Instead Of Going To Arizona's Crowded Slide Rock State Park, Head To These Hidden Swimming Holes

On a scorching hot day in Arizona — the kind when you can fry an egg on the sidewalk — nothing beats a refreshing dip in a swimming hole in a lush, shaded canyon. The problem is that some of Arizona's well-known natural swimming areas, like Slide Rock State Park, can get really busy, especially on summer weekends. It's understandable that so many people flock to Slide Rock, in particular because it's easily accessible from the tourist hub of Sedona. The park itself is not only magnificent, it's Arizona's version of an amusement park. Jump off a ledge into the cool, crystalline pools or take a thrilling ride through mild rapids down a rock chute, worn smooth by the incessant flow of the creek. There are also a few meandering hiking trails, plenty of beautiful spots for fishing or a picnic, bathrooms, and even a park store.  

But like any other amusement park, these amenities and attractions tend to bring in the crowds, the noise, and the hoopla. Kids may get a kick out of all this yelling and splashing, but those seeking a more peaceful setting might head down the road, where another gorgeous swimming hole is waiting. 

The allure of Grasshopper Point

Grasshopper Point, which is only 2 miles north of Sedona on AZ-89A, is another popular swimming and picnic area in scenic Oak Creek Canyon. It has fewer amenities than Slide Rock — only a few picnic tables, cooking grills, and a bathroom, so it has a more rustic feel. Once you arrive at the parking lot for Grasshopper Point, you have to scramble across a rocky trail to reach the swimming hole. To complete this tricky section, it's best to wear tennis shoes rather than flip flops or sandals to avoid tripping or falling. 

The brief effort is worth it to arrive at the clear and deep cliffside swimming hole, where you'll find plenty of spots to swim, lounge, and explore, depending on what you feel like doing. You might notice people cliff jumping here, but the forest service discourages it. This particular pool has fluctuating depths and submerged rocks that make jumping and diving dangerous. If you are thirsting for adventure, check out the area's hiking trails instead. From the parking lot, hop on Allen's Bend, which leads to the Casner Caverns Trail to the north and the Huckaby Trail to the south. These trails offer a wondrous but rugged journey into red rock country. Be prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks if you're going for a longer trek. 

Cruising to the Crack at Wet Beaver Creek

If you're looking for a swimming hole that's deep in the heart of the wilderness rather than right off the highway like Slide Rock and Grasshopper Point, we have yet another swimming hole suggestion for you: the Crack at Wet Beaver Creek, which you can access via the Bell Trail no. 13. Drive 17 miles south from Sedona on AZ-179 until you reach the trailhead for the Bell Trail. Use the bathrooms located at the trailhead, as there are no facilities further on. 

Then, it's time to earn access to one of the finest swimming holes in Arizona by hiking 3.5 miles through the rocky desert. Again, be prepared with desert hiking essentials (like a hat and sunscreen) because it can get really hot on the exposed portions of this hike. In addition, look out for rattlesnakes. But once you reach the deep green swimming hole framed by red and orange sculptured cliffs, your dusty hike will fade into a distant memory. You could easily spend hours at the Crack jumping off rocks into the deep water and splashing around, so bring enough water, a picnic lunch, and a towel to dry off with and sit on. Remember to save some water for the hike back the way you came, when you're ready to leave paradise and return to the desert inferno.