Category: Sedona

We are open!

Through all of the uncertainty, one thing remains true. We have wonderful customers. We want to extend a big “thank you” for being a part of what we do, following us on social media, sending us your great photos, and calling us just to say hi during the last couple of months.

State orders will allow us to open up our full Jeep rental schedule starting May 16th. Our trips and training will also resume, since our events have always been small groups, outdoors, and each party in their own vehicle.

Of course, there are a few changes to the way we need to do business to keep our guests and staff safe. Sarah says “everyone expects things to be all differenty.” We find that with our business already about getting out in a Jeep with just your own family, we didn’t have to make as many changes as we thought, so we feel lucky that we can get back to having fun with you, at the small cost of trying to keep some spacing, and wearing masks when you are at the store with us.

Here are the details on our updated policies and procedures:

  1. Jeep rentals by appointment only. To allow our staff to properly disinfect our workspaces, equipment, and vehicles we will be open by appointment only, with only one group booked per hour. If you have visited our stores before, you know how small that front office can get when two or more parties try to squeeze in. And one party at a time will make it fun to really customize your plans and ideas for your excursion. To make appointments, just give our rental team a call, or book a Jeep rental on our website. Of course, if you are just in town on a whim, by all means, call us–if we have room at that moment, we are happy to get you in a Jeep!
  2. Face masks, physical distancing. Everyone agrees that physical distancing, and even better for you to be outdoors than indoors, is the best way to prevent the spread of disease. Our staff is required to wear masks, but since we are not able to maintain good physical distance throughout the rental process, like when we talk over trails and introduce Jeep operations to you, we will also require our guests to wear face masks while at our store. (We actually considered many different possibilities: “Trail talk by Zoom?”, “Plastic bank teller screens at the map desk?”, “YouTube videos followed by written quizzes?”–needless to say, masks were the least painful, especially if you have seen our videos…!) If you do not have your own mask, we can provide you with one. Once you leave the store, you don’t have to wear a mask on trails or in the Jeep. And you won’t have to wear one to check back in when you return the Jeep–we can do the inspection with good physical distance. We understand that this can cause difficulties for some. If you have any concerns about your health or physical needs for this procedure, please call us to discuss, and we can work with you to make some arrangements for your situation.
  3. More cleaning. Our rental team uses stringent disinfecting protocols on all of our vehicles, as outlined by the CDC. Our Jeeps already had a reputation of being squeaky clean, so we just leveled up. Now, they get a double disinfecting process–the aerosol treatment upon return, some good Southwestern sunshine and fresh air, then a last wet disinfectant wipe down throughout before going out again. Everything from door handles and turn signals, to seatbelts and radio dials get a double-dose for your peace of mind.

If you are ready to get out of the house, we would love to see you!

A New Website for Sedona Jeep Rentals

Drive Your Own Tour in Sedona

In order to better serve our rental guests in Sedona, Arizona, Barlow Adventures has spun off Sedona Jeep Rentals to a dedicated website of its own! Easier to navigate but continuing our full line of Sedona rental services, sedonajeeprentals.com offers the same high quality Jeep JL Wranglers and expert guidance you've come to expect from Barlow's. Plus, we've added an all new IG feed with up-to-the-minute reports on Sedona trail conditions!

This website (barlows.us) will continue as home for our popular 4WD Trips and Training courses, as well Jeep rental operations for our Moab, UT location. Please visit Sedona Jeep Rentals for all of your 4WD fun in Sedona. As always, thanks for adventuring with us and happy trails!

Barlow’s Pet Policy

All of us at Barlow’s are pet lovers, so we are committed to doing everything we can to be able to allow people to bring their pets with them. If you are considering travelling with your pet, please take the time to read all of the following.

We have a limited number of Jeeps available for guests who want to bring their pets with them in the Jeep. Advance reservations are strongly recommended, as these Jeeps do fill a long ways in advance for many dates. If a pet-friendly Jeep is not available on the day you wish to go, we can offer you alternate dates, or you can find other arrangements for your pet. We will not make exceptions as to which Jeeps allow pets, out of respect for our other guests.

