Sedona, Where Cool Waters Flow
July 11, 2017
You might know of Sedona for its red spires or for the special energy vortexes that exist there. These qualities certainly make the destination shine, but there’s another valuable element that makes Sedona sparkle—naturally flowing water. In a state where only 0.3 percent of the ground surface is water, water rules, and makes Sedona a wonderful destination in the summer.
Sedona sits along the banks of Oak Creek, a tributary to the nearby Verde River—two of Arizona’s few perennial streams. Put all this together and you have unique outdoor water adventures that make summer in Sedona downright cool.
Mother Nature’s Water Parks
While neighbors back home brave a super-chlorinated water park, in Sedona you can release your inner child at nature’s ultimate slip and slide. Located seven miles north of town, Slide Rock State Park is recognized by many authorities, including Travel Channel, as a top U.S. swimming hole which contributes to its incredible popularity, so consider these additional opportunities. For thousands of years, the exhilarating water of Oak Creek has patiently carved and smoothed a sandstone slide 80 feet long and 2.5 to 4 feet wide, where you will slip, slide and swim to your heart’s delight.
Five miles downstream, take a plunge at Grasshopper Point, a vibrant oasis where the stair-stepped cliffs above the deep, blue-green pools elevate you for a big splash. Then, relax on its beach in the shade of cottonwood trees after a satisfying picnic lunch. This carefree outing awaits a short walk from the limited-space parking lot (which keeps the crowds at bay) two miles north of Sedona on State Route 89A.
Another oft-heralded, but less populated natural swimming hole (due to the 3.5-mile hike to get there) is The Crack, a section of Wet Beaver Creek located 18 miles south of Sedona. You’ll be ready for a dip after the long hike.
To explore more of Wet Beaver Creek, book a day hike with The Wildland Trekking Company. In addition to visiting The Crack, you’ll discover petroglyphs and learn about the artists who carved them. Finish up with a panoramic view at the Mogollon rim 1,100 feet above the riparian zone.
Other notable swimming holes created by Mother Nature include Midgely Bridge—and Red Rock Crossing, which has an amazing view of Cathedral Rock. For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service Red Rock Ranger District office, or make it super easy on yourself and book one of Sedona’s expert hiking and tour guides to show you around.
Whatever Floats Your Boat
Whether it’s rafting, kayaking or lounging on an inner tube, the nearby Verde River will fuel an adventurous day of floating for all ages. Aptly named from the Spanish word for “green,” evidence of this lush river’s attraction to mankind dates back 10,000 years to the archaic period. As you drift along its banks, you’ll see why the Verde River continues to nourish much life—from alder, sycamore and walnut trees to willows, reeds and cattails. Beavers, kingfishers, herons, otters, frogs and turtles to bobcats, gray foxes, coyotes, jackrabbits, javelinas and even the elusive mountain lion all inhabit there.
For a truly invigorating day, paddle rapids on a Clarkdale Kayak Company guided tour. Open to all skill levels (children ages four to 12 ride tandem with an adult), you’ll be fully outfitted and shuttled to and from the 3.5-mile stretch of river. In addition to kayak excursions, Verde Adventures offers tubing tours to really “wet” your appetite. Add some class to your splash with its Water to Wine tour, which meets at the Tuscan-inspired farmhouse of Alcantara Vineyards for a memorable wine tasting. Mix it up more on the Saddle to Paddle horseback and rafting combo tour offered by Horsin’ Around Adventures.
And Then There Was Man
While natural water sources are rare, Arizona reigns supreme when it comes to man-made swimming holes. According to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Rankings of the Best Pool Hotels, four Sedona resorts glimmer.
Enchantment Resort lives up to its name, and its long list of awards and accolades proves it. With the main pool (heated to 82-degrees year-round) and two satellite pools, you’re sure to find the ambiance you need as you contemplate the entrancing cliffs of Boynton Canyon that surround the world-class resort. If you prefer a dip in total privacy, reserve a one- or two-bedroom Pool Suite.
Ranked five-stars in every category by TripAdvisor, L’Auberge de Sedona’s prime location along the bank of Oak Creek offers not only a glide through its silky salt-water pool, but you can sit by the cool stream or simply dine on a creek-side deck. And, the sound of the babbling brook is sure to unburden the busiest mind.
The newly remodeled Amara Resort & Spa, a Kimpton Hotel, offers a boutique-style experience with a contemporary vibe. You’ll be mesmerized by the reflective qualities of its infinity-edge pool that practically spills into Oak Creek, which skirts the property.
It could be the red cliffs above Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa or the luxury resort’s rich and colorful Andalusian-inspired design, coupled with its pool’s sparkling azure water that makes you feel as if you’re basking in the warm sun off the Mediterranean Coast. Whatever it is, you’ll feel like pampered royalty.
Complement your pool time with a relaxing massage at any of these locations for a truly blissful stay. If these resorts are booked, no worries. There are plenty of places to stay, and most Sedona hotels offer swimming pools. The well-appointed Sedona Community Pool, open May through November, is always an option too.
If It Rains on Your Parade
In this arid climate, the Indians had good reason to perform rainmaking ceremonies, and when water falls from the Sedona sky, everyone celebrates. Witnessing a summer storm in the desert is like watching a magnificent live production compliments of Mother Nature, so enjoy the show, and consider these rainy day activities to accentuate your drizzly day.