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Slide Rock State Park

By Randee Bergen

A beach scene in the middle of a mountain canyon? Sounds fun.

Slide Rock is in Arizona, south of Flagstaff and north of Sedona, in Oak Creek Canyon. The month of March is a bit early in the season to be playing in a mountain creek even in sunny, warm Arizona. I researched camping in the area and found just one campground nearby that was open, for tent camping, during March, another sign that it might not be the best time to visit. But this was the time we had to go – the last two weeks of March. I figured we could at least make a stop and do some hiking.

It was a warm, beautiful day as we drove through the northern Arizona desert, then up into the Ponderosa pine forests to Flagstaff and down the switchbacks into Oak Creek Canyon. We saw the area and many people enjoying it before we actually turned into the entrance. A sign there said that the air temperature was 74 and the water temperature 46.

“Are people actually playing in the water?” I asked the ranger.

“A few are. It’s a really nice spring day here. No clouds, no wind. So some brave souls are getting in.”

In the parking lot, I changed into water shorts and a shirt that could serve as a swimsuit top if need be. I wasn’t quite ready to don true swimwear. We walked a half mile before dropping into the rocky canyon area called Slide Rock. We crossed the creek a few times in ankle-deep water, on stepping stones and over short bridges. Then, we set our belongings down and found a place to test the water.\

The rocks beneath the crystal clear water were green and looked slippery with moss. I was worried about losing my balance and falling in, but the wet rock was surprisingly easy to walk on.

The water was indeed chilly, but it wasn’t long before I was meandering over to the top of the sliding area. As I got closer, I watched a few people sit themselves into the water, push off, and slide down the rock. They all drew their breath in quickly and grimaced, but soon switched to laughing, screaming, and smiling.

Some of the kids got out, rushed back to the top, and did it again. But they were kids. I found the one woman who was close to my age who had braved the water slide and got her opinion. She basically said it was awesome and that she could do it all day long.

All I needed to hear.

I gave my camera to my daughter, sat down, sucked my breath in, and pushed off. It wasn’t as slippery and slide-like as I thought it would be. Nor as cold. I had to push myself along in a few spots and this meant that I was sitting in the water longer than I had planned to.

But, when I hit the deep pool at the bottom and pulled myself to the side, I was smiling like the rest of them and thinking about doing it again.

I hear they have to close the gates in the summer because there are too many people. I could only imagine the line to slide on a hot Arizona day. So I was glad I did it on this early spring day while I was here.

Later, I noticed people on the cliff high above and set off to find the trail.

As I left the swimming area, some teens were cliff jumping into a large pool. If I was still wet, I would have tried it. Now I wish I would have anyway.

The views from above, on the trail, were incredible. What a fun spot!

 

 

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