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U.S. Forest Service

Southwestern Region Viewing Area


Ponderosa pine Spectacular scenery is almost everywhere in Red Rock Country. Photo by Charlie McDonald.

Red Rock hillside This is a common mix of vegetation for a Red Rock hillside. The plants in the center are ocotillos (Fouquieria splendens). Photo by Charlie McDonald.

Globemallows Globemallows are common wildflowers in Red Rock Country. This one is desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), which has flowers ranging from pink to red to orange. Photo by Miwasatoshi at Wikimedia Commons.

Red Rock Country

Forest: Coconino National Forest

District: Red Rock Ranger District

Description: Red Rock Country is an area of red sandstone cliffs and giant red sandstone spires in north-central Arizona. This spectacular landscape makes Red Rock Country a popular tourist destination with visitor accommodations ranging from primitive campgrounds to exclusive luxury resorts in and around the town of Sedona. To start learning about the area, visit the Red Rock Country website. The Forest Service maintains two visitor’s centers in the area and this is a good place to get maps, learn more about points of interest, and get information about local conditions like roads, weather, etc. The South Gateway Visitor’s Center is located on State Highway 179 just south of the Village of Oak Creek as you enter the southern outskirts of Sedona. The Oak Creek Vista Visitor’s Center is located on State Highway 89A north of Sedona and overlooks Oak Creek Canyon.

Viewing Information: The spring months of March through May are the best time for wildflower viewing in Red Rock Country. Spring wildflower displays can be spectacular after a wet winter. Some of the showy and abundant species are California poppy (Eschscholtsia californica), evening primrose (Oenothera spp.), Indian paintbrush (Castilleja spp.), owl’s-clover (Orthocarpus spp.), lupine (Lupinus spp.), and globemallow (Sphaeralcea spp.). Even if you miss the spring displays, there are still plenty of plants to see like ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), yucca (Yucca spp.), century plant (Agave spp.), cliffrose (Purshia spp.), and many different cacti.

Safety First: Desert heat and low humidity are real hazards for people unfamiliar with hot climates. A person can lose up to 5 quarts of fluid a day and it is easy to become seriously dehydrated without realizing it, so drink plenty of water even if you do not feel very thirsty. During hot months, try to get out in the early morning before the intense heat of the day. When hiking, even if only a short distance, take a day pack with water, snack foods, protective clothing, compass, flashlight, and first aid kit. To avoid sun injury, wear light loose clothing, a hat, and sunglasses. Use sunscreen on exposed areas.

Directions: From Phoenix, Arizona, take Interstate 17 north for about 100 miles to Arizona Highway 179. Take Arizona 179 north for about 15 miles to Sedona.

From Flagstaff, Arizona, take Interstate 17 south for about 3 miles. Take Exit 337 onto Arizona Highway 89A and follow this highway south for about 25 miles to Sedona. Arizona 89A goes down Oak Creek Canyon. It is a spectacular and popular scenic drive.

Ownership and Management: USDA Forest Service, Coconino National Forest, Red Rock Ranger District, 8375 State Route 179, Sedona, Arizona 86341. Phone: (928) 203-7500.

Closest Town: Sedona, Arizona.