TAP recently had the opportunity to speak with Nena Barlow of Barlow Adventures located in Sedona AZ,  Moab UT and  a seasonal operation on the Rubicon Trail in California.  We asked her what inspired her to get into the business of renting Jeeps, guiding trips and providing 4WD trainings to people wanting to get out and explore.  Here is what she had to say:

With 4wd vehicles becoming more and more comfortable and capable, I saw the numbers of people on the trails exploding, and, with that, an even higher ratio of people who had no background in how to do “outdoors” at all, let alone conduct themselves safely and responsibly on unmaintained backroads. The initial concept was to be able to impart enough wisdom to recreational vehicle users to help them be safe as well as responsible in order to ensure that trails would stay open for us all to enjoy. That launched 4wd training, and we carried over that same concept to Jeep rentals—enabling people to enjoy the spectacular backcountry of the Southwest safely and responsibly.

Nena Barlow began her career leading Jeep tours in Sedona AZ in 1993. She drove guests on off-road trails in tour Jeeps, pointing out the sights and giving them the history of the area. She did this for about 10 years. During that time, she began to train some of the other tour guide drivers on off-road driving techniques. At the time, there were very few training books focused on overlanding and rock crawling techniques, so Nena wrote her own training  materials and quickly became the central trainer for tour guides.  From there, Nena began getting requests for training by 4×4 owners who had heard that she trained the tour guides. As the requests increased, Nena decided to start her own 4WD training business on week-ends.


In 2004, due to an exponential growth in demand, Nena left the Jeep touring business and partnered up with Farabee, a local Jeep rental business in Sedona, opening “Sedona Jeep School”.  When Richard Farabee decided to move his business to Death Valley, Nena scraped up all the money she could, with help from friends and family, and in 2009 Barlow Adventures was open for business.  


Barlow Adventures caters to tourism visitors and recreational 4wd owners. They lead and coordinate professional and corporate events, train industrial and military operators, and provide location and production services for the movie/TV industry.  Barlow Adventures ships Jeeps throughout the lower 48 states for special events.


I asked what makes Barlow Adventures stand out and here is what Nina had to say. “We have the best maintained and quality-built rental Jeeps in the U.S. No other rental company is as meticulous with preventative build and maintenance and cleaning.  Our staff is known for their amazing knowledge of local trails and Jeep driving tips. I am one of only 60 trainers in the world certified by the International 4WD Trainers Association. I’m also the only woman to have done so.”

“Any anecdotal incidents/memories from the trail?”
NB: “Unfortunately, most of the statutes of limitations have not run out yet, but here are some highlights.”
-“The many times we have rented a Jeep to someone, then they come back the next month or the next year and tell us “That was a really expensive rental—It made me have to go out and buy my own Jeep!”
– “The bazillion times we have gently encouraged some first-time Jeep drivers to trust our Jeeps and do something adventurous and they have come back all smiles and telling us “I CAN’T BELIEVE the Jeep could do that! That was the best thing we have ever done in our lives!”
-” The time I was training military operatives, all outfitted in black fatigues, and we stopped to help pull some locals out of a mud pit along the trail. I could tell they weren’t sure if they should run for their lives or be grateful.”
-“Just last week: One of our Jeeps had a fender that was barely hanging on—we were in the process of settling with the renter who had done the damage, but in the meantime, were sending the Jeep out with a fender flare just “finagled” back on. We made sure to mention this to the next renters, that they would not be responsible if it fell off, but perhaps they didn’t hear us, because when they returned that Jeep a few days later, the fender had been replaced. Thanks!”
-“Even though this is the 21st century, most people assume that a Jeep business is owned by a man, and so whichever of our male staff is up front always gets asked “Are you Mr. Barlow?” That always gets a good guffaw. But, it does tell me that they are doing such a wonderful job that the guests think they must be the owners!”

Contact info/links to webpages/social media:

Barlow Adventures
Sedona: 3009 W State Route 89A, Sedona AZ  86336
Phone: (928) 282-8700

Moab: 1805 S Hwy 191, Moab UT  84532
Website: barlows.us

Head to the Southwest and TAP into Adventure!


Video by Aaron Kupferman

Author/photos: Nena Barlow

Editor: Lori Palmer





    • Excellent idea. Check it out now. We just added a video of a Barlow vehicle doing the Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona AZ.

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