Sedona Day Trips: Page Springs Fish Hatchery And Other Cornville Attractions
Anyone seeking a day trip from Sedona that includes a top-notch nature experience, a gourmet lunch at a first class restaurant, and a premium wine tasting experience at local vineyards will be delighted by a short trip to the Cornville and Page Springs area. An easy 20-minute drive from Sedona, these two picturesque communities are located in the heart of the Verde Valley and offer a diverse mix of experiences for both area visitors and residents alike.
The first stop and must-see on this trip is the Page Springs Fish Hatchery, and the best times are morning hours during the warm summer months. The average tourist doesn’t think of Arizona as a fishing mecca nor do tourists realize that there are many bodies of water in Arizona ideal for fishing. There are actually thirty-two bodies of water large enough to be classified as lakes in Arizona. Add to that number approximately 165 smaller fishing lakes in urban and rural areas, and a number of fishable streams and rivers, and you have quite a demand for fish. Since the Arizona Game & Fish Department is responsible for stocking many of these lakes, rivers and streams, it operates six fish hatcheries around the State. All of the fish hatcheries are located next to natural springs which feed fresh water into the hatcheries.
Most trout in Arizona is stocked from a hatchery at some stage of its life. Natural trout reproduction in Arizona is extremely limited. Trout cannot reproduce in lakes or ponds because they require cold, clear-running perennial streams. Because of this, the vast majority of trout caught in Arizona’s public waters originate from Arizona hatcheries. These hatcheries stock five different species of trout annually into sixty-two different public waters across the State. These five species of trout include rainbow, brown, brook, cutthroat, and Arizona’s native Apache trout, the State Fish. Arizona fish hatcheries grow approximately 3 million trout per year and also produce smaller numbers of largemouth bass, bluegill, and roundtail chub.
Located on beautiful Oak Creek approximately 10 miles south of Sedona off Highway 89A on the Page Springs Road is the Page Springs Fish Hatchery, the largest in Arizona, raising more than 600,000 catchable rainbow trout, 50,000 brown trout of assorted sizes, and around 100,000 rainbow fingerlings each year. Fish from this hatchery are distributed to lakes and streams year-round all across the State.
Page Springs Hatchery was named after the original owners of the property, the Page family. The Page family had been raising trout as far back as the early 1930s. The Arizona Game & Fish Department acquired a lease to the hatchery in 1938 and eventually purchased the hatchery in 1949.
Trout are being raised in large numbers at the Page Spring Fish Hatchery near Sedona.Water temperature at this hatchery is unique when compared to other trout hatcheries. Normally, trout are grown in water with a temperature range of 45 to 55 F. However, the water temperature from Cave Spring, the spring that feeds the hatchery, is a constant 68 F, with an incredible daily flow capacity of up to 17 million gallons.
The warmer water allows for faster growth, which means that it takes only about 9-13 months to produce a catchable-size trout compared to a minimum of 24 months at other Arizona hatcheries. Because the water is so warm, it is necessary to cool down the water for transporting trout to their final destinations. The hatchery has managed this challenge by cooling down the water in the hatchery stocking trucks with ice from an ice machine capable of producing 500 pounds of ice daily.
The hatchery also has wildlife viewing areas at the site, short hiking trails, and a Visitor Center with public restrooms and picnic tables. There is a very large show pond where visitors can view and feed fish.
The Northern Arizona Audubon Society has worked with the Arizona Game & Fish Department to develop and maintain wildlife viewing opportunities and wildlife habitats, and it is not uncommon to see big game animals or other species such as otters, skunks, osprey, herons, raccoons, other mammals, amphibians, and about 200 species of birds.
The Page Springs Fish Hatchery may be one of the best-kept secrets in the Verde Valley. It is a must-see for anyone interested in fish habitat, wildlife, and bird viewing. The best part is that it is free to the public.
If You Go...
The Page Springs Fish Hatchery is open to the publc seven days a week from 7 am to 3:30 pm. It is located ten miles south of Sedona on Page Springs Road, approximately five miles from Highway 89A. Phone: 928-634-4805.
The second leg of this day trip is a gourmet lunch at the Up The Creek Grill and Bar. This quaint restaurant is located on Page Springs Road overlooking beautiful Oak Creek, only a couple blocks away from the Page Springs Fish Hatchery.
Up The Creek Grill & Bar continues to be an iconic piece of the history of the Verde Valley. The original owners, James Edgar Page Jr. and his wife Fanita first opened Page Springs Store and Gas Station in 1956. In the 1970s, it became a restaurant, and to this day, remains a popular spot for locals and tourists who wish to experience dining in a tranquil setting with a window view of Oak Creek. The new owners, Jim O’Meally, Michelle Mebine, and Mario Aguilar, having very quickly developed a reputation for serving fine foods in a creek-side atmosphere that is difficult to find anywhere else. The owners are committed to maintaining a friendly, low-key, casual atmosphere that their predecessors created, with top quality, flavorful meals for their guests.
The final leg of the day is a stop at the wineries, located just blocks away from the fish hatchery and Up The Creek Grill and Bar. The three wineries, Havelina Leap, Oak Creek, and Page Springs, offer quality, award-winning wines, as well as hot and cold appetizers. The wine tastings are reasonably priced, and there are ample inventories of favorites to take home for future enjoyment.
Photos: Large show pond where visitors can view and feed fish at the Page Springs Fish Hatchery; visitors can see trout up close and in various stages of growth at the Page Springs Fish Hatchery; a young desert cottontail rabbit appears along the nature trail.