Is Arizona HOT in the summer? YES. Is it worth it to hike out to some random spot in the middle of nowhere to take a dip in a really cold swimming hole? Absolutely! Read on for the secret spot you've been waiting for.
(Psst...it's not really a secret...well, kind of)
We were out in Sedona, Arizona during Independence Day weekend. We had spent all morning working up a sweat, riding fat tire bikes around the Bell Rock Loop. It was noonish, and around 6000 degrees outside. Spending the rest of our day on bikes seemed like a heat stroke waiting to happen so we decided to..ehhh... switch gears. Besides, it was July 4th, what we really needed was a cold drink, a watermelon, and somewhere wet to cool off.
We were still in adventure mode so we didn't want to just sit in a car line all day. That's why nearby tourist hot spot Slide Rock wasn’t our first choice - the wait can get really long, especially on busy holidays! And this state park only allows so many visitors onto their property at once which made it difficult for us since there are hours worth of people in line before the gates open. We started looking for other options.
There is another little swimming hole, not far from Slide Rock which is also park of Oak Creek Canyon known as Grasshopper Point. Grasshopper point is definitely a favorite spot for locals. It's not as crowded as Slide Rock, but it's still a popular destination and the parking lot does fill up rather quickly.
Although it was now 6250 degrees outside and we desperately needed a place to cool off, we were being dramatically selective because we are drawn to the underpopulated and unknown. Our fantasy was to venture into uncharted territory, search for something that exists only in local legend- a secret location where people had to face multiple struggles or physical challenges to find a magical destination... We found it!
According to local lore, there was a place that fit our fantastical requirements located just 30 miles south of Sedona. So, we jumped in the car and headed South on 179.
We parked at the Bell Trail parking lot in Coconino National Forest and prepared for our 3.5 mile hiking journey to a cliff diving, adrenaline junkies dream....
"The Crack"... at Wet Beaver Creek ... in Rimrock. Arizona.
(My inner 14 year old boy still thinks this is funnier than it should be.)
It's important to note right here that the official distance for this hike is 7 miles round trip although there are others who claimed they have clocked it at 11 miles. The only restroom facilities you will see all day are located in the parking lot. And, If you're not used to hiking in the desert or high elevation, you should pack a hydration backpack with some snacks and at the very least, 1 gallon of water per person in your group. I know, I know, 3.5 miles doesn't seem like a big deal. You probably walk 3.5 miles around your neighborhood every night, right? But, this is different. Much Different.
This trail switches back and forth near Wet Beaver Creek at times. We passed a couple of groups who were hiking along in great spirits and others that looked like they were struggling with the heat. If you ever find yourself with the latter, don't be afraid to stop for awhile! There are plenty opportunities at Wet Beaver Creek to jump in the water if your group isn’t up for making a long trekking trip. - no one would fault ya either way ;)
Hiking to the Crack is an adventure. The first part of the trail itself can be really pretty and flat. Bell Trail will eventually come to a fork- take a left after seeing signs for "Weir Trail." Shortly after this landmark, the trail will lead up into the Red Rock formations. Here you will have an elevation gain of 480 - 500ft. which may seem like steep terrain at times but completely worth the destination!
As you climb down from the elevation, you will once again find yourself near Wet Beaver Creek. You will follow the path again to the left to find the cliffs where people set up for the day for swimming and cliff diving.
Note: The water is cold year round and the cliffs are 25ft! Check the depth before you jump.
For those people who are looking for a little more seclusion, there are plenty of nooks in the area where you can carve out your own little piece of paradise. Make sure to wear or bring non-slip water shoes with you. The bottom of the creek is made up of large, very slippery rocks. .
Before you head out on your next Red Rock adventure, make sure you have the right supplies. And remember, leave only footprints behind – everything else you bring in, you bring out! Do you have a favorite swimming hole near Sedona? Let us know in the comments below.
For more, check out our tips for How To Survive Sedona
See you on the cliffs!
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