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The Oak Creek Canyon And What You Should Know About It

If you are looking to hike, swim, or fish; visit Oak Creek Canyon! People visiting Arizona can be overwhelmed by all of the activities and attractions available to them within the state. A frequent question asked is, what other attractions should I visit aside from The Grand Canyon? One of the most popular choices for travelers is the stunning Oak Creek Canyon. Oak Creek Canyon is commonly referred to by the locals as a small cousin of the Grand Canyon. While it does not compare in size, it does offer incredibly unique scenic beauty. This is a terrific place to visit on the way to or from the Grand Canyon.

Beauty of Oak Creek Canyon




This geographical formation is a steep canyon with a beautiful river gorge. It is located in  Northern Arizona between Sedona and Flagstaff. The Canyon is often dismissed as just another hiking location within Arizona but nothing could be further from the truth! If your schedule will not allow for a full day at Oak Creek Canyon, don't worry. Tourplicity's Grand Canyon Day Tour drives through this masterpiece on the way to the Grand Canyon! 


Facts About Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon is close to 13 miles long. It has a width that ranges from 0.8 miles to 2.5 miles wide. The canyon reaches depths ranging from just 800 feet to a staggering 2,000 feet. As a result of faulting during the canyon's formation, Oak Creek Canyon’s West Rim is about 700 feet higher than its East Rim. The canyon’s elevation to the west is roughly 7,200 feet whereas the east side's elevation is close to 6,500 feet. This diverse area contains water features, red rock formations, and pine trees. 

Oak Creek In Oak Creek Canyon

Geological evidence suggests that the formation of Oak Creek Canyon occurred about 10 million years ago. The original canyon was later filled by a series of lava flows and gravel deposits during the Miocene Epoch. Around this period, the Oak Creek Fault which was once dormant became active. At this point, the present day canyon started to form along the fault line due to the erosional action of Oak Creek. Oak Creek carves through the canyon and it is a tributary to the Verde River.

The eroded walls of the Oak Creek Canyon are mainly formed of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. These sedimentary rocks are formed by the accumulation of sediments over time. The exposures of Kaibab Limestone and Toroweap formations are only on the canyon’s northern end. The most largely exposed rock on the southern edge of the canyon are the white and red colored sandstones of the Schnebly Hill Formation. The east rim of the canyon contains some of the youngest rocks. This area's rocks formed from basalt lava flows that are estimated to be 6 million years old.

Recreation Activities




The Oak Creek Canyon is found within the diverse Coconino National Forest. Some parts of the canyon are designated as federal wilderness areas to preserve their natural condition for future generations. There are numerous recreation areas, picnic areas, and campgrounds operated by the United States Forest Service within the canyon. This makes the Oak Creek Canyon a fantastic place to visit for people of all ages.

One of the main attractions is the natural water slide, Slide Rock. Located in Slide Rock State Park, the slide ranges from 2.5 feet to 4 feet wide and is 80 feet long! If you plan on visiting Slide Rock make sure you go when the water is warm. It can reach near freezing temperatures in the cooler months. Also, be careful in the water when crossing on foot because the sandstone is very slippery. The canyon also offers more than 49 miles of fishable waters along the creek. Fishing enthusiasts can expect to catch catfish, brown trout, rainbow trout and even smallmouth bass in this area. Aside from swimming and fishing, hiking the trails leading into the canyon or up to the canyon’s rim is a must do activity.

Slide Rock at Oak Creek Canyon

If you plan to visit the canyon on your own, you can access  it relatively easily. You will just need to drive south from Flagstaff on US Route 89A. After about 14 miles, you will reach the canyon’s edge. At this point the canyon drops close to a thousand feet through a series of switchbacks to the bottom. On the bottom of the canyon, you can explore an extra thirteen miles beside the flowing, crystal clear Oak Creek.

If you do not have the time to visit Oak Creek Canyon, take advantage of our Grand Canyon Day Tour. The tour departs from Scottsdale, Tempe, or Phoenix and will drive through Oak Creek Canyon on the way to the Grand Canyon! Call us and speak with a tour specialist to make your reservation today!