Creek fun near Flagstaff

 
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BY KATHLEEN KOMOS — 

It’s a dry heat. This phrase dominates greeting cards all across Arizona, and while it may be true, sometimes it’s necessary to avoid the heat entirely. While a pool may not be readily accessible for many residents of northern Arizona, there are plenty of creeks and water holes within close distance of Flagstaff to visit for day trips.

Slide Rock State Park

Accessibility: Easy

110605 Fossil Creek-water AO

(File Photo: Fossil Creek)

Perhaps one of the most well known spots for water fun in the state, Slide Rock is a section of Oak Creek. Located off Highway 89A, Slide Rock is filled with the red rocks for which the town is named. There are plenty of small riffles to ride down with or without a tube, and the rocks are fantastic for sunbathing on. The downside? There is a $20 parking fee, and the lot often fills quickly on hot summer weekends. Because of high visitation, the later it gets in the summer, the dirtier the water gets. There is also hiking surrounding the water for those less inclined to get wet. Visit azstateparks.com for more information.

Fossil Creek

Accessibility: Moderate to difficult

Nestled between Strawberry and Camp Verde, Fossil Creek is another popular spot to laze the day away along the side of the river. Designated a National Wild and Scenic River, this creek pumps out 20,000 gallons a minute, which makes for fun currents and mini waterfalls. It is also home to hiking, horse trails and fishing spots. The downside? The rough, windy and steep road leading to the river is often closed because of traffic. However, the long drive means it is more removed from civilization and more nature can be enjoyed. Visit fs.usda.gov for more information.

Camp Verde Hot Springs

Accessibility: Moderate to difficult

If you’re willing to go a little further and are interested in history, then the hot springs are a great place to visit. Along the same road as Fossil Creek, the hot springs were once the location of hotel in the 1920s. Due to the relative difficulty of getting to the location and an unfortunate fire, it was shut down in 1958, but the hot springs are still there. The downside? It is almost a mile hike on a trail and then across the river — almost waist deep — to get to this secluded spot. However, the mineral blue water and warm springs make it a great place to watch the stars. Visit hikearizona.com for more information.

Clear Creek

Accessibility: Moderate to difficult

The more adventurous water-seekers can find a home at Clear Creek. Just outside of Winslow and home to many cliffs for jumping, Clear Creek cuts into a deep canyon. In fact, in some places the only way to get into the water is to leap from a cliff that starts at eight-feet high. The downside? During monsoon season, the roads can be fairly dangerous to travel on. However, weather reports and campgrounds ensure that you can take measure to prevent being stranded. Visit fs.usda.gov for more information.

Wet Beaver Creek

Accessibility: Easy to moderate 

With its fair share of bugs, crawfish, and minnows, Beaver Creek is home to swimming wildlife as much as it is to the humans that visit there. Closer to Sedona than Camp Verde, this creek hosts red rocks as well as shady trees and cliffs to jump from. Whether you hike up or stick closer to the ground, Beaver Creek offers plenty of places for lounging or adventure. The downside? The Bell — Beaver Creek’s main cliff-jumping point — is a long hike up the river. However, the view from the top is quite spectacular. Visit fs.usda.gov for more information.

Flagstaff might not boast many wild and raging rivers, but anyone with access to a car is within reach of cool spots to beat the summer heat. Whether it’s an out of the way wading pool or an exciting cliff jump, there are plenty of creeks to choose from.

Editor’s note: Know the inherent risks of water-related sports before you recreate. Due to natural variations, water level and other factors may change. Check for updated information before you explore. All ratings are relative.

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