Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park is a small park about nine miles from the town of Sedona. This area of Arizona is known for the distinct red color of the surrounding sandstone rocks, so while this specific park has the official moniker, someone could have surveyed an area almost anywhere in the region and legitimately called it Red Rock State Park. The particular piece of state-protected land is set along Oak Creek. Because this stream flows year round, it has formed a rich riparian (meaning the area between a river or stream and the dry land) ecosystem, whereas the hills only 50 feet away are nearly bare, supporting only cottonwood mesquite, other scrub bushes, and cactus.

Cathedral Rock Sedona
Cathedral Rock Sedona

This is a very popular park for a number of activities, including school field trips and weddings that can be held on the rooftop of the Visitors Center, at the lovely cottonwood “Wedding Tree,” or in the Hummingbird room or covered ramadas. Most visitors come here for day hikes. There is a network of well-marked trails—no off-trail trekking is permitted—and map signposts at all junctions. There are trails alongside Oak Creek as well as up into the hills. Most of the trails are loops, including Eagles Nest, which takes you up 300 feet. Coyote Ridge, Apache Fire, and Yavapai Ridge Trails link up to other trails outside the park. There are picnic areas scattered along trails that run for five miles and are accessible to all. This is a day-use park, so there is no camping allowed. There are several private campsites in the area. Sedona hotels offer the closest lodging, though you can also stay in Oak Creek, which is about fifteen miles away, or Cottonwood, about eighteen miles from Red Rock.

In addition to Red Rock State Park, a visit to this area is bound to reveal the beauties of Cathedral Rock Sedona, which rises majestically from its red sandstone foundation. Its delicate spires reach to the sky as beautifully as any man-made Gothic cathedral. It inspires the spiritual, and local people have been coming here to the rock formation created by the Great Spirit since the time of the Anasazi people. Considered one of the strongest vortexes in Sedona, modern day “New Age” tours visit for meditation and spiritual renewal. You don’t have to believe in the channeling of spiritual energy to be moved by this rock formation, because it truly is beautiful. Those who come for hiking come also to marvel at its beauty. These hikers may also be grateful for the fact that a good portion of the trail is strenuous enough to minimize hordes of tourists. You can enjoy the trail as long as you are in good physical condition. It is less than two miles long, but the first half is fairly steep—enough so that hikers have carved steps into the rock. If you are physically prepared for this kind of terrain, then you should be able to manage the trail. If you want something more challenging, there is an extended trail that crosses the route at the base of Cathedral Rock and continues on to Red Rock Crossing. Cathedral Rock is located about halfway between Sedona and Red Rock State Park.

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