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   The majestic red rocks paired with ambient sunsets and beautiful weather equal one of the premier camping and hiking destinations in the state of Arizona: Sedona.
By Brian Bergner Jr.
Larson Newspapers

   The majestic red rocks paired with ambient sunsets and beautiful weather equal one of the premier camping and hiking destinations in the state of Arizona: Sedona.
A pitch fit for a king is what local guides and advertisement companies will share with tourists who flock here by the millions every year.
But what about the local residents? Those who already have the pleasure of viewing the red rocks every day but don’t know where to start when it comes to going camping or becoming more ... outdoor friendly.
Beginning camper or outdoorsman? Maybe just new to the area and looking to cook dinner over an open fire while basking in the outdoors and watching the children play near the creek?
If so, listen up.
For the beginner, the Oak Creek Canyon provides a solid camping experience without the hassle of possibly getting lost since it’s very near Highway 89A.
Hot spot camp grounds such as Bootlegger, Cave Springs, Manzanita and Pine Flat provide adequate views along the creek, fire pits and bathrooms for those not too excited about squatting in a bush somewhere.
Activities such as creek walks, trail hiking, fishing, swimming, mountain biking, sightseeing, bird watching and sitting by the fire are just some of the things a camper could do within the lush walls of the Canyon.
As a note to all campers, fires, camp fires, wood stove and charcoal fires will be allowed only in developed campgrounds and picnic areas.
“The lack of moisture and rising temperatures are increasing the potential for wildfire in these lower elevations,” Red Rock District Ranger Heather Provencio said.
For the more experienced camper and outdoorsman, one might venture further up Oak Creek Canyon to the top of the Rim and turn off at Forest Road 535.
High clearance vehicles are nice but not necessary in this area, where many avid campers park their cars, strap on the pack and set off into the thick wilderness for a night or two.
Venturing to this hot spot provides privacy and content for those more experienced and more apt to not wanting disturbances while enjoying mother nature.
Other spots located in the Verde Valley with such pleasures are Wet Beaver Creek, located near Highway 179 and I-17 just south of the Village of Oak Creek.
Sycamore Canyon provides excellent adventures as well, located outside of Clarkdale near Cottonwood.
Because there’s hardly a trail in sight, the West Clear Creek Camp Grounds, located east of Camp Verde, are for the most experienced camper seeking adventure with canyoneering, boulders to climb over, swimming and floating.
“These are some of the more difficult and adventurous spots out there. Sedona is very diverse when it comes to camping,” Canyon Outfitters owner Gary Stedman said.
Stedman and his wife Holly have owned Canyon Outfitters for more than 15 years and have hiked and camped all over the area.
Stedman believes the equipment a camper takes can make or break the experience.
He suggests always taking a good pair of hiking boots as the No. 1 thing for those wandering away from the campsite on a regular basis while participating in a hiking trip.
Hikes suggested in the Sedona area would be West Fork, Vultee Arch, Dry Creek, Fay Canyon, Soldier Pass, Chapel and Wilson Canyon.
“This is one of the more beautiful hiking spots in the area and there’s a lot to do when you get here,” West Fork Forest Service attendant Frank Rowley said.
Good clothing, sun protection, plenty of water, a good sleeping bag and a solid tent will do the trick for any camper.
Of course there are millions of different things one could take on a camping trip, and it could cost in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to take them, but simple food, water and shelter can provide anyone a genuine experience.
As a safety issue, Stedman does suggest campers tell friends, family or someone else where they are going and when they’re planning on coming back, since cell phones do not always work in these parts.
Other safety tips include a checklist of the camping gear, map, first aid kit, compass and being aware of your surroundings.
“You never know if the tent works until you get to the site so, check it at home before leaving,” Stedman said.

Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 131,
or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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