Nov 9, 2021
By Vince Van Patten
A few months back I took a summer family trip. A road trip to the desert, to one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Arizona desert!
The five of us crammed into my truck and we started our wonderful family adventure.
A lot of the time you get to drive down the historic Route 66, which brings back great memories and also has some very interesting restaurants and fun clip joint gift shops along the way too.
We spent five nights total in Flagstaff, Arizona, my favorite. We all loved the mountain air, the great food, the smell of the pines, and the absolute simplicity. And we took hikes in Sedona.
We drove through Winslow, Arizona, stopped and sang the famous Eagles song Take It Easy together as we blew through town!
“I was standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see.”
Or something like that. Who ever really knows what the hell they’re saying?
But the big thing I wanted us all to do was go to Slide Rock State Park.
I had done it before with my wife, but the kids, oddly enough, had never been there.
It’s in Sedona, and it’s one of the most spectacular natural crystal clear streams in the world. You can actually slide down the rocks inside the creek for over 100 feet. You can also jump off the cliffs into the pristine, icy-cold water. It’s pretty spectacular!
It’s also very crowded and hard to get into.
Long story short, we went there the first day, and showed up at 9 AM. There was a long line on the highway (bumper to bumper) to get in. In fact, within seconds security told us to move on, there’s no chance of getting in, that it’s completely sold out. That was devastating!
So, we did another hike through Sedona, which was quite incredible, and made the most of our day.
That night we had some fantastic food in Flagstaff, and after a nice beer and a shot of well deserved tequila, I promised to my loyal family that the next day, we we’re going to hit Slide Rock, bright and early! Right when it opens at 8 AM! Everyone agreed!
The next day we woke up early, showered, and drove 30 minutes to the notorious Slide Rock. We got there exactly at 8 AM and believe it or not, there was still room. Barely. So we smoothly pulled the truck into the parking lot and got out. We were so excited we happily grabbed our backpacks and started to walk down a beautiful path. It was gorgeous, green, and lush. There were people ahead of us and behind, and everyone seemed to be in a jolly good mood and we knew it was going to be a glorious walk to Slide Rock and one we would never forget.
After about a mile in, I had a strange feeling that something was wrong, something was off. I had done this walk to the creek before but this didn’t look familiar. Although very beautiful, this didn’t look like the same walk to the legendary Slide Rock.
I felt my mind was playing tricks on me. Finally, I asked a elderly woman with a backpack who was using a walking stick, how close we were to the Slide Rock entrance?
She started laughing. Then, in a rustic Western accent that I hadn’t heard since Gunsmoke, she barked, “Slide Rock?!!! This is the Petunia Trail! Slide Rock is four miles down the road, mister!! Different parking lot!“ She continued to chuckle as she walked away seeming to enjoy my city slicker ignorance.
It was then I realized the mistake we had made. We were not at Slide Rock at all!
We walked back to our truck quickly realizing our mistake and how foolish we were. We jumped back in and drove down another four miles, finally reaching the real Slide Rock parking lot!
But, we were too late. They had already closed the lot. It was full to capacity! After minutes of bickering with security guards and parking lot attendants we realized it was futile. We were out! But now it was getting personal. I swore to come back the next day! I calmly asked what time I should plan to get there if one actually wants to get in. They said eight, but to be smart, earlier. At this point I was thinking 4 AM!! I didn’t care! My wife calmed me down and we drove up the next day to that lot at 7:20 AM! We were eighth in line.
We proceeded to get into the Slide Rock parking lot then excitedly walked down to the epic swimming hole.
We spent at least three hours there having the time of our lives! All three of my boys and my wife could not believe where we were, the beauty of this natural wonder and we just had the best day!
We slid down the rocks. We jumped off of the cliffs. We took a short hike. All in all, having one of the great times of our lives! I recommend this highly to everyone! Just make sure you get there early … and go to the right parking lot!
Till next time play loose and always bluff on the river!