Oak Creek Canyon

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Oak Creek Canyon
Oak Creek Canyon 02.jpg
South view, from above north terminus (Coconino Plateau)
Coconino Sandstone cliffs above Hermit Formation, [1] on west canyon wall
USA Arizona location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Oak Creek Canyon
Location in Arizona,
northeast of Verde River
Length12 miles (19 km)North-South
Width0.8 to 2.5 miles (1.3 to 4.0 km)
Geography
Coordinates 34°54′45″N111°43′37″W / 34.91250°N 111.72694°W / 34.91250; -111.72694 Coordinates: 34°54′45″N111°43′37″W / 34.91250°N 111.72694°W / 34.91250; -111.72694
Traversed by Arizona State Route 89A
RiversOak Creek

Oak Creek Canyon is a river gorge located in northern Arizona between the cities of Flagstaff and Sedona. The canyon is often described as a smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon because of its scenic beauty. State Route 89A enters the canyon on its north end via a series of hairpin turns before traversing the bottom of the canyon for about 13 miles (21 km) until the highway enters the town of Sedona. The Oak Creek CanyonSedona area is second only to Grand Canyon as the most popular tourist destination in Arizona.

Canyon Deep ravine between cliffs

A canyon or gorge is a deep cleft between escarpments or cliffs resulting from weathering and the erosive activity of a river over geologic timescales. Rivers have a natural tendency to cut through underlying surfaces, eventually wearing away rock layers as sediments are removed downstream. A river bed will gradually reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water into which the river drains. The processes of weathering and erosion will form canyons when the river's headwaters and estuary are at significantly different elevations, particularly through regions where softer rock layers are intermingled with harder layers more resistant to weathering.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.

Flagstaff, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Flagstaff is a city in and the county seat of Coconino County in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2015, the city's estimated population was 70,320. Flagstaff's combined metropolitan area has an estimated population of 139,097. The city is named after a ponderosa pine flagpole made by a scouting party from Boston to celebrate the United States Centennial on July 4, 1876.

Contents

Geography

Oak Creek above Sedona West Fork of Oak Creek, reflections.jpg
Oak Creek above Sedona

Oak Creek Canyon is about 12 miles (19 km) long, ranging in width from 0.8 to 2.5 miles (1.3 to 4.0 km). The depth of the canyon ranges from 800 to 2,000 feet (240 to 610 m). However, due to the faulting that played a major role in its formation, the west rim of the canyon is 700 feet (210 m) higher than the east rim. The average elevation of the west rim is 7,200 feet (2,200 m) while the east rim elevation is 6,500 feet (2,000 m).

Oak Creek

Oak Creek, a tributary of the Verde River, flows along the bottom of the canyon, and is one of the few perennial streams in the high desert region of northern Arizona. Oak Creek is largely responsible for carving the modern Oak Creek Canyon, although movement along the Oak Creek Fault, a 30-mile (48 km) long northsouth normal fault line, is thought to have played a role as well. Oak Creek has an elevation of 4,300 feet (1,300 m) just north of Sedona to 6,000 feet (1,800 m) at the northern terminus of the canyon. [2]

Verde River river in the United States of America

The Verde River is a major tributary of the Salt River in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is about 170 miles (270 km) long and carries a mean flow of 602 cubic feet per second (17.0 m3/s) at its mouth. It is one of the largest perennial streams in Arizona.

Desert Area of land where little precipitation occurs

A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to the processes of denudation. About one-third of the land surface of the world is arid or semi-arid. This includes much of the polar regions where little precipitation occurs and which are sometimes called polar deserts or "cold deserts". Deserts can be classified by the amount of precipitation that falls, by the temperature that prevails, by the causes of desertification or by their geographical location.

Oak Creek enters more open country below Sedona. It meanders past the communities of Page Springs and Cornville, and reaches its confluence with the Verde River about 6 miles (10 km) southeast of Cottonwood. [3] In June 2006, the southern portion of the canyon, near Slide Rock State Park, was affected by a 4,300-acre (17 km2) wildfire known as the "Brins Fire". [4]

Cornville, Arizona CDP in Arizona, United States

Cornville is a census-designated place (CDP) in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. The population as of the 2010 United States Census was 3,280, down from 3,335 at the 2000 census. The Cornville CDP includes the communities of Cornville and Page Springs.

Confluence Meeting of two or more bodies of flowing water

In geography, a confluence occurs where two or more flowing bodies of water join together to form a single channel. A confluence can occur in several configurations: at the point where a tributary joins a larger river ; or where two streams meet to become the source of a river of a new name ; or where two separated channels of a river rejoin at the downstream end.

