I had a week of vacation I needed to use before October, so I thought that this would be a great time to go do some off roading with my new to me Jeep. I contacted Rob and the plans were put in place. We wanted to do some camping, while exploring some Colorado Jeep trails. I had invited some of my motorcycle friends that also own jeeps. Many liked the idea, but most already had plans or had just returned from doing some jeep activity. So it looked like Rob and I would be on our own. At the last minute Craig decided to join us. It would be a great move and you will see why later in this trip report. The first thing I did was go and purchase the guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-wheel-drive Trails. It was a very useful tool and really helped me set up the routes in Basecamp. I loaded all 20 routes from the area that we were visiting.. That area would be the Ouray, Silverton, Telluride & Lake city area of SW Colorado. Some would say this is the best area in the country for Jeeps and the people that love them. I would have to agree. We had planned on going during the weekend of Sept 2nd until we realized that it was the Labor day weekend. This place would be a zoo, so we decided to leave for Colorado on Sunday. You can see all of the pictures from the trip here: Colorado Jeep Trip Sunday Sept 3rd, 2017 Plano to Raton NM – The long first day out of town. Rob and I met at Starbucks around 6am. We had a nice cup of coffee and then hot the road. I have to say that I was very excited for the upcoming journey. Looking at the pictures, this would be the last day the Jeeps would be clean. There would be many buys, dirt and grime to come. We stopped in Decatur Texas for a quick breakfast and then did not stop much, except to get gas.
This Jeep followed me all day long.
We arrived safe and sound in Raton around 6pm. We stayed at the Raton Pass Inn. This has become one of our favorite places to start our Colorado journeys. Both Rob and I were excited to get to Colorado and start our Jeep adventure. Today was just a necessary drive that had to be done, so we could get out of the metroplex. Tomorrow we would have mountains and beauty all around.
Monday Sept 4th, 2017
Colorado – Here we come!
We woke up in the cool mountain air and it was a great way to start the day. We headed into Colorado via the Highway of Legends. If you have not been on this great stretch of road, please mark it down for your next visit. It is well worth getting off the beaten path for.
We made our way through Colorado and made a quick stop in Creede. This is a quaint little town that we always stop in to have a drink and take in the local flavor. Our favorite place is Kips. The food is good and the patio is an awesome place to watch the world go by and take in some great mountain views.
One of my favorite places in this part of the country is Gunnison Colorado. We stopped and had lunch there at a new brewery in town. The High Alpine Brewing Company. The food was good and the view was very nice. Did not have a beer but they looked good and it seemed the rest of the people in the place were enjoying themselves.
Craig had scope out a nice camping spot outside of Ouray. We arrived around 5pm and got to setting up camp. Craig had an RV so we had everything covered. It was a beautiful place to set camp and the good news was the fact that alot of the trails were within a few miles for camp.
Tuesday Sept 5th, 2017
Ophir Pass, Alta Lakes & Imogene Pass
We awoke to a very cool morning. We left Texas and the temps were still in the 90’s. This morning my temp gauge read 45. We took our time, ate a nice breakfast and enjoyed the fresh mountain air. We loaded up the Jeeps and headed for the trails. I was not sure what to expect. I had never done any off roading, except for some fire roads in the past. This would be a different level.
We did Ophir Pass first. It was a good trail to start out on. It was beautiful and not too challenging. I have a 2015 Wrangler JK. It is stock except for a little more aggressive tire. I was with two guys in Rubicons, one with the serious money in the suspension. I was hoping I would be able to keep up. I was pleasantly surprised.
Our next stop was Alta Lakes. this is a nice little jaunt, right before you head into Telluride. It is a nice little road and the lake is amazing! Not a bad side journey at all.
Imogene Pass was next and this was much more of a challenge. The JK was very solid, but needed low 4WD for much of the trail. We had some excitement as we reached the peak. I will explain more later in the write up. There were some areas that required some thought on how to approach with a stock JK. It was a great learning experience.
As we almost reached the summit, we drove up on a motorcycle that had fallen and the rider was pinned underneath. There were a couple of jeeps behind him. They tried to get him up. Come to find out he had hit his head hard and was having seizures. We all went up to help. beleive it or not, Rob actually had cell service and was able to get 911. they asked if we could take the guy down lower as they could not get an ambulance up the hill. We got Paul into my JK and his friend Matt crawled in the back. There was not seat, so he was not having a very comfortable ride. I have to say that this was a very stressful ride. Paul was not doing well and I was trying to get to the ambulance as quickly as possible. Throw in going down a trail for the first time. It was not my definition of a fun descent. We got down to the ambulance in good time. I only slammed the bottom of the JK twice, the only casualty was the exhaust pipe. I look forward to doing it again next summer, at a slower pace and with stress levels a lot lower. I am happy to report that both Matt and Paul were fine.
We finished the trail in Ouray at a local pizza place. We caught our breath and was very thankful for a good outcome. I did come to a realization, that dual sport riding would not be in my near future. These guys could have had a much more negative outcome. What would have happened if we were not on the trail? The trail was too steep and too rocky to be any fun on a motorcycle in my humble experience. I will stay on the great roads of America for my motorcycle journeys. I will let the Jeep be the mode of transportation for anything else.
