Shhhhhh! It's a Secret! Locals highly protective of their favorite swimming holes

The Sargent family from Peoria came up to Sedona for the day to Grasshopper Point in Sedona to escape the 113 degree temperatures and enjoyed their experience tremendously. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

The Sargent family from Peoria came up to Sedona for the day to Grasshopper Point in Sedona to escape the 113 degree temperatures and enjoyed their experience tremendously. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

When I asked people on the Verde Independent's Facebook site to share their favorite swimming holes in the Verde Valley, I shouldn't have been surprised when people told me to go jump off a cliff.

They were not going to give up their favorite local swimming holes to me, to Facebook or anyone else.

One Facebook viewer wrote: "What about them? My point is posting the best swimming spots on FB will only increase popularity and further erosive processes and pollution."

"Let's not post our favorite spots so they don't get overwhelmed by high school kids and broken bottles like Fossil Creek did."


So I told my girlfriend I was going to her "secret spot" swimming hole to do a story. She looked at me with a terrified expression on her face and responded:

"You can't do a story on our secret spot, it will get like Fossil Creek."


What was I thinking? This was her most favorite spot in the world and I was going to give it up.

So I still needed do story on swimming holes so I contacted Cottonwood's local celebrity travel writer Roger Naylor, who writes a weekly travel section story for the Arizona Republic and has published several travel books including "Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers."

Naylor said he doesn't write about the swimming holes that only the locals know about. He said he encourages people to explore and find these places on their own.

However, he will write about the more popular swimming holes such as Slide Rock State Park and Grasshopper Point in Sedona where many people already visit and can easily find on the Internet. "I am local too, and I am not looking to expose that," Naylor said.

The travel writer said part of the fun is to explore canyons and rivers and find secluded swimming areas. The other way locals can find out about the best swimming holes is word-of-mouth. Sometimes talking to people at the popular swimming holes will get you tips on where to find more secluded spots, he added.

So I realized I wasn't going to get any advice on the Verde Valley's best swimming holes from Roger Naylor, nor from Facebook, and I didn't think it would be any more helpful to go to any long-time institutions such as Randall's Restaurant or the Hacienda and seek secret swimming-hole information from locals.

So I took to "Google."

Sedona wants tourists and swimmers, and spends a lot of money to attract them, so I am not exposing any secrets here.

Pulling up to the Grasshopper Point parking lot in Sedona, (Red Rock Passes don't work here), there were plenty of parking spots on Wednesday. Just up the road at Slide Rock State Park at the same time a line of cars waited to get into a full parking lot.

Grasshopper Point cost $8 a car and is run by the Coconino National Forest and Slide Rock State Park is run by the State of Arizona and cost $20 per car.

Grasshopper Point is on the right, just outside of Uptown Sedona, up Oak Creek Canyon. The small canyon is a wonderful "all-around swimming hole" for kids, teenagers, parents, whoever, and perfect to get out of the hot weather.

There is a slow-moving Oak Creek for kids, pools for lazy people to rest in, and 30- and 40-foot cliffs to jump from and be king of the day. One daredevil did just that on Wednesday, first doing a flip at 25 feet from the red rocks and then at 35 feet.

Nathan Sargent and his family enjoyed sitting on the rocks drying off and escaping the 113-degree heat in Peoria.

"I just Googled it," Sargent said when asked how he found the location. The webpage said if Slide Rock is packed, Grasshopper Point is just as fun and you don't have to hike.

Ezekiel Teague said he drove up from Phoenix Wednesday to swim at Grasshopper Point because of the easy access. The parking lot is only several hundred yards from the swimming hole.

Teague said he didn't have any secret spots, but liked to go to Sheep's Crossing in Cornville. He warned that people should be prepared when they go out and bring plenty of water to drink.

The downside to Grasshopper Point is that the attendant said that usually cars can get a spot on weekdays, but on weekends he opens at 9 a.m. and there is a waiting line by 9:30 a.m. Same with Slide Rock where cars back up all weekend, so get there early.

Red Rock State Park is also a great place for shallow pools while you sit and cool down in one of the most photographed spots in the America. It has large flat red rocks, and wonderful for small children and lazy adults.

However, many swimmers in Oak Creek Canyon don't bother with any of the designated parking spots and just park their cars along Route 89A in the canyon and find swimming spots along the road. This can lead to finding some "secret spots."

If you are looking for an easily accessible spot in the Cottonwood/Clarkdale area, both the Lower TAPCO River Access Point and the Tuzigoot River Access Point are no secret since the town starting issuing commercial kayak permits for these parking lots.

The Verde River and the side streams form pools and shallow streams to sit in and sip cool drinks or even text on your iPhone if you must. The historic, huge cottonwoods and other trees hover over swimmers and bask bathers with shade.

A similar swimming hole can be found in Camp Verde off SR260, about eight miles east of town at West Clear Creek in the Coconino National Forest.

The swimming area is just off the parking lot and is perfect for children or those looking for a cool, wooded area to relax in a river that is not too deep.

But for those wanting to jump off red rocks, a little further north on Beaver Creek is the popular Bell Trail. To get to the trail head, get off the SR 179 exit for Sedona, but head east in the Coconino National Forest and look for signs.

The trail is beautiful, hot and popular, so busy on the weekends. It winds along a small creek where at any point you can jump in and cool off and take kids or dogs in.

At the end of the 3.5 mile hike is the "crack," red rock cliffs where people jump and things can get pretty hectic.

Two other popular swimming holes in Camp Verde are Bull Pen and Fat Bradley, mentioned by Pancho Doll, in his book "Day Trips with a Splash: Swimming Holes of the Southwest. I highly recommend this book for other "popular" swimming holes in the Verde Valle or Sedona.

Google is also my friend. A search will bring up dozens of swimming holes in the Verde Valley and Sedona.

But don't ask a local.

My girlfriend's secret swimming spot is still safe.

And so is "my" a favorite swimming, which is a beautiful "mini-canyon" somewhere in the Verde Valley.

It's only about a mile from the parking lot and has a small cable car cable running across the river. (That is one hint)

If you get caught there with your pants down, you'll be in plain sight of riders on the Verde Valley Railroad Train. (That is hint number two)

Locals may know where I mean, but I am not giving it up because the last time I was there, NO ONE else was there, but my girlfriend and myself!

And isn't that the idea? Shhhhhhhh.


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