There are also a couple of State Parks in this area (Red Rock and Slide Rock) charging the typical State Park entry fee AND there are three local parks charging their own entry fee. It's good to be aware that you could roll up to an entry gate and be faced with a per car or even a per person fee.
We visited Red Rock State Park one day because I had it in my head that it was one of the places included under the America the Beautiful pass umbrella. Not so, as noted above it's $5 per person to enter. We stayed and enjoyed the small visitor center and the riparian landscape of Oak Creek as well as some easy trails, but it's doubtful we'd pay to visit this site again.
|From the Eagles Nest trail you get a nice bird's eye view of Red Rock State Park.|
Oak Creek flows through the park providing lush riparian habitat,
during our visit in March only the cottonwoods were starting to green up.
|Check out those ears!|
Lots of mule deer at Red Rock State Park.
We did discover a lush corridor of Oak Creek that would be an excellent birding site and it's FREE: Page Springs Road. The Page Springs Fish Hatchery is located here and has trails among the fish ponds and a small visitor center where you can learn about fishing in AZ. BONUS: there are at least three wineries right near the hatchery visitor center!
|This is one of the indoor cold hatcheries...there are also open air ponds for warmer water fish.|
Another day we drove several miles North of Sedona to hike the West Fork Oak Creek trail. This is one of the parks that charges an entry fee of $10 per car. It's popular because it's fairly easy and you hike along the creek, making this park a magnet for families in the summer. Don't expect solitude here at any time of the year!
This trail was different from others we've hiked recently because we stayed at the bottom of the canyon and admired the rock formations from below. There's lots of trees in the canyon which were just barely beginning to bud. If all the trees were fully leafed out, the rock views would be pretty limited!
|The creek sits at about 5500 feet so we walked through a forest of Ponderosa Pine and mixed deciduous trees.|
|The trail ends about 3.5 miles in where the canyon narrows considerably.|
We watched 3 men don water shoes and continue up stream.
|Light plays with rock well in these canyons.|
Here, calm water meets curved red rock to create a tunnel effect.
|Massive red and white rock walls towered over us.|