We finished the night, telling stories and enjoying a nice mountain fire. More trails tomorrow. next up the Famous Engineer Pass.
Last night was very cool. I think the temps reached the high 30’s, as I looked around 3am and it was 38 degrees. We were a little slow getting around. We had a nice breakfast and enjoyed morning coffee. I never get tired of waking up in the cool mountain air, with views that are indescribable. The mountains in Colorado are so Grand! It is simply breath taking.
The trails are at times, very hard to follow. I think we made a couple of bad turns, before back tracking and getting on the correct trails. I was glad we had the routes outlined on the gps.
The views from the day were so enormous, over whelming at times. It is simply amazing! If you have never done these trails, do not wait! you will not be disappointed.
We reached the peak at Engineer Pass only to find a number of Jeeps enjoying the cold, windy views. We started to talk with the Jeepers and realized that a bunch of them were from the great state of Texas. We met up with Ken & Jenny Morrell who were traveling with their family from North Texas. They were very friendly and helped answer a question taht I had been researching since buying my JK. The Jeep had a sector 7 decal on the side of the jeep when I purchased it. I had posted on some fourms, but had not had any information on wjat the decal represented. Ken informed us that he was part of a group from North Texas called the Collin County Jeep Club. The sector 7 was the group in McKinney Texas. The invited us to join the facebook page when we returned back home. We have reached out and are now members of this group. It really is a small world. We look forward to spending more time with this group.
Here are some pictures from Engineer. We were surprised at the traffic levels. We passed a Ford F-150 that was struggling getting up the pass. I think he eventually gave up. The JK took it all in stride and was never and issue. I love our JK.
We rolled into lake city and decided to have lunch. We ate at the pet friendly Packer Saloon. The food was good and it was a nice place to reflect on the days activities. We decided to head up towards Gunnison via Alpine drive. It is a nice forest road that winds its way from Lake City and kicks you out just above Gunnison. It was a nice relaxing way to end a great day of trails.
When we reached the highway we had to air back up for the 50 miles back to camp. I have to say that I have pump envy. I would still be on the side of the road trying to inflate my Cooper Discovery tires to the correct psi. Craig broke out his ARB pump and it was amazing. You could hear angels sing as he set it up. I need to invest in one soon if we are going to continue this off road thing.
Rob and I stopped in Ouray to have some dinner and to put my top up. The weather was turning and it looked like rain was coming in fast. We ate at the Brickhouse 737. The food was very good, very pricey and really was a tad overkill for what we were looking for. We headed back to camp and finished up the evening. It threatened to rain, but never did open up like we thought it might do.
Thursday Sept 7th
Breaking camp and doing Red Mountain before heading back to Texas via Taos NM.
It was another great evening. I love camping in Colorado. The sights, sounds and smells are always rewarding. Nothing taste better than drinking a steaming hot cup of coffee while taking in the Colorado scenery. The saying “LIFE IS GOOD” could not be used enough. It had been a great trip. We were heading back home, so that Rob could visit his sister in Amarillo and I could get home to spend the weekend with my wife, before heading back to work on Monday.
We got up, had a great breakfast and broke camp. I noticed when taking down my tent, that I had a broken pole. I would need to get that taken care of when I returned home and before my next camping adventure.
We would hit Red Mountain before heading out of town. This is a very cool route with more breath taking views.
Rob and I thanked Craig for having the mother ship at the camp ground. We said our goodbyes and started the trek to Taos. We made it with no incident. We talked about our first Jeep experience and we were so glad that things went so well. We can’t wait to go back soon.
Friday Sept 8th
Sometimes people just suck! Made it home safely.
Rob and I awoke at 5am so that we could hit the road at 6am. Rob walked outside to get the Rubicon packed up. As I walked out, I could tell he was not happy. Comes to find out the Rubicon would not start. The reason? Some asshat cut the negative connector off the harness to his battery. This was not a good thing. We would find out later that there were 8-10 cars and trucks that had there batteries taken and some tools stolen out of the back of some trucks. My JK was parked facing into the hotel and was not tampered with. Rob had to stick around and eventually got towed to a dealer 50 miles away. He would make it to his sisters home in Amarillo,but not until Saturday. I rolled into DFW around 7pm. I took a quick shower and then headed off to eat some sushi and tell my wife all about the trip. Next time she will go with me. The JK performed amazing and the trip, besides our Taos experience was a great one.
The trip was a great success. I was very happy with the outcome, especially since I did not know what to expect. The jeep was amazing! It did all that the Rubicons could do, even if it was at a slower more calculating way. The JK is my daily driver and I did not want to do any crazy damage to her. The trails were challenging, beautiful but nothing that the JK could not handle.
The biggest thing now that I am home is the clean up. The Jeep is filthy. The dust was crazy and the interior has a nice film of sand in all places. It will take hours to clean up. I am glad that I have Thursday and Friday this week off. I will clean her up and get her ready for the next journey.
We are also excited about meeting more Jeep people from the area. This trip was a trip that will live for years in my memory. Next year when my wife and I go back, we will know more of what to expect.