Oak Creek Canyon Recreation Sites Will Close For The Summer

By Rachel Lund
Published: Friday, June 20, 2014 - 4:37pm
Updated: Friday, June 20, 2014 - 5:12pm
(Photo by Ryan Heinsius - KNAU)
The 2014 Slide Fire that charred much of the area around Oak Creek Canyon's recreation areas.
(Courtesy of United Stated Department of Agriculture Forest Service)
Oak Creek Vista sponsor sign in recreation area.
(Courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service)
View of Oak Creek Canyon

Public recreation areas in Oak Creek Canyon north of Sedona will close early in July and will stay closed throughout the rest of the summer. The closure is scheduled to start on July 7 to accommodate holiday travel, but will close earlier if the rain comes.

Heather Noel, Forest Service public information officer, said this decision was made because of recent fires and the impending monsoon season, which could create dangerous flood conditions.

“We have all come to the conclusion that there are areas that are extremely vulnerable to rock fall, to landslides issues, to debris flooding, to ash flowing into the creek," Noel said. "All of those adding up, there is a high potential that issues will happen with this monsoon season.”

Noel said that closure of recreation areas will enable emergency response teams to help local businesses and residents in the event of flooding.

 “This area has a high volume of traffic — especially on the weekends, especially in the summer," she said. "We know it will be an impact and that includes the Phoenix area. You know we have a lot of city residents who come up here to enjoy the forest.”

She said this decision was not made lightly.

“We have been in close communication with the National Weather Service about monsoon patterns and development and when we might expect the monsoon to arrive," Noel said. "The National Weather Service is keeping an eye on any development and will notify us well before the monsoon arrives.”  

The extension will include all recreation sites within Oak Creek Canyon from the north of Sedona city limits to the switchbacks on the north end of the canyon.

“In the end, we felt it was important to emphasize public safety over the opportunities that the Coconino National Forest provides for people in Oak Creek Canyon,” Noel said.

The closure will be in effect until the end of monsoon season in late September. 

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