In the 14.5 miles of Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road, the road rises more than 1,900'. That means you start out in the desert scrub at the north end of Sedona and rise through juniper and oak woodlands into the Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs of the forest atop the Mogollon Rim. As the route criss-crosses Oak Creek several times, you also travel through cottonwood and sycamore-infested riparian areas. This is an area of steep-walled red rock canyons with lots of wildlife: mountain lion, black bear, javelina, coyote, rattlesnake, horned toads and lots of other small reptiles and mammals.

Back in the old days, this was primarily a cattle trail used to move herds of cattle to the railhead at Flagstaff. Then the route was "improved" into a wagon trail. A drivable road through the canyon was completed in 1914, but it wasn't paved until 1938. In the early 1930's, Frank Pendley (the original homesteader of what is now Slide Rock State Park) built some small cabins and the local tourism business began. Then around 1946, this area was discovered by Hollywood and became the backdrop for a number of famous Westerns over the next 10 years.

Traveling through Oak Creek Canyon is like traveling through time. The red walls of the canyon tell a long geological story, kinda like the top six layers of stratified rock in the Grand Canyon. At the lower end is a layer of Redwall sandstone, filled with marine fossils. Above that is the red siltstone of the Supai formation, then a layer of Hermit shale. As you rise further up in the canyon, you'll come to the buff-colored Coconino sandstone before the pale-oranges of the Toroweap formation. On top of it all is the white limestone of the Kaibab formation, then you arrive in the pine and fir forest before you come to the end of the designated Scenic Road, about 15 miles south of Flagstaff.