Slide Rock State Park – What to See and Do

Slide Rock State Park – What to See and Do

Slide Rock State Park in Arizona is one spot you have to visit if you are in the Sedona Area on a warm day.  This natural waterslide created by the flowing Oak Creek is in a perfect setting, surrounded by the Red Rock that Sedona is known for.

If you have done any research on the Sedona Area, then it’s more than likely that you’ve already seen Slide Rock State Park pop up on your radar screen.  It’s super popular, and attracts thousands of visitors each day in the summer months.  While many state parks don’t require much in the way of pre-planning or research, a visit to Slide Rock State Park takes a bit of effort so you can navigate the crowds properly, and not be met with a “full parking lot” sign when you arrive.

slide rock state park in  sedona arizona

Slide Rock State Park, image courtesy of Don Graham

While this guide is brief, we hope to give you a few tips on how to best enjoy your visit to Slide Rock, as well as what you can do here besides go for an amazing ride through Oak Creek!


Designated as Slide Rock State Park in 1987, this park is fairly new.  The area was first developed by Frank Pendley, who entered the location from Los Angeles in 1907 and acquired the land under the Homestead Act in 1910.  He hand-built the cabin and started an orchard, which grew to over 750 trees (he was an expert in apples).

The orchard was in operation until 1982, when Frank’s surviving members of his family decided it was time to sell the farm.  It took some time and negotiations, but the land was eventually acquired in 1985, along with the homestead buildings.

You can still view the homestead buildings today, including the main house, a packing barn and the tourist cabins that were built in the early 30’s by Frank.


slide rock state park map

Slide Rock State Park map, courtesy of Arizona State Parks

While the main attraction here is swimming, there is certainly more to do than just that!  There is enough to keep you busy here for several hours to a full day, depending on your pace. 

slide rock swimming area

Slide Rock State Park swimming area, image courtesy of David

While visiting Slide Rock State Park, we recommend the following:

  • Swimming and sliding in Oak Creek. Of course, if you come to Slide Rock State Park, we highly recommend getting in the water and experiencing the rush of sliding down the smooth creek bed (made slippery by algae) as the Oak Creek flows quickly.  In total, there is about a 0.5-mile stretch of creek for swimming.  The slide area (which is about 80 feet in total) is very popular, but there are natural pools that form that are great for wading as well.  The water temperature is cool even in the summer, and it feels great on a hot day in particular.  Be advised that if you do head down the slide area, while it is smooth it is still hard.  You will get bruised up a bit, but it likely won’t be too bad.  If you do have a bad back, then we recommend just hanging out in the wading areas and on the beach.  Also, be careful as you exit the water, as it can be slippery and a bit steep.  To get to the swimming area, head north from the parking area.  It’s about a 0.2-mile walk on pavement before hitting stairs for the last part of the walk. 

slide rock state park

slide rock state park

  • Relaxing on the “beach.” There is a natural beach area that has formed alongside Oak Creek, and you can bask in the sun here when you are not swimming.  It is very exposed to the sun, though, so be sure to bring sunblock and a hat.  We enjoyed hanging out on the beach while the kids played in the water for hours!

slide rock state park

slide rock state park

  • Picnicking.  There are plenty of picnic tables available for use.  We highly recommend picnicking here, as you’ll likely want to stay for a few hours and this is a great way to take a break from being completely exposed as you are in the swimming area.
  • Food Service. There is a small market with snacks and ice that is open year-round.  It is located on the way to the swimming area and also has souvenirs. 
  • While the trails in Slide Rock State Park won’t keep you engaged in hiking all day, there are a couple of paths that are worth checking out if you have the time:
    • The Clifftop Trail is an easy hike that lasts about 0.5-miles (total). Climbing up only about 40 feet, this trail gives nice views of the swimming area as well as the nearby apple orchard and barn.  The trail starts at the Apple Packing Shed.  Instead of turning right (toward 89A and the swimming area), head left to stay above Oak Creek.
    • The Pendley Homestead Trail is what you walk on after you leave the parking area and walk toward the swimming area. This completely paved path is only about 0.3-miles long and is completely paved.  Along the way you’ll see the original homestead, cabins and orchards.

slide rock state park orchard

Apple Orchard, image courtesy of Don Graham


Slide Rock State Park is located in the heart of Arizona, and there is enough to keep you busy in Arizona to last for weeks.  However, here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Check out what there is to See and Do in Sedona. From backcountry trips in jeeps to amazing hikes and great food and art scene, Sedona is an area that you’ll want to check out.  Sedona is located about 7 miles to the south on Highway 89A.

what to see and do in Sedona, az

  • Hike and explore in Red Rock State Park. There are a few great trails in the park that are worth checking out as well as some incredible scenery.
  • Visit Coconino National Forest. This landscape will allow you to get lost for days.  You can hike, camp, swim and just explore the area.  We do recommend having a 4WD vehicle to really get into the forest, but it’s worth checking out.  The Coconino National Forest surrounds the greater Sedona area and Flagstaff. 
  • Visit Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This little-known National Monument is worth checking out.  The sheer mass of cinders that have taken over the landscape and the hiking around the crater is incredible.  Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is located about an hour to the north on Highway 89.

Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument



Getting to Slide Rock State Park is relatively easy.  Highway 89 goes through Sedona (and is quite scenic), and you will undoubtedly find yourself passing by Slide Rock State Park if you drive around the area and do even a little exploring.


Since this is one of the more popular parks, it’s also on the more expensive side.  The park charges per vehicle, and costs go up on the weekends.  You can find out more about the up-to-date costs here.  The Arizona State Parks annual pass is also accepted.


Slide Rock State Park Lodging: There is no lodging available in the park.  The best nearby location to stay is in Sedona, AZ.  There are a ton of options in the area to consider, but be sure you book early!


There are a lot of local campgrounds to consider staying at in the greater Sedona area, and there are too many private campgrounds to name.  If you are interested in public campgrounds, here are a few great options:

Manzanita Campground:

  • Location: The Manzanita Campground is situated along Highway 89, just 1 mile south of Slide Rock State Park. Directions from Slide Rock State Park to Manzanita Campground.
  • Accessible via: Vehicle
  • Reservations: Offered year-round. Manzanita Campground Reservations.
  • Capacity: 14 sites (tent only).
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Additional details: This campground is within a short drive to Slide Rock State Park as well as Sedona, so it is extremely popular. It is located along Oak Creek, which is great for trout fishing.  Book in advance.
  • Book in advance.

Cave Springs Campground:

  • Location: The Cave Springs Campground is located about 5 miles to the north of Slide Rock State Park. Directions from Slide Rock State Park to the Cave Springs Campground.
  • Accessible via: Vehicle
  • Reservations: Offered from mid-April through late October. Cave Springs Campground Reservations.
  • Capacity: 84 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Vault toilets and showers.
  • Additional details: The Cave Springs Campground is very popular, and for good reason. It has quite a bit of room and can accommodate RV’s, unlike the Manzanita Campground.  It also has a store for supplies.  This is a great place to stay for a few days!

Pine Flat Campground:

  • Location: The Pine Flat Campground is located about 6 miles to the north of Slide Rock State Park. Directions from Slide Rock State Park to the Pine Flat Campground.
  • Accessible via: Vehicle
  • Reservations: Offered from mid-April through late October. Pine Flat Campground Reservations.
  • Capacity: 59 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Vault toilets and no showers.
  • Additional details: The Pine Flat Campground is again another great nearby option. Reserve early!  It’s also located right along Oak Creek which is great for swimming and fishing.


You may think that it’s always hot in Sedona, but that is far from the truth.  The area is known to get snow on occasion, and the water heading through Oak Creek can be downright cold.  Therefore, the best time to head to the park is when it’s hot and you need to cool down. 

However, with the warmer weather comes the crowds.  And this park can get busy.  In fact, the park shuts down access to additional vehicles frequently during the day.  Sometimes this can happen well before noon.  Because of this, lines to enter the park start forming early in the morning, sometimes an hour or more before it opens.  Yup.

slide rock state park

So, that leaves the question, when is the best time to visit?  Well, we love the fall here during the week, as crowds can be much lighter, and you can still swim as the runoff through the creek isn’t as cold.  But if you do come on a busy day, either come at 7:30 am and wait in line, or come toward the evening as the crowds start to thin out.


The park is open year-round, and you can definitely come in the winter.  Don’t expect crowds, but also don’t expect to do much swimming as it’s going to be very cold!  You’ll likely have only a few people around when you visit in the winter, and it can be amazing!


Pets are more than welcome to come in the par, but they must be leashed and are not allowed in the swimming area.


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About Just Go Travel Studios

We are Amy & Pete Brahan. Very simply, we are passionate about our National Parks and Public Lands and explore them with our three kids whenever we can.

As much as we enjoy traveling, we also love sharing our knowledge and helping others create everlasting memories through our custom-made travel posters, downloadable travel itineraries and detailed blog articles.

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