Tue, Feb

Swim, grill and chill out at local Oak Creek spot


While many of the swimming holes around the Verde Valley require some amount of hiking, others are a simple parking payment and short walk away.

One of those places is at Red Rock Crossing, where visitors will find three places to relax, swim or even slide.

“To me it’s the access. It’s a short walk back, it’s not a long hike at all. You can bring your wagon full of stuff,” said Carena Stamps, who visits about six times a year.

It is one of the more popular places to go during summer, and according to one parking attendant, is usually full throughout the weekend.

The first of three spots to swim is the largest. An abundance of shade provides a place for spectators, pets and watercoolers to stay out of the sun.

Water depth varies throughout, but for the most part is deep enough that swimmers can’t touch the bottom.

There is another small beach area just across from where visitors catch the first glimpse of water.

Within sight upstream is a long flat rock upon which visitors can catch some rays, and alongside it runs the natural water slide. That slide leads down into a wading pool.

Because of the parking and short walk to the creek, it’s an ideal place to visit with children.

“I like it because it’s kid friendly. It’s easily accessible from the parking lot,” Stamps said. “It’s actually deep enough to swim, and at a lot of other spots at Oak Creek it’s not deep enough.”

The second swimming spot is about 100 yards ahead along the same trail. A large area of flat rock leads to the creek’s edge. It is the perfect place to do more sunbathing or just relax and wade in the relatively calm current, but be aware, there is no coverage from the sun.

The third and final spot, known as Buddha Beach, is another short walk ahead. It is the most secluded but perhaps has some of the best features.

Soon after passing the second area, swimmers are met by a sea of cairns, the term for what are widely recognized as stacks of rocks.

Once there, a huge red cliff face serves as a backdrop to the creek. A sandy beach leads into a shallow shore and into water similar to that of the first spot.

Swimmers have the opportunity to sit on boulders in the water to stay cool. There are more large rocks that line the creek along the opposite side for visitors to sit back and relax.

The water is deep enough to jump in, though not from very high up. For safety, always check water depth before jumping.

There is little shade on the main side of the beach, but across the creek there is some, as well as more room to leave belongings.

It is an ideal place for locals to go cool down after a long day of work; it is easy to drive to, easy to park at and easy to walk to. Hours are daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Bathrooms are available in the parking lot, and grills and picnic tables allow visitors to have a hot meal during their stay.

Getting There

From Sedona it can be accessed by entering the Crescent Moon Picnic Area, and those coming from the Village of Oak Creek can get to it from the end of Verde Valley School Road.

To get to Crescent Moon, visitors take Upper Red Rock Loop Road south past the high school, turning left at Chavez Crossing Road and right at Red Rock Crossing Road. A $10 vehicle fee or $2 walk-in fee is required.

Coming from VOC, visitors park at Baldwin Trail parking lot, which is also paid.

The access point can be found at the easternmost end of the Crescent Moon parking lot. Follow the path that begins past that and after a water wheel on the left, a trail opening appears on the right.

Immediately past that opening, the flowing water of Oak Creek, splashing, swimmers laughing and oftentimes music can be heard.

Coming from the Baldwin Trail lot, visitors will head north toward the creek along Verde Valley School Road until it hits a dead end. From there they can turn right at Red Rock Crossing Trail or head directly toward the creek and follow it east.

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