Originally, this New Years was going to be a similar repeat of last – going up to the Eastern Sierra’s to camp in the frigid snow and enjoy the natural hot springs that sprinkle the area in an attempt to keep warm. But, as what happens so often with life – work and family situations change nearly daily making it hard to keep plans in check. And that’s exactly what happened.
Throughout December, some significant changes unfolded making it unclear if a trip would even happen. It was a roller coaster of “We’re going” and “It’s not going to happen” until the final days before departure. Finally, a solid “green light” of sorts finalized we were getting out of town.
One last curve ball, the weather forecast for that area wasn’t looking promising. Predicted heavy snowfall and us being camping in remote areas without a winch or snow wheeling experience wasn’t a good idea.
A day before we were supposed to leave the idea of Sedona came about. It was supposed to rain all weekend, but it was better than snow.
So off we went to enjoy the lovely holiday traffic.
Powered through the drive non-stop with the exception of gas, arriving in Sedona at 1 AM. Just to west of the town is a large area open for off-road and dispersed camping. Through the rain and mud we searched for a place to spend the night.
The mud was slicker then snot. Within 500 feet of leaving the pavement the trucks were covered in the suck. One off camber downhill decent sent the trucks sliding into a ravine. Thankfully it wasn’t anything technical and we made it through ok.
Tired and ready to celebrate our arrival, we stumbled across a decent enough area and setup camp.
In the morning we were greeted with a view of our surroundings. This is one of my favorite parts of waking up when getting to camp late at night.
This wasn’t to be a full blown off-road trip with hundreds of dirt miles. More of a relax and check out the area, enjoy amenities in town and do some wheeling on the side. With that, there was no reason to cook breakfast or make coffee so we loaded up and went to see what Sedona had to offer.
Once in town, we by passed a nice looking self serve car wash. We flipped a u-ey and seeked out all the rogue quarters in the trucks. Before covering the place in mud, I asked the gentleman on the grounds if it was ok to wash off mud. His response – “I love you off-roader’s, I’ll take as many quarters as you have”.
With the trucks “clean”, we headed off towards the touristy part of Sedona.
Bellies full, window shopping complete and ready to get away from people we headed back to the land west of Sedona to find a spot for the night. This time we were able to find higher ground and a drier surface to park on. What felt like the moment we got done setting up camp, the rain began coming down – and it did so all night and into the New Year.
Happy New Year! lol. We were all pretty lit at this point.
The first day of 2017 was a mess haha. Everything that wasn’t covered in mud was soaked in water. I’m honestly not sure how those who wheel consistently in these types of conditions do it… Hats off to those who do.
Once again, we packed up and headed into town for a bite to eat and a coffee.
We decided to try and find the Sedona Airport Vortex, so we squeezed into a parking lot and made the short hike up on top where we were greeted with a pretty bitchin’ view.
Moving on, we went to go check out Broken Arrow trail. We weren’t sure if the rain would mean some type of closure or if it was open, if it’d be too slick to navigate.
To our surprise, not only was it open, but there was a train of Pink Jeeps heading to and from. I know that the Pink Jeeps, Rentals and Hummers are a popular attraction in this area as that was quite clear the last time I was in the area, but it was interesting that they proceeded in these types of conditions. Nonetheless, we proceeded on and get a feel of the mud and wet rocks.
The rocks had enough traction that you wouldn’t even know they were covered in water – I would have thought the opposite.
Our first stop would be to check out Submarine Rock.
Next up was Chicken Point.
Oncoming traffic is always a fun time!
Luckily, we had the place all to ourselves for about 10 minutes. Last time here, the place was swarming with people and vehicles.
I guess the ladies got jealous of us men taking pictures of our 4 wheeled ladies. Come to find out, there was a middle finger under there!
Eventually our desolate surroundings were no more. Hikers, mountain bikes and the abundant Pink Jeeps made their way to the lookout point of the Broken Arrow trail. It was our cue to head back. This is a out and back style trail, but on the return you have a choice to complete an optional loop that drops you off further down via a short downhill sections called “The Staircase”. We figure we’d give it a go since we saw other vehicles in that direction and I was able to complete it last time I was here when the Tacoma had just a basic lift on it at the time.
Just before the beginning of the Staircase, there was a group of jeeps parked off to the side and a number of people walking around a obstacle ahead. I jumped out of the truck to see what was going on and do a quick scouting of my own. When I got closer, it became apparent that the rain had very recently eroded away the dirt and clumped roccks around a big boulder – directly in the center and middle of a smallish drop. Spent a few minutes surveying it before determining that although my truck would be fine, it wasn’t worth any potential risk to Ryan’s 2016. With only the factory front “skid plate” and a rather exposed drive-train, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze in this scenario.
Thus began one of the best Austin Powers 3-point turn maneuvers I’ve ever seen. In all fairness, there wasn’t any other practical option and in the end it was well done.
Finally, we made it back to the entrance and decided to go back into town to decide what to do next.
The initial game plan was to spend 2 nights in Sedona then move onto the south rim of the Grand Canyon (which would have been this night), but the weather was beyond what we wanted to subject ourselves too. Well under 20* and snowing. Nope and no thanks. Other areas that were open to dispersed camping were seasonally closed, in the wrong direction or didn’t have anything worthwhile to check out. We already had our taste of where we’ve already been the prior two nights and wanted to move on.
A group decision and all in favor, we would start working our way home and find a place to camp along the way. Our route would be through the Woodchute Mountains then drive into Prescott for dinner, then figure our options during a hot meal and a cold beer.
The 89A takes you through Jerome, AZ, an old mining town that was wildly successful in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Combined, the mines in the area extracted more than 1 billion dollars worth of high grade copper, as well as millions worth of gold and silver. Absolutely fascinating! Too bad when we got there the state park and museum where closing. We have already decided to come back just to include checking out this unique town in it’s entirety.
Further up the mountain we ran into some snow and heavy fog/clouds….
But then were greeted with a epic sunset on the final stretch into Prescott.
Prescott Brewing Company got our vote and gave a glimpse of downtown.
Cheers! This was for two separate occasions. 1: Epic first day of the New Year. 2: Managing to find a nice hotel in the area. Yup. We succumbed to the thought of a hot shower, proper bed and climate control. Totally worth it.
The alarm clock was set early to get a jump start on the day and hopefully beat some of the holiday traffic.
Made great time all the way into Blythe, Ca when a car chase across the border left us at a dead stop until it got sorted out. Thankfully it wasn’t a long standoff and were soon on our way. Rest of the ride home was uneventful and made for a great time to reflect on a killer weekend and to discuss what’s next.
Quick stop for a late lunch and to say our goodbye’s.
Until next time!