Have you ever flipped through old wheeling magazines, day dreaming and thinking of how cool it would be to have the opportunity to just hit the open road for a couple months? I know I have so when the opportunity came along for me to do just that, as a Jeep Jamboree U.S.A. sponsored event, I relished the opportunity to do so. In the end, a co-worker and I got the chance to travel around the country, wheeling and taking in some of America’s National Parks and hidden treasures.
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Jeep Jamboree U.S.A. holds over 30 Jamboree events each year around the country and this fall, my co-worker Shawn Gulling and I had the opportunity to attend and work at seven of these events, all while driving a 2009, four-door JK Rubicon. For those of you not familiar with Jeep Jamboree U.S.A., I’ll give you a quick bio: the company was started by the legendary Mark A. Smith (Off-Road Hall of Famer) and has been organizing trail rides for the past 23 years. Mark started it all back in 1953 while meeting with friends every year to do the Rubicon Trail, not knowing at the time the fan following or history-making events that were to come.
We began our trip on Labor Day in Georgetown, California (headquarters of JJUSA) headed for Llano, Texas for the Texas Spur Jamboree. Before departing on our journey, we decided to take in as many sights and see as many National Parks across the country as our route and schedule would permit. After only a couple hundred miles into the trip, we were at our first park: Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, sections of the park were on fire and closed so we had to route ourselves around and thus were limited as to how much of Yosemite’s beauty we were able to enjoy. A few hours later, we entered Death Valley National Park, appropriately named since it was still 106 degrees when we arrived at 5pm on a September evening. We then continued on to Texas to kick-off our Jamboree tour with the Texas Spur.
The Texas Spur consists of climbing huge granite rocks that are scattered across the Texas Plains through winding trees and across what are normally dry creek and riverbeds. The trails are tough enough for carnage, and the climbs are steep enough that you can lose sight of the trail, trail guides, and everything but the sky when attempting trails like “Little Moab.”
After the Texas Spur, we headed back towards Colorado for the next event, stopping along the way to see the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The park has an incredible amount of sand, created over time from the wind and erosion of the touring mountains surrounding it. We had to fight the urge to dump the air out of the tires, engage the lockers, and scurry past the park guards to see just how far we could get through the dunes in our Jeep. From there, the next stop on our journey was Mesa Verde National Park, an incredible place with many reconditioned and original Indian ruins and dwellings that you can actually walk to and see up close.
We saw all of this en route to Ouray, Colorado where the wheeling takes you through some of the prettiest mountains that Colorado has to offer. The San Juan mountain range is an incredible sight to behold, especially when you are at over 13,000 ft. and crossing passes like Imogene Pass, then dropping down into the resort town of Telluride.