Tag: Jeeps

Top 5 Most Dangerous Jeep Trails in the USA

What self-respecting Jeep owners don’t dream of tackling the many great outdoor trails the US has to offer? I’m not talking namby pamby Sunday country drives or flat fields of grain. I’m talking the mud-covered trails of the Northwest, the dank swamp bayou country south of the Mason-Dixon Line, the boulder strewn mountains of the Rockies, and the arid desert country of the Southwest. These trails not only take technical skill and courage as a Jeep operator, but they take Jeeps that are modified with only the best tires, support and alignment systems, and all the necessary add-ons like snorkels, winches, lift-kits, zip-ties, Geri cans for extra gas, and so much more. Oh, and do not forget the first aid kit just in case you flip your Jeep.

Source: Instagram (@rubiclunk)

It’s no secret that some of the most popular off roading trails the US has to offer are also some of the most dangerous, with accidents and even deaths occurring with relative frequency. If the trails are so popular and familiar, why do Jeep operators still find them so challenging? Because they are ever changing. On any given hour, a dry roadbed can become a river of deep mud after a deluge of rain. Simple as that. Like they say, you can’t fight Mother Nature. But if you’re a Jeep junkie, you can attempt to tame it. 

So where can you find some of the most dangerous trails in the US? According to Extreme Terrain, these are the top 5.

1. Moab Rim Trail

Go west young man (and woman). While Utah is a four-wheeler’s paradise with its natural rock arches, canyons, mesas and even the Colorado River which some Jeep operators love to ford (don’t forget that snorkel), the main attraction is also one of its most dangerous trails. The eight-mile Moab Rim Trail. It’s an extreme climb for the first mile over bedrock that’s been cut over time into ledges and steps. As you come to the 85-degree top, your Jeep will begin to slip and slide on sand and slick rock, and you might get the gut-wrenching sensation that you’re about to flip over.

Moab Rim Trail
Source: Instagram (@im4est)

2. The Rubicon Trail

Set in the High Sierras not far from Lake Tahoe, the Rubicon Trail is described as a “relentless journey” of Jeep versus huge granite boulders, hair-raising ledges, and muddy water crossings (don’t get stuck ‘cause there’s no way out). For the sake of safety and preventing severe damage to the underside of your ride, this is slow going Jeep adventure. It might take you twenty minutes just to make it over a couple of boulders. But the payout is worth it. The views are said to be spectacular. You can also make camp pretty much anywhere.

Rubicon Trail
Source: Instagram (@boiseidahojeepclub)

3. Fordyce Creek Trail

Located not far from the Rubicon Trail is the Fordyce Creek Trail. Said by some Jeep aficionados to be more challenging than the Rubicon, this trail ride requires some significant technical driving skills. Six river crossings highlight the expedition, and unless you have 35” tires, there’s a real good chance you’re gonna be floating while you’re driving. Extreme Terrain also states that when the waters are high in the spring season, not even 44” tires will do the trick. Since this is boulder country, you need rocker guards and the best skid plates money can buy. Five specific runs on the trail are referred to as “winch hills” by the most experienced Jeepsters. They are impossible to navigate without tow hooks and straps.

Fordyce Creek Trail
Source: Instagram (@lisamarie_adams)

4. The Lake Como Trail

What on earth could be more fun for Jeep junkies than the “worst road in Colorado?” The first bit is an easy climb of 9,000 ft (that’s a joke). By the time you reach nose bleed territory at 11,400 ft, the bad road turns into impossible road with extremely angled, slick slabs, and a base of loose rocks. The only way to make it all the way to the lake on the opposite end of the trail, is to drive a major-league modified Jeep that sports a shorter 4-wheel drive wheel base.

Lake Como Trail
Source: 100 Summits

5. Wood Pecker Mine Trail

A list of the US’s most dangerous trails would be remiss without an inclusion from Arizona. Situated near Florence Junction, Phoenix, is a relatively short, 5.8 mile Jeep lover’s obstacle course called Wood Pecker Mine. While it starts out on fairly tame terms with a boulder strewn creek bed, you soon come to a V-notch. You can pass though the notch so long as you have a short wheel base, but it’s possible you’ll suffer a few scrapes on your sides and doors (if you’ve removed them, watch out for your arms). Should you get through that obstacle okay, you dry off by climbing a mega-steep bank. If you’re lucky enough not to flip front-fender-over-rear-fender style, you’ll be pleased to know that you have now arrived at “the highway to hell.” This little bit of a road is characterized by its extreme climbs and descents, kind of like a plane that’s about to crash.