Cottonwood, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Cottonwood is a city in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2010 census, the population of the city is 11,265.

Geology

Sandstone formation in Oak Creek Canyon Oak Crk Canyon.jpg
Sandstone formation in Oak Creek Canyon

Geologic evidence suggests the formation of an ancestral Oak Creek Canyon along the Oak Creek Fault about eight to ten million years ago. [5] The ancestral Oak Creek Canyon was then filled in by gravel deposits and a series of lava flows between 6-8 million years ago during the Miocene Epoch. [5] About this time, the Oak Creek Fault became active again and the modern Oak Creek Canyon began to develop along the fault zone as a result of the erosional action of Oak Creek. [6] The normal, down-to-the-east motion of the Oak Creek Fault during the most recent faulting period resulted in the west rim of the canyon being about 700 feet (210 meters) higher than the east rim.

The Miocene is the first geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.333 million years ago (Ma). The Miocene was named by Charles Lyell; its name comes from the Greek words μείων and καινός and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene is preceded by the Oligocene and is followed by the Pliocene.

The spectacularly eroded walls of the canyon are formed mostly of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. Exposures of the Kaibab Limestone, (the geologic formation found at the top of the Grand Canyon), and the Toroweap Formation are found only at the northern end of the canyon. The more predominant rock units exposed in the cliffs of southern Oak Creek Canyon are the buff to white colored, frequently cross-bedded Permian Coconino Sandstone and the red sandstones of the Permian Schnebly Hill Formation. Unlike all the other formations exposed in Oak Creek Canyon, the Schnebly Hill Formation is not present at the Grand Canyon. The youngest rocks exposed in the canyon are a series of basalt lava flows that form the east rim, the youngest of which is an estimated 6 million years old. [5]

The PaleozoicEra is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting from 541 to 251.902 million years ago, and is subdivided into six geologic periods : the Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The Paleozoic comes after the Neoproterozoic Era of the Proterozoic Eon and is followed by the Mesozoic Era.

Sedimentary rock Rock formed by the deposition and subsequent cementation of material

Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of small particles and subsequent cementation of mineral or organic particles on the floor of oceans or other bodies of water at the Earth's surface. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause these particles to settle in place. The particles that form a sedimentary rock are called sediment, and may be composed of geological detritus (minerals) or biological detritus. Before being deposited, the geological detritus was formed by weathering and erosion from the source area, and then transported to the place of deposition by water, wind, ice, mass movement or glaciers, which are called agents of denudation. Biological detritus was formed by bodies and parts of dead aquatic organisms, as well as their fecal mass, suspended in water and slowly piling up on the floor of water bodies. Sedimentation may also occur as dissolved minerals precipitate from water solution.

Kaibab Limestone

The Kaibab Limestone is a resistant cliff-forming, Permian geologic formation that crops out across the U.S. states of northern Arizona, southern Utah, east central Nevada and southeast California. It is also known as the Kaibab Formation in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. The Kaibab Limestone forms the rim of the Grand Canyon. In the Big Maria Mountains, California, the Kaibab Limestone is highly metamorphosed and known as the Kaibab Marble.

Recreation

Fishing in Oak Creek, Cathedral Rock in background, 1959. Oak Creek Sedona Arizona.jpg
Fishing in Oak Creek, Cathedral Rock in background, 1959.

Oak Creek Canyon is located within the Coconino National Forest. Portions of the canyon have been designated federal wilderness areas as part of the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness. The United States Forest Service operates several campgrounds, picnic areas, and recreation areas within the canyon. Slide Rock State Park, home to a natural water slide along Oak Creek, is also located within Oak Creek Canyon. Other recreational activities include swimming and fishing in Oak Creek. There are 49 fishable miles along the creek where rainbow trout, brown trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, catfish (channel) and catfish (flathead) can be found. Hiking the many trails leading into side canyons or up to the rim of the canyon is a popular activity for the area. The trail leading the first 3 miles (4.8 km) up the West Fork of Oak Creek, a 14-mile (22.4 km) long narrow side canyon, is the most popular trail in the Coconino National Forest. [7]

2014 slide fire

On May 20, 2014, at around 4 PM, a wildfire was reported just north of Slide Rock State Park. The fire was 100% contained on June 4, 2014, with 21,227 acres burned. Total personnel included over 1,230 firefighters, 50 crews, 29 engines, and 9 helicopters. [8]

After the fire, the Sedona Fire District installed 9 Outdoor Warning Sirens throughout the Canyon. They are used for situations including: wildfires, flash flooding, severe weather, and other emergencies. The siren system is tested yearly, in the Summer months.

