No matter what time of year you visit, Oak Creek Canyon is a spectacular sight to see. From colorful leaves in the fall to shady hikes in the summer and a dusting of snow in the winter, there is always a great reason to explore this beautiful canyon.
Enjoy a leisurely, scenic drive from Sedona to Flagstaff as Highway 89A takes you through Oak Creek Canyon. You’ll be greeted with towering red canyon walls, a rushing creek and lush forest while the switchbacks make the drive exciting and help keep you going at a slower pace to take in the surroundings. Here are our recommendations for what to do in Oak Creek Canyon each season:
Springtime marks the end of the winter season and the new beginning of life all around. Leaves begin to bud and animals awaken from their winter slumber. Spring is Sedona’s busiest visitor season, with average high temperatures in the mid-60s to low 80s (March – May), and chilly evenings perfect for bundling up. These temperatures, coupled with pops of color from budding desert flowers and rust-colored trails, make for the perfect weather for hiking and sightseeing in Oak Creek Canyon.
Make the drive through the canyon and stop at Indian Gardens Café and Market for lunch and goodies. This historic establishment was built in 1947 to meet the needs of a growing community in the canyon. It has served many purposes – general store, gas station, bar, ice cream parlor, antique store, sandwich shop and more – but it has always been a gathering place for residents and a restful, refueling stop for visitors.
Summer in Sedona is spectacular. While the high desert can get pretty warm, the shady trees of Oak Creek Canyon make it the perfect place to hike and recreate during this time. One of the most infamous spots in Oak Creek Canyon during the summer months is Slide Rock State Park – an adventure for the entire family that centers around a natural water slide and wading pool made from slick red rocks!
Slide Rock State Park is located just off 89A in Oak Creek Canyon (about 7.5 miles north of L’Auberge), and is set on a 43-acre historic apple farm with naturally-occurring water slide. The famous “Slide Rock” is a stretch of slippery creek bottom that runs 80 feet long and 2.5 to 4 feet wide, with a 7 percent decline from top to bottom. Algae on the rocks creates an adrenaline-pumping slippery ride! Visitors may slide down this slick natural water chute or wade and sun along the creek. Also available are picnicking, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
Fall is arguably the best time to visit Oak Creek Canyon. The colors of the changing leaves and the temperate climate are ideal for exploring the canyon and capturing breathtaking photos. The hiking trails are a bit less crowded, and the vibrant colors of the trees against the Red Rocks is truly magical. Make the scenic drive from Sedona to Flagstaff through Oak Creek Canyon and plan to stop along the way to capture nature’s beauty through both lenses – your eyes and your shutter.
Another highlight of Fall in Oak Creek Canyon is Garland’s Oak Creek Apples – which provides fresh apple cider from fruit grown right in the canyon. Late October marks ripening season and the apple cider starts flowing. Be sure and stop by for a cup and bring some home too!
While winter temperatures can reach freezing and a light dusting of snow can be seen, this time makes for a gorgeous drive through the snowy canyon and a stop along the way for hot cocoa. You might get lucky with enough snow on the ground for an impromptu snowball fight too!
Whatever time of year you decide to visit Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, there is beauty to be found and memories to be made. Browse our current L’Auberge package and offers and start planning your visit today.