Woodpecker Mine Trail
Source: YouTube (Xploremore)

Enjoy the ride folks!

10 Most Dangerous Motor Vehicle Races in the World

Pike Peak
Image Via: TopGear

An unrelenting desert heat that will cause your V8 engine to cease in the middle of nowhere, booby traps that blow out your tires and crush your 4X4 axle, inclines so steep you’re liable to flip your motorcycle, monsoon rains that make dirt roads so slick many vehicles end up in a ditch or worse, at the bottom of a gully, and tests of endurance that often result in race cars slamming into one another as exhausted drivers fall asleep at the wheel. If all this sounds like fun to you, you’re definitely newstyletrends material. But these are just a few of the obstacles that adventurous racers withstand when competing in the world’s 10 most dangerous motor vehicle races. 

10. The King of the Hammers

Image Via: Insight

Held every February in the hot, arid, unforgiving Johnson Valley High Desert California territory, the King of the Hammers is said to be one of the roughest motor races there is, yet it is also one of the most popular. More than 400 teams compete while 30,000 spectators roast in the sun to watch some state-of-the-art, 800 HP 4X4s negotiate boulders the size of VW Bugs. Vehicles will speed at more than 100 mph and many will flip, bust axles, blow out tires, or just plain overheat, causing more than one driver to scream more than his or her fair share of expletives. This race ain’t about namby pamby personal bests either. It’s either finish in 14 hours, or hit the road (Don’t let the desert sun slap you on the ass on your way out).

9. The Rainforest Challenge

Rainforest Challenge
Image Via: lebananon offroad.com

Never trust a race whose motto is “Survival of the Fittest.” What it means at worst is you might not survive. At best, you might survive, but you’ll likely end up nearly killing yourself doing it. Founded in 1997 by someone with a sick sense of humor, the 6-day Rainforest Challenge takes place annually in Malaysia’s thick tropical rainforests. Competitors drive Jeeps and a variety of off-road vehicles ranging from Land Rovers to souped-up pickup trucks through dense jungle, mud, overflowing rivers, impossible to climb hills, and poisonous snake-filled swamps. Oh, and did I mention the race purposely takes place during the monsoon season, just to spice things up? When the sun goes down, racers camp out for a few hours of shuteye while having to deal with tarantulas, anacondas, and hungry jaguars. Not many years ago, a landslide destroyed a handful of vehicles and buried the drivers. Now that’s our idea of fun.

8. Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Image Via: AmericaLovesHorsepower.com

Rocky Mountain High isn’t just some sappy song title for folks who love the great outdoors. It means you gotta be high to enter into the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb which occurs annually in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain range. This one has a nickname: “The Race to the Clouds.” Or maybe they should call it, “The Race to Heaven (or Hell)” since it’s not uncommon for a racer to suffer a fiery death after rolling down a rock strewn cliff side. Begun in 1916 when racers put out a fraction of the HP they pull today, the track is only 12 miles long, but it contains 156 turns, and a climb of more than 5,000 feet. Up until 2011, the road was covered with gravel. But now it’s paved with blacktop making it more treacherous since racers use the macadam as an excuse to go faster and die quicker. 

Image Via: TopGear

7. The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy

Like to race motorcycles? Got a death wish? If you say “check” to both, you’re gonna love The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy. Since its inception in 1907, this race has claimed more than 239 lives and wrecked a ton of motorcycles. That makes this race the most dangerous, if not deadly, race in the world. But that doesn’t stop motorcycle/motocross racers from flocking to compete in it every year. Think you’re too old to enter and die? There’s a “seniors” class for that. 

6. 24 Hours of Le Mans

2017 Le Mans 24 Hours test day.
Image Via: Rainier Ehrhardt

This is the most famous of them all. You know, the one that takes place in beautiful France’s Circuit de la Sarthe, just south of La Mans, where famous people like Johnny Depp can be seen working the crowd. Movies have been made about the 24 Hours of Le Mans with handsome actors playing the daring race car drivers and sexy blonde bombshells portraying their frightened to death lovers. But the reality of this grueling competition is best summed up as endurance hell on earth. Not only do you and your car need to race for 24 hours straight, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up crashing into stone wall once severe fatigue sets in. In 1955, 80 spectators died when driver Pierre Levegh crashed into them.

