Red Rock Scenic Byway
Red Rock Splendor
|Departure:||The National Forest/Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center, Arizona|
|Destination:||Little Horse Trail and Bell Rock Pathway Northern Trailhead, Arizona|
|Time to allow:||1 day|
This guide is for the traveler who has limited time, but wants to experience one of America's most dramatic drives in one of the hiking/biking meccas of the world. Fall through spring is best for the recreation, but driving is beautiful year round. At every turn, this route reveals wondrous views.
Here's where you'll find brochures, fact sheets, trail map handouts...all you need to know for staying and playing in Red Rock Country: comprehensive history/geology information, trail maps, hiking/biking tips, lodging, food and entertainment. For this itinerary, pick up a trail map handout that shows "Little Horse Trail" on it -- and buy your Red Rock Pass for parking and recreating on Forest Service lands.
Stop 1: Picture Yourself at Red Rock Crossing on Oak Creek (AZ)
From previous stop: 17 minutes / 5 mi (8.0 km) Directions:
As you come out of the Visitors Center driveway, turn north (left) on SR 179 and you'll see a major intersection with a stoplight. Turn west (left) onto Verde Valley School Road and go 4.7 miles where the road dead ends into the Red Rock Crossing parking lot. Do not park anywhere but the parking lot. This road travels through residential areas so be aware of the 30-35 mph speed limit; also, for the last 1.2 miles, the road is unpaved as well as curvy, hilly, and subject to flooding after excessive rains. From the parking lot, it is a very short walk to the the pathway that will lead you down to the unique redrock banks of Oak Creek.
Suggested time at this stop: 1 hour
Don't forget your camera, because you're at one of the most photographed sites in the country as well as one of the most naturally beautiful settings in Sedona. If it's a Saturday, chances are there's a small wedding taking place at the north end of the crossing. Most days there will be artists painting or photographers setting up their shots or people just soaking up the inspiring view. If the creek water's low enough, step across the red rock stepping stones, which is the crossing, to Red Rock State Park situated on the other side.
Stop 2: Bell Rock Vista and Pathway Southern Trailhead (AZ)
From previous stop: 45 minutes / 5.8 mi (9.3 km) Directions:
Turn east (right) out of the Red Rock Crossing parking lot and take Verde Valley School Road 4.7 miles back to its stoplight intersection with SR 179, where you will turn north (left). Proceed straight, through the Village of Oak Creek, and just past the next stoplight, on your right hand side, will be the entrance to the Bell Rock Vista and Pathway parking lot.
Suggested time at this stop: 45 minutes
Here's where you'll discover the size and power of the red rocks; this is a travelers up close experience with mystical Bell Rock and mammoth Courthouse Butte. Feel the red rock energy and enjoy the views. There are many pathways to choose from, all going to or near Bell Rock that can be done in a half hour or as long as you feel like walking.
From previous stop: 5 minutes / 2.6 mi (4.2 km) Directions:
Turn north (or right) out of the parking lot onto SR 179; proceed straight and be on the lookout for signs that say "Little Horse Trail" and "Bell Rock Pathway"; entrance to this stop's parking lot will come up fairly quickly, on your right.
Suggested time at this stop: 3 hours
Discover a little serenity among the glorious hiking and biking trails that meander to hidden washes and breathtaking red rock panoramas. Little Horse Trail is a localï¿½s favorite, rated moderate, and 6.5 miles if you do the full round trip. Remember the rules of the trail, and have fun! Also at this stop, view the "Three Nuns" with the renowned Chapel of the Holy Cross perched below.
Officially, the scenic road ends just beyond this point so after your hike, and before resuming your drive, take a moment to look West and gaze upon famous Cathedral Rock, a huge rock formation with multiple red rock spires. Whether it is silhouetted against a glowing sunset or shining in the midday sun, it is considered one of the most beautiful of all the red rock formations in the Sedona area, and surely a fitting way to end your day of Red Rock Splendor.
Totals for Day 1
|Total Distance Traveled:||13.4 miles / 21.4 km|
|Total Travel Time:||1 hour 7 minutes|
|Total Stopping Time:||4 hours 45 minutes|