The extremely popular and heavily visited Oak Creek Canyon area north of Sedona, Arizona, in the Coconino National Forest closes to public use July 3. Much of the area was devastated by a spring wild fire and with the coming monsoon season, forest officials are worried about mudslides and flash floods.
The isolation of the area on both sides of Arizona Highway 89A between Flagstaff and Sedona makes it impractical for forest managers to be able to warn visitors, campers and hikers if evacuations are needed. The closure covers the entire length of Oak Creek Canyon from the north Sedona city limits to Forest Road 535 near the community of Oak Creek Vista. The area was seriously burned in a human caused fire raging northwest of the canyon between May 20 and containment on June 4, 2014.
The safety action closes forest service campgrounds, nearly a dozen picnic areas and overlooks and forest land access to Oak Creek for swimming, hiking and dipping toes in the water. State Route 89A is open for a drive through the canyon. A fire-delayed Arizona Department of Transportation paving project on the switchbacks climbing from the canyon was completed ahead of schedule.
Arizona’s famous Slide Rock State Park—one of the 10 best state parks in the U.S.—remains open, but it is heavily visited in the summer and subject to closures when the parking area is filled. Slide Rock is known for its year-round water natural slick rock water chute. With the surrounding forest lands closed, the park is expected to fill earlier than normal.
Private resorts and campgrounds in Oak Creek Canyon remain unaffected by the forest closure. Visit Sedona has information on open facilities and lodging along Route 89A. The closure does not affect areas north of Oak Creek Canyon, such as Munds Park, Arizona.
The Coconino National Forest has set up a hotline and special webpages with information about the closure and options for visiting Sedona away from Oak Creek Canyon.
• Oak Creek Canyon Information Hotline: 928-203-7505
• Coconino County’s Slide Fire Area Monsoon Flood Preparation web page: www.coconino.az.gov/slidefloodinformation.
For visitors looking who had plans to visit Oak Creek Canyon during this time of the year, alternatives to recreating at Oak Creek Canyon can be found online at http://tinyurl.com/n2lfxto.