If any pet hair is found in a Jeep that is not designated pet-friendly, a $150 cleaning fee will be applied. However, minimal cleaning fees will only be applied to our pet-friendly Jeeps if there is excessive hair throughout the Jeep, vomit, feces, etc. For our pets, we have seat covers to minimize pet hair and damage, and maximize pet safety and comfort. Under most circumstances, no cleaning fee will be applied to our pet-friendly Jeeps.

 

It is critical that guests discuss their pets with us in advance, because there are other circumstances of which pet owners must be aware:

  1. Hair and scratches takes much longer to clean so Jeep can be ready for next guest. Because many of our customers are sensitive, we have pets limited to certain Jeeps.
  2. Parks and archaeology sites. Pets are not allowed on hiking trails in National Parks or Monuments, and never at any historic or archaeological sites. We want to help you plan a day with trails you can enjoy with your pet.
  3. Safety and security. Our moderate and adventurous trails are not appropriate for pets, if they are not secured or accustomed to the bouncing and steep angles. We don’t want to see pets injured from being dumped off the seat on steep hills, or injure other occupants in their desperate attempt to find some way to “hold on.”

Note that smoking is not allowed in the Jeeps at any time, and often not on the trails due to fire restrictions.

Airport Pickup Special

June 27 through Aug 15, 2018

7-day Jeep Rental with airport pickup
$1,490 + taxes

Just in time for those Summer get-aways! We’ll pick you up curbside at the Phoenix or Flagstaff airport and transport you in private comfort to Sedona to pickup your Jeep and start your Southwest adventure! No more hassling with shuttles or rental cars to get to Sedona.

Call us to book your Airport Package (928) 282-8700

Includes curbside pickup at Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), Phoenix-Mesa Gateway (AZA) or Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG).
Package accommodates up to 3 people with carry-on sized luggage.
Special includes pickup at airport before your Jeep rental, and drop off to airport after your Jeep rental. Pickup times available 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.

If you will be arriving after 5 pm, stay at one of our partner hotels and we can pick you up the next morning.
Economy: Green Tree Inn  https://www.greentreeinnsedona.com/  928-282-9166
Moderate: Sedona Real Inn  https://www.sedonareal.com/  928-282-1414
Upscale: Courtyard Marriott   https://www.sedonacourtyard.com  928-325-0055
Luxury: L’Auberge  https://www.lauberge.com/sedona/  800-905-5745

Package includes free maps and trip planning tips for the region! See here for itinerary ideas.

Must be booked and all necessary documents received at least 72 hours in advance of pickup time at airport.
Deposit & Cancellation: 50% deposit taken to book package. Balance due at time of Jeep pickup. Cancellation policy: More than 7 days notice receives refund, less 10% of full price. Less than 7 days notice is non-refundable.
Mileage: Jeep Rental includes 150 free miles per day (1050 miles per week). Additional miles $0.35 per additional mile.


Private airport transportation may be arranged at any time throughout the year, pending availability, and added to any Jeep rental term for a fee of $325 plus tax each way.

Soldier Pass Jeep Trail Returns!

Popular Sedona 4x4 Trail Reopens to Public Under New Permit System

Following an extensive review process by the US Forest Service, one of Sedona's most popular 4wd roads has reopened to the public once again. Soldier Pass Trail has long been a staff favorite at Barlow Adventures, and we're thrilled to see it back in business! This short and scenic trail has experienced a dramatic increase in use during recent years, resulting in noise and traffic congestion in area neighborhoods, and management challenges for the Red Rock Ranger District and Sedona law enforcement. In consultation with local businesses, recreational users, residents, and other stakeholders, the US Forest Service issued a decision in March of 2017 limiting motorized travel on the trail to 12 permitted users per day.

About the Permit System

Barlow guests who would like to run Soldier Pass while visiting Sedona are required to obtain a permit by visiting the Coconino National Forest website and applying online. Click the button below to apply at fs.usda.gov.

