“The Road Less Traveled”
is on the way to the M-Diamond Ranch
The area around the M Diamond Ranch, just outside Sedona, is chock full of wonderful places to explore and enjoy. When you come out to the M Diamond Ranch for a trail ride, consider planning some time for a visit to the Old West and even older Indian civilizations. Bring a picnic lunch, hiking shoes, and if the weather is right, your bathing suit! That way you can make a day of it!
Your “Road Less Traveled” starts at the Sedona exit off Interstate 17, where turning west takes you to Sedona, and turning east starts your adventure. You’ll be on Forest Service Road 618, designated a Desert Canyon Scenic Drive, and about 6.5 miles from the M Diamond Ranch. The first 2.5 miles or so are paved, then the road turns to dirt. But don’t worry, people make it to the ranch in their Prius all the time.
So, for the auto-adventurous, here are some things to see and do along the way.
Wet Beaver Creek Campground
In nice weather, bring a box lunch, or picnic supplies, and picnic at the Wet Beaver Creek Campground, about 2.5 miles from the interchange. Notice the old Beaver Creek Ranger Station nearby. The stream here is great for fishing, bird watching and water play and there are abundant hiking opportunities as well. The waters of the stream are stocked with trout and the area is alive with songbirds and wildlife. James D. Bailey, a former Arizona Ranger, was the first Forest Service District Ranger there. He was a partner of Irvin Walker, who homesteaded the M-Diamond Ranch in 1908.
The Locals’ Favorite Swimming Hole
It’s called “The Crack” and it’s where the locals like to go swimming. It’s about a 3 mile hike from the Beaver Creek Campground on a wide and easy trail that used to be a Jeep trail. Sometimes you will encounter people, and sometimes you will find it empty. You will always find it beautiful and you may encounter some petroglyphs along the way. If you are up for it, you should make the time to do it.
V Bar V Heritage Site
We highly recommend you stop at the V Bar V Heritage site on the right side of the road, just past the campground. It contains displays and information about the old V Bar V Ranch (our neighbor), and guided interpretive tours of world-class petroglyph rock art. Admission is free with a Red Rock Pass, or you can purchase the equivalent there. It is open Friday through Monday 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Plan on an hour to 1.5 hours for this stop.
At the 3.0 mile marker, you will see Sacred Mountain on your left. Drive onto the dirt byway to the fence line. You can take a free, self-guided tour of this ancient Sinaguan pit house and pueblo.
At about mile 4 you will see the beautiful red stone gate of Rancho Roca Roja, owned by the Ward family. They helped make Cowboy Artist George Phippen famous by putting his paintings of local western scenes on the old Brown and Bigelow calendars. We have a copy of one he did of Irvin Walker, original owner of the M-Diamond. Old timers tell us the Wards used to ride over to play poker with Irvin.
At about mile 5.5 is the entrance of the “new” V Bar V Ranch, our next-door neighbor. It is owned by the University of Arizona and operated as an agricultural research station. (see http://ag.arizona.edu/aes/vbarv/)
And at just under 6.5 miles you will see the M-Diamond Ranch entry on your left.
Also in our area and a short drive from the M Diamond Ranch: Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma’s Well National Monuments (www.nps.gov/moca) and Fort Verde, AZ State Park.