Ten trails for off-roading vehicles in Sedona


A couple of my friends brought their Jeep Rubicon to Sedona. It was the first Jeep they bought and they went all out with the fancy specs. Having never been off-roading before, I was excited to go out with them one day in the Jeep. That day was full of surprises. I’ve honestly never yelled at my friends as much as I did that day. I was scared but glad I tried something new. I definitely enjoyed myself. 

Quick note about vehicle specifications

A SUV won’t be enough for most of these trails. There are several Jeep and ATV buggy (all-terrain vehicle) rental options in Sedona. You have the option to rent an OHV (off-highway vehicle) vehicle for a half-, full-, or multi-day use. Expect rentals to cost a minimum of $300. If you don’t wish to rent, Forest Road 525 and Schnebly Hill Road are good options to experience the gravel/dirt road. 

My 3 favorite OHV trails

OUTLAW (easy)

I drive an old Toyota Corolla in my daily life. As a beginner, I found this road challenging in some areas. There are some rock steps that are a foot tall but overall a leisurely drive. More experienced drivers will likely find this trail easy. Of course this trip is more challenging after a rainfall because it’s a dirt road. 

The road is a 23 mile loop with little traffic. However, if you do come across another vehicle, you may have to reverse or make way since the road can get narrow. Going either direction in the loop works, although I believe most do it clockwise. There’s a distant view of the Sedona mountains from here and you may see some cattle grazing about. 

This trail made the list because of the Honanki Heritage site. These Native American ruins showcase cliff dwellings of the Sinagua, ancestors of the Hopi tribe. A Red Rock Pass or America the Beautiful Pass is needed to park at this site. Normal hours are from 9:30am to 3pm daily.

DIAMONDBACK GULCH (intermediate)

This is a 9 mile trail. If you start at Boynton Road and travel south on the trail, the progression into moderate is easier. A beginner like me found this terrifying. I did not attempt to drive this. This is more of an intermediate trail that is very rock and has steep climbs. 

From Boynton Road, we went down the Greasy Spoon trail, continued on to the Sidewinder Trail, and finally through the Diamondback Gulch. This last portion was naturally made by running water cutting into the land overtime. If it has been raining frequently, the road may be closed for being too muddy or flooded.

You’ll likely pass a Pink Jeep guided tour here. Scenery here is great. I was able to see Capitol Butte, Chimney Rock, and Lizard Head. About halfway through the road, there is a large rock that makes for great photos. I tried a little bit of bouldering on this rock. 

BROKEN ARROW (hard)

Don’t even try this if you’ve never off-roaded before. The notorious obstacle Devil’s Staircase rattled my bones. It was nerve-wracking. I believe this is the hardest off-road trail in Sedona. My friend that drove let out some air out of the tires for better grip on the rocks and easier climbs.

This trail is about 4 miles long with views of red rocks all around. I was able to get a view of the White Line bike trail from here. The White Line is also likely the hardest bike trail in Sedona because of the 180 degree turn on a cliff face. I also saw a couple Pink Jeep tours here; this is one of their more popular tour offerings.

There is a 5 mph speed limit. The trail can accommodate one vehicle at a time so watch out on those sharp turns. There are pull-outs throughout. Don’t try to widen the road to pass others, just back up to the nearest pull out. This trail becomes especially popular on the weekends. 

More OHV trails to try

SOLDIER’S PASS (intermediate)

I recommend hiking instead of driving this road to see the Devil’s Kitchen and Seven Sacred Pools. A permit is required to enter and only 12 vehicles are allowed per day. The gate to enter this road can be a hassle to open. The permit can be purchased here:  https://www.recreation.gov/permits/4251901.

Views from hiking Soldier’s Pass are better than off-roading.

SCHNEBLY HILL ROAD (easy)

This is a beautiful drive to do near sunset! The trail is about 12 miles long with a 2,500 foot elevation descent. This is listed as a Jeep Badge of Honor so you may see a lot of jeeps here. I recommend starting at Interstate 17 and ending on Highway 89A, from Flagstaff to Sedona. SUVs may be able to get through this road in good weather. If driving from Sedona to Flagstaff, this road has more technical climbs in the beginning.

DRY CREEK ROAD (intermediate)

An 5 mile easy-intermediate trail that beginners may tackle. If you can drive past the set of rocks at the beginning, you’ll feel more confident tackling the rest of the road. What makes this road worthwhile is the two quick hikes at Van Deren Cabin and at Devil’s Bridge. These are popular hikes so you’ll likely encounter traffic.

CLIFFHANGER or OAK CREEK TRAIL (intermediate)

A 6-mile trail with some rough spots. There is a gate at the end of the trail. Park your vehicle here and hike down to wade in the creek.

HOUSE MOUNTAIN TRAIL (intermediate)

This 12 mile road takes you to a shield volcano that last erupted approximately 15 million years ago. It’s a rocky trail with beautiful 360 views at the summit. From Highway 89A in Sedona, drive up Turkey Creek trail, continue down into the bowl to the south rim, the go up to the rocky summit.

Cat Cathy

Hey it's Cat Cathy here. I left my exhausting accounting job to freelance full-time. I now live a slow nomadic lifestyle where I stay on location for a month or so to write. Please feel free to reach out (IG @cattywud). I believe in living fully, maybe not everyday, cus that's too much energy, but like at the end of the day. #happyhapa

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