Route 89A – Flagstaff to Sedona, Arizona

Oak Creek Canyon – One of America’s Most Scenic Drives

Route 89A from Flagstaff to Sedona, which passes through spectacular Oak Creek Canyon, is one of America’s most scenic drives and a highlight of a trip to Arizona.

Route 89A winds it way through 23 miles of spectacular scenery not commonly associated with the usual image of Arizona; pine forests are more abundant in Oak Creek Canyon than desert cacti. In addition, route 89A descends from an elevation of 6,900 feet at Flagstaff to 4,500 feet in Sedona. Along the way, it is possible to experience scenic views, camp in one of several campsites, fish, swim, hike and enjoys the attractions of Slide Rock State Park.

Oak Creek Vista Point on Route 89A

On leaving Flagstaff, the first point of interest is Oak Creek Vista Point; this is probably the most popular viewpoint, located approximately 14 miles south of Flagstaff. The Oak Creek Vista Point gives spectacular views over Oak Canyon and a glimpse of the start of the switchbacks below, which descend into Oak Creek Canyon.

Oak Creek Vista Point is a popular venue for local Native Americans to sell jewelry and other local crafts. In winter, when snow begins to fall, it is likely that Oak Creek Vista Point will be closed, so check ahead, if visiting outside of the regular tourist season (approximately May through October).

Hiking Trails in Oak Creek Canyon – West Fork

After descending the switchbacks into Oak Creek Canyon, route 89A winds its way through the Coconino National Forest; there are many hiking trails to enjoy in Oak Creek Canyon but perhaps the most popular hiking trail is that of West Fork. West Fork is one trail that is relatively level (compared to others) and stays close to the creek in places.

There is a parking fee at West Fork (currently $8); West Fork is extremely popular during the summer months. West Fork is also popular with moviegoers; it was the setting of the 1923 movie The Call of the Canyon, which was adapted from Zane Grey’s novel of the same name.

Slide Rock State Park – A Historic Homestead

Further down Oak Creek Canyon is Slide Rock State Park; in summer, Slide Rock State Park is extremely popular and the area, especially on weekends, becomes crowded with cars and people when the ‘parking lot full’ sign is more often than not displayed. A former homestead (the Pendleys acquired it in 1910 and turned it into a historic apple farm), Slide Rock today is popular for the natural water slide on the creek; Slide Rock is said to be one of the best swimming holes in America.

Other Points of Interest in Oak Creek Canyon

Other points of interest in Oak Creek Canyon include:

  • Midgely Bridge – located about one mile north of Sedona and spanning Wilson Creek; it is another popular place for views and for hiking.
  • Indian Gardens – located 4 miles north of Sedona, on route 89A, and the location of a general store and restrooms; in addition, Indian Gardens Park hosts weddings and celebrations from March to October.
  • Oak Creek – the creek after which Oak Creek Canyon is named, is a constant element of the drive from Flagstaff to Sedona; it is possible to get down to the creek in places to fish (license required), take photos or just relax.

Route 89A Into Sedona Uptown

Route 89A winds out of Oak Creek Canyon and into uptown Sedona. Uptown Sedona was the original heart of old Sedona but is now a collection of tourist stores, hotels, and cafes; the commercial and working elements of Sedona (such as banks and regular stores) are now located in West Sedona.

Oak Creek Canyon – An Arizona Highlight

Oak Creek Canyon is sure to delight and inspire all visitors. In the height of summer, it is advisable to bring not only a camera but plenty of patience; on holiday weekends in particular, the drive through Oak Creek Canyon can be slow and frustrating, and sometimes nose-to-tail.

Visiting out of season, particularly in the fall when the trees are the colors of red, gold, and orange, may be less stressful for those who enjoy solitude. However, whatever the season, a drive from Flagstaff to Sedona on route 89A, is probably going to be remembered for a long time.


Road Trip From Phoenix to Las Vegas

Page Arizona is the Center of the Grand Circle


Leave a Comment