Oak Creek Vista

Status: Open

This area is Open


Oak Creek Vista: an Historic Overlook

Vista Background: Roughly halfway between Flagstaff and Sedona, at milepost 390 on the well known SR 89A (formerly 79), sits a little gem of a spot called Oak Creek Vista. The Oak Creek Vista is a Forest Service scenic overlook with many interesting features and long history. The Oak Creek Vista sits on the edge of the Mogollon Rim, which is the most southerly edge of the Colorado Plateau. The vista itself has historic value as the first or second EVER roadside rest area in Arizona and one of the first in the United States. It was designated a scenic vista by the highway department as the country was entering the first major era of highway construction. The section of SR 89A winding through the scenic Oak Creek Canyon was first completed in 1914 and later paved for the first time in 1938. The significance of this scenic roadway was acknowledged when the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) designated SR 89A in Oak Creek Canyon as the first official scenic road in Arizona.

The Vista today: The Forest Service considers scenic viewing/driving to be an important recreational activity and does develop scenic view points and wayside exhibits as part of the recreation program. The Oak Creek Vista also has a wayside exhibit of sorts with interpretive panels placed along the scenic pathway to the overlook. A popular recreational pursuit at the Vista is rock climbing and repelling. Due to safety issues primarily, climbing/repelling is now prohibited at the overlook point but is permitted in an area east of the point per Forest Order #04-153, signed in 1993. (Note: this same Forest Order also closes the Midgley Bridge area to rock climbing and repelling.) Climbers still use the Vista parking lot to access the climbing area.

Since 1988, one of the big draws to the Oak Creek Vista is the opportunity to shop for Native American arts and crafts. Some may consider this to be a recreational activity as well, and it is certainly a great opportunity for cultural interactions between the visiting public and members of Native Americans for Community Action (NACA).

NACA is a permittee that takes care of the daily operations, maintenance, and staffing of the area. There is not a fee charged to the public for the use of the Oak Creek Vista and the Red Rock Pass in not required there.

A Forest Service Contact Station located at the Oak Creek Vista is open seasonally and serves as a point of contact for visitors who seek forest information. The contact station is both an information station and a book store for the Arizona Natural History Association (ANHA) and is staffed by employees and volunteers of the Red Rock Ranger District.

Red Rock Passes may be purchased through the ANHA bookstore (seasonally) or at a pass vending machine on site.

Areas & Activities