See also

Related Research Articles

Sedona, Arizona City in Arizona, United States

Sedona is a city that straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population was 10,031.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area protected area

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Clark County, Nevada, is an area managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of its National Landscape Conservation System, and protected as a National Conservation Area. It is about 15 miles (24 km) west of Las Vegas, and is easily seen from the Las Vegas Strip. More than two million people visit the area each year.

Mogollon Rim mountain range

The Mogollon Rim is a topographical and geological feature cutting across the U.S. state of Arizona. It extends approximately 200 miles (320 km), starting in northern Yavapai County and running eastward, ending near the border with New Mexico. It forms the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona.

Northern Arizona

Northern Arizona is an unofficial, colloquially-defined region of the U.S. state of Arizona. Generally consisting of Coconino, Mohave, Navajo, and Apache counties, the region is geographically dominated by the Colorado Plateau, the southern border of which in Arizona is called the Mogollon Rim.

North Central Arizona is a geographical region of Arizona. It is in the Transition Zone between the Basin and Range Province and the Colorado Plateau, and has some of the most rugged and scenic landscapes in Arizona.

Coconino National Forest protected area in Arizona, USA

The Coconino National Forest is a 1.856-million acre United States National Forest located in northern Arizona in the vicinity of Flagstaff. Originally established in 1898 as the "San Francisco Mountains National Forest Reserve", the area was designated a U.S. National Forest in 1908 when the San Francisco Mountains National Forest Reserve was merged with lands from other surrounding forest reserves to create the Coconino National Forest. Today, the Coconino National Forest contains diverse landscapes, including deserts, ponderosa pine forests, flatlands, mesas, alpine tundra, and ancient volcanic peaks. The forest surrounds the towns of Sedona and Flagstaff and borders four other national forests; the Kaibab National Forest to the west and northwest, the Prescott National Forest to the southwest, the Tonto National Forest to the south, and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to the southeast. The forest contains all or parts of ten designated wilderness areas, including the Kachina Peaks Wilderness, which includes the summit of the San Francisco Peaks. The headquarters are in Flagstaff. There are local ranger district offices in Flagstaff, Happy Jack, and Sedona.

The Coconino Plateau is found south of the Grand Canyon and north-northwest of Flagstaff, in northern Arizona of the Southwestern United States.

Slide Rock State Park state park in Arizona

Slide Rock State Park is an Arizona State Park located in Oak Creek Canyon 7 miles (11 km) north of Sedona, Arizona, United States. It takes its name from a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek. Slide Rock State Park is located on Coconino National Forest land and is co-managed by the Arizona State Parks agency and the United States Forest Service. Tall red rock formations that are typical of the region also surround the park, which contains a 43-acre (17 ha) working apple farm.

State Route 179, also known as SR 179, the Red Rock Scenic Byway, a north–south state highway in Arizona, United States, running from Interstate 17 to SR 89A in Sedona, entering Coconino County from Yavapai County. In 2006, the US Dept. of Transportation awarded SR 179 its highest designation within the National Scenic Byways Program: the All-American Road designation, due to the red rock and sandstone formations through which it travels along its 7.5-mile (12.1 km) length within the hills of the Coconino National Forest. The All-American Road designation also signifies to the travelling public that this is a road that is "a destination unto itself".

Sycamore Canyon (Yavapai County, Arizona) the second largest canyon in the Arizona redrock country

Sycamore Canyon is the second largest canyon in the Arizona redrock country, after Oak Creek Canyon. The 21-mile (34 km) long scenic canyon reaches a maximum width of about 7 miles (11 km). It is in North Central Arizona bordering and below the Mogollon Rim, and is located west and northwest of Sedona in Yavapai and Coconino counties.

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness is a 56,000-acre wilderness area in the Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott national forests in the U.S. state of Arizona. Encompassing Sycamore Canyon and its surrounds from south of Williams to the confluence of Sycamore Creek with the Verde River, the wilderness is about 40 miles southwest of Flagstaff. The canyon is one of several in Arizona that cut through the Mogollon Rim. Relevant United States Geological Survey (USGS) map quadrangles are Davenport Hill, White Horse Lake, May Tank Pocket, Perkinsville, Sycamore Basin, and Clarkdale. Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness borders Sycamore Canyon Wilderness on the east.

Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness

The Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness is a 47,195-acre wilderness area located within the Coconino National Forest in the U.S. state of Arizona.

Red Rock, Yavapai County, Arizona Populated place in Arizona, United States

Red Rock is a populated place in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. Red Rock is 4.5 miles (7.2 km) southwest of Sedona. In the late 19th century, Red Rock was the principal settlement in the Oak Creek Canyon area. Red Rock is now an upscale suburb of Sedona.

Cathedral Rock mountain in United States of America

Cathedral Rock is a natural sandstone butte on the Sedona skyline and one of the most-photographed sights in Arizona, United States. The rock formation is located in the Coconino National Forest in Yavapai County, about a mile (1.6 km) west of Arizona Route 179, and about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) south of the "Y" intersection of Routes 179 and 89A in uptown Sedona. The summit elevation of Cathedral Rock is 4,967 feet (1,514 m).

House Mountain (Arizona) mountain in United States of America

House Mountain is a shield volcano located in the U.S. state of Arizona located between the Sedona Red Rock Country and the Verde Valley in the Coconino National Forest. House Mountain erupted approximately 13-15 million years ago on the edge of where the Mogollon Rim stood at that time. Thus, the basalt that was emitted preserved the sedimentary layers below it, including the Schnebly Hill Formation and the thin band of Fort Apache Limestone. The Mogollon Rim has receded at a rate of 1 foot per 600 years since and the current edge of the rim can be seen several miles away from the summit.

Toroweap Formation

The Middle Permian Toroweap Formation is a thin, darker geologic unit, between the brighter colored units of the Kaibab Limestone above, and Coconino Sandstone below. It is a prominent unit in Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA, found through sections of the South Rim, Grand Canyon, and the North Rim, of the Kaibab Plateau; also the Kaibab's southeast extension to Cape Royal, the Walhalla Plateau. The Colorado River of the Grand Canyon makes its excursion from due-south to due-west around the Walhalla Plateau, as it enters the east end of the Grand Canyon's interior, Granite Gorge. The formation is also found in southeast Utah.

Isis Temple mountain in United States of America

Isis Temple, in the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA is a prominence below the North Rim, and adjacent Granite Gorge. The prominence lies north of the north bank of the west-flowing Colorado River, and is just north of Middle Granite Gorge. The Trinity Creek and canyon flow due-south at its west border; its north, and northeast border/flank is formed by Phantom Creek and canyon, a west tributary of Bright Angel Creek; the creeks intersect about 3 mi southeast, and 1 mi north of Granite Gorge.

Wescogame Formation

The (Upper) Late Pennsylvanian Wescogame Formation is a slope-forming, sandstone, red-orange geologic unit, formed from an addition of eolian sand, added to marine transgression deposits,, and found throughout sections of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, Southwest United States. It is one of the upper members of the Supai Group 'redbeds', with the Supai Group found in other sections of Arizona, especially in the Verde Valley region, or as a basement unit below the Mogollon Rim, just eastwards or part of the basement Supai Group of the southwest & south Colorado Plateau.

White Rim Sandstone

White Rim Sandstone is a sandstone geologic formation located in southeastern Utah.

Munds Mountain Wilderness

Munds Mountain Wilderness is an 18,150-acre wilderness area in the Coconino National Forest in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is immediately southeast of Sedona between Arizona State Route 179 and Interstate 17. The wilderness lies within the Munds Mountain and Sedona quadrangles of the national topographic map of the United States Geological Survey.

References

  1. Chronic, Halka. Roadside Geology of Arizona, c. 1983, 23rd printing, 321 pages, (US 89A Flagstaff to Arizona), pp. 233-236, map ref, pg. 192.
  2. Google Earth
  3. TopoQuest - USGS Cornville (AZ) Topo Map
  4. "Brins Fire-June 2006". U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest. Retrieved 2006-11-09.
  5. 1 2 3 Ranney, Wayne D.R. (May 1998). "Geologic Road Log for U.S. Route 89A through Oak Creek Canyon". Geologic Excursions in Northern and Central Arizona. Department of Geology, Northern Arizona University. pp. 177–179.
  6. Lucchitta, Ivo (2001). Hiking Arizona's Geology. Mountaineers Books. pp. 97–99. ISBN   0-89886-730-4.
  7. "West Fork of Oak Creek Trail". U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest. Retrieved 2006-11-09.
  8. "Arizona Coconino National Forest, Slide Fire". INCIWEB: Incident Information System. 2015. Retrieved October 18, 2015.