Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

January 25, 2013

Balance Rock: A Hike Revisted


by Linda Pallas

Many times while driving Dry Creek Road people gaze upward and catch a view of Balance Rock. Balance Rock is the name given to the cubical-to-egg-shaped rock that perches atop the ridge, seeming to balance precariously on one edge. It is easy to marvel at how this rock stays teetering in that delicate position. It is easy to wonder how this rock will fare in the next strong wind, or what a spectacle it will be the day it surely falls.

The Rough Rider hike took us to the base of Balance Rock. The hike was led by Jim Tanis and Jan Lepard, with tailgaters Bill Johnson and Alan Light.

Looking up at Balance Rock, it looks as if one could easily push the rock over and watch it tumble down! Up close, is a different story! Photo by Les Foshaug.

Bob Hudson, a former Cactus Dodger and organizer of Rough Rider hikes this season, scheduled the trek to Balance Rock. Hudson takes a moment to introduce Jim Tanis, although Tanis is already well-known among the Rough Riders.

Bob Hudson, former Cactus Dodger and organizer of the Rough Riders, tells the group that Tanis is probably the best wilderness man among all the Westerners. This is saying a lot. Consider Hudson himself who works with the Search and Rescue squad. Consider Bob Dannert who travels solo to canoe the rivers in the wilderness of Alaska. If Tanis is best, he surely has considerable skill. What kind of hike does he have planned for us today?

The hikers convene at the trailhead off Dry Creek Road. We hike first through a cedar forest, and then up a narrow wash where we finally reach a saddle. Here we traverse a ledge that is about 4-feet wide with a sheer rock wall on one side and a sheer drop on the other side. While there is plenty of room to safely walk, this is not a place for those prone to dizziness. The ledge trail opens to a wide, flat area. A short distance to the left is a set of stair-step rocks that lead to the base of Balance Rock.

As we make the final climb to the base, a personal goal washes over each hiker, and with appropriate reverence each Westerner touches the base of Balance Rock. This special experience completes the primary goal of today’s trek, and we all know we have arrived at a very special place.

Once at the base we see that Balance Rock is not perched precariously at all, but is supported by tons of solid rock base. Erosion will continue to occur but we will not likely be here to see this rock collapse.

We pause for a coffee break to absorb the thrill of our location and to enjoy the views. We sit facing Jerome – a good clear view today. Bill Johnson passes around caramel corn nuggets – a tasty sweet and salty snack. “The hike up gets your heart pumping and your blood flowing,” he says with a satisfied smile.

After enjoying the ambience of Balance Rock, Tanis leads the group several miles to a place he calls “Soldier Pass Heights.” We pause for lunch high above a canyon.

Len Ostrom, local artist, begins sketching the beautiful red rock formations. He will enhance the sketches with watercolor later. Dannert and Hudson begin telling of past adventures they have had on these rocks. While based in truth, these stories have all the elements of legend.

Tanis, a Westerner since 1993, developed the hike to Balance Rock and this is only the second year it has been offered as a Westerners hike. “I think it is a challenging hike and it gives people a lot of satisfaction – they see something for years from the road and they think they can’t get to it. I like that I gave them a way to get to it.”

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining, visit You also may join at our monthly meetings. The next one is February 14th, 2013 7:00 PM, at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.