Sedona, Arizona, is world-renowned for its “mystical” red rocks and spectacular natural beauty, drawing visitors year-round from around the world. While some come to enjoy the town’s new-age draws, like crystal shops and natural “energy” healing, others come for the hiking, nature experiences, and stunning landscapes.

However, there are some secrets (beyond just the mystical secrets of the vortices) that draw travelers to the high-end oasis. And specifically, that means natural swimming holes.

When things heat up in the Arizona desert come summer, there’s no need to stay inside in the air conditioning. Locals and smart travelers know to head for one of the best swimming holes in Sedona. At about two hours north of Phoenix in the center of Arizona, Sedona is an easy day trip from almost anywhere in the state.

Things to know before starting any Sedona swimming hole hike

Summer hiking in sedona

Photo: Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of drinking enough water when it comes to the unrelenting Arizona desert. In extreme heat, a general rule of thumb is to drink one liter of water for every hour of activity. Calculate that, then pack an extra liter (or two).

Protect yourself from the sun: As with water, you really can’t do too much as far as sun protection goes in the desert. Apply sunscreen (and don’t forget to re-apply after swimming!), wear a hat to protect your face, and pack light layers. SPF shirts can make a big difference.

Respect the desert: Many hikes to Sedona swimming holes are in unforgiving desert environments with little or no shade. Watch where you step and keep both your eyes and ears open for cactus, rattlesnakes, and other desert critters.

Leave No Trace: It’s always important to follow the seven Leave No Trace principles, but even more so in Sedona, where many popular hiking trails and recreation areas are in residential neighborhoods. Always be respectful and leave areas better than you found them, which means packing out all trash, treading lightly, and practicing responsible recreation.

Know local laws: You need a Red Rock Pass to park on many Sedona streets legally. Many local retail stores sell the passes, and you’ll find self-pay kiosks at larger parking areas. There’s a very high chance that you’ll get towed if you park illegally, especially if you’re on private property or blocking a driveway.

Editor’s note: Because swimming holes are prone to overtourism and environmental damage, we haven’t linked to information about trails or provided specific coordinates and, in some places, we’ve used photos taken of the general area of the swimming hole, rather than the actual location. However, all of the Sedona swimming holes below are marked on maps for the various recreation areas like Slide Rock State Park and Coconino National Forest. At Matador, we want to help travelers access new adventures while still practicing responsible recreation.

“The Crack” at Wet Beaver Creek

arizona swimming holes the crack

Photo: Taryn Shorr

  • Drive time from Sedona: 35 minutes
  • Hike distance: +/- 7 miles

Don’t let the questionable name deter you — this is one of the most pristine and secluded Sedona swimming holes. The crystal-clear, cool mountain water is framed by towering red rocks that just so happen to be the perfect height for jumping. And the water is deep enough for a proper swim.

You might expect to be one of the most popular swimming holes in Sedona, but The Crack is typically less crowded than others, likely due to the longer hiking distance. Start on the Bell Trail or, if you have to park in the larger overflow lot, the Bruce Brockett Trail (it intersects with Bell a half-mile in). The trail itself is relatively flat, but the length and lack of shade make it difficult. Look for the large exposed rocks (they’re very noticeable) about 3.5 miles in as they’re your entry point to the pools.

Red Rock Crossing / Crescent Moon Ranch

red rock crossing sedona swimming holes

Photo: Nelson Sirlin/Shutterstock

  • Drive time from Sedona: 15 minutes
  • Hike distance: +/- .5 miles

Also commonly referred to as Crescent Moon Ranch, Red Rock Crossing is home to several of the best Sedona swimming holes, all of which afford fantastic views of iconic Cathedral Rock.

The numerous swimming holes here have distinct vibes. There are broad red rock beaches with no shade, hidden little coves with lots of shady trees, deep pools, and one sizable red rock slab that serves as a truly ideal spot for laying out in the sunshine or using as a place to stash your swim gear. They’re all in the same general area, so you can move on if one gets too crowded.

The parking areas have bathrooms and picnic areas with BBQ grills. These are also some of the only dog-friendly Sedona swimming holes, so feel free to bring Fido along.

Some of the Red Rock Crossing swimming holes are inside Crescent Moon Ranch, but not all. Technically, they’re accessible from the official picnic area. But the trails from Crescent Moon Ranch are shorter and offer more direct access, though there’s a day-use fee of $11 per vehicle (cash or check only).

If you don’t mind a slightly longer hike, buy a $5 Red Rock day pass and park near the Baldwin Trailhead. The Baldwin Trail connects to the Red Rock Crossing Trail and there are several swimming holes along the 1.4-mile route. Consider this a real life “choose your own adventure.”

Bootlegger

  • Drive time from Sedona: 15 minutes
  • Hike distance: Minimal

A smaller and seemingly lesser-known Sedona swimming hole, Bootlegger is just two miles north of Slide Rock (below), which is perhaps the reason it flies under the radar. Park in the day-use area on the west side of Route 89A, then descend a few steps to the almost perfectly circular swimming hole.

