A drive through Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona this week allowed for a glimpse of conditions since the Slide Fire was extinguished. Since the beginning of the monsoon season is upon us, worries over the safety of visitors to the canyon in the event of flash flooding has caused many closures. The camping areas affected by the fire as well as other parking for day use along the canyon are now closed. Thus the photos I post here are all from a moving car, not the best of situations. However, you can see that if you are looking for fire damage, you will find it, however, most of the beauty that is Oak Creek Canyon remains.
The worst of the burn area, as visible from the road, is where the fire started. It burned very hot here. Note the discolored ground in the burn area.
As you drive along the canyon, most of the views to fire damaged areas are blocked by the lush greenery near the creek.
You can see from the many signs and banners in Flagstaff, how appreciated the efforts of firefighters were. The question currently on the minds of locals is how much damage could occur due to runoff from the anticipated summer monsoons. Oak Creek has many fans awaiting the answer, and thinking ahead to their next trip.
Wildfires are so frightening. The fir fighters are to be commended.
They kept it cornered.
So fortunate for all.
I drove through there yesterday. Absolutely broke my heart, not just because a beautiful part of the world now looks like someone dropped a nuke on it, but because the creek is now so contaminated. There was a hard monsoon a week or two ago, and the rain brought so much ash and debris and fire retardant into the creek that it’s been shut down from Red Rock all the way up. The water was black. The highway and businesses are still open, but you can’t access the creek itself. Every campsite is closed. Even all the little spots along the side of the road where you could park have barricades and caution tape. E.coli counts are TEN TIMES HIGHER than what is normally deemed hazardous. The really sad thing is, it’s going to happen every time it rains, it’s going to dump all that garbage into the creek every time, and it will be closed down over and over again. It’s something we who grew up adoring the canyon have to face, that it’s not going to heal any time soon, and that even playing in the creek may be something we won’t be able to do for a very long time.
Sad, indeed. We have enjoyed Oak Creek so much. I wonder what remediation will follow. I will try for another photo op update, sad as that is.