What Lies at the End of Schnebly Hill Road?

Sedona, Arizona…. if you make it!

Quite a few years ago, on our first approach to Sedona, my family was “concerned” when I silently decided to take our rental car on a long winding dirt road of questionable condition off exit 320, I-17, instead of Rt. 179, the usual approach from the south. The allure of adventure compelled me.

Sedona, and its neighbor Oak Creek, are a prize just below the western portion of the Mogollan Rim, a 200 mile escarpment stretching across north-central Arizona in what is known geologically as the Transition Zone, with the upper Sonoran Desert to the south, and the Colorado Plateau to the north – an elevation change of about 4000’ (1200m.)

Schnebly Hill Road, winds for about 13 miles from I-17, the North-South Interstate highway in Arizona. It courses through mostly flat, but impressive ponderosa pine forests, until its last few dramatic miles of descent, some 2000’ (~600m,) where the vegetation “transitions” into pinyon and juniper trees; and the sudden awesome vistas of eroded sandstone formations and outcroppings come into view. These sheer cliffs, monoliths, and curious cathedrals of all shapes,  blazing with white, and red and orange colors, are like sculptured inverted children’s pails and castle turrets in a sandbox.

Upon first sight, the usual reaction is to gasp, but attention needs to be paid to the deteriorating, eroded, winding, road as it descends rapidly at it’s most perilous point.

Over the course of several subsequent visits to Sedona and Oak Creek, (approached more civilly on paved roads,) we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing many of its natural treasures, a sample of which is captured below.  Hiking and exploring are a dream here, but additionally, are restaurants, galleries, small and unique shopping areas; impeccable resorts, and even “spiritual enlightenments” for those inclined.”

What lies at the end of Schnebly Hill Road?  The treasure of the Red Rocks Country. But if you dare take this route, advise the family ahead of time, and rent a 4WD SUV!


The first view of the Red Rocks Country, 1995, from Schnebly Hill Road


The descent, as the dirt road turns….challenging.


Some years later, from a classic Bi-Plane over Sedona. The edge of the Mogollan Rim is seen on the near horizon, and to its right, 12,633 ft. (3258m) Mt. Humphreys, about 45 miles North.


Devil’s Bridge is a moderate hike on the western side of Sedona.


The view from on top is breath-taking, as seen from this image in 2009


Along the trail, are wonderful examples of South-West US vegetation, this being a moderate sized Pointleaf Manzanita, known for its shinny red bark.

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