Of all of the swimming holes around the Verde Valley, it can be argued that Grasshopper Point in Oak Creek Canyon is the most complete package.
A bit of everything that someone would want in a quality summer’s day spent outdoors, but not suffering, can be found there: Cliff jumping, relaxation, sunlight, shade, sunbathing and easy accessibility. It even has bathrooms in the parking lot.
Of course there are always drawbacks, which in this case come in the form of an $8 fee per vehicle, limited parking and a decent number of visitors at any given time. But it is rumored that on weekdays there is no parking attendant to collect money.
And for those who cannot seem to stop looking at their smartphone, the lack of cell service. Aside from snapping a few photos, the scenery and good time shared with friends and family should be enough to keep eyes off the backlit screen.
“It’s gorgeous, the water is clear and you can see [the bottom] and there’s shady spots,” said Jada Schumann, a second-time visitor from Prescott.
Located less than a mile north of Midgley Bridge on SR 89A, the Coconino National Forest sign is next to impossible to miss.
After parking, the trailhead is found at the southern end of the lot. A short walk down to a clearing and to the left leads visitors to the sounds of the creek.
Up a small embankment and the water appears. The terrain is mostly rocky, so proper footwear is suggested, and many bathers wear water shoes as well.
The shoreline is covered by a tree canopy to provide plenty of shade to keep both people and their watercoolers from overheating, but glass and pets are not permitted.
Rocks that also serve as in-water seating ease swimmers into the chilly water.
“I like the cliffs and how the rocks are in the water and you can sit on them,” said Reagan Womack, also a second-time visitor from Prescott.
A huge black and red cliff face dominate the scenery. It is from there where swimmers can jump from varying heights; access to the different jump points can be reached by either climbing the face or walking around the back. Most jumpers leap from a point about 20 feet up while others go from about 35 feet.
It is also worth noting that there is not a lifeguard on duty, and water depths vary throughout, so take precautions like checking water depth before jumping.
With a lack of a strong water current and a surplus of hot air temperatures, some visitors bring inner tubes in which to wade. Upstream from the cliffs the water is only about a foot deep, making a good spot for wandering, especially for children.
“It’s really peaceful and especially after the school year is over, it’s a nice way to calm yourself down and relax,” Joseph Reich said.
For a bit more open space for tanning and relaxation, head down Allens Bend [Trail 111], located at the east end of the parking lot. Shortly after the trailhead, follow the path right where a nearly vertical drop appears.
Carefully climb down the nearly 8-foot rock face, which provides a good number of sturdy hand and footholds.
Oak Creek is at the bottom along with plenty of open, flat space to leave belongings and catch some rays. Upstream from there a large number of crayfish meander about, offering a challenge of capturing one for fun; it is not advisable to cook and eat them.
One thing that sets Grasshopper Point apart from other swimming holes is that it is exposed to the sun for a much greater part of the day than others.
Being that it is a day-use point controlled by the national forest, patrons must leave by 6 p.m. daily.
Things to Bring
Proper footwear for rocky terrain and water
Hydrating drinks [no glass containers allowed]
Food [covered picnic tables are located in the parking lot]
An adventurous attitude for cliff jumping
Things Not to Bring
Shelter from the sun [trees provide plenty of shade]
Fire-making tools [no campfires allowed]
Camping gear [no overnight camping]