Scenic Northern AZ


















 

 
       

     Oak Creek Canyon is located just south of Flagstaff, stretching for 12 miles before opening into the fabulous red rock canyons and formations around Sedona.  The creation of Oak Creek Canyon was primarily due to faulting, erosion, and uplift, which is why the western rim of the canyon is about 700 feet higher in elevation than the eastern rim.  At the bottom of the canyon is Oak Creek, a tributary of the Verde River, and one of the few streams in Northern Arizona that flows year round.  The combination of faulting and the erosion of Oak Creek along the fault are believed to be the reasons for the formation of the canyon, which geologists theorize began about eight to ten million years ago.

     Over millions of years, the waters of Oak Creek carved and eroded the walls of the canyon into spectacular formations.  The stone of the canyon is primarily Paleozoic sedimentary rocks.  Kaibab Limestone and exposures of the Toroweap Formation (the rock layers found at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon) are found at the northern end of Oak Creek Canyon, but the geology changes to the south.  In the southern end of the canyon, the predominant rocks that are exposed are white-colored cross-bedded Permian Coconino Sandstone, and the fantastic red sandstones of the Permian Schnebly Hill Formation, which is not found at the Grand Canyon.  The youngest rock formations are a series of basalt lava flows that comprise the eastern rim of the canyon, and are estimated to be six million years old, about the time of the formation of the San Francisco Volcanic Field.

 
         
 

     The bottom of the canyon is lush with trees and vegetation, shading the waters of Oak Creek and making it a very pleasant place to visit.  Located at the southern end of the canyon is Slide Rock State Park, a popular natural water slide and place to go swimming in the cool waters.  Oak Creek Canyon is located within the boundaries of the Coconino National Forest, and sections of it have been protected as federal wilderness areas as the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness.  The US Forest Service operates many campgrounds and picnic areas within the canyon, as well as maintains many fantastic hiking trails.  Oak Creek also has about 49 miles of waters ideal for fishing, where rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, and catfish can be caught.

     As Oak Creek enters the Sedona area, it widens into the fantastic red rock canyons and monuments for which the area is known around the world.  The town of Sedona is built within the canyons, among a stunning array of carved and eroded red sandstone walls and monuments known as the Sedona Red Rocks.  The color of these formations is remarkable to behold, and appear to glow in stunning reds and oranges when lit by the angled light of the rising or setting sun.  The Sedona Red Rocks, known as the Schnebly Hill Formation, are only found in the area around Sedona.  Over millions of years they have been shaped to their present form, and many have been named, such as Snoopy Rock (from Charles Shultz' "Peanuts" comic strip), Coffeepot Rock, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Courthouse Butte among many others.  Many of these formations are very familiar as Sedona has been a very popular place to film western movies, most notably the area known as Red Rock Crossing.

     The Sedona area has seen inhabitants for many thousands of years, as the ancient ruins and petroglyphs that can be found in different areas of the cliffs can attest.  The first European settler in the Oak Creek / Sedona area was John J. Thompson, who arrived in 1876.  Most of the early settlers of the Sedona area were farmers and ranchers, and the canyon gained a reputation for its fruit orchards.  The town itself was named after Sedona Schnebly, the wife of the city's first postmaster, and the town was established in 1902 with just 55 residents.  By the mid-1950s, the area was still very sparsely populated, with just 155 entries in the first Sedona telephone book.  By this time, the area was being recognized for its natural beauty, and was transforming into a tourist destination, retirement community, and a place where many people began building vacation homes.  While the town is located in the upper Sonoran Desert, its higher elevation and more temperate climate have made it a welcome escape from the heat of the Arizona deserts around Phoenix and Tucson.

     Sedona has developed a thriving art community, as the surrounding canyon landscape would absolutely serve to inspire.  With a mix of galleries, shops, superb restaurants and unsurpassed scenery in every direction, Sedona is a "must visit" when you're in Northern Arizona.

 



 

 

 
         
 

 
         
   
   

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