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Wet n' Wild in the Desert
Sedona, AZ (July 2009)
Overall Rating: A
Cathedral Rock
    I always pictured Sedona as a place the rich and beautiful passed their days at the spa or buying overpriced western art.  It certainly is all of that.  It is bursting with galleries, spas and shops.  Luckily, we missed most of that and instead had a fabulous day swimming in a desert stream.

Our goal was to hike into Red Rock Crossing, a famous photo op of the giant red Cathedral Rock reflected in the waters of Oak Creek.  At ten o’clock it was already too hot for the kids to chase the dozens of lizards scurrying over the trail.  We skirted the base of Cathedral Rock and then descended into a small canyon oasis of large sycamore trees.  We followed the sound of gurgling water and emerged from the trees on the banks of the medium sized creek.  

When the kids saw the small waterfall filling a deep swimming hole, the photo op turned into a day at the pool.  Of course, dad had to slog back to the car for the swimsuits and when I returned I found all three children swimming in their clothes.  Mom was sitting on the bank desperately trying to dry out her $400 Blackberry after slipping and falling into the water (this time the extended ‘sucker’ insurance paid off).  I was too interested in getting into the water myself to complain.  A massive cannon ball announced my return.


I had intended to snap a few pictures and spend the rest of the day gallery hopping.  Instead we spent almost the entire day swimming.  We hadn’t packed any food, but a Mexican family was kind enough to give us half a cantaloupe.  We all dug into it with our bare hands, slobbering over the sweet melon.

The creek started to fill up but never got crowded.  The little waterfall made a natural slide into which the Mexican family kept launching their two Chihuahuas, to roars of laughter.  I gave Emi rides across the swimming hole on my back.  The boys joined up with some others and roamed the creek looking for adventure.

It was truly a good day.  Even after five hours the suggestion to move on was met with, “Aw Dad, just a little longer.”

- Brian
 
Gotta Go!
1) Swim in Oak Creek: 
2) Art Galleries



Swimming  
Shade
Horses

Family Grades
Toni (Mom) - B - "A little bit stressful because of the concern for the kids getting scraped or bumped.  Wasn't able to fully participate because of my handicap.  It was natural, free, clean fun."

Sean (10 yrs) - A  -  "You slipped around. You just have to go there."

Kyle (9 yrs) - A - "It was really nice and you could slip and slide all day."

Emi (5 yrs) - A - "I think it was funny because Mom got her phone wet!"


Details
Sedona, AZ, Red Rock Crossing, Swimming Oak Creek, Art Galleries
Sedona
Why Go
1)  A great stopover as you head to the Grand Canyon
2)  Beautiful scenery
3)  Art galleries and shopping
Getting There
Sedona is 116 miles north of Phoenix, AZ.  Take I-17 N for 100 miles and then take Hwy 179 N for 10 miles.  

Google - Directions from Phoenix Airport to Sedona

Advice
1)  You must have a park pass to stop at any of the turnouts or parks in Sedona.  They can be purchased online or from the visitor's center south of Sedona on Hwy 179.  The Red Rock pass covers Sedona.  If you're going onto any other parks during your tip, consider the annual pass: National Park Service Site

2)  If continuing to the Grand Canyon, continue on Hwy 179 N up and out of Oak Creek Canyon to join back up with I-17 N.  This drive has great scenery but is steep and winding as it climbs out of the canyon.  There is a high overlook back into the canyon at the top.

3)  Hotels are pricey in Sedona so we stayed in Camp Verde about 20 miles south and drove into Sedona in the morning.  However, be warned that except for fast food by the highway there is nothing open in Camp Verde in the evening.  The town was completely dead on July 4th!
Red Rock Crossing
Why Go
1)  A great swimming hole.

2)  Famouse photo spot.
Getting There
There are two options:
1)  Main entrance is at Crescent Moon Picnic Area

2)  You can hike in from the back side by parking about 200 yds from end of Verde Valley School Rd, and take the trail head across the road north.
Advice
1)  The picnic area does not accept park passes and charges $8 per car.

2)  The creek bottom is extremely slippery and it is very difficult to cross without getting wet.
Swimming Oak Creek
Why Go
1)  Lots of  fun and inexpensive
Getting There
1)  Head north on Hwy 179 out of Sedona.  There is a stretch of several miles where the highway runs level to the creek.  Plenty of cars will be pulled over to the side of the road.

2)  If you don't want to swim off the side of the road, you can also swim in Oak Creek at Slide Rock State Park.  The park is north of Sedona on Hwy 179 and is at the end of the stretch of swimming opportunities.
Advice
1)  We swam at Red Rock Crossing so didn't swim at any of these places.  However, Sliding Rock looked crowded as we drove by.
Art Galleries
Why Go
1)  Large number and selection of art galleries
Getting There
1)  You will spot lots of galleries as you drive Hwy 179 through town.  However, there is a dense cluster right by the bridge over Oak Creek.
Google Maps
Advice
1)  You might want to take shifts entertaining the kids while one of you tours the galleries.  I was petrified one of the kids would knock over a $50,000 piece of art.

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