Applications may be submitted between 3 days (72 hours) and 90 days in advance. Applications submitted less than 72 hours prior to the desired use will not be processed. Requests will be processed in the order received, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays, based on the email time stamp.

  • Permits are available to individuals only.  You may obtain no more than one permit per day. Businesses, clubs, and organizations may not apply. Barlow Adventures cannot reserve a permit for you.
  • Permits are free and nontransferable. 
  • Permit holders may hold only one permit at a time and wait until after the permit date before requesting another permit.
  • Permit holders are responsible for knowing and obeying all forest rules, regulations, and closure orders.
  • You must have your valid permit with you at the time of your visit.

A Classic Sedona Jeep Trail

Soldier Pass Trail remains a Barlow's staff favorite because it offers a concentrated mix of spectacular red rock scenery, history, unique natural features, and fun 4x4 obstacles that make for an ideal introduction to Sedona 4-wheeling. Easy to get to in the heart of Sedona, the trail starts behind a residential neighborhood before winding 1.5 miles up and over the red rocks for a 3 mile out and back adventure. The trail is also very popular with hikers and mountain bikers so be sure to drive with care. Allow at least an hour and a half to take in highlights along the trail like the Devil's Kitchen Sink Hole and the Seven Sacred Pools - both worth a stop for pictures and further exploration on foot. The trail earned the name "Soldier Pass" in 1871 as part of a resupply route established by the US Cavalry under General George Crook. It wound down from the Mogollon Rim and over Brin's Mesa to an area known then to the army as Camp Garden. An oasis along Oak Creek we now call Sedona.

Woodchute Trail: Secret Gem!

With temperatures doing what they do in June in AZ, many people are seeking out cooler temps at higher elevations. Many people know about the stunning views and fascinating history of Mingus Mountain and Schnebly Hill Road, but a little-known secret gem of a trail is the Woodchute Jeep Trail just above Jerome AZ.

 

The Woodchute Jeep Trail starts at FR 503A just at the bend at mile marker 339 on Hwy 89A. High clearance 4x4 required, and if you have an aversion to brush scratches, this may not be the trail for you, as its status as being "little-known" also means lower traffic and more overgrowth after the wet season.

The trail is short--only about 5 miles and 1-1.5 hours off-pavement, with stops. It loops back down to Hwy 89A and you come out on the highway only 2 miles uphill from Jerome. For a gorgeous full-day of Jeeping, start with the Mingus Mountain trail, which takes off at the bottom of the mountain near the Cottonwood Airport, then loop back through Woodchute for those spectacular afternoon views.

Check it out for yourself!

More maps and info at JeepTrailInfo.com and Funtreks.com

Life of a Sedona Jeep Tour Guide

I've been getting a lot of requests for this one lately--an article I wrote over 10 years ago that was meant to screen potential guides for my then position as a tour company manager. I resisted the urge to edit and update it. The content really applies to almost any position in the 4-wheeling/outdoor industry. Enjoy! -NB

Arguably, Sedona, Arizona is the Jeep tour capital of the world. With the great weather, gorgeous scenery, and easy access to a myriad of trails, no wonder there are so many tour companies. Many people think that being a Sedona Jeep tour guide would be their dream job. If you are one of those, read this first!

Do you think you want to be a Jeep tour guide? Many people think it sounds like fun, and it is, for a while. But, for most people, the romance wears off quickly. The average career lifespan of Jeep tour guide in Sedona is less than two years, but there are those who have been guiding for five, ten, even twenty years.

I have been in the Jeep tour business since 1996, which makes me about ninety-six in Jeep years. I have eaten enough red dust to be convicted of smuggling federal property. I have ushered thousands of visitors into the backcountry. I have grown tired of the sound of my own voice. I have watched Jeeps go from the showroom floor to tour status to beyond reasonable maintenance, relegated to the Jeep retirement lot, with 150,000 trail miles on them. I have hosed off various types of excrement from Jeeps. And I have seen guides train, passed by them on the trail for a while, then saw them eventually move on to a "real" job. Let me give you insight to the whole world of professional Jeep tour guiding, from start to finish.

