Camp Arizona caught up with Keith Ayotte, Park Manager of Red Rock State Park. He shared with us about the daily nature hikes, his favorite hiking in the park and everything else that makes up for the fact that they don’t offer camping. Listen to our full interview here:
Red Rock State Park Camping
Camp Arizona: Talking with Keith Ayotte today. He’s the park manager at Red Rock State Park in Arizona. How’s it going, Keith?
Keith: Well, every day we have a 10:00 nature hike that is usually popular for our visitors, and every Wednesday and Saturday we have a bird hike. That time varies depending on the season, but typically it’s around 8:00. But depending on what time of year you come in, it’s best just to call the park so we can give you a more definite time on that bird hike. And again, that’s every Wednesday and Saturday, and we have a nature hike every day at 10:00. Then at 2 p.m. in the afternoon, we have either a nature hike or some sort of program that we do.
CA: And then how about hiking trails? What do you guys offer there?
Keith: We’ve got great hiking trails for just about every ability. We’ve got about five miles’ worth of trails on the park, and they’re all circular in nature, so you can actually combine different trails to make a nice little half-mile trail, or you can interconnect them all and make a nice five-mile loop. It all depends on what you want to do. We also have a creek, Oak Creek, which runs through the park, so we have several trails that parallel the creek, as well as trails that go up into the higher elevations of the park, which give you some really nice panoramic views of the red rocks.
CA: Are you guys open year round?
Keith: Yeah, we are open year round. The only day that we are actually closed is Christmas day, and then we have two half days on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
CA: Do you know of any convenient places where I could stay if I wanted to camp overnight somewhere else but still be close to Red Rock State Park?
Keith: Typically you have the Forest Service, but right now they’re all shutting down. But we also have Dead Horse Ranch State Park, which is in the neighboring town called Cottonwood, and you can reserve spots online through our website, and also they have cabins there at Dead Horse as well.
CA: If you could spend just one hour in Red Rock State Park, how would you spend your time? I’m curious, since you spend so much time there.
Keith: Definitely what I like to do is, if you’re there for the red rocks, you’re an out of towner, I’d probably throw you on one of the bigger trails, which is about an hour, hour and a half hike. It throws you up onto Eagle’s Nest and Coyote Ridge. The whole time you’re on the hike, there’s basically devoid of all trees, and you just get full view of the Sedona Valley area. It’s just a spectacular hike.
Keith: Within an hour, I’d definitely recommend the little town of Jerome. A lot of folks that go into Sedona don’t realize that there’s an old mining camp that used to exist in this area called Jerome, which is a very active tourist community. We also have a park up there, Jerome State Historic Park. Great museum, gives you a really good overview of the history here, not only about Jerome, but the entire area. Spectacular views, again, of Sedona. The San Francisco Peaks up in Flagstaff.
Then you’ve got several places in Sedona itself. You’ve got Slide Rock State Park, which is in Oak Creek Canyon just on the outskirts of the town Sedona. You’ve got Dead Horse Ranch State Park, we’ve got free fishing ponds out there if you want to do some fishing. There’s also a horseback concessionaire out there that will more than gladly take you out on the trails. And then within Sedona proper itself, you’ve got the Church of the Rocks, you’ve got Cathedral Rock. Great places to go out and check.
CA: Awesome. That sounds like a lot of fun. Well, thanks for taking just a little bit of time out of your day today, Keith, to tell us about the surrounding area there and some of the things that you guys offer at Red Rock State Park in Arizona.
Keith: Yeah, thanks for calling us.