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How To Drive Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail In Sedona

How To Drive Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail In Sedona

Diamondback Gulch is one of the best off road adventure Jeep trails in Sedona. The 6.7 mile long three-quarter loop trail is varied, exiting and allows your Jeep to showcase its capabilities. We loved driving Diamondback Gulch on the west side of Sedona and we’re going to show you why it is one of the best things to do in Sedona.

How hard is it to drive Diamondback Gulch Jeep trail?

Well, Diamondback Gulch is not a highly technical drive like the famous Broken Arrow trail. But it does contain difficult elements, including its namesake – a steep V shaped ravine. The gulch is so much fun to drop 300 ft into and climb 400 ft out from, but it will put your driving skills to the test.

After driving 9 Jeep trails in Sedona, we would personally rate Diamondback Gulch as diverse, fun and at the top end of moderately challenging.

In this guide we will cover:

  • Complete Diamondback Gulch Jeep trail walkthrough
  • Hiring a Jeep in Sedona vs taking a Jeep tour
  • Map of Diamondback Gulch Jeep trail
  • Photos from the drive

Let’s head west and drive the adventurous Diamondback Gulch Jeep trail in Sedona, Arizona!

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Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail Details

  • Roads: FR 152A and FR 9513
  • Trail Distance: 6.7 miles point to point
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate / Hard
  • Direction: Either clockwise or anti-clockwise
  • Time Required: 2 hours

Diamondback Gulch is a straight forward Jeep trail with few natural stopping points and no spur trails. This makes it more about pure driving and less about being distracted by hiking or photography.

The road can be driven in either direction, although the suggested route is clockwise from north to southwest as you look at a map.

Hiring A Jeep In Sedona

Maroon colored 4WD vehicle reflecting in ice at dawn with hot air balloons taking off
Our Jeep reflecting in ice not long after sunrise with hot air balloons in the sky at the start of Diamondback Gulch trail

Sedona is one of our favorite places to visit in the US. The magnificent red rock landscape is a paradise for hikers, photographers and outdoor enthusiasts like ourselves.

Hiring a Jeep during your visit to Sedona is going to cost you a small fortune, but it will be one of the best decisions you make on your visit to northern Arizona.

Renting a Jeep for 3 days allowed us to really explore the hidden gems of Sedona, getting away from the crowds and taking on some amazing off roading trails.

After reading reviews and window shopping around town, we decided to go with Sedona Jeep Rentals by Barlow Adventures. They had extremely positive reviews and the Jeeps on show looked spotless.

Our experience with Barlow?

Well, we can’t recommend Barlow highly enough. From start to finish we were very impressed with the entire service, from customer service and professionalism to help with planning the perfect Jeep trail itinerary.

It is important you shop around and find the best service for your needs. But if you are still undecided on which Jeep company to use in Sedona, go down and speak to the team at Barlow.

Diamondback Gulch Jeep Tour

An alternative way of experiencing the most popular Jeep trails in Sedona including Diamondback Gulch is to take a Jeep tour. We don’t often recommend tours but off road Jeep tours are a big deal in Sedona. In fact, if you hire a Jeep, you will pass by far more tour groups than you will other hired Jeeps.

Diamondback Gulch is a fun tour to take if you’re looking for an adventurous trail away from the crowds on more popular Jeep trails like Broken Arrow and Schnebly Hill Road.

Take a look at this tour combining both Diamondback Gulch with nearby heritage site ruins and this private tour of Diamondback Gulch to see what is included, read previous reviews and check prices.

Sedona Tours: We have rounded up the 18 top rated Sedona Tours to help you find the best options available for your visit to northern Arizona.

Driving Your Jeep In Sedona

Sedona’s off road 4WD trails are awesome. But they are different to driving your every day car and there are a few things you need to know:

  1. On Jeep trails in Sedona you will frequently shift into 4L and / or 4H gear. Instructions on which gears to use on specific trails will be given to you upon hiring the vehicle and it is important to follow them.
  2. You must respect the Jeep, the trails and other drivers on the trails. Enjoy driving but be courteous and considerate.
  3. Watch out for ATV’s flying by and kicking back loose stones which might hit your Jeep windshield. There’s not much you can do, just pull over to the side and let them pass.
  4. You will get mud and dust on your Jeep. The key is to have a blast but at the same time be safe and respectful of the vehicle. The place you rent from will know how you treat the Jeep with one look.

Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail Walkthrough

Let’s get stuck into a full walkthrough of the drive into Diamondback Gulch, Sedona. This is a fantastic off road trail to include on your Sedona itinerary.

Navigate To The Start Of FR 152A

View through windshield of a car in desert of northern arizona
View through windshield of our Jeep at the start of Diamondback Gulch trail

The beginning of off road driving on Diamondback Gulch begins on FR 152A. Look out for houses opposite the trailhead entrance and a sign for Bear Mountain Estates. This is where you turn.

There are two options for reaching the trailhead (if driving clockwise):

  • Drive AZ-89A west out of Sedona –> Turn right onto FR 525 –> Turn right onto FR 152C (Boynton Pass Road) –> After 0.8 miles turn right onto FR 152A for Diamondback Gulch.
  • Take Dry Creek Road north out of Sedona –> Turn left onto Boynton Pass Road –> Continue as it transitions into FR 152C –> After 1.3 miles turn left onto FR 152A for Diamondback Gulch.

Here’s the exact Google Maps location for Diamondback Gulch 4WD trailhead.

Ease Into The Trail

Soft dirt track road in northern arizona perfect for OTV's
Easy going soft dirt track eases you nicely into the Diamondback Gulch trail

Reset your trip odometer to 0 and and shift into 4H. You only need 4H for the first section of Diamondback Gulch because it is nice, easy and flat with no large boulders or technical aspects to consider.

Keep your speed below 10mph, keep your eyes peeled for large rocks or holes and enjoy sweeping through ranch land. The Jeep will eat up this section in 4H and you’ll quickly get a great feel for the ride.

Avoid turning right down any spur trails, which will appear less traveled and should be easy enough to distinguish. Stay left and follow signs marking Diamondback Gulch.

Shift Into 4L

Maroon Jeep on rocks with smiling driver on a clear day with blue sky
Mark with a huge grin really enjoying driving this awesome Jeep on Diamondback Gulch off road trail

After 1 mile you will begin tackling washes and rugged steps. Stop here and shift to 4L to make things easier on the Jeep and your bones.

Take it easy in 4L as you bump and bounce around steps and muddy tracks. You will pass by a cattle chute as you navigate fun rock ledges and steeper sections of road.

Drop Into Diamondback Gulch

Driving a Jeep down into Diamondback Gulch off roading trail in Sedona Arizona
Beginning of the 300 ft drop down into Diamondback Gulch

Around 4.3 miles into the drive, you will arrive at the top of Diamondback Gulch. You will naturally come to a stop here because the angle of descent is significant.

Grab out your trail instructions as provided by Barlow or another Jeep rental outfit. Read the directions a few times so you know exactly what to do:

  • Stay in 4L and feather the brake as you descend
  • Allow the Jeep to crawl straight down slowly
  • Make slight corrections to account for holes or small drop offs
Car dropping into a ravine on a rocky road with large stones
The descent transitions from gradual to steep as the road bends left here

It can be a little intimidating when the Jeep first tips forward on the 300 ft descent but we promise it is so much fun once you get going.

Just take it easy, be confident and enjoy the adventure.

Climb Out From Diamondback Gulch

View from the bottom of Diamondback Gulch looking at the steep hill ahead
The climb out of Diamondback Gulch looks a lot steeper in person!

If you thought going down was fun, wait until you’re sat at the bottom of the 400 ft climb out from Diamondback Gulch.

Looking up at the awesome road you are about to climb is nerve racking but exhilarating.

Vehicle going over big rocks and climbing a steep road on orange rocks
Mark slowly letting the Jeep pull him up and out of Diamondback Gulch

Just remember, going up is easier than going down.

The Jeep does all the work for you on the ascent. All you have to do is keep your speed at a slow walking pace and let the Jeep pull you up in 4L.

