Walter and Sara Let the good times roll
In Part II, we left off in Phoenix. On Sunday April 19th we left Phoenix and headed to Sedona to camp in a National Forest Campground called Canyon Springs. It's a great campground if you ever get a chance to visit. We'd made a reservation and our creek-side campsite was waiting for us. This is the view of the creek from our campsite.

Oak Creek from Canyon Springs Campground

It was a lovely warm but not hot day and since it was a Sunday there were all sorts of folks hiking down through Oak Creek Canyon along the creek.

Here's the view to the west of the campsite.

Looking west from campsite at Canyon Springs Campground

We hung out and enjoyed the scenery and a little walk through the campsite the first afternoon.

The next morning we set off to do a hike on the west side of Sedona called Voltee Arch. We stopped at the campground office to ask for directions and they noticed we had something leaking from our engine. Oh oh. It turned out to be coolant--better than oil I suppose.

We were sooo lucky. It's downhill from the campground to downtown Sedona so we didn't overheat on our way to town. There was a jeep tour guide in the gas station where we stopped and he suggested a garage that was just a few blocks down the road. The garage had an open bay and a mechanic ready to do the work. The parts store had everything that was needed to replace our water pump in stock.

So we left the truck at the garage and set out for a stroll down the main drag in Sedona. It's a busy thoroughfare not a quiet hiking trail but hey look at the views.

Downtown Sedona Downtown Sedona AZ

We were back on the road in less than 3 hours and on our way to the trailhead for our hike.

Here's the view from the road (Dry Creek Rd) near the turn-off to the trailhead. Sedona does have spectacular views!

View north on Dry Creed Rd Sedona AZ

It turned out the road to the trailhead was horrible. We've driven on a lot of dirt forest roads but this was really badly eroded and full of boulders. People had been driving on it when it was wet and it was all torn up. After about 1/2 a mile we bailed out and turned around.

Instead of the hike we'd planned, we headed back up Oak Creek Canyon to Slide Rock State Park and had a picnic in the old apple orchard there and then explored the park.

Here's a view of the very easy trail from the parking lot to the creek access.

Slide Rock State Park Trail Sedona AZ

When you get to the end of the trail you go down some stairs and come out to this.

Slide Rock Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

We followed the creek upstream and came at last to the REAL slide rock. Mother Nature's own water slide! With very cold water (though in the summer it's supposed to be much warmer).

People going down shoot at Slide Rock Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

People play in the water all along this river-smoothed rock area.

Slide Rock Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

The hitch is getting back out! I watched one game grandma have to float almost all the way down before she found a place she could lever her way out. The grandkids had crawled out and run back for another trip down the slide! She thought once was more than enough!

If all else fails you can float all the way down to this fun pool where I dangled my toes until they hurt from the cold.

Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

Only small children and crazy guys spent any amount of time in the water. It was in the high 80's that day so the water felt good but it was still pretty darned cold.

Here's the view of the rocks on the southwest side of the park not far from the parking area--a nice reward for hiking back to the car.

Slide Rock State Park looking south Sedona AZ

The next day we took the hike along the West Fork of Oak Creek. This is a gorgeous riparian walk along a creek running through and over the red rocks.

It's starts in an old apple orchard.

West Fork Oak Creek Trail Sedona AZ

The trail winds across the main branch of Oak Creek and then enters a Wilderness area just before you reach the West Fork itself.

Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness Sign at Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

After winding through wood a bit you come to the creek itself. Here's Walter making one of the numerous crossings.

Walter crossing West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

Just past this crossing, the creek undercut the cliff face and created this really cool reflection pool in the morning light. When we came back the light had changed and the reflections were gone.

Rock reflected in Oak Creek Sedona AZ

The creek twists and winds and the trail does it's best to follow. You get to clamor over a lot of slick rock and so does the creek!

Slick rock in Oak Creek Canyon Sedona, AZ

The rock formations in the area are pretty swell too.

Rock Formations at Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ Rock Formations at Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

And to make things even better there are some wonderful stands of mature Ponderosa pines mixed in with the rest of the forest.

Here's Walter with one of the bigger ones. And of course since this was Sedona, so there were a couple of people with their eyes closed with their hands on the trees quietly attuning to them. Tree huggers of the world unite!

Walter with Ponderosa at Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

And there were wild flowers too.

Wildflower Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ Wildflowers Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

Wildflowers Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ Wildflowers Oak Creek Canyon Sedona AZ

And violets in pale purple and white too!

pale purple violets Sedona AZ White violets Sedona AZ

The trail goes on for a good 6 miles where you have to wade through a pool to be able to hike any further. Some folks we met in the campground got that far but gave up because the water was so cold it gave them cramps in their feet. We gave up long before that, having enjoyed ourselves completely hiking 1 1/2 hours out and 1 1/2 hours back. On the way back we counted 9 creek crossings plus a bridge over the main branch of Oak Creek.

When we got back we had lunch and showers--$3.50 a piece for 8 minutes. Boy did they feel good. That evening we had the amazing experience of having some folks we had stopped and talked to on Sunday invite us over for dinner. They were a lovely couple from Tucson who spend every summer in New Hampshire and we had a wonderful meal and delightful visit with them.

The next morning we set out to drive to Zion National Park in Utah. Now is the time we were especially thankful that if we were going to have car trouble that we had it in a place like Sedona rather than on our way to Zion out in the great expanses of desert highway without a soul around!

We got stopped at one point by some road construction and I took this picture of the painted desert.

Painted Desert AZ

Just north of where you turn off to go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (Hwy 89A) there's a view point where I took this panorama of the Vermillion Cliffs (a relatively new National Monument area). Click for a larger version.

Vermillion Cliffs Natrional Monument AZ

We stopped in what feels like the middle of nowhere for lunch. It was a pullout with information about the old town turned movie set, Paria which burned down a few years ago. The wind was blowing hard so we didn't stay outside long but I did take this panorama shot that gives you a good taste of the southern reaches the Grand Staircase National Monument. Click the photo for a larger version.

Grand Staircase National Monument UT

The Vermillion Cliffs are the bottom of the staircase which is a series of rock layers that were up-thrust millions of years ago. The bottom of Zion Canyon is the same rock as the top of Grand Canyon. And the top of Zion is the same as the bottom of Bryce Canyon. And so it goes. The thrusting makes it all look like a staircase of different colored rock layers.

In Part IV we'll take you to Zion National Park.