View of Cathedral Rock in Red Rock State Park Arizona

Where is Red Rock State Park

Located outside Sedona, Red Rock State Park resides entirely in the central portion of Arizona. The park mainly preserves the riparian ecosystem and wildlife found along Oak Creek. Popular activities visitors can experience in the park include hiking, wildlife viewing, birding, and further educational programs. The park also contains a visitor center, theater, several classrooms, and a park store. The closest towns to Red Rock US State Park are Yavapti, Sedona, and the Village of Oak Creek. Flagstaff is 39 miles and about an hour drive north of the park, Phoenix is 118 miles and about an hour and twenty-minute drive south of the park, and Tucson is 233 miles and about three hours and thirty minutes south of Red Rock State Park. The park is also located within two hours of Grand Canyon National Park.

How Large is Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park covers over 286 acres of red rock formations and riparian environments. The park’s trail system provides around five miles of trails visitors can access. However, additional trails can be accessed near the park in the adjacent U.S Forest Service land. Red Rock State Park also contains several unique and rare vegetation and wildlife species. Tree species found throughout Red Rock State Park include Fremont cottonwood, Arizona sycamore, velvet ash, and Arizona alders. The park provides a home to several rare fish species, a variety of amphibians, and an endless list of avian species. Large mammals like cougars, coyotes, and mule deer are occasionally spotted throughout the park.

Red Rock State Park Weather

The weather at Red Rock State Park varies throughout the seasons. In summer, temperatures in the park average between 65 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter temperatures in the park average between 35 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest days of the year fall upon Red Rock State Park in June, July, and August. The coldest days of the year arrive at the park in December and January. On average, Red Rock State Park receives about 40 days of rain per year. These days amount to a yearly precipitation total of about 20 inches. Occasionally, the park will receive snowfall during the winter months. However, yearly snowfall totals in Red Rock State Park rarely exceed over three inches.

Daytime View of Moon Red Rock Country Mountains Red Rock State Park Arizona

When did Red Rock Become a State Park

Red Rock State Park first became a state park in 1986. At one point, the area now referred to as Red Rock State Park was a part of the Smoke Trail Ranch. In 1941, this ranch was purchased by a wealthy American businessman and his wife. When he died his wife took care of the property until it was transferred to a religious organization she was affiliated with. In the fall of 1980, Bruce Babbitt, then governor of Arizona, was told he was trespassing on the property during a fishing trip. After this, the governor became concerned about public stream access found in his state and about the protection of the state’s natural waterways. A few years later, Babbitt negotiated a three-way land exchange between the religious organization, a mining company, and the Arizona government.

Things to do in Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park offers visitors a truly unique getaway complete with various outdoor recreation options. The most popular adventures and experiences are outlined below by our State Park Visitors Guide.

Visit the Visitor Center

Exploring the park’s visitor center when you first arrive at Red Rock State Park is the perfect way to gain an introductory education about the area and environment. The visitor center at Red Rock State Park houses several displays and exhibits that discuss the areas, wildlife, culture, geology, geography, and history. Visitors looking to learn more about the park can ask park staff working in the visitor center specific questions.

Join an Educational Program

While at the visitor center, visitors should ask park staff about the day's educational program schedule. These education programs normally highlight specific issues or other information regarding the park’s ecology, cultural ties, geology, or history. These programs are also led by knowledgeable staff that are happy to answer additional questions and provide guidance on additional educational materials.

Cathedral Rock Red Rock State Park Arizona

Hike the Eagle’s Nest Trail

The Eagle’s Nest Trail traverses several geographic and natural ranges of Red Rock State Park. These environments include the high red flats, riparian zones of Oak Creek, and high hills that offer expansive views of the surrounding area. The Eagle’s Nest Trail is about 1.5 miles long and only accessible by hikers. The trail is rated at a difficulty of moderate.

