Sedona to Coconino Forest – Part 1

Sometimes a sudden change in plans can be a good thing.

Our original intention for the 3 day Memorial weekend was to drive out to a town just west of Phoenix to stay with some close friends that had just finished moving into their new home. As the week was drawing to a close, the plans changed which left us with a dilemma. Now what do we do?

Already having our minds set for a road trip into Arizona, I spent the last couple days before our departure on setting a route from Sedona to the Grand Canyon. We’ve never seen either before and I wasn’t going to waste it on being grouped up with all the tourists, but the trick was finding the back-country area, dirt trails and camping areas on such short notice. Luckily, mapping out and researching a trip is something I’ve become proficient at it and before long, our weekend’s adventure came to life.

On Friday I finished the last minute details, closed the shop early and headed home to pack the truck. A little after 4 p.m. we were Arizona bound.

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Blythe Bridge River Colorado

Crossing over the Colorado River in Blythe.

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Although spending the weekend with our friends was not going to happen, it didn’t mean we couldn’t stop by and surprise them on the way through. Was also a great reason to stretch our legs after being in the truck for 5 hours. After a tour of the new house, some laughs and a farewell, we set way to our camp for the night in the western Sedona region.

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Candace succumbed to sleep not long after passing through Phoenix. Another hour and a half to go, I loaded up a fresh playlist on Spotify and cracked a cold Red Bull for the remaining drive.

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After hours of driving on pavement, it was finally time to hit the dirt. Turned off 89A onto FR525 and headed north. Surprisingly, the area was packed with ground tents & campers. Eventually we found a spot after about 20 minutes of searching that was secluded and would make for a nice view in the morning.

 

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Unzipping the front door to the Tepui did not disappoint! The rocks, vegetation and colors of Sedona are absolutely amazing!

 

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Lucy in a stare down with a bird that landed in our camping spot.

DCIM100GOPROG0017594.

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“Whatcha’ doin’ dad?”

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Trails through the area were prime. With isolated rain storms, hardly any dust and great traction.

 

 

Got camp packed up and explored the area prior to heading into town for a late breakfast/early lunch.

 

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Decisions…

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Lucy doing a great job spotting for me.

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Just as we were finishing up the last bit of trail, waves of rental ATV’s came rushing through. Most were clueless on how to drive through terrain and did not show any trail etiquette.

 

 

Next we hit the road into the heart of Sedona. No matter where you looked, the scenery was like nothing I’ve scene before. Red rock and dirt, green trees and spring flowers made it remarkably colorful. This may not be much to someone who is used to higher elevations, but being from So-Cal, all of our deserts are brown.

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We decided on the Open Range Grill for lunch as they have a dog friendly patio that offered a great view. The service, recommendations and food were great.

 

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Focus on what matters. Pulled pork with fries.

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Pink Jeep Tours is EVERYWHERE in Sedona.

 

 

After browsing through town and relaxing for a bit, we headed towards the Broken Arrow trail. The trailhead is right outside the town center and offers some great wheeling and views of the area. It’s also one of Pink Jeep’s favorite trails to shuttle people around on. Luckily, we got to set our own pace and cruised to Chicken Point.

 

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Shuttle them in… Shuttle them out…

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No need for an alarm system.

 

I noticed that the Pink Jeeps seemed to come and go in groups. So I let them lead the way and followed them through the remainder of Broken Arrow.

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Jeeps. Jeeps everywhere.

 

 

The toughest obstacle we came across was the staircase. Just wide enough for a vehicle to squeeze through with some decent drops and careful tire placement. Was a lot of fun to drive down!

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Afterwards we ran into town one last time to grab a few things and to top of with gas and headed towards Schnebly hill. The dirt road leading up into the Coconino National Forest is one of the most popular back-country roads to and from Sedona as it offers remarkable views of the red rocks from the Schnebly Vista Lookout. This would also lead us up to the mountain ridge where we would set camp for the night.

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This little guy rode by us all alone which concerned us. Was more then a mile or so before his Father went by in pursuit. Not sure I’d let my child ride all alone down a heavily traveled cliff-side trail by himself…

 

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Once at the top of Schnebly Pass, you can make a right onto a little known forest road, 153A and follow it south for a few miles. Along the route there are numerous campsites you can stay at that overlook Sedona. It also puts you into the Coconino Forest so you can have a campfire to help with the cooler weather. Given it was a holiday weekend, most of the spots were taken, so we drove to the furthest one back so we could have a nice area all to ourselves.

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Camp for the night.

 

 

Unloaded the truck, setup the Tepui and Candace started cooking our delicious dinner.

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Prepared and cooked on the spot

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“You gunna’ eat that?”

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A short hike from our camp was what appeared to be a chimney. Have not been able to find any info on it though.

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Looking back towards the forest

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After a long drive the night before, and exhausting day exploring Sedona and another adventure to get to the Grand Canyon in the morning, we relaxed for a short time before calling it a night.

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Continued on Part 2

By | 2017-01-19T15:42:08+00:00 May 26th, 2015|Trip Reports|2 Comments

About the Author:

Desert explorer. Photographer. Vehicle enthusiast. In constant pursuit to find something new. Mining history buff.

2 Comments

  1. Stefen October 20, 2015 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Awesome trip Kyle! This inspires me to look into a website and even a YouTube channel to better document my adventures. Do you have an account on TacomaWorld.com? Would love to meet you on one of these trips in the future. I’m always looking for something knew to explore in AZ. Sedona happens to be the fiancée’s and my favorite vacation getaway in AZ, which is why we have our wedding set to take place there as well. I’m really curious to find the camping locations you found out there, we haven’t actually camped in Sedona yet. Again, awesome pictures and great story!

  2. Stefen October 20, 2015 at 1:21 am - Reply

    Awesome trip Kyle! This inspires me to look into a website and even a YouTube channel to better document my adventures. Do you have an account on TacomaWorld.com? Would love to meet you on one of these trips in the future. I’m always looking for something knew to explore in AZ. Sedona happens to be the fiancée’s and my favorite vacation getaway in AZ, which is why we have our wedding set to take place there as well. I’m really curious to find the camping locations you found out there, we haven’t actually camped in Sedona yet. Again, awesome pictures and great story! Love to see my local Tucson Brewery, Barrio Brewing Co. in the mix here too, the owners are good family friends of ours 🙂

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