Ok, Jeeperz, we don’t usually do ‘Invitation Only’ events, but due to the location of this ride, we felt it necessary to limit the number of Jeeps on the trails. We don’t want to be the ones that get trails closed, or get a bad reputation for off-roaders. They’ve already closed one trail down (Soldiers Pass).
If you are signed up for this trip, here is the latest information. We took a ride up to Sedona and scouted out what we think will be the best plan for us. Please read the entire post?
- MEET UP: We will meet up at the Sedona Red Rock Ranger Station and Visitor Center at 8:30am. It took us about 2.5 hours on a weekday in the Cherokee from Gilbert, so allow plenty of time if you’re driving a Wrangler to make it on time.
When you arrive at the Ranger Station, make your way inside (snap a few scenic photos) and check out the cool trail display, pick up a map and talk to the rangers. There is also a movie theater showing a movie if you are early. We will make our final plans for the day and then headout at 9am (No, Mark, there is no McDonald’s involved this time).
- GPS: Some of you have asked about GPS for trail navigation. I’ve spent a lot of time, money and frustration, tried a lot of apps, my ipad, my phone, you name it. I finally settled on a Garmin Montana 650t a few years ago, and still use it for every ride. I stumbled upon a great deal on the FunTreks site today for around $450 (I paid a whopping $765 for mine). You can purchase an SD data card with all the maps from the FunTreks book loaded on it that you can just load into the Garmin. It will show you the trail as you move along it and drop breadcrumbs as you go. And it’s dead on accurate.
At the Ranger Station there is a display with a QR code to download an app. DO IT. I now have that on my tablet as well – Avenza Maps is the name, you can just go download it on the app store or play store. I found a FREE Coconino Forest Travel Map on there that is stellar, and has all the trails around Sedona and more. Best map I’ve found so far, and it tracks you and can record your trail as well. All free.
- CAMPING: We got a few suggestions on camping spots, what we are looking for is called dispersed camping, and camping is only allowed in designated camp spots, fires only when allowed and in pre-existing fire rings. Let’s hope and pray for some rain before we go! It looks like we can find spots along FR 525, so we shall see when we get there (you can’t reserve the forest).
- TRAILS: After speaking with the rangers and the very helpful people over at Barlow’s Jeep Rentals, we changed our plan for the trails. We were cautioned that there will be too many of us to do the trails in town at once, so we will need to do those in small groups of two or so. We can discuss in the parking lot when we meet up, but here is our tentative plan: Van Deren Cabin ( red pin) first, then Diamondback Gulch (purple pin), then if there’s time we can do Outlaw Trail before finding a camp spot. On the map above, the orange lined roads are dispersed camping areas. You must be 5 miles outside Sedona to have a fire, so want to be on the left side of the map, in the foothills and juniper trees.
- On Sunday, if you want to do Broken Arrow (yellow pin), it can only handle one or two at a time. Soldiers Pass is closed to vehicles for now. The trails in town are tight and crowded; they get a LOT of hikers, bikes and Pink Jeep traffic. I like to think the Pink Jeep people are inspiring newbie Jeeperz, so we need to give them a chance to enjoy the ride! We probably look like their heros, right?
Diamondback Gulch (aka, Greasy Spoon) is about 6 miles and consists of 3 canyons with rocks along the bottoms of each. Mary at Barlow’s says this is a blast, and her favorite, and we can all fit on the trail. She also said if you go back out the way you came in, it’s completely different, or we can return on 89A and pick another trail. It’s about 1.5 hours each way, depending on how many stops we make for photos…and maybe a sandwich.
I will put together maps and a package for each of you to hand out at the ranger station.
Plan to air up and down a few times during the day as well, some of them are rocky.
TO BRING: Camera! Seriously, if you want an awesome shot of your rig against the gorgeous red dirt, juniper trees and mountains, this is your chance. Air compressor, all the regular stuff.
Camping equipment if you’ve got it, water, lunch, food for dinner and breakfast, chairs, marshmallows, wine, beer, whatever…
As we get closer to the date, we will check fire restrictions for camping. It may be that we can’t have any fire at all, or only a gas cookstove (boo). We will update you as we find out.