5. The 24 Hours Nürburgring Race

VLN 1. Lauf 2016
Image Via: Gruppe C GmbH

This one could be called the “24 Hours of Le Man, German Style.” Same deal, a bunch of adventurous race car drivers from around the world compete in a race of both speed and endurance on a track that is 25km long. 210 cars and teams from around the world are happy to compete. But here’s what’s not so happy. Because of the many hairpin turns and winding roadway, drivers can’t help but crash into one another, especially after nightfall and the exhaustion sets in. That’s why cars utilize more than one driver. One guy to steer and the other to mix the Red Bull cocktails.

4. East African Safari Rally

Now we’ve entered true newstyletrends territory. After all, The East African Safari Rally has got all the essentials of a true extreme adventure, including red African mud, killer beasts like lions and leopards, searing hot equatorial sun, and more than a 1,000 kilometers of possible 4X4 breakdown and/or driver collapse. The terrain runs from desert sands, to jungle swamp country, to vast open arid plains of so much nothing, you might find yourself slapping your own face just to stay awake. Bring extra engine coolant because exterior temps have been known to hit 50 degrees Celsius. You don’t want to find yourself stranded out in the middle of nowhere while the buzzards begin to circle overhead.

3. The Dakar Rally

Image Via: CNN

If 24 Hours of La Mans is the most famous race, The Dakar Rally is the most romantic since it has attracted competitive drivers and adventurers ever since its beginnings early last century when it was recognized as the Paris-Dakar Rally. Since racing from the City of Light to Senegal was deemed too dangerous in the 1980s, the race now takes place in South Africa. But that doesn’t make it any less of an extreme test of driver know-how and 4X4 endurance. This ultimate off-road race requires drivers to endure tall dunes, mud, thick camel grass, boulders, river crossings and even caverns. It’s not uncommon for Jeeps and Land Rover Discoveries to flip, so make certain your winch is in working order. Drivers will need to cover 500 miles per day necessitating excellent conditioning. Heart attacks and strokes are a real risk. So is getting lost. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s son got lost for 6 days during the 1982 competition. 

2. The Erzberg Rodeo

Jonny Walker
Image Via: Motorcycle USA

Imagine a motorcycle race in which only 9 out of the 500 racers who enter it, finish? Now that’s one bad ass race. It also gives you just a small idea of how challenging The Erzberg Rodeo can be. Begun in 1995, this one takes place in the Austrian Alps in June and attracts crazy people from more than 40 countries. All that’s required of racers is to scale up the side of a mine shaft. Easy peasy, right? Well, considering the severe slope and the high speed required to handle the steep grade, riders are more likely to tumble head over boot heels than make it to the top. Got ambulance anyone? Don’t worry about that broken neck, it can be repaired surgically.

1. The Baja 1000

And the number one most dangerous motor vehicle race in the world is (drum roll please…) the Baja 1000. Goliath.com describes this one as “Ominous, dangerous, unforgiving and cruel.” I’m not sure I can top that descriptor but then, why does it bring a smile to my face? A test of extreme endurance, the Baja 1000 requires contestants to race across more than 1,000 miles of unforgiving Mexican desert located inside Mexico’s rugged Baja California Peninsula. It’s sort of like Mad Max in that all variety of motor vehicles are allowed to compete including Jeeps, motorcycles, 4X4s, dune buggies, pickups, and even stock cars. Now here’s the fun part: these are the badlands of Mexico after all, and the course is often booby trapped. So not only do you have to bring plenty of food and water in case of breakdown, but you’d better be packing a semi-automatic in the event said breakdown happens to correspond to a staged robbery. Fun times. Just don’t tell your mother you’ve entered into the competition. 

The Ten Most Underrated Off-Road Jeep Accessories

When it comes to outfitting my 2012 Oscar Mike edition Jeep Wrangler, I’m an accessories fanatic. When I hit the sheets at night, I don’t dream of sheep, or unicorns, or cuddly puppies. I dream about an Injen deep water snorkel install, or a brand new set of Barricade rivet style flare fenders, or a Garvin Expedition roof rack. I see me behind the wheel of the Jeep, traversing some mud-covered backwoods trail with brand new 40” Mickey Thompson Baja MTZP3 mud terrain tires (mudders) that cost me more than the monthly mortgage. I see a state-of-the-art Magellan eXplorist TRX7 off-road GPS navigation system mounted above the dash and even a Condition Zero center console pistol mount for my Colt .45 Model 1911. I dream about a new soft top and RedRock grille inserts and expensive wheel kits to replace the standard ones I currently use.

