunate to make the drive after a heavy rain, check out brightly colored waterfalls spilling over the cliffs.

There is a network of trails, from easy to difficult, providing access to the wilderness areas. A must see is the easy walk up the West Fork of Oak Creek and the natural water chutes at Slide Rock State Park that have proven to be a popular fascination for all.

The higher elevations of Oak Creek Canyon normally experience freezing temperatures two months before they occur in Sedona. Winter and summer are the rainy seasons. Autumn and spring are dry.

The drive along Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road in the spring is vibrant with forests that come alive with wildflowers and animals. Driving it in the autumn means seeing the sunset in the reds and golds of the leaves as they fall. Summer temperatures can be hot, though the cool waters of Oak Creek provide relief. The winters can mean snow and ice.

Places To Stay

Enchantment Resort
Sedona, AZ
This charming, upscale resort offers 218 luxurious guest accommodations highlighting Sedona's breathtaking scenery with private, one-story rooms with viewing decks boasting panoramic views of Boynton Canyon.

Adobe Grand Villas
Sedona, AZ
These 15 villas in a beautiful, romantic, canyon setting has the added amenity of having the chef prepare meals delivered to your villa.

L'Auberge de Sedona
Sedona, AZ
This 87 room hotel is a beautiful property on 11 acres of landscaped grounds surrounded by towering red rocks on the banks of Oak Creek. The cottages all have fireplaces and private decks; most have separate outdoor showers. The L'Auberge Restaurant is one of the top restaurants in Sedona