Desert Canyon Loop Scenic Drive

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Wet Beaver Creek along Bell Trail

This is a drive through scenic desert country where you'll see colorful canyons, lush oases, picturesque ranches, and out of the way Indian ruins. The route skirts the lower elevations of Arizona's rim country where red rock canyons spill out from under thick basalt flows. The road cuts two of these canyons and offers access to a third along the way.

Roadside signs point the way to a number of hiking trails and a few spur roads leading off into the backcountry.

There is a picnic area at Wet Beaver Creek Crossing (Beaver Creek Day Use Area) and another along West Clear Creek (Clear Creek Campground) at route's end. A primitive road leads to an undeveloped campground and recreation area at the mouth of West Clear Creek Canyon. A short side trip leads to Montezuma's Well National Monument, a large spring surrounded by cultural sites.

Keep an eye out for road runners, coyotes and javelinas as you drive. The road is a bit rough, but if you go slow it's not too bad.

Attractions: Sightseeing, History (ruins and ranches), Camping/picnicking, Swimming/wading, Fishing, Hiking, Mtn. biking, Wildlife watching

Road Condition: FR 618 is graveled and suitable for passenger cars; however, it can become soft and slippery when wet. FH 9 is paved.

Driving Time: 3.5 hours or all day

Photo (above): viewof Wet Beaver Creek from Bell Trail, one of the many sights and activities to enjoy along the Desert Canyon Loop. USFS/Deborah Lee Soltesz (2008)

At a Glance

Open Season: Year-round
Closest Towns: Flagstaff, AZ; Sedona, AZ; Camp Verde, AZ
Operated By: Red Rock District 928-203-2900

General Information


Location: Drive 45 miles south from Flagstaff on I-17 to the AZ 179 exit. Turn east, under the highway onto FR 618. Follow this road along the base of the Mogollon Rim 13 miles to FH 9 (the General Crook Road) and turn west (right) 9 miles back to I-17. It's 60 miles back to Flagstaff.


Click map graphic for PRINTABLE view.

Desert Canyon Loop Scenic Drive Map


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  Area/Length : 
130 miles