Going Gets Rocky

Drone photo of a Jeep driving on Diamondback Gulch off road 4WD adventure trail in Sedona Arizona
Drone photo of our Jeep summiting the 400 ft climb out of Diamondback Gulch

Once you summit and you’re back on level ground, pull over to the right side of the road making sure you leave room for others. Stay on the right side and walk into the trees for a few seconds to reveal a fantastic viewpoint.

After the gulch you are on flat land once again but that doesn’t mean the fun is over. You now have to navigate tricky rough patches with much larger rocks. Try to go round the bigger rocks but if you can’t get around, slowly use tires on one side of the Jeep to go over.

End On FR 525

Car parked on a rocky road colored orange and very dusty
Close up photo of the road to showcase large stones and driving conditions

Avoid turning left or right near a cattle guard at 5.5 miles into the drive. Stay straight ahead and before you know it a T junction will appear ahead.

You have three options once you reach the end of Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail in Sedona:

  1. Turn left FR 525 back to Ranch Loop 4WD trail and / or AZ-89A and downtown Sedona.
  2. Turn right toward Paltaki Heritage Site, Outlaw 4WD trail and Honanki Heritage Site.
  3. Do a 180 and drive Diamondback Gulch anti-clockwise back to the start.

Ranch Loop 4WD trail is easier, less technical and better for beginners or those who want to get used to the Jeep before taking on Diamondback Gulch. Outlaw 4WD trail is moderately challenging and a lot of fun, but you will share it with more ATV’s.

If you do turn around, be more aware of other Jeeps and tours coming in the opposite direction as the clockwise route is more popular.

Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail Pros And Cons

  • The gulch is fantastic in a Jeep
  • Much quieter than Broken Arrow and Schnebly Hill
  • Fun and exciting drive without too much bouncing
  • Not as adrenaline pumping as Broken Arrow
  • Lacks optional viewpoints or side hiking trails
  • The gulch is quite intimidating for any nervous drivers

Map Of Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail

Map of the Diamondback Gulch off road adventure 4WD Jeep Trail in Sedona Arizona
Map of a clockwise drive around Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail in Sedona

The map above shows the location of Diamondback Gulch Jeep trail in Sedona as though it is being driven clockwise.

You can see it isn’t far from downtown Sedona and can be accessed either via AZ-89A or via Boynton Canyon Road where there are plenty of hiking trails.

Map key:

  • Blue Line – Easy beginning section
  • Red Line – Diamondback Gulch section with 300 ft drop and 400 ft climb
  • Green Line – Rocky section to the end

Sedona Arizona Visitor Summary

Best Time To Drive Diamondback Gulch

Time Of Day

We drove Diamondback Gulch not long after sunrise to get ahead of other Jeep drivers and tour groups. Our top recommendation for driving or hiking the best trails in Sedona is to be out and about early in the morning.

If you wake up early enough and get out into the red rock wilderness areas, you will see hot air balloons taking to the sky right around sunrise. Watching the balloons take off nearby as we cut through Diamondback Gulch added to the overall experience.

We would suggest avoiding mid morning to mid afternoon when the bulk of drivers and tours will be navigating Diamondback Gulch. Either get out early like we did, or save it until way later in the day. Just make sure you complete the trail before it gets dark.

Season

Spring and Fall are the two busiest seasons in Sedona. More people in town means more Jeeps and more tours on the trails. Plus, prices for Jeeps are going to be at peak.

Summer is slightly quieter and Winter is a much quieter time to visit Sedona. There are very few instances during the calendar year in which Jeep prices are temporarily slashed to accommodate for short ‘low season’ periods, but if you can catch one you will save a lot of money.

We drove Diamondback Gulch early on a December morning during our visit to Sedona in Winter and we had the entire trail to ourselves from start to finish. We even stopped to get our drone up a few times and still nobody passed us.

More Sedona Jeep Trails
More From Sedona

We hope this hiking guide to driving Diamondback Gulch Trail helps with planning your visit to Sedona, Arizona!

Please let us know if you have any questions about Diamondback Gulch or off roading in Sedona in the comments below.

Happy Driving,

Mark and Kristen

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