It takes a certain type of person to really be a guide as an ongoing career. Most "career" guides are very serious nature and history lovers. They drive Jeeps all week, then spend their days off hiking, biking, or even Jeeping. They love to read. They have heated debates with their associates about the current scientific name of the javelina, the best way to eat agave, or the latest tour joke. They are clever, independent, resourceful, animated, and loud. They are very much people-people. They love to entertain and be the center of attention. And they can deal with a great deal of ups and downs, not just on the trail, but also in their schedules and bank accounts.

The first thing that hopefuls need to know is that fewer than fifty-percent of applicants will even get an interview, due to the sheer volume of applications. When I was a Jeep tour trail boss, my interview technique consisted primarily of trying to talk the applicant out of the job. I would tell them all of the disadvantages of the job, like bouncing around all day long, eating dust in the heat, or getting drenched in the freezing rain, all the while being charming and entertaining, and answering the same questions you have heard a thousand times. Some applicants are dismayed by the fact that there are no fixed paid hours. Guides are paid by the hour only for driving tours, on a rotating schedule, at the whim of the weather and tourism flow. Some applicants are even distressed to learn that they have to wash their own Jeeps. If none of that seems to phase them, we move on with the interview.

Jeep tour companies are looking for personality first. They want someone who is responsible, yet entertaining; informative, yet interesting; and safety-conscious, but fun. Many of these traits may seem contradictory, but it is exactly what makes a good guide. And, contradictory to popular belief, guides are not hired for their four-wheeling prowess, in fact, personality, not off-road experience, is the single most important factor in guide selection. There are some really great four-wheelers who will never make the cut as a guide. Likewise, there are many great guides who were hired without any previous four-wheeling experience. The priorities of most tour companies fall in this order: first, safety; second, entertainment; third, education.

What happens to the applicants who do make the cut? Training, training, training, which may take anywhere from two to twelve weeks, depending on the traineeís previous experience. Trainees must learn about local history, geology, ecology, environmental etiquette, company policies and procedures, and, yes, how to drive a Jeep. No matter how many years of 4x4 experience a trainee has, there are many things that must be learned to manage the responsibility of driving a heavy Jeep with paying guests as a full time job. Most companies don't pay for training time, either. That alone tests the resolve of the trainee.

Training involves lots of studying. Jeep tour companies each compile their own guide training manuals, which include company policies and area information. A trainee should also spend a lot of time at the library, the historical society, and area parks. Most companies will expect you to know more about the area than you will ever be able to share in one two-hour tour, but you need that depth of knowledge from which to draw. Veteran guides have forgotten more than most people will ever know about Sedona, and rookies will still be expected to be able to discuss at length the virtues of the agave, or the patterns of geological erosion, or the effect of the World Series on the socio-economic structure of Sedona.

The key to ongoing success as a tour guide is to read a lot. Not only does it freshen your material for both you and your guests, but also it keeps your information congruent with current events and ongoing changes. Scientific names of animal species change, working geological theories evolve, and new archaeological discoveries emerge. Nothing is static - keep reading and exploring! The biggest mistake guides make is thinking that once they have been cleared to do tours, they know everything they need to know and are done training.

My favorite step in Jeep tour guide training involves the infamous "ride-along's", where the trainee rides with veteran guides to observe their touring technique, presentations, and interaction between guide and guests. It is my favorite, because, invariably, a guide trainee will come to me and say "Joe said this about this, but Jane said that about this." Presentation details vary from guide to guide, and it is important to do your own reading. Presentation, interpretation, and perception vary widely, so always check your facts. Otherwise, it can become like the telephone game: by the time a story filters through a handful of guides, it doesn't even remotely resemble actual fact!