Both ends are shallow, making Bootlegger perfect for families or anyone looking for a low-key adventure well away from the crowds. Rainbow and brown trout also frequent this particular swimming hole, so bring your poles along if you’re into fishing.

Grasshopper Point

grasshopper point arixona swimming holes

Photo: Jim_Brown_Photography/Shutterstock

  • Drive time from Sedona: 6 minutes
  • Hike distance: .5 miles

A popular warm-weather destination in Oak Creek Canyon, Grasshopper Point is a large natural swimming hole tucked into Coconino National Forest. It’s well-shaded and has the perfect combination of deep, clear pools and tall cliffs with several built-in ledges for relaxing or jumping.

Grasshopper Point also comes with the added bonus of having a large developed picnic site and vault toilets, thanks to the fact that it’s managed by the Forest Service. That also means there’s no overnight camping at Grasshopper Point, and pets are not allowed. Day-use fees are $9 per vehicle or $2 for walk-ins (park along Route 89A and walk the rest of the way).

Midgley Bridge

Sedona swimming holes near bridge

Photo: Jon Manjeot/Shutterstock

  • Drive time from Sedona: 5 minutes
  • Hike distance: .6 miles

Just down the road from Grasshopper Point, Midgley Bridge is also home to one of the best swimming holes in Sedona. This one is unique in that it has wide, picturesque red rock “beaches” perfect for sunbathing and hanging out. There are partially submerged large rocks, making it easy to sit in the shallow water while soaking up the sun. This, coupled with its proximity to Sedona proper, makes Midgley Bridge one of the most popular swimming holes in the area. It has a lively party vibe.

Midgley Bridge has an inexplicably small parking lot, so arrive early or plan to park along the west side of Route 89A. You’ll need a Red Rock Pass to park anywhere in this area. If you don’t have one already, there’s a self-pay kiosk at one end of the parking lot.

Encinoso

sedons swimming holes oak creek near grasshopper point

Photo: accidental photographer/Shutterstock

  • Drive time from Sedona: 10 minutes
  • Hike distance: .25 miles

One of the smallest and least-known swimming holes in Sedona is Encinoso, on Oak Creek. It’s surprising that Encinoso isn’t more popular since access is easy. It’s a well-maintained, two-mile trail starting at the Coconino National Forest day-use picnic site about two miles from Grasshopper Point.

It requires a bit of scrambling on boulders to reach the swimming hole, but it’s nothing too technical and most people in average shape (or even a bit less than average) should be able to manage. Follow any of the faint trails down to the water from the picnic area, then pick your spot in the lush, almost tropical-looking greenery.

Bull Pen

sedona swimming holes - national forest creek

Photo: Tim Roberts Photography/Shutterstock

  • Drive time from Sedona: 1 hour
  • Hike distance: .75 miles

Technically near Campe Verde (about an hour from Sedona), Bull Pen is the very definition of an oasis in the desert. It’s easily the most remote of all Sedona swimming holes, so it’s also typically the least crowded. While the dirt road to Bull Pen is manageable for most vehicles, it is a bit bumpy and rough, and its reputation deters many visitors. But adventurous souls will be rewarded. Just drive carefully if you have a vehicle with low clearance.

Along pristine West Clear Creek deep in the Coconino National Forest, Bull Pen features calm waters with shallow, approachable entries, plenty of shady trees, a pebble beach, and perfectly-placed cliffs for diving. Look around closely while there and you may find one of the many rope swings that locals hang throughout the year.

Slide Rock

slide rock sedona swimming holes

Photo: Arizona Office of Tourism.

  • Drive time from Sedona: 15 minutes
  • Hike distance: .3 miles

No list of Sedona swimming holes is complete without mentioning what many consider the area’s crown jewel of Sedona swimming holes: Slide Rock. Inside Slide Rock State Park, the swimming hole certainly isn’t hidden or unknown, but it’s well worth a visit nonetheless.

At this swimming hole, Sedona’s famous red sandstone rocks form a natural 80-foot-long waterslide. The width of the slide varies from about two to four feet across and drops swimmers directly into the refreshing creek. The park’s half-mile stretch of Oak Creek actually has several natural pools of varying sizes and depths, making it the perfect family or group outing.

Note that state park entrance fees vary from $10-30 per vehicle, depending on the time of year.

Bonus Sedona swimming hole: Secret Slickrock

secret slickrock swimming holes

Photo: Taryn Shorr

  • Drive time from Sedona: 15 minutes
  • Hike distance: .4 miles

Consider this a “bonus” Sedona swimming hole, because Secret Slickrock is more of a pond, not so much an actual swimming hole. Nevertheless, it’s still incredible and, as its name implies, is also one of the few remaining spots in Sedona actually considered a local secret — despite being well-signed.

Hidden on the back of Cathedral Rock and almost literally tucked in its shadows, Secret Slickrock is easy to find and rarely crowded. Visitors will have unobstructed, head-on views of Cathedral Rock. And if you’re lucky, you may have small, mirror-still pools of rainwater to reflect the blue sky. Because Secret Slickrock is rain-dependent, try to time your visit during monsoon season or after a good rain. But even if there’s no water, it’s still one of the best sunrise spots in Sedona.