Classic Arizona red rocks. A natural water slide. The mystical qualities of Sedona. Slide Rock State Park has it all.
Whether you’re taking a road trip through Arizona, or taking a longer vacation in Sedona or Flagstaff, a visit to Slide Rock State Park is an absolute must.
The morning after my brother and I visited the Grand Canyon and stayed the night in Flagstaff, we knew that we wanted to check out some more of the red rock formations that Arizona is so famous for. Without much of a plan in mind at all, we looked up state parks near Sedona, came across Slide Rock, and then set off.
If you want to make an actual plan, though, then you’re in the right place – this blog post has absolutely everything you need to know to plan the perfect visit to Slide Rock!
How to Get to Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park is located along Highway 89A, just a 15-minute drive from Sedona or a 37-minute drive from Flagstaff.
Slide Rock State Park Fees & Hours
Entrance to Slide Rock costs $20/vehicle (1-4 people) or $5/individual or bicycle.
The park is open from 8 AM – 6 PM in the fall and spring, 8 AM – 5 PM in the winter, and 8 AM – 7 PM in the summer. Last entry to the park is one hour before closing and the swim area closes half an hour before closing.
Slide Rock State Park Map
You can find a printable Slide Rock State Park map with trail information and everything else you need to know here.
Things to Do
Despite my affinity for planning things, I have to admit that oftentimes my favorite experiences come out of things done on a whim. It is so much easier to be sucked into a location when I haven’t seen it all before in pictures. As we walked down to the river I felt a certain sense of anticipation and excitement building up in me because, well, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
On first sight of the river and the red rock formations rising up around it, I was absolutely blown away. I probably sat for a good fifteen minutes on the little bridge crossing the river just admiring it all, and another few minutes mesmerized by the flow of the river. That little bridge also just so happened to be a perfect picture taking spot, so I also spent a fair amount of time doing just that.
Slide Rock State Park Hiking
After I was finally dragged away from my little bridge, reminded that there was still plenty more to explore, we walked along the riverbanks for a fair way. Just as we started to make a little bit of ground, people started flowing in, and we thanked our lucky stars that we had managed to get there 20 minutes earlier than everyone else so we could have the place relatively to ourselves as we hiked.
One of my favorite things about the river was all of the twists and turns that it made thanks to rocks jutting out from the shore and even a few rock islands which created the slides that the park is so well known for. When it comes to photographs of rivers and roads and all of that stuff, it always really irks me when I’m unable to get shots straight down the middle. Thanks to all of these rocks, though, that was nowhere near a problem this time around.
We hiked onwards and found this cute little brick house on the side of the river, and we couldn’t help but wonder what it was. Upon venturing inside all we found was a flat floor, so the hunch that it was a rundown outhouse was out. I still have no idea what the house was all about, but it certainly makes for an adorable addition among the towering cliffs it sits under.
After our little house sighting, we worked to cross the river by way of a bunch of rocks that were almost close enough for us to walk over. Having definitely not worn the shoes for climbing slippery rocks, I was incredibly proud of myself for not falling in – and for having purchased waterproofing spray while I was living in London.
The walk back along the other side of the river was surprisingly much woodier and less traversed by the average visitor to the park. We did come across a cactus with a smiley face carved into one of its leaves, though, so obviously we weren’t about to make any Lewis and Clark caliber discoveries or anything.
Go on the Sedona Rock Slide
Perhaps the thing that Slide Rock is best known for is its natural water slide – also known as the Sedona rock slide! Unfortunately, we didn’t have swimsuits packed for our road trip so weren’t able to take park in this, but it looked so cool!
The rock slide is created by eroded rocks in the river and algae, which makes them slippery!
Get a Bird’s Eye View
The final portion of our trip involved climbing up to the top of the cliffs and taking the short trail overlooking the river. By that time, plenty of people looking to freeze their butts off had arrived to swim among the natural slides, so we got to watch them from a bird’s eye view, which was pretty fun.
Finally, we walked past one of the cliffs which could be seen from the river, which seemed a fair bit smaller than it had from farther below, but was still a fair bit taller than me.
Slide Rock State Park is easily the place that confirmed how much I had fallen in love with Arizona over the two days that I was there. The state is a kind of beautiful that I never expected it to be, and I can’t wait for my next chance to explore it even more.
Where to Stay
Slide Rock State Park Camping
While there is no camping within Slide Rock State Park, there are a few campgrounds nearby.
Manzanita Campground is just outside of the park in Coconino National Forest, with plenty of swimming holes and hiking trails to keep you busy. It’s tent-only as it’s super small.
Cave Springs Campground is a 13-minute drive from Slide Rock. The campsites are shaded by gorgeous ponderosa pines and can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents.
Hotels Near Slide Rock State Park
Visiting Arizona? Check out Petrified Forest National Park!