After several failed missions to hike to waterfalls in both Tucson and Hong Kong, we were hell bent on making it to Grasshopper Point in Sedona. Unfortunately, we didn’t even get the chance to wind up lost, parched, tired and confused this time. Wildfires that raged throughout the Coconino National Forest left many portions of Sedona closed off while we there (and much later into the season). Disappointing for us, devastating and troubling to the city as most sources reported that the fires were started by humans and had a hugely negative impact on tourism this year.
Not all hope of finding water was lost for us though. Red Rock Crossing was still open…
The creeks at the Crossing overlook Cathedral Rock and make for some gorgeous views. We took a quick break at Oak Creek where not surprisingly, I fell in (those rocks are slippery!) and then went onwards to climb to the Cathedral.
Near the base of Cathedral Rock. I won’t share the unflattering photos of us trying to scale the walls to climb to the top – I’ll just share the reward:
LUNCH WITH A VIEW.
We really didn’t want to leave but we had to make our return to the Creek. And this time, embrace those slimy suckers:
What a big kid. The rocks are so slimy that you can lie down and just slide. That’s all folks!
To get to Red Rock Crossing, take 89A Drive west from Sedona. Just outside of town, turn south on Upper Red Rock Loop Road. It’s about a mile and a half to reach the Crossing – just follow the signs. The most important thing – GO EARLY: It could mean the difference between getting in or not. We actually attempted to get into the park our first day but the line to enter was so long that we gave up and returned as early as possible the next day. Why so busy? The area near the entrance of the park is a really popular spot for large groups of people picnicking (or more like barbecuing… ALL day), and only a certain amount of people are let in. Once the area is at capacity, you’ll sit in a line for what could be hours and hours.
Once you’ve parked, you’ll pass a barn and water wheel… continue following that trail into the woods. After less than half a mile, you’ll see water on your right side: Oak Creek. We opted to pass it by at first and carry on to Cathedral Rock, and then reward ourselves with a dip on the way back. Doing so works well if you want to get all the hiking done before getting wet, and prefer to swim midday when the sun is warmer. But – there tends to be a MUCH larger crowd there later in the day in the summer months, so weigh your options. Tip: The view from the creek with Cathedral Rock in the background is pretty spectacular. So be sure to snap a few pics as you pass by early to ensure no or at least fewer people in the way!
From Oak Creek, continue following the trail. You’ll reach a little spot called Buddha Beach where there are dozens of small flat rocks stacked on each other. There, you’ll need to cross the water to reach Templeton trail on the other side. (It’s easy!) From that point, it’s about another mile and a half to Cathedral Rock. You’ll know once you’ve reached the base – the only way is up!
We returned on a very similar path to the way we came; the only exception being we didn’t cross by Buddha Beach and stayed on the south side of the creek, which led us to the ‘stepping stones’ near the entrance to the park. Once we carefully crossed those, we wound back around the way we originally came (handy if you need to return to the car at this point) before going back for a swim in the creek.
I found the maps here really helpful. (If you look at the first map, we hit location 2, then 3 on our way to Cathedral Rock, and then 1 on the way back. All great spots for photos!)
Tip 2: If you’re short on time, can’t get into the park, or are only interested in Cathedral Rock, there is a parking lot near the base of it that makes accessing it much quicker. We just loved the full experience and had plenty of time to explore.
Last tip: It’s really easy to fall into the water. It’s very shallow and quite refreshing, so taking an accidental plunge is by no means traumatic – but be leery of this when it comes to what you carry. (I left my DSLR at home!)
One last wave goodbye from Montezuma Well on our way back to Scottsdale. See you in November, Sedona