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A Sedona-based TikTok content creator shared some of her favorite hidden gems she’s found throughout Arizona.

Looking for an excuse to get out o the heat but not sure where to go? The Copper Courier Team has got you covered!

Anyone can check out Trip Advisor or binge-watch Anthony Bourdain’s travel show catalogue for vacation inspiration, but the best travel tips often come from local recommendations. And as far as locals go, one excellent source to find northern Arizona’s hidden gems is Nicole, a Sedona-based TikTok content creator who has produced over 250 videos showcasing some of Arizona’s greatest hits.

Looking to add to your bucket list of must-visit Arizona destinations? Here are 10 day trip-worthy places you won’t want to miss.

1. Watson Lake

Location: Near Prescott, a 1 hour, 45-minute drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: $6 per vehicle—except Wednesdays, when fees are waived

Watson Lake at Granite Dells in Prescott, Arizona
Giant granite boulders ring Watson Lake in Granite Dells in Prescott, Arizona (Photo by Nik Wheeler/Corbis via Getty Images)

Highlights: The lake comes stocked with fish and an on-site fish cleaning station, rock climbing, hiking, picnic areas with grills, playgrounds, and camping (overnight camping open in the summer). Those with access to aquatic recreational vehicles can take advantage of the courtesy dock boat launches. Canoes and kayaks are also available for rental.

There are also showers available, but swimming is not allowed.

2. Fossil Creek

Location: Arizona State Route 260 east of Camp Verde

Cost: $6 per vehicle

Recreation Area-Comments
This April 10, 2017, photo released the USFS Coconino National Forest, shows the Sally May site on Fossil Creek Wild and Scenic River offers some of the best swimming along the entire creek at the Coconino National Forest in Campo Verde, Ariz. The Arizona Daily Sun reported Friday, May 10, 2019, that Forest Service officials are analyzing the nearly 220 public comments submitted for the development of a long-term management plan. It’s expected to be complete early next year. (Deborah Lee Soltesz/USFS Coconino National Forest via AP)

Highlights: Unfortunately, Fossil Creek is currently closed due to unsafe conditions in the area resulting from the Backbone Fire. It is expected to reopen in January 2023. While admission is free, Fossil Creek is a top-rated destination, and reservations are required in order to visit.

READ MORE: 21 Must-Visit Arizona Destinations You Can Get Into for Free

3. Aspen Corner

Location: Near Flagstaff, a 2 hour, 45-minute drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: Free!

Aspen Loop Trail No. 73
On the western flank of the San Francisco Peaks, Aspen Loop Trail is an moderate 1.8 mile loop trail descending through a beautiful forest of aspen, fir, and pine to meet the Arizona National Scenic Trail Passage 34. The trail offers views of the San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick Mountain, and hills to the west of the Peaks. The trail splits at around the half-mile mark. Follow either fork to the Arizona Trail, and follow the signs along the Arizona Trail to the return trail to complete the loop. The trailhead is at the Humphreys Trailhead just below the Arizona Snowbowl. Photo by Deborah Lee Soltesz, September 2015. Credit: U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest. For more information about this trail, see the Aspen Loop trail description on the Coconino National Forest website.

Highlights: While the changing of the leaves in the fall provides a stunning autumn landscape, Aspen Corner is a breathtaking patch of nature all year round. The hiking trail is friendly to animals, both wild and domesticated, so if you’re bringing a furry friend, make sure they’re leashed. Visitors can also bring bicycles, horses, or sturdy hiking shoes to get around. Looking to make it an extended stay? There’s plenty of room to camp—just make sure to find a durable surface to stake your tent.

4. Secret Mountain Wilderness

Location: Near Sedona, a 2 hour, 30-minute drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: Free!

Photo by USFS Coconino National Forest

Highlights: With 20 wilderness hiking trails spanning nearly 45,000 acres, it’s no wonder that this mountain wilderness is full of uncovered secrets. Draped in Sedona’s signature red rocks, this site is perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and breathtaking landscapes. Take note that this is also a region of historical significance, so please be careful not to deface or disrupt any ruins or artifacts on the premises.

5. Oak Creek Canyon

Location: Near Sedona, a 2-hour drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: Free!

