Sycamore Canyon, Unspoiled Riparian Desert Wilderness Near Sedona
Sycamore Canyon comprises over 55,000 acres of wilderness. A magnificent, riparian red rock canyon below Arizona’s Mogollon rim, it is 21 miles long, and 7 miles at its widest. Despite its similarity to Sedona’s famous Oak Creek Canyon, it is entirely undeveloped, with no roads or campgrounds.
Starting near Williams Arizona to the north, Sycamore Canyon stretches all the way to the Verde Valley where it eventually meets the Verde River Canyon, a place popular for its scenic railroad, a favorite activity of visitors to Sedona.
Sycamore Canyon is abundant with wildlife, both large and small. There are black bears, mountain lions, and coyotes, as well as mammals not well known to those who live outside Arizona, like javelinas (collared peccaries) and ringtail cats (the Arizona state mammal). There are also a large numbers of birds, reptiles, and amphibians, long-time denizens of the canyon’s lush greenbelt.
Why would visitors venture into such an isolated wilderness? There are many reasons to those attracted by the solitude and beauty of unspoiled places. Activities include hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing and photography, wildlife viewing, swimming, fishing, and exploring Native American ruins and early settler cabins. Not to be left from our list, sky watchers are bound to be stunned by the clarity of the stars and milky way.
Ted Grussing, Sedona pilot and aerial photographer flew over Sycamore Canyon in early November 2016. He write his impressions:
“This shot was taken looking up Sycamore Canyon from about 7,000' and a few miles south of the confluence of the Verde River and Sycamore Creek. I took this shot yesterday morning after exploring the clouds further north and although they had not developed vertically more than a thousand or so feet, they were working pretty good up to base of about 8500'. Went on top for a while and enjoyed the view. Then it was down to shoot Sycamore Canyon and get some very inclusive shots of the whole area; having been there on the ground now gave me a better idea of what I wanted to shoot.
So here we go! Starting on the lower left side, The Verde River makes its appearance and it is flowing from left to right. Sycamore Creek joins the Verde River in the lower left quadrant and the combined flow continues to the right and drops out of the image about lower mid-image. The road coming in from the lower right side is the road I drove there a week ago today and you get on it by turning left after you cross the Verde River down by Tuzigoot, about eleven miles to the right. The road enters an overlook where you can park and the start of the Dawson Trail is there. Looks like some other roads you can come off the bluff and get down to the river—probably jeep only. The road in looks deceptively good—it is not! The roads down from the observation areas do not look good, and they are likely nasty.
The overlook is well below the canyon walls and you cannot see much beyond the first turn to the left going up the canyon. To the left of the lookout area are the rock formations I used for One in the Halloween composite this past week. Continuing up, you can see the wide expanse of the canyon further into it. There is still a deep ravine that the creek follows, but it is more expansive. And above center you can see the red rock formation I like to shoot from overhead, about ten miles up from where I took this. The plateau continues left to the NW to Ash Fork and Bill Williams mountain is at the horizon on the left. To the right of it is Sitgreaves Mountain, then Kendrick, the base of the SF Peaks which are wreathed in clouds and finally Mt. Elden. Coming up from the bottom of the image on the right side is Black Mountain and above it Casner Mountain - both are flat topped mountains.”
Trailhead: 5 trailheads which provide access to Sycamore Canyon.
At Garland Prairie exit (#167), turn off I-40 south on Forest Road #141. Continue south about 12 miles and turn right (southeast) onto FR 56. Continue on FR 56 for about 1.5 miles to the trail parking lot. See the map and directions at:
Travel Time: About 30 minutes from Williams to the Trailhead on FR 56.
Road Condition: Paved and all-weather graveled roads suitable for sedans.
ABOUT SEDONA PHOTOGRAPHER TED GRUSSING
Ted Grussing has been an attorney, photographer, business owner, custom gem cutter and jewelry designer, author, public speaker, soaring pilot and full time caregiver for his beautiful wife Corky who had MS for forty-seven years before she passed in November 2013. He developed a strong interest in photography at the age of nine and by age fourteen had his own darkroom and was engaged in professional photography. Photography has been a constant in Ted’s life ever since.
See Ted Grussing's amazing photography at Sedona Photos.
and more at his personal website: www.tedandcorky.com
Also, those seeking inspiration by the beauty of the natural world will appreciate a free subscription to Ted's newsletter.