Sept. 2016 – I had passed by the entrance to Red Rock State Park several times during my drives down Red Rock Loop Road, a loop I often took on the way from Cottonwood to Sedona because just the scenery along that road is incredible.
Their website describes it as “a 286 acre nature preserve and environmental education center with stunning scenery.” I had no doubt about the stunning scenery since I’d seen pictures from there and the red rock formations I’d seen around Sedona were endlessly fascinating to me.
Eagle’s Nest Vista Trail
I stopped at the visitor’s center and heard that the hike to Eagle’s Nest Vista was the most popular, so that was an easy decision.
It had been a while since I had done much hiking with an incline, but I wasn’t about to miss the panoramic view I was promised at the top. It’s only about 3/4 mile, but gains 300′ in elevation, so there was some huffing and puffing, but I took many opportunities to stop and take pictures and catch my breath. At a comfortable pace, it took me about an hour to get up there.
You go up via a series of switchback trails similar to this:
Some parts are smoother like this and others more rocky stair-like. I definitely recommend taking along a hiking stick, wearing good hiking shoes and bringing lots of water.
There are a couple of bridges like this to cross.
This one was my favorite with yummy creek views from both sides.
It was fun (and a bit daunting) as the climb got higher, looking down at my car in the parking lot and seeing how far I’d come (and how far I had to go back)! But the views of Cathedral Rock were enticing enough and ever changing, so I had plenty of incentive to continue.
Another part of the switchback trail with equally enticing view of the Seven Warriors formation.
View from the top of Eagles Nest Vista and a better view of Seven Warriors. The light was shining perfectly on it and it was breathtaking in more ways than one since I was still huffing and puffing from the climb.
But there are benches at the top to rest and gawk at the truly panoramic vista. Here’s where I sat for about a half hour watching the shadows from the clouds changing the look of the landscape. As I was contemplating this wondrous land, I wondered how I’d ever want to leave it. Something about these red rocks just stir my soul! Oh, also contemplating the desire for an escalator to take down.
More Red Rock State Park Information:
Stop at the Visitor Center and check out the little films “The Natural Wonders of Sedona” featuring aerial shots of ancient Indian ruins with shots of Sedona’s dramatic landscapes and local wildlife. “Loved to Death” talks about the environmental importance of Oak Creek. History
Facilities & Fees: (as of Sept. 2016): $7 per person adult; $4 per youth (7-14); younger no charge. The park is open 7 days a week from 8 am – 5 pm, but last entrance is at 4:30 pm. The parking lot at the visitor center is as far as you can get by car.
Camping: None – day use only. I would have loved to camp here for a while, but when I asked Park Manager Heidi Erickson about it, she said they had looked into the subject, but it was ultimately determined that was at odds with their core mission statement:
“The mission of the park is to preserve the riparian habitat associated with Oak Creek; to serve as an environmental education facility; and to provide limited passive recreational opportunities.”
They do have a couple of full hookup sites available for volunteers to work at the entrance or visitor center. See On-Site Volunteer Openings for more info and to apply. Other volunteer opportunities.
Pet Friendly? No pets of any kind are allowed in the park or on the trails. They are very serious about this in order to protect the delicate ecosystem here. From their FAQ & Rules page: Red Rock State Park is a Center for Environmental Education and as a nature preserve it is our mission to protect the environment and the wildlife that live here. Pets may leave droppings or intrude on others’ enjoyment of the park.
Internet/Wi-Fi/Cell Phone: Verizon works best and there are spots within the park and on the trails with access. I could get one on the Eagle’s Nest Vista Trail, but I could not get a signal from the visitor center. I also heard that the volunteer host sites cannot get cell phone signal or internet access via an aircard, either.
Distant views of House of Apache Fires made me look forward to a return visit to check it out more closely. I was even able to view it from the inside when they were working on the interior renovation.
Malia’s 2 Cents: If you’re as in love with the red rock formations around Sedona as I am, this is a great place to indulge that fascination. The two hikes I did were fantastic – I think it’s impossible to get enough of the panoramic views of Cathedral Rock!
Your Two Cents? The only way I know if the reviews and research I present are helpful to you is if I hear from you. I sure would appreciate your feedback in Comments below.