West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon No. 108
The brilliant red, orange, and yellows of changing maple leaves mark the start of fall color in the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon, October 12, 2016. There are a number of reasons why West Fork is one of the most popular trails on the Coconino National Forest. West Fork is fantastic throughout the year, but in autumn, the canyon is ablaze with color. Red and gold leaves float in clear reflecting pools along the creek, under a canopy of solid color. As for the trail itself, it’s an easy stroll, but you do have to cross the stream in a number of places. Usually, that involves negotiating a few strategically placed stepping stones or taking a couple of steps in shallow water. The trail is marked and maintained for the first three miles. It ends at a deep pool in a narrow spot in the canyon. Parking is available at Call of the Canyon picnic site for a fee. This is a special fee site run by a concessionaire. Photo by Deborah Lee Soltesz, October 12, 2016. Credit: Coconino National Forest, U.S. Forest Service. Learn more about the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon, Trail No. 108, Call of the Canyon picnic site, and the Coconino National Forest.

Highlights: In addition to the hiking, fishing, and camping opportunities one would expect from a canyon and creek 65 million years in the making, Oak Creek Canyon also boasts three different campground sites, eight designated lookouts for viewing unique wildlife, plantlife, and canyon scenery, two visitor centers, a swimming area, and a highway designed for a scenic drive through the canyon.

And if that’s not enough, Oak Creek Canyon is also home to Slide Rock State Park, described by Life Magazine as one of America’s ten most beautiful swimming holes.

6. Horseshoe Bend

Location: Near Page, a 4 hour, 30-minute drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: $10 per car, $5 per motorcycle

NPS / Brent&Dawn Davis

Highlights: Carved by the Colorado River itself, Horseshoe Bend is a geological marvel. It’s only a half-mile hike to the main overlook, making this destination fairly family-friendly. For those interested in seeing the Bend from a different point of view, visitors can opt to take rafting tours along the river, or take to the skies with a Horseshoe Bend flightseeing tour by way of helicopter or airplane.

READ MORE: 7 of Arizona’s Best Budget-Friendly Escapes

7. Antelope Canyon

Location: Near Page, a 4 hour, 30-minute drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: Tours start at $50 per person for the Lower Antelope Canyon, and $82 per person for the Upper Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon
Tourists stop to photograph shafts of light coming through the sandstone canyon walls while touring through Antelope Canyon, Monday, May 21, 2012, near Page, Ariz. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Highlights: Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, meaning it is made up of long, narrow pathways formed by rushing water, resulting in unique designs and patterns along the cavern walls. 

Admittance is only allowed with tour companies authorized by the Navajo Parks and Recreation Department, so make sure to plan accordingly.

8. Wet Beaver Creek

Location: Near Rimrock, a 1 hour, 30-minute drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: Free!

Smiles1479 at English Wikipedia

Highlights: If taking a cool dip in a natural body of water is your thing, then Wet Beaver Creek is the place for you. Tucked away between red rock canyons, the creek is lush with plants, wildlife, and a combination of lazy streams and rushing water.
For those looking for a more rigorous journey, a seven-mile roundtrip hike will take you to The Crack—a swimming hole with high cliffs many visitors have taken to jumping off of and diving into the cool creek.

READ MORE: Make Your Summer Splash At One of These Seven Valley Water Parks

9. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Location: Near Page, a 4 hour, 30-minute drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: $6 per person for day hiking, $5 per person for overnight

The Wave
FILE – In this May 28, 2013, file photo, a hiker walks on a rock formation known as The Wave in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. The richly colored geological upheaval along the Arizona-Utah border is one of the most sought-after hikes in the West. But the Wave isn’t without dangers that led officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to implement a series of safety measures following a trio of deaths in 2013. A new proposal to change the way permits are doled out and increase fees also could free up more people to do safety checks. (AP Photo/Brian Witte, File)

Highlights: Plateaus, cliffs, buttes, canyons—the 280,000 acres of protected land known as Vermilion Cliffs has it all. This destination is for more experienced adventure-seekers, as there are no paved roads and wet terrain requires high clearance vehicles with four-wheel-drive. 

Permits are required, although there are no limits as to how many people can visit. Permits can be obtained on-site or online.

10. Lake Powell

Location: Near Page, a 4 hour, 30-minute drive north of Phoenix Metro

Cost: $15 per person entering by foot or bicycle, $30 for a seven-day vehicle permit.

Southwest Faces Worsening Drought Conditions
PAGE, AZ – JULY 3: Kayakers climb down the drop-off below the Antelope Point boat launch ramp which was made unusable by record low water levels at Lake Powell as the drought continues to worsen on July 3, 2021 near Page, Arizona. Large portions of the West are now classified as being in exceptional drought, the most extreme drought category. Many major reservoirs have reached historic low levels and fire officials are warning that another devastating wildfire season has already begun. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Highlights: What more can be said about Lake Powell than has already been said? Between the natural marvels like Rainbow Bridge, short and long-term camping opportunities, guided tours by land, air, and ferry, and room for more aquatic thrillseekers than any other body of water in the area, it’s no wonder that Lake Powell is a favorite destination for anyone makes the trip.

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