History and Fun at Slide Rock State Park, AZ

Slide rock state park

Slide Rock State Park is located about 20 miles from Flagstaff and about 7 miles from Sedona
in the heart of Oak Creek Canyon. (You can read a post I wrote about Oak Creek Canyon here.)


Slide Rock State Park offers picnic areas, nature trails, and water fun. This was stop # 2 on our scenic drive in Arizona on a road trip adventure across America.


We decided to stop at Slide Rock State Park for a short lesson in history and a day of PE in the great outdoors.


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The History behind Slide Rock State Park

Before we arrived, I had no idea that we’d have a lesson in history as we walked the Pendley Homestead Trail at this state park.

Did you Know?  This park was once a 43 acre apple farm. An farm inside a canyon.

In 1907, a man by the name of Frank Pendley first visited Oak Creek Canyon.  He saw potential in the land and later returned and set-up squatters rights. Pendley worked the land in the summer and in the winter he hunted and mined.  Under the Homestead Act, Pendley acquired the land in 1910.  He built an irrigation system and planted his first apple orchard in 1912.

apple orchard in oak creek canyon

That first apple tree, the Heritage Tree still stands in the orchard today.

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By 1914, a road into the canyon was completed and that road became a highway (now Hwy 89A) in 1926.

In 1927, the Pendley Homestead House was built and the Apple Packing Barn was built in 1932.

pendley homestead house

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 oak creek canyon applesfarm implements

 Today, the barn houses antique farm implements and wayside exhibits explaining a fruit packing barn.

cabins in oak creek canyon

When others became interested in the canyon for recreational use in 1933, Frank L. Pendley acted and built rustic cabins to encourage vacationers to the canyon.

The tourism industry began in Oak Creek  Canyon when the highway was paved in 1938.

 The Pendley Orchard was an operational farm until 1984.

In 1987, the farm became a state park.

Slide Rock State Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

Even though Slide Rock State Park is a historic place, this park is most famous for a natural water slide. This natural water slide has been formed in a stretch of a creek bottom over time through erosion.  This 80 foot long water slide is one of Oak Creek Canyon’s most exciting features.  Even though Belle and Buddy found the water too cold for swimming and sliding, they found the cool water perfect for wading and splashing.

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natural water chute

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wading slide rock oak creek canyon

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This natural water slide is a popular summer time attraction in Oak Creek Canyon.  And from these photos, you might think we had Slide Rock State Park to ourselves.  We didn’t.

The park was packed with people when we went in April.

And despite the chilly waters, we saw many people swimming, sliding, and wading.

As to all the people. Here they are.  slide rock state park crowded in april

I had to be creative in my photo shoots
because I didn’t want our pictures to include a crowd of strangers.

We spent so much time at the creek bottom and natural water slide that we didn’t have time to walk the Cliff-top Nature Trail at Slide Rock State Park.

leaving slide rock state park

We didn’t have time because our sightseeing adventures had just begun that day.
We were heading to Sedona next.

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