Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon is a river gorge along the Mogollon Rim in Northern Arizona, located within the Coconino National Forest between the cities of Flagstaff and Sedona. Oak Creek Canyon is about 12 miles long with the west rim of the canyon about 700 feet higher than the east rim. A tributary of the Verde River, Oak Creek is one of only a handful perennial streams in Northern Arizona.
In 1991 the Arizona State Legislature designated Oak Creek as a Unique Water because of its importance as a domestic water resource in the Verde Valley, among other criteria.
Oak Creek flows through a narrow gorge it has cut along a fault line in the same rock strata that forms the Grand Canyon. But this smaller cousin of the world’s most prestigious chasm, is much more accessible than its more famous relative. A road leads right down the middle of it. And if you’d really like to get to know these crimson cliffs and crystal pools up close and personal, there are plenty of overlooks and picnic areas, hiking trails and creekside paths to help you do it. Drive north on 89A out of Uptown Sedona and you’ll find many places to access Oak Creek, including Slide Rock State Park and Grasshopper Flats.
Hiking in Oak Creek Canyon
Hiking in Oak Creek Canyon is enormously popular, especially on the West Fork Trail. This three mile hike is fun for everyone in the family. The hike takes you into the canyon and stays fairly level and near the creek where you feel as if you are painted into the scenery. The azure skies, towering red rocks and fall foliage will leave you in total awe of your surroundings. Keep in mind that while this hike is easy there are place where you will be crossing the stream. You will have to get your feet a little wet so wear appropriate clothing and shoes. Beginning at the end of October the fall foliage is amazing and only gets better as the season goes on. Do not be surprised on your hike if you catch a scent of apples from the old orchard nearby. For more information on this hike including parking, access, fees and directions visit the Coconino National Forest – West Fork Oak Creek.
- Do not go past the trail’s three mile marker if you are not an experienced hiker! After the three mile marker there is a steep climb across the wooded hillside that drops down into a stony area mid river. It takes a very experienced hiker to explore this area!
- This is one of the most popular hikes in Arizona and can be extremely busy. I would recommend either going in the early morning or during the week.
Fly Fishing in Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek offers some of the most pristine pools and secluded stretches of water in Northern Arizona. This creek along with its breathtaking red rock views, make for an unforgettable fishing adventure any time of year. Oak Creek, accompanied by its tributary called The West Fork, is home to many species of wildlife. Mule deer, bobcats, bear, and many bird species, and the ever elusive trout call the canyon home. The rainbow and wild brown trout thrive beneath the boulders and shelves that make up the heart of Sedona’s waterway. The fishing season is open year round, and Oak Creek is stocked regularly. Whether it’s the warm Arizona sun, the turning of the leaves in fall, or the beautiful dust of snow atop the red rocks, you’ll find Sedona has the climate you’re looking for. From the lush green forest of the canyon to the mellow stream that feeds Sedona’s vineyards, Oak Creek has you covered.
A valid Arizona fishing license is required for Arizona resident and non-resident anglers 14 years of age or older fishing any public accessible water in Arizona. Youth under the age of 14 and blind residents do not need to purchase a state fishing license to fish in Arizona. For more information on fishing in Arizona, rules, regulations and locations, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department.