While in high school, a friend of mine invited me to join her family on an outing to Oak Creek Canyon. This particular location, an annual pilgrimage for my family, went a day of sightseeing and entertaining ourselves in the back seat. My friend, however, reminded me to bring my swimsuit and a pool towel. “What?” I inquired. This was never part of the Oak Creek Canyon I knew. Nope, my friend and her family were spending the day at Slide Rock, an outing that sounded far more fun than a full day in the car with my siblings.
Not long after I graduated high school and surrendered my residency in the Grand Canyon State, Slide Rock State Park officially became a fully-funded, fun-filled natural waterpark, but I will profess that it was just as fun before that time. In a low-water, low-incline series of waterfalls over smooth red rock, you simply plop your hiney into the creek and let it carrier you downstream. What fun I had on my one day at the spot when it was known and established yet didn’t earn nation-wide notoriety and placement in tourism collateral. I often look back on my days in Arizona without realizing what a catch life in Arizona offered (see One Hundred Years from March 2012).
October in Oak Creek Canyon
Our annual outings always took place on the weekend closes to October 15 – my Dad’s birthday. We would drive through Sedona, when it wasn’t yet a overrun metropolis, but rather a cozy escape in the red rocks of middle Arizona, then continue on into the canyon cuddling this simple creek just to the west of Interstate 17. The simple state road criss-crossed Oak Creek and in this month, the forest evergreens are overshadowed by the spectacular showcase of seasonal colors: vibrant reds, flickering yellows, and patches of orange. Not all of Arizona is a desert, and Oak Creek Canyon might be one of those locations that confirm this truth fervently.
Throughout New England, leaf peeping creates a tourism industry all it own. In the Rocky Mountains, as well as destinations to the east and west, the aspens change the rugged hues every autumn. The foothills of the Appalachian chain allow spectators to gaze upward at the swaths of leaves shedding their chlorophyll in visual delight. From each coast and from top to bottom, whether in the simple Turtle Mountains of North Dakota or the lush forest of the Upper Peninsula, we all have a place in this country we believe is the place to view the changing of the leaves as the temperatures cool and the trees shed their dense cover. For me, that location tucked in the Coconino National Forest will always be my yardstick for autumn enjoyment, water park aside.