Off-road on the Broken Arrow Trail

An off-road tour of Broken Arrow Trail near Sedona, Arizona, has its ups and downs.

An off-road tour of Broken Arrow Trail near Sedona, Arizona, has its ups and downs.

The Broken Arrow Trail starts out a little rocky but hold on! We're in for a really bumpy ride.

The Broken Arrow Trail starts out a little rocky but hold on! We’re in for a really bumpy ride.

Never drive over a 45 degree angle! our tour guide Scott advised us as our Pink Jeep pointed down a long, steep, rocky trail.

Then, as he started driving over the rocks, he said, this may be more than 45 degrees. I hoped he was kidding.

You might feel mighty small against the majesty of these rock formations.

You might feel mighty small against the majesty of these rock formations.

We were exploring the red rock formations of the Broken Arrow Trail, part of the wide expanse of national forest that surrounds Sedona.

We came to Sedona, about 100 miles north of Phoenix, specifically for this two-hour tour.  Some of our little group had done it before — we knew what to expect. But, you know, it’s fun to see the wonder and the worry on the faces of those who’ve never driven down the Devil’s Staircase or taken their vehicle to the edge of a rock to look down over Submarine Rock.

The real thrill, however, is the view. Red rock structures reaching toward a clear cerulean sky. Buttes and canyons, each more breathtaking than the last. They all have names. Though our guide told us every one of them, I don’t think I heard but a few of them. I was too busy taking in their beauty. The Pinon trees and agaves provide a welcome green contrast to all that gorgeous rusty red rock.

We had just ridden down this when I snapped this picture. You know it looked terrifying at the top.

We had just ridden down this when I snapped this picture. You know it looked terrifying at the top.

The air seems crystal clear here. The only sounds you hear are the voices of your friends and fellow tourists. And often, it’s more quiet than you’d expect because everyone is just standing there, looking.

We took our tour with Pink Jeep but there are plenty of others. Or take a look via helicopter or your own two feet. (Come to think of it, maybe I should have made this a 10,000 step tour — on this cool, bright day this would have been ideal.)

That white spot — which didn't rust like the rest of the rock — used to be an oval. Then there was an earthquake and it lay on the fault line. So part of it shifted a little.

That white spot — which didn’t rust like the rest of the rock — used to be an oval. Then there was an earthquake and it lay on the fault line. So part of it shifted a little.

After our first experience here, I recommended the tour to friends of ours. Afterwards, I didn’t think my friend would ever speak to me again. She suffers from motion sickness, which I didn’t know. So a word of warning: if you aren’t good with steep climbs or descents or a lot of rocking and rolling, this may not be your kind of tour.

The jeeps (really bright pink) hold about eight or ten people, all strapped in with a seatbelt and a handle or a padded pole to hang onto when the going gets rough. And it will get rough. I found myself sliding out from under the seat belt on more than one occasion. Oh but I was holding on with all my might. It must be safe; they let children on these tours.

This is why I came.

This is why I came.

When the two hours are over, you’re going to want to do it again. I know I did. And probably will, next time I make it to Sedona.

I know this mountain has a name....

I know this mountain has a name….

ⓒ Text and photos
Mary K. Tilghman

As the sun set, we had to stop and watch these red rock formations as their color deepened and glowed.

As the sun set, we had to stop and watch these red rock formations as their color deepened and glowed.

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