Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park is a super famous location just north of Sedona.  You have probably seen it featured on Youtube, with people sliding through the natural rock water slides. Those videos are pretty awesome, like the one below.

I had been wanting to go there for a few years after seeing some of these videos, so when we did a last minute weekend trip to Flagstaff, I told Mallory that we had to take the kids there. Unfortunately, the actual slides didn’t live up to the hype, but the park was still pretty dang fun.

This shot below shows the main slide that is pictured on most videos. It is the longest slide, but it wasn’t my favorite. It was not very smooth and there were lots of bumps along the way. The view itself, though, is worth the visit.

While I had fun at Slide Rock State Park, it was not a winner for the wife and kids.  They all preferred Crescent Moon Picnic Site, where we had spend several hours swimming in Sedona the day before.  In this post, I am just going to share what we liked and what we didn’t like about Slide Rock State Park.


The scenery is beautiful at Slide Rock

You could not ask for a much prettier backdrop to swim and picnic all day than Slide Rock State Park.  The walk to get to the creek takes you along beautiful orchards sitting at the base of tall mountains and red rock cliffs.  You then descend down into a red rock canyon where the creek is.  On either side of the canyon, you enjoy mountain views.

As a photographer, I did not find a lot of photographic gems here.  That wasn’t the purpose of our trip and I didn’t go scouting, but I always have my eye out and didn’t see anything I loved.  Rather than great photography, it is just an overall scenic area where you really feel like you are in nature.

The swimming area at Slide Rock State Park is bigger than expected

The creek area where you swim is a lot bigger than I expected.  Even crowded with people all day, you have no problem finding a nice area to set up and swim.  There are multiple slide areas, not just the big one that is all over Youtube.  There is also a place to jump off a small cliff and many areas to just lay in the sun or swim in deeper pools of water or let the kids splash in shallow areas.

This is me enjoying the small cliff sides for a an ugly looking backflip.

We were really surprised at how much space there was and that even with all the people, we didn’t have to wait in lines to use the slides and felt comfortable the whole time.

The Slides are funnish

Even though the “slides” were not anywhere close to as fun as we expected with all the bumps and such, they added an element of fun that you don’t get at any other swimming hole. Also, while the big popular slide was especially bumpy, we found other smaller slides further upstream that were more fun.

The small slide in the shot below was a ton of fun. This was especially good for kids because it was small and smooth, but pushed you along at a good pace.

The Drive is Beautiful

The drive to Slide Rock State Park from either direction is quite lovely, but the drive from the north is especially pretty. The one bad thing about the drive is it may be the windiest road I have ever been on. Getting behind a slow car on this road is quite infuriating, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking a trailer down this road.

I had to take a screenshot of the map.

What we didn’t like about Slide Rock

While Slide Rock State Park is a cool place, there were a lot of reasons we would recommend a different swimming hole near Sedona.

The Water was Freezing

Slide Rock State Park is 750 feet higher in elevation than Sedona. It is also in a steep canyon shaded from the sun most of the day. This means the water is a lot colder than you might expect. It didn’t help that we went early in the morning to try and avoid the crowds, but the water was just too cold to really enjoy.

If you are coming mid-afternoon on a super hot day, this won’t be a concern, but there will be hordes of people to ruin it at that point.

The Crowds

With all the attention this place gets on social media, it is no surprise that it gets crowded. We went early in the morning to avoid the crowds and it wasn’t too bad, but even by early afternoon when we left, it was getting a lot more crowded. I can’t imagine what it is like on a really hot weekend afternoon.

The creek area is long and there is a lot of space to set up chairs and relax, but there isn’t that much good swimming area to share with crowds.

The Walk was long from the Parking Lot

The parking lot is about 1/3 of a mile from the creek. It is mostly flat before reaching stairs that take you down to the creek. Now 1/3 of a mile is not a long hike or even a hard walk, and if I were going on a hike or going to do photography, it would be super easy, but going to swim, it is annoying.

When you want to pack in a cooler, wear flip flops and such, that is a long an annoying walk. I may hate the walk more than most because we forgot something in the car so I had to make the trek back.

Final Thoughts

While Slide Rock State Park was not our favorite place, I could see having a lot of fun there. The key is plan ahead a little bit and be flexible. I would only go if it is a really hot day so you can enjoy the cold water. I would also go on a weekday if possible to enjoy the crowds. Finally, pack light and make sure you don’t leave anything in the car!

Have you been to Slide Rock State Park? Let us know what you thought and if you have any tips over at our Facebook group.

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