Lush Creek: Oak Creek Canyon

Lush Creek

The west fork of Oak Creek near Sedona, Arizona, is one of my favorite locations in the Southwest. Oak Creek itself is a pretty small, as creeks goes, and you can, in many places, walk across it without getting your feet wet. But what the creek lacks in size it more than makes up for in sheer beauty, and it is a very extraordinary location in the Coconino National Forest.

What makes this creek special is its combination of lush, thick foliage, the high red-rock canyon walls that tower over it, and its myriad of quiet pools that make absolutely perfect reflections. It some places, it is like looking into a mirror and you almost lose your orientation.

This photograph was made just after a mid-summer rain on a quiet evening. The rain brought out not only the vibrant, rich greens, but also highlighted the deep reds of the canyon walls, each complimenting the other, with both reflected on the still surface of the pool.

Of course, the time of the year matters quite a lot, and as the seasons change, so does the character and complexion of Oak Creek Canyon. For example, as the summer fades into the fall, the canyon’s deciduous trees burst into color, full of yellows and oranges and reds and hues that don’t even have a name yet. I’ve covered some of these colors in previous stories, such as Fall’s Reflection. You might even recognize this exact location, too, as I’ve photographed it a number of times, notably in Contemplative ReflectionContemplative Reflection

One could, and I have, several times in fact, spend all day in the canyon. There is a well-worn trail that runs for a few miles up the canyon, and this trail is a joy and a delight to walk. Around each corner you’ll find beauty, and the farther you walk, the more you’ll come to appreciate the canyon’s nuances, nooks and crannies. Although the official trail ends with you having to walk in the creek, you can keep going after this point for another eleven miles or so. In short, the canyon and the creek offer unparalleled beauty to explore.

The tranquility of the canyon overlaid everything else, and provided a deep sense of inner peace. When it was time to go, I found myself dawdling and lingering, finding every excuse I could to stay just a few more moments to enjoy. Eventually, however, daylight faded away, shrouding the canyon in a different kind of beauty.

Own Lush Creek in Oak Creek Canyon