You’ll need a high-clearance vehicle and plenty of stamina to get to Red Creek. The effort pays off with a trek along a canyon-bound waterway that spills into the Verde River in Tonto National Forest.
Getting There: From Carefree, follow Cave Creek Road (which turns onto Forest Road 24) for 32 miles to the Forest Road 269 junction (Bloody Basin Road), turn right. Go about 3 miles and turn left onto Forest Road 18. Proceed roughly 2.5 miles. Park in the dirt turnoff just before the steep descent to Red Creek. Expect 2.5 hours on dirt roads. Note: FR 18 is rough and requires at least a high-clearance vehicle.
Length: 8 miles out and back
Kid Friendly: NO
Pet Friendly: NO
Elevation: 2,210-2,660 feet
Best Season: October-April
Photo credit Mare Czinar/PHOENIX