Jeep tours give people a chance to experience Sedona area's natural beauty

SEDONA, Ariz. (FOX 10) -- The weather will soon be heating up in the Valley, which means people will be heading north, and there are a few sports up north that you might want to head out and explore.

Nestled in the iconic Red Rocks of Sedona sits a natural sandstone bridge. Wind, water and millions of years of time formed what is now known as Devil's Bridge.

"Most likely, I'd almost guarantee it's the most popular hike in Sedona now. Has been for the last couple of years," said Jeff Wyckoff, senior tour guide for Pink Jeep Tours.

According to the Coconino National Forest, this specific hike has seen a 40% increase in visitors over the last five years. About 600 people a day hike the trail. Wyckoff describes it as a two-for-one hike.

"As you get in on the trail, you get some unbelievable views of the panoramic vistas, and at the end of the trail is Devil's Bridge, the natural sandstone arch," said Wyckoff. "You can walk out on top of the arch, which is really neat. You're about 75 feet off of the ground when you're on the arch, and it makes just a really amazing photograph."

The hike is about 1.5 miles, round trip.

"The first part when you go in is all uphill. It has a little less than 600 feet of elevation change on it, and of course, coming back down it's all downhill. It's what most people would describe as a moderate hike," said Wyckoff.

This is only if you are on a Pink Jeep Tour or have a high profile vehicle to get you to the trailhead, after driving along the rocky dry creek basin. If not, your hike will be a bit longer.

"The general public, if they're in a sedan or something like that, they park out on the road, which is Dry Creek Road, and then they walk a little less than two miles just to get to the trailhead, so their hike ends up being about five-and-a-half miles round trip," said Wyckoff.

No matter the distance to and from, visitors say the view from the top is always worth it.

"Way better in person, yeah. Photos don't do it justice. Literally, you have to come here to see it yourself," said one visitor, identified only as "Sarah".

"He's afraid of heights, I'm not, so I was totally fine walking out there," said another visitor, identified only as "Jamie". "It's a lot bigger out there than it looks. From this angle, it looks really thin, but when you get out there, it's not so thin."

If you're looking to see a lot and learn a lot, Pink Jeep Tours will take you 15 miles to the west of Devil's Bridge, to the Honanki Heritage Site.

"It's an archaeological site, it's cliff dwellings. It's the second largest cliff dwelling in the whole Verde Valley," said Wyckoff.

Wyckoff says at its peak, the late phase Pueblo site was a 75 or so room structure. It was occupied around 1100 A.D., and abandoned sometime in 1300 A.D.

"In reality, the people that occupied these cliff dwellings are ancestors of the modern day Hopi Indians," said Wyckoff. "The Hopi Indians have been here for a long, long time, and they still today are living on the Hopi Mesas, which is north and east of Flagstaff. Their number one reason they lived here and why this area was so heavily inhabited is the tremendous plant diversity here. We have over 450 different species of plants that live in this ecozone here, and almost everything that grows here has a food value to it or a medicinal property, and quite often both."

On the rock structures, you can see images and icons. This was used as a form of communication for the people.

"There are two types," said Wyckoff. "There are pictographs, which are painted on the walls, we also see some petroglyphs. Petrographs are scratched, carved and incised into the stone."

Pink Jeep Tours will not only take you to these sites and teach you about them, but they also help make sure everyone can enjoy them. The company helps maintain the roads, which in the end saves the taxpayers a lot of money.

"A lot of the roads, as you get off to what we call West Sedona and further out to the west, they probably wouldn't be open if it wasn't for the jeep companies, just for the fact that they use them and they help maintain them," said Mark Goshorn with the Coconino National Forest. "They keep it to a standard where not only is it appealing to their clients, but more importantly a safe standard."

You don't need a permit for either of these locations, and entry is free.