But then, these are the glory accessories. The expensive, not-necessarily-required-for-the-four-wheeling-off-road-Jeep-experience gadgets. At the same time, these are useful tools that provide a specific degree of utility, but they are also the tools that look good, feel good, and admittedly, lighten your bank account. They are the accoutrements that turn heads while pulling into the mega-mart parking lot, and that become the envy of your off-road meetup group.

But what about the unsung heroes of the Jeep accessory world? The stuff that isn’t necessarily glamorous when installed and/or stored in your Jeep, but that you absolutely must have if you’re going to venture out into the wild? Recently, the editors at touristdigest.com asked me to come up with the ten most underrated off-road Jeep accessories out there on the market today. Sure I have my own strong opinions on the matter, but in the interest of comprehensiveness, I approached as many Jeep enthusiasts I could muster up and posed the question, “What accessories can you absolutely not survive without?” I also consulted with publications as varied as Popular Mechanics and Outsideonline.com. In the end, this is the final list I came up with.

  1. Shovel. That’s right, your basic shovel. I prefer the military variety that folds in on itself and that you can carry on your rear tire tool mount. Trust me, you play in the mud, you’re gonna eventually have to dig yourself and your Jeep out of it.
  2. The winch. The addition of this accessory is debatable due to its cost, its weight (hard on the gas mileage), and its relative danger in the hands of the inexperienced off-roadster (watch out for cut off digits), but let’s face it, you will get stuck. Get a winch.
  3. Tire changing kit. Most Jeeps come with these tools as a standard accessories, including a wheel lug wrench and a spare tire jack handle. But for my money, I would invest in a roadside emergency repair kit that includes a booster cable, carbon steel cross wrench, emergency lamp with strobe function, insulation tape, and more.
  4. Duct tape. What more need be said?
    Don’t let a whiny friend ruin a trip… With enough duct tape, there’s no problem that can’t be solved!
  5. Automatic tire deflator. Negotiating sand and/or rock means deflating your tires from the street savvy 30 psi to 15 psi or less. An automatic tire deflator screws onto the valve stem and removes as much or as little air as you want. Easy peasy.
  6. Heavy Duty Direct Drive Tire Inflator. It only makes sense that if your tires are deflated for off-road action, they’re going to require inflation when you finally get back to on-road reality. A small, portable compressor can be powered by your Jeep battery or another 12 volt source.
  7. Cable hoist or come along. Take it from one who knoweth, keep one of these in your onboard tool box. While 4-wheeling in the rugged hills surrounding Chianti in beautiful, central Italy, my buddy and I buried his Jeep in mud. He didn’t have a winch handy, but he did have the less romantic version of the winch on hand—the come along. It took some time and manpower, but we freed the Jeep and soon were enjoying some red wine and roast pork sandwiches in a nearby village.
  8. First aid kit. The one sponsored by Jeep actually attaches to your roll bar. It contains everything from Ibuprofen, to Band-Aids, to the equipment you’ll need to suture a laceration, including medical scissors, stitching material, and surgical tape. Don’t leave home without it.
  9. Zip ties. Yup, you read it right. Zip ties. In fact, zip ties are so popular, I should chuck this writing thing and start a zip tie factory. The 10” variety are the most useful. They can be used for everything from holding engine components together, especially hoses, to hanging packs and bags from the roll bar. I currently use zip ties to consolidate my unplugged electrical wires and conduits after removing the hardtop.
  10. Repurposed ammo boxes. Mine used to hold .50 caliber rounds including tracers. But now they hold all sorts of small tools and accessories like screwdrivers, wrenches, electrical tape, flashlights, batteries, and more. They’re rough and ready, hold a ton of stuff, and they look cool as hell. Use a bicycle lock to secure them to the Jeep interior when the top is off.

Okay, this list is not exhaustive by any means. Other popular non-glam accessories include pliers, mallets, fire extinguisher, basic tool kit, socket wrench set, walkie-talkies, flashlights, freeze dried food pouches, spare batteries, fire making equipment, and additional Geri cans for extra water and fuel. Listen, when it comes to outfitting your Jeep with underrated accessories that are purely utilitarian in nature and that might even save your life one day, there is no right or wrong choice. There is only careful planning.