Favorite Outdoor Spots Near Strawberry, AZ
Guest Post: By Allison Waken (All For The Memories/@allisonwaken)
Strawberry, AZ is the perfect “home base” for a fun outdoorsy getaway. There are so many great spots to explore or relax, many within a 30-minute drive from The Strawberry Inn, making it the perfect place to get out and explore what Arizona has to offer. Whether you just want to explore and see the sites, hike an epic hike, splash in the water to cool off, or fish for trout the rim country has just about anything an outdoor lover could want.
Here are our favorite outdoor spots to explore near The Strawberry Inn. Each is titled the same as it is on Google Maps to make it easy for you to find. All of these spots are accessible by most vehicles. If you want to enjoy the water spots in the popular summer months, the earlier you can get there to park the better!
Paleo Site Monument - Paleo Site Monument is a spot just off the 260 where you can be a paleontologist and dig for real fossils! You don’t actually have to do much digging, there are many fossils to be found. Most are of seashells & other aquatic creatures and can be found on the limestone you’ll see when you first enter the site, or on a red walk wall halfway up the hill. Take a few simple tools to help (like a hammer) if you want to make it easier.
Geode Hill - Geode Hill is clearly marked on google maps, but doesn’t have a sign or anything. It is located within a neighborhood so as always, be respectful of the residents. There is a place to park just past the location point on the maps (a pull out on the side of the road). Stick to the left when climbing up the hill & you’ll start to see lots of signs of geode hunting. This is a fun place if you’re like me and not the greatest at finding geodes, it’s hard not to find any signs of them here as you’ll at least sign remnants of them from others!
(Photo by: Rachel Jaroszewski)
Water Wheel Falls - This is one of the most popular hikes and water spots in the area and for a good reason. It’s a fun rock scrambling hike with the reward of a gorgeous pool of water and water fall at the end. Make sure to bring $10 cash or check for parking.
First, Second, and Third Crossing - For other options along the East Verde River check out one of these day use areas. They are generally less busy than Water Wheel and you still have great river access. The river is long so hike out a bit if you want to get away from people! You can hike along and through the river, stop to play in the water, or set up a spot to enjoy for a few hours. $10 for parking at these as well.
East Verde Picnic Area - Another great option for river access. This parking lot has no fees. You can play in the Verde River with the gorgeous backdrop of red rocks.
Flowing Springs Day Use Area - Looking for more fee free parking to play in the river? Try this spot! Great parking right near the river, lots of water to play in or hike around.
Horton Creek Trailhead / Horton Springs Parking Lot - I love a hike that takes you forever because you keep stopping to look at the gorgeous sites. That’s exactly what Horton Creek Trail is like. You’ll hike along the trail and be tempted to stop MANY times which is totally fine if that’s what you’re there for. Enjoy a gorgeous hike and cool off along the way in the creek.
Derrick Trailhead - If the Horton Creek Trailhead is busy the Derrick Trailhead parking gets you right onto the water as well. If you had your heart set on Horton you can walk over, or you can enjoy the water from Tonto Creek here!
Tonto Natural Bridge - Tonto Natural Bridge State Park shouldn’t be missed if you’re in the area. You do need to pay $7 a vehicle to enter but it’s well worth it for the gorgeous picnic areas, waterfall hike, and to see the natural bridge.
Blue Ridge Reservoir - If you’re a kayaker or SUP fan you might want to take a little bit of a drive to check out Blue Ridge Reservoir (or C.C. Cragin Reservoir). This unique horseshoe shaped reservoir is truly a site to behold. You can hike, explore, or paddle out. Check water levels before you go and prepare for a slower bumpy road on the way in.
As you can see there is PLENTY of gorgeous outdoor spots near Strawberry to go around. Plan to get out early to take advantage of the day, or if you get up to the area later, an hour or 2 before sunset can be a great time to stop and take in a little nature before grabbing dinner and checking into the Strawberry Inn!