Oak Creek Canyon: Historic US 89A to Sedona


To reach Sedona out of Flagstaff, turn from Interstate 40 onto I-17 south, then take the first exit.  This will put you on Historic US Route 89A, now officially designated as Arizona Rte. 89A.

For the first few miles, the road is relatively straight and flat, but that all changes when you reach the edge of the Colorado Plateau.  Stop at the large rest area and overlook just before the road begins its descent, for an excellent view of Oak Creek Canyon, and the curves ahead.

If you plan to stop anywhere in Oak Creek Canyon, you’ll need to buy a Red Rock Pass.  They cost $5 a day, and are available at the rest area.  You can also purchase them through automated machines located at many trailheads.  Or, if you already have an annual National Park pass, you can add a sticker for $15 which will cover your visit here, and at many other National Forests around the country.  There are a few places where the Red Rock Pass isn’t accepted (like Slide Rock State Park).  Learn more at redrockcountry.org, operated by the National Forest Service.

I chose to stay in neighboring Cottonwood, Arizona, instead of Sedona.  Motels are much cheaper there (around $50-60 per night) as opposed to those in Sedona itself (just try to find one for under $100!).  So after descending down to Sedona, I drove through, picked out my motel for the night, then continued on to the near-ghost town of Jerome.

Note: This trip was first published in 2005.

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