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Monday, June 16, 2014

Beaver Creek Picnic Area

We had planned on driving through Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona after leaving Flagstaff, but the Slide Fire was pumping an inordinate amount of black smoke into the sky and highway 89A was closed, forcing us to change our plans.  We took I-17 south instead, and took the Sedona exit, but headed east.  Our map had the Beaver Creek Campground nearby, so we thought it might be a good place to find a campsite.  As luck would have it, the Beaver Creek Campground was closed a year or two ago due to flash-flood danger, and now is the Beaver Creek Day Use Area. I pulled out my National Parks Pass and the manager still wanted $10, or I could go to the free area across the street.  I'm not a sucker, so I drove across the street to the free area.  It turned out that the Beaver Creek Day Use area, while owned by the Forest Service, is leased for management by a private company.  They charge $14/day or $10 in the late afternoons.  No thanks. 
The free picnic area would end up being a frequent stop for us throughout the rest of our trip.  We found a primitive campsite nearby out in the desert, so we'd stop and cook meals here and let the kids play and splash in the creek.  They had a blast splashing, looking for crawdads, and playing in the water.  My wife had fun looking for pretty birds in the trees (a few birdwatching groups came by while we were there).  I wished I had brought my fishing pole when I saw a few trout swimming around.  We even saw some blackberry plants along the creek.  Higher up the creek there are some fantastic swimming holes with red sandstone cliffs to jump in off of.  The V-Bar-V petroglyph site is nearby and ended up being a fantastic addition to our trip as well.  If you're driving  along I-17 and need a good stop for the kids, this is a great place for a break!

Nearest City: Sedona, AZ
Location: Take Exit 298, then drive east on road 618 for a 2-3 miles.  The picnic area is on the left where the road crosses the creek. 
Time Needed: varies
Difficulty: easy
Kid Friendly: yes
Additional Info:

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