Via the park website: "The park is named after the famous Slide Rock, a stretch of slippery creek bottom adjacent to the homestead. Visitors may slide down a slick natural water chute or wade and sun along the creek. The swim area is located on National Forest land which is jointly managed by Arizona State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service."
There is a bit of a learning curve in experiencing Slide Rock. The setting and the rocks are gorgeous, and the water & river are just as scenic. But as a parent of smaller children, this wasn't one of those "totally easy, let 'em run free" kind of places.
Yes, arrive early in the day. Yes, for sure pack a hearty lunch and plenty of drinks. Stake out a place that has some shade, if possible, as the heat of the Arizona sun and the rocks can get intense. (There's not a ton of shade, really, just patches.) The rocks can be slick, with or without water shoes, so expect some tumbles or at least a little unsteadiness -- for the adults, too.
My one "issue," was that in early June, when we visited, the river water was COLD. So cold, that my daughter, who is a true fish in any body of water, started crying in frustration that she just couldn't take it for too long. And it wasn't just our family who thought this -- groups of teens & young adults were jumping into the deeper pools from the rocks, then came up screaming & cursing at how cold it was. By mid-afternoon, we acclimated and had a better time, but man, that water was chilly. Good thing the rocks are so hot!
I think if we visit again, I'll give it 5 stars because we'll be a bit wiser about what to expect and how to best enjoy this gorgeous place -- and maybe in July, the water will be a little bit warmer!
Our family has been coming to Slide Rock State Park for years. We found a picture on a postcard when we were visiting from Wisconsin, and we did some research and decided to see what it was about. We are so glad we did! My kids absolutely love this place! The natural water slides (while very chilly) are a lot of fun. Even our daughter tried them last summer when she was just 3! My older son (12) loves to jump off the cliffs. There are cliffs of various heights that people will jump off of. The location is absolutely beautiful in the red rocks of Sedona. Every time we are in Arizona (which is almost every year), this is a required day trip for our family!
If you're near Sedona during the warm seasons, you'd be remiss if you didn't make a visit to Slide Rock to cool down and have fun at one of the most iconic local natural features.
A few tips right off the top:
1) Arrive early (parking fills up quickly and it's no fun to wait in your car for someone else to leave the lot)
2) Pack food and water (you will likely be there awhile if you want to explore the area...and your kids aren't going to want to leave!).
3) Prepare for some walking/light hiking (that is, don't just wear flip-flops from the car; old tennis shoes or water shoes that you can keep on while sliding would work fine, though. Only one small part of the park is stroller/wheelchair accessible).
4) Leave your valuables in the car unless you plan to have someone sit with them while others play in the water.
All that said, Slide Rock is so much fun! There are multiple series of natural slick rock pools to slide down and splash into. The water is refreshingly cool and there are so many there that you will likely find something suitable to the abilities of everyone in your group, from small splash pools for toddlers to enormous plunge pools for teens and adults. The park gets quite busy in the summer, as you can imagine, so be prepared for some crowds and have enough adults with that you can keep a safe eye on your kids (besides obvious water hazards, we have seen both black widow spiders and small tarantulas hiding amidst the rocks there). Though, as you hike up the river a bit, you will find that the crowds thin out--most people tend to congregate around the bottom-most pools--but, there are still some fun slide areas and pools up-river, too. Slide Rock is an area I'd visited when I was a teenager and I was so pleased to be able to bring my kids back this past summer so they could add that memory to their list!