Interwoven with these ride-alongs will be hands-on four-wheel-drive training in a tour Jeep with the trainees and a trainer. Tour Jeeps handle much differently than a stock Jeep, and it takes some adjustment to become proficient at driving them, even if the trainee has Jeeping experience. As a trainee, remember that you are there to absorb as much as possible from the trainer, who is usually a very tour-experienced person. Set your ego aside, please. Have the self-confidence to ask questions. Don't act like the driving is part of the interview. You have already been hired, now the company wants to train you to a certain point in your ability to manage a tour Jeep. The only people who are dismissed during driver training, are the ones who do not listen to the instructor. A tour company is putting a lot on the line by letting you drive one of their pieces of equipment on the company insurance policy with paying guests.

Each company has their own method of clearing a new guide for tours. Some companies have you do a tour with managers and senior guides on board (the worst possible passengers you could ever have), or some slowly wean you by having a veteran ride along with you for your first few tours. But, basically, you will be cleared to do tours when your driving and navigating is transparent, you project confidence and clarity in your information presentation, and you exhibit an easy going control of your tour.

Getting cleared to do tours does not mean that initiation is over. There is some hazing involved. In a small town, all the other Jeep tour guides know who the new guy is immediately, and the posturing can be downright juvenile. At times, I have compared the Jeep tour guide crowd to a pack of wolves - they establish a pecking order, and they can smell fear. But, for the most part, the tour guides from all of the companies are fun to work with, behave professionally on the trail, and are just good working people. One of the fun games guides play is coming up with new and clever banter to exchange when passing another tour Jeep on the trail.

What can tour guides expect to make once they are trained? Most companies are paying anywhere from $11 per hour for rookies, up to $20 per hour for veterans. But a really good guide will nearly match his or her hourly wages in tips. The downside is that guides only get paid for hours driving, and those hours can vary seasonally. This is not a job for people who need a steady income. The tour business has its peaks and valleys, which directly correlate to the weather and seasons. It takes self-discipline to save and adequately manage your finances. Among veteran guides, the saying "Winter is coming" has a special meaning and foreboding.

Most new guides begin in the spring, the busiest season of the year, where you spend as much as ten hours a day in the Jeep, you barely get a chance to scarf down cold pizza or a power bar for lunch in between tours, then drive until dark, go home, fall asleep on the couch, then get up in the morning and do it all again, for about ten days straight, before you finally take a day off, then ten more days straight, all until May, when we get a little breather. Summer days are really long and boring. You get one or two tours in the morning, then lay around for hours in the heat of the day, then everyone goes out for sunset tours, so you are driving until eight o'clock at night, then you come home, fall asleep on the couch, and do it all again tomorrow.

We endure the grueling days, because winter is always ahead. I advise new guys to sock away twenty dollars a day during the spring and summer, in order to build enough of a winter supplement to survive. Most guides get through winter on peanut butter sandwiches and ramen noodles. Over the course of a year, a full time guide averages twenty-five to thirty hours per week, with the spring and summer kicking at forty hours per week, and winter piddling in at as little as ten hours per week, depending on weather.

In spite of the eratic hours and unstable finances, there are some amazing benefits, which cannot be measured by your bank account.

You get to spend most of your days outside. When you are on the trail, you are captain of the ship. You work with an amazingly sharp and entertaining group of people, upon which I am a sure a sitcom will be based someday! You meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life. I have toured people from Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Ecuador, and New Jersey. I have toured with blind people, so we spent the tour talking about the sounds and smells of the forest. I have toured with deaf people, so I scribbled out rock formations, history, and jokes on a note pad for them. I toured with a family from Turkey who sent me a beautiful leather wallet as a thank you for the toy cap gun key chain I gave to their son, as a memento of the "wild" west. I toured with a family from Manhattan whose 12-year-old little girl had never picked up a rock before. I have toured with numerous people who burst into tears at the sheer beauty of the scenery. I have watched elk spar, coyotes hunt, mountain lions stalk, hawks mate, bears scratch, and tour guides eat. I have answered questions like "why do they allow the animals to just run loose out here?" (The questions themselves are worthy of an entire book--coming soon!) If you love the outdoors, nothing can compare.

