Sunday, June 26, 2022

6/24 - 6/26 Camping and Off-Roading in Sedona, AZ

As summer kicked into gear, my brother Lou and I wanted to get one last trip in before it became too hot. We knew we had to get to a decent elevation otherwise we would just melt so we picked Sedona! We had been there multiple times before but the Bronco wanted to retrace tracks the Tacoma left years before so we headed out. 

Lou lives in Phoenix so it was a much shorter drive for him and his son Noah than it was for Nina, Winston and I but that's okay - it just means that they can get there early and pick out a good spot. We decided to meet up at the start of Schnebly Hill which is our favorite camping area in Sedona. This spot is the best for two big reasons: 1. You camp in a forest so you have plenty of sun cover, it has a nice smell of pine in the air and the pine needles on the ground keep the noise from other campsites down so you feel more secluded. 2. It's on the start of the Schnebly Hill Trail so you're ready to rumble in the morning. 


After breakfast, we aired down and headed out. After a few short miles in the forest, we broke out of the woods and reached the first scenic overlook viewing Sedona. This is always a spot worth stopping at. After a brief stop to take it all in, we continued down the trail. Schnebly Hill is interesting in that the trail follows the ridgeline down and takes you into the town of Sedona. It isn't a difficult trail but we found that it was more rocky than it had been in years passed. We discussed it and I'm not sure this is a trail we are going to do again any time soon. 

After running Schnebly Hill, we (I) worked up quite an appetite so we decided to have a quick lunch at the bottom of the trail aka the parking lot. This was not well thought out and was quite hot so we didn't stay for long. After, we had planned on airing up before heading out to Broken Arrow but since it was pretty close, we just decided to take the short drive through town on over. 

Broken Arrow is a short but fun trail covered in a smooth rock which acts like sand paper for tires. You have absolutely crazy grip and can do obstacles and angles that you wouldn't be able to do in soft rock. So, of course, we took complete advantage and had fun with it! As an added bonus, the entire trail is in the valley around Sedona so you're surrounded by mountains on all sides. It makes for some great views. Winston had some good traction too!

After Broken Arrow, we aired up in the parking lot and looked for camp. We didn't have a solid plan for where to camp Saturday night, we just knew we wanted to get a somewhat early start the next day for Soldier Pass so I logged on to Gaia and found some decent reviews for a dispersed campsite just out of town so we headed that way. It turns out it was just a dirt road on the outskirts of Sedona but still provided us with some great views!


During the night, our little fluffy Winston heard some noises he had never heard before - a pack of coyotes celebrating a kill. Winston was not impressed. He didn't make a noise but held very still in our tent. I think he knew he was outmatched so decided to stay quiet and hope no coyotes would bother him. Of course he was with us in the tent so he was safe and sound but he was the last one to leave the tent in the morning. 

We drove back to Sedona for the start of Soldier Pass. This is a trail neither Lou nor I had done before and it was unique in that it required a reservation to gain access to the trail head and limited it to only 12 vehicles a day. This was actually a nice perk because there was only one other car on the trail meaning we had it to ourselves! This off road trail was on one side of a small valley and it paralleled a hiking trail on the other side. In the middle was a dry creek bed (it was summer after all). Shortly in, we came across the Seven Sacred Pools. Even in the heat of the summer, the pools still had some water in them although no water connected them. It would be a cool site to see in the Spring! 

After the pools, we continued upwards until the trail came to an end only a few short miles later at the start of a hiking trail. The trail led up the hill to the Soldier Pass Cave which of course we put the vehicles in park to go check out! The cave had a ledge you could climb up to and look out over the valley. Very cool. 

Once we finished checking out the cave, we came back the way we came and took a quick detour to see the Devil's Kitchen. This was a big square shaped crater in the ground that was a pretty good drop from where we stood. Again, a very cool sight to see. 

After that, we finished out the trail and noticed that hikers we came across at the top of the cave had finished the trail on foot at the same time we did in our vehicles. Although, they were quite sweaty from the heat while us in the trucks were cool as a cucumber! Once back in the parking lot, we aired up for the last time and said our goodbyes for the summer since we all agreed the season for wheeling was quickly coming to an end. Lou and Noah headed back home to Phoenix while Nina, Winston and I drove up to the Sedona Mesa Grill at the Sedona Airport for lunch. This is my favorite lunch spot to fly into and I've flown here 8 times now so I wanted Nina and Winston to get a chance to check it out as well. 

The only bummer of the trip came right at the end after lunch when I was taking Winston potty once more before the 5 hour drive home. What I thought was a nice grassy area for him to take a leak actually turned out to be covered in burrs so it got all over his paws and legs. Our drive home took us north to Flagstaff before cutting West back home so we found a self service dog bath place in Flagstaff and got fluffy bear a wash and removed all the burrs. He was dirty from the weekend adventure anyways. After his bath, he was quite tired so he slept the rest of the way anyways. 
All in all, another great trip and one for the books. The biggest takeaway is skip Schnebly Hill and do Soldier Pass instead!