How To Drive Diamondback Gulch Jeep Trail In Sedona

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Where Are Those Morgans driving the awesome adventure off road trail Diamondback Gulch in a maroon Jeep on a sunny day in December

Diamondback Gulch is our second favorite off-roading trail in Sedona. It’s a varied and exciting 6.7-mile long three-quarter loop trail that allows your 4×4 vehicle to really showcase its capabilities. We enjoyed driving Diamondback Gulch because it contained difficult elements like a deep V-shaped ravine, yet it was short enough that we didn’t lose interest before the end. After driving 9 Jeep trails in Sedona, we think Diamondback Gulch is diverse, fun and at the top end of moderately challenging.

In this guide we walk you through everything you need to know about driving Diamondback Gulch OHV Trail in Sedona.

Trail Details

  • Roads: FR 152A and FR 9513
  • Distance: 6.7 miles point to point
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • 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. The road can be driven in either direction, although the suggested route is clockwise from north to southwest as you look at a map. We followed the suggested route and we’d do it the same way next time if we were to drive this trail again.

READ: 9 awesome Jeep trails in Sedona

Hiring A Jeep

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

In order to drive Diamondback Gulch and many other exciting off-road trails in Sedona, you’ll need to either have your own high clearance vehicle or you’ll have to rent a Jeep in town. We hired a Jeep for 3 days with Sedona Jeep Rentals by Barlow Adventures because they had excellent reviews and the vehicles on display looked spotless. From start to finish we were very impressed with the entire service, from customer service to help with planning which trails to drive.

Our maroon Jeep (Amy) turned out to be fantastic. We were able to explore the hidden gems of Sedona, get away from the crowds and drive amazing off-roading trails like Broken Arrow Trail (our favorite).

It’s important to know that hiring a Jeep isn’t cheap. We were lucky to get a big discount because we visited in December which is considered as low season, although it didn’t feel like it was particularly quiet! We paid $500 for 3 days, and it was worth every cent.

Diamondback Gulch Trail Walkthrough

Once you have your Jeep or high clearance vehicle ready, it’s time to hit the trail. Next, we’re going to show you how to drive Diamondback Gulch based on our experience.

1. Navigate To The Start Of FR 152A

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

The beginning of Diamondback Gulch begins when you turn off Forest Service 152C onto FR 152A. Look for houses opposite the trailhead entrance and a sign for Bear Mountain Estates. This is where you turn.

You have two options for reaching the trailhead (if driving it 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. Open it in your maps app and hit directions to get the quickest route to where the trail starts.

2. 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 drive

Reset your trip odometer to 0 and and shift into 4H. You’ll be in 4H for the first section of Diamondback Gulch because it’s nice, easy and flat with no large boulders or technical aspects to consider. 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. Instead stay left and follow signs marking Diamondback Gulch.

3. Shift Into 4L

Maroon Jeep on rocks with smiling driver on a clear day with blue sky
Mark with a huge grin enjoying driving the trail

After 1 mile you’ll begin tackling washes and rugged stone 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’ll pass by a cattle chute as you start to navigate fun rock ledges and steeper sections of road.

4. Drop Into Diamondback Gulch

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

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

Grab your trail instructions as provided by Barlow or any other Jeep rental outfit and read the directions a few times so you know exactly what to do. Here’s what we did:

  • Stay in 4L and feather the brake as we descended
  • 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’s so much fun once you get going. Just take it easy, be confident and enjoy the adventure.

If one of your passengers really isn’t feeling it, you can always just have them hop out and meet back up with the Jeep at the bottom or even at the far side of the gulch.

5. 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 back out from Diamondback Gulch. Looking up at the awesome road you’re about to climb is nerve racking but exhilarating at the same time.

Vehicle going over big rocks and climbing a steep road on orange rocks
Mark slowly letting the Jeep pull him up in 4L

Going up is easier than going down because 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 as you plot the best possible route through the boulders.

6. The Going Gets Rocky

Drone photo of a Jeep driving on Diamondback Gulch off road 4WD adventure trail in Sedona Arizona
Drone photo we took 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 and make sure you leave room in case any others are driving the trail. Stay on the right side of the road and walk into the trees for a few seconds to reveal a fantastic viewpoint.

After the gulch you’re 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 around the biggest rocks but if you can’t get around, slowly use the tires on one side of the Jeep to go over.

7. End On FR 525

Car parked on a rocky road colored orange and very dusty
Close up photo of the road to show 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:

  1. Turn left on FR 525 to Ranch Loop 4WD Trail and / or 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 Trail is easier, less technical and better for beginners or getting used to the Jeep before taking on Diamondback Gulch. Outlaw Trail is moderately challenging and a lot of fun, but you’ll share it with more ATV’s.

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

Pros And Cons

Pros:

  • The gulch is fantastic to drive in a Jeep
  • Much quieter than Broken Arrow and Schnebly Hill
  • Fun and exciting drive without too much bouncing

Cons:

  • Not as adrenaline pumping as Broken Arrow
  • Lacks optional viewpoints or side hiking trails
  • The gulch is quite intimidating for nervous drivers

Diamondback Gulch Map

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

We created the map above to show you the clockwise route around Diamondback Gulch. You can see it isn’t far from downtown Sedona and the popular hikes north of town.

Map key:

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

Driving Your Jeep In Sedona

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

  1. You’ll frequently shift into 4L and 4H. Instructions on which gears to use on specific trails will be given to you upon hiring the vehicle and it’s 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 Tour

An alternative way of experiencing Diamondback Gulch is to take a Jeep tour. We don’t often recommend tours but off-roading 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. The more popular Jeep trails are Broken Arrow and Schnebly Hill Road.

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

READ: The 25 top rated Sedona tours

Best Time To Drive Diamondback Gulch

We drove Diamondback Gulch not long after sunrise to get ahead of other Jeep drivers and tour groups. Our top recommendation for driving off-road trails and hiking in Sedona is to head out early in the morning. If you wake up early enough and get out into the red rock wilderness areas, you’ll see hot air balloons taking to the sky around sunrise. Watching the balloons take off nearby as we cut through Diamondback Gulch was a fun experience.

We would avoid mid-morning through 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.

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 much quieter. There are very few instances during the calendar year in which Jeep prices are temporarily slashed to accommodate for low seasons, but if you can catch one you’ll save a lot of money.

We had the entire trail to ourselves from start to finish because we visited Sedona in winter. We even stopped to put our drone up a few times and still nobody passed us.

More From Sedona

Want more Arizona content? Head over to our Arizona travel guides to explore the best of Grand Canyon, Sedona and beyond.


We hope our Diamondback Gulch Trail guide help with planning your visit to Sedona!

Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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