So what happens to most Jeep tour guides? For some, it is something they are proud to say they have done, but are glad to have moved on to more sane and steady work. For others, it becomes a way of life. "The worst day Jeep tour guiding is better than the best day in an office!"

Happy Trails

Enjoy the Trip!

This past Saturday, I ventured out onto Diamondback Gulch. It's a moderate Jeep trail in West Sedona that is not nearly as well known as Broken Arrow, Soldier Pass, or Schnebly Hill. In fact, on busy Saturdays, it's one of those trails you take because you know there will only be a few folks out there. But on this Saturday, there were countless tour Jeeps and three different 4x4 clubs on this mere 6-mile trail. What is usually a casual two-hour excursion was a harried 3-hour stop, wait, and back-up game.

With Spring Breaks starting all across the west this week, traffic snarls and manic visitors are the expected fare in tourism towns all over, both on and off pavement. This carries over onto even our most exclusive 4-wheeling Jeep trails. A few reminders:

  1. Safety comes first--no matter how late you may be to whatever appointment or next scheduled activity, it's never worth the safety of you or your family to hurry: stay calm, pay attention (no texting or taking pictures while driving), don't rush. There are way too many other harried people out there this time of year. Stay alert!
  2. Educate yourself--call ahead to your destination or next activity to find out what the weather conditions are, what road construction snarls you may be able to avoid, or what alternate activities or timing could better suit your needs to help you avoid peak traffic. Most business operators are happy to help direct visitors to a time frame that will be better for everyone. Some Jeep trails are busier certain days of the week or time of day. Some road construction snags can be avoided by alternate routes or different times of day.
  3. Have fun! Remember why you are out there--to enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings, and share a fun experience with friends and loved ones. Plan some extra time in case of unplanned snags in your schedule--have snacks or activities for kids ready. Make the best of whatever situation you encounter. Keep everything in perspective and ENJOY your trip.

Happy Trails!

More Fall Color: Mingus Mountain

Mid-October is usually prime color on Mingus Mountain, and though some sporadic color may be enjoyed from the highway and some of the hiking trails, by far the most spectacular color is only accessible by Jeep or other high-clearance 4x4.

We enjoyed a jaunt up Mingus Mountain this past Sunday, October 18, and it was definitely in that perfect 10-day window of the most vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, and golds.

The trail starts in Cottonwood, Arizona from Mingus Avenue. Take Mingus Avenue past the airport and stay on it as it turns to bumpy dirt and gravel road. This is now FR 493 in the Prescott National Forest. Follow 493 as it winds up the mountain and gradually gets narrower, steeper and rockier.

Pass the Copper Chief Mine (be careful to stay on the main forest road, not wander onto private property--respect signs and gates), which was a very rich copper mine from the turn of the century until the mid-50's, but gets very little historical note due to the fact that the much bigger and richer Jerome lies just over the rise. With the rise of metal prices, this mine has recently been reopened and you can see signs of more modern mining amongst the historic footing of the old operation.

About 5 miles up, you will come to a T at FR 413, but not before the trail tests your resolve with a half-mile of extremely rocky trail. This last 1/2 mile before FR 413 is the toughest part of the whole trail and definitely requires a high-clearance 4x4 with tough tires and a driver who knows how to pick a line. Experienced Jeepers in well-built rigs will walk right through this section without much thought, but a novice in a stock SUV will gasp at the sight of 12-16" rocks sticking up in the narrow trail.

In addition to gorgeous flora, visitors are also rewarded with expansive views of the Verde Valley and the red rocks of Sedona.

 

 

For the best color, turn left (southeast) on FR 413. The red and orange maples and yellow walnuts will cluster in the canyons for the next few miles as the trail winds southeast and climbs gradually toward the top of Mingus Mountain.

Follow FR 413 all the way to the pine forests on top of Mingus Mountain. As you get closer to highway 89A, note many great campsites in the area. Come to a T at a (sometimes marked) road, where left takes you to the highway, and a right takes you to the Mingus Mountain overlook and hang glider launch area.