Hike the Apache Fire Trail

The Apache Fire Trail allows visitors to experience some of Red Rock State Park’s history. The trail takes visitors by an adobe style home that was constructed in 1946 by the businessman and his wife who previously owned the land. The trail also crosses Oak Creek via the Kingfisher Bridge. This crossing may provide visitors with a glance at the playful river otters that call Oak Creek home. Bikers and horseback riders are prohibited from accessing the Apache Fire Trail.

Hike the Kisva Trail

The Kisva Trail is the perfect trail in Red Rock State Park for the whole family. This trail, like the Eagle’s Nest trail ascends onto the high red rock flats and approaches the Oak Creek riparian environment. The Kisva Trail is a popular trail for birding and wildlife viewing and visitors should bring along their cameras and binoculars.

Wildlife Viewing

Red Rock State Park provides a home to a variety of wildlife species which can be observed by visitors lucky enough to spot them. Common mammals spotted in the park include mule deer, river otters, collared peccaries, and coyotes. Cougars also call the area home but are rarely spotted by visitors. The park visitor center contains additional information regarding the park’s wildlife.

Birding in Red Rock State Park

Every year flocks of birders descend upon Red Rock State Park to observe several species that call the park home. Common black hawks, wood ducks, and mergansers are often spotted in the park. However, a variety of other species are also seen throughout the year by eager visitors and birders.

Mountain Biking Nearby

Visitors arriving at Red Rock State Park with their mountain bike will not find any trails within the park designated for bike access. However, the U.S Forest Service lands that surround Red Rock State Park contain various trails that can be accessed by adrenaline seeking mountain bikers.

Red Rock Mountains Red Rock State Park Arizona

When to Visit Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park can be visited all year round. However, the majority of visitation occurs in the park during the summer season. The season offers endless sunshine and the warmest temperatures of the year. Spring is another great season to visit Red Rock State Park. During the season visitors will most likely have the best luck spotting wildlife within the park.

Must Have Items to Bring to Red Rock State Park

Every trip outdoors requires at least a little packing and planning. A trip to Red Rock State Park is no exception. List of Parks advises bringing the following items by every visitor traveling to Red Rock State Park.

Water & High Energy Snacks

Water and energy replenishing snacks are essential items for every outdoor recreator. Hikers and other visitors who plan to spend extended time in the Arizona heat should bring additional supplies of water and snacks. Beef jerky, trail mix, and protein bars are some of the best snacks hikers can bring to replenish their energy levels.

Sunscreen & Sunglass

The Arizona sun can wreck an unprepared visitor. Sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses will provide visitors with necessary protection. Bringing a hat along with you may also be a great idea to help escape the summer sun.

Sturdy Hiking Boots

The trails at Red Rock State Park feature several different geographic features and terrain. The best way to be prepared for all the trails has to offer is to arrive at Red Rock State Park wearing a sturdy pair of hiking boots. 

Layers of Clothing

Though temperatures frequently exceed ninety degrees in Red Rock State Park. Afternoon temperatures may drop significantly. Visitors looking to spend all day in the park should come prepared with a variety of clothing layers.

Field Guides & Park Maps

Wildlife enthusiasts visiting Red Rock State Park may want to purchase and bring along a Arizona specific wildlife field guide to make identification easier. The visitor center can also supply hikers with trail maps and species checklists.

Rocky Water Slides Red Rock State Park Arizona

Where to Stay near Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park does not contain a campground or other lodging establishment. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel near the park should check out Sedona. The city offers a variety of lodging including hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. Several of these options provide expansive views of the area’s red rock formations.

The closest food to Red Rock State Park can be found in Yavapai or the Village of Oak Creek. However, visitors looking for additional options or a larger culinary scene may want to explore Sedona. The city is a cultural hub and contains several restaurants, pubs, and bars. The area also contains several grocery stores where visitors can restock on supplies.

Airports Near Red Rock State Park

The closest international airport to Red Rock State Park is located in Phoenix. The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is 122 miles and a two-hour drive south of the park. Other airports near Red Rock State Park include international airports in Tucson, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque.

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