Scenic USA - Arizona
Oak Creek Canyon
|Photos by Tom Kelly
Tom Kelly Photography
Split open along a fault line and down-cut by a perennial stream, Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon varies in depth from 800 to 2000 feet. Because of its position on a fault, the western rim averages about 700 feet higher than the east. The waters of Oak Creek create a unique environment, very different from the surrounding high desert region here in northern Arizona. In the valley, a lush forest of oak, maple, cottonwood, ash, elm and poplar line the lower reaches of the canyon, while the higher slopes of the Coconino National Forest are covered in Ponderosa pine and aspen.
This beautiful area around Oak Creek Canyon proved to be an inspiration to Zane Grey. His characters, Carley Birch and Glenn Kilbourne, lived among the looming canyons and whispering pines. First panned by critics, his best-selling novels enjoyed a second life, becoming the basis of western films and television productions. One of the first millionaire authors, Grey's writings included over 100 published works.
J.J. Thompson was one of the first non-natives to claim property under the Homestead Act in Oak Creek Canyon. Later in 1901, Dorsey and T.C. Schnebly purchased 80 acres in the heart of the Arizona's red-red country. Who knew then that Oak Creek Canyon and the Sedona area would become one of the most popular tourist's destinations in northern Arizona? Always ranked near the top for most scenic places in America, Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona are an easy two hour drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The Oak Creek Canyon area features numerous hiking and horseback riding trails, rock climbing challenges and backcountry adventures. During the autumn season, a favorite fall hike follows the West Fork Oak Creek Trail. Although recovering from a fire, this hike is still the best way to enjoy the canyon's beautiful foliage. It's a popular place in the fall, as hikers come to enjoy the crimson, gold and deep red hardwoods. One of the rarities you may discover is the big-tooth maple, a native to the moist bottomlands here in the canyon. Although slowed to a trickle during the autumn season, heavy spring rains turn on the magic of Encinoso Falls in this view. Once the side canyon tributaries add their heavy runoff to the stream, one can fully appreciate the power of Oak Creek and the Verde River.
West Fork Trail Map
Nearby Points of Interest
Copyright © 2006-15 Benjamin Prepelka
All Rights Reserved