About 18 miles total, from Hwy 89A in Cottonwood and back to Hwy 89A on the top of Mingus Mountain. You climb 4000 feet in elevation, from 3500 to 7500 feet above sea level. Allow 3-4 hours with stops. This trail is not recommended in wet weather and is usually closed at the top in the winter.

Happy trails!

 

Fall Color in Northern Arizona

11 October 2009, Flagstaff AZ - Fall Color is here! Golds, coppers, and reds contrast the green pines and blue sky for spectacular scenic drives throughout Northern Arizona. Aspens, oaks, and maples are in full swing at the highest elevations (north side of the San Francisco Peaks), with color expected to carry through mid-November at lower elevations (Mingus Mountain, Oak Creek Canyon).

Yesterday's excursion ventured to the Flagstaff area to visit Lockett Meadow, then around the north side of the San Francisco Peaks. This area always presents the earliest autumn color, with its higher elevations and cooler, northerly-facing slopes. Apparently, the secret is out, as we passed hundreds of other motorists out for a picturesque country drive as well. Note: Lockett Meadow is busy on weekends, especially a holiday weekend!

The road to Lockett Meadow is easily passable by any truck or SUV, though we did see many adventurous (or careless?) folks in sedans, many of which we witnessed bottoming out in ruts or changing a flat tire. Expect ruts, washboards, baseball-sized rocks, and some mild wash-outs. It is plenty wide for any single vehicle, but can be interesting when you encounter a vehicle coming the other direction--watch for wide spots. The road is also completely devoid of any guard rails and does follow a steep, shelf section for most of the three miles of the Lockett Meadow spur. If heights bother you, this road will get your attention!

 

Lockett Meadow is the caldera for the San Francisco peaks--the heart of the (dormant) volcano. There are campsites and hiking trails available in the area. Please stay on the established road and use existing pull-outs and parking spots--Arizona meadows are very fragile.

To get there: (See map below) Take Hwy 89 north from Flagstaff, and travel about 10 miles north of the mall. Watch for the entrance to Sunset Crater & Wupatki National Monument on the right--turn left onto the Forest Access road directly across from the monument entrance, near mile marker 430. Follow the Forest Access road approximately 1 mile to the T. Turn right onto FR 552 (sign says Lockett Meadow and FR418 to the right). Approximately 1 mile further, note FR 418 to the right--you may want to return here later to follow the road around the north side of the Peaks. Just past this, FR 552 Lockett Meadow turns right. Follow 552 another 3 miles to the meadow--the next 2 miles are the narrow shelf section! Once you reach the meadow, the road makes a 2 mile counter-clockwise loop of the meadow, with a side road to the bathrooms, and hiking trails and campsites all along the way.

Return the way you came, or for a slightly less-traveled road, go back to the bottom of the hill and follow FR 418 around the north side of the peaks. Once you turn onto FR 418, it's about 20 miles to Hwy 180. Spectacular views northward toward the painted desert and the Coconino Plateau, and many sunlight-dappled stretches of road that offer patches of fall color.

About 8 miles in, you might want to turn left to the trailhead for the Abineau or Bear Skull trails--there are numerous 4x4 side roads for more private picnic and/or camping spots.

About 11 miles along FR 418, the road splits and becomes FR 151 in White Horse Basin. Take it right (north) for a short 2 mile drive to Hwy 180, or left (west) for more scenery back to Hwy 180 and come out just 3 miles north of Snowbowl Road. The left route is my favorite because it wraps around the northwest side of the peaks, for more of those breathtaking meadow vistas, with the peaks as a backdrop--great for wildflowers in the summer, too!

Allow about 3 hours for a casual roundtrip from Flagstaff. Remember to take plenty of water, and have a good spare tire and jack on board, just in case. Cell signal is weak (if any) for most of the trip.

Once you get to pavement, turn left on Hwy 180 and drop into downtown Flagstaff for a refreshment at one of the fine local pubs or coffee houses.

Happy trails!