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Day 3 of the 2015 West Coast JK Experience

A major selling point of the 2007-to-current Jeep Wrangler JK platform is how refined the vehicle is overall. When compared to its predecessors, the late-model JK’s interior more closely resembles that of a modern luxury vehicle than the once basic 4x4. Thankfully, the Jeep has plenty of off-road chops to off-set the frills of heated seats, satellite navigation and dual-zone climate control! It’s with these creature comforts in mind that we got ready for a long road jaunt for Day 3 of Nitto Tire’s 2015 West Coast JK Experience presented by Discount Tire.

With many of the participants using their Jeeps as daily drivers, the idea of a long road day isn’t anything too overwhelming. Surprisingly, we’ve found road days are typically when problems will arise. These problems are usually the result of an unknown or sometimes unchecked issue that was caused by the previous trail day. Road days on JKX can be long and our 300-plus-mile journey on this day would take from sun up to sun down. The only absolute necessity you’ll need on a typical road day is the ability to make it at least 150 miles between fuel stops. For some of the supercharged JKs on this year’s trip, that proved to be a tough task.

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After a brief driver’s meeting, the group loaded up and formed an impressive convoy. While Deadwood, South Dakota, is bustling with life in the evening, in the early morning hours, it’s quite the ghost town.

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Before we made it too far outside of town, we spotted this sweet slice of Americana sitting on the side of the road. While we’ve seen plenty of trars (car’s sitting on truck bodies) in the South, this was our first time spotting such wildly redneck and awesome example on this side of the country.

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Our chariot for the day was the JKS Manufacturing 2007 Wrangler. As one of the few JKs fit with half doors, we were able to let plenty of the fresh mountain air in the Jeep as we weaved through Wyoming and headed south towards Colorado.

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JKX is known for taking the roads less traveled, which means we got a chance to check out an assortment of small towns. Each of these cozy country town plazas made for great pit stops and gave us time to check out some of the town’s history.

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The shift from Wyoming into Colorado was most apparent as the elevation began to gradually shift. We did hit a small batch of rough weather, but that bit of rain helped wash away the legions of bugs that the flat-nosed Wranglers had collected.

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The winding Colorado roads were an absolute blast. While a few rigs experienced some small issues, the group managed to stay together as we neared our final stop for the day.

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As we enter the small mountain town of Estes Park, Colorado, we are soon greeted with a stately sign that welcomed us to the Stanley Hotel. If that name sounds familiar, it’s for good reason. It’s the same Stanley namesake that brought us the Stanley Steamer (the car, not the carpet cleaners).

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Just as impressive as the Stanley namesake, was the history behind this grand hotel. If this picture doesn’t give it away, then we suggest you stop reading this right now and go rent The Shinning! (You mean The Shining? The Shinning is from the "Simpsons"! - JW) That’s right, the Stanley hotel is the very place that provided Stephen King the inspiration for his horror novel, The Shining. Clearly, this is a fact that the grand hotel plays up very well.

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Officially opened in 1909, the Stanley is known as one of the most haunted hotels in North America. The regal hotel has had some tough times over its long run, but is operating wonderfully today. From ghost tours to weddings, the Stanley has a lot to offer. If you are looking for your own inspiration, you might try staying in room 217. That was where King and his wife stayed the night he work up in a cold sweat and alive with the idea for his next novel.

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Despite being the source of inspiration for King’s novel, it wasn’t used in the filming of the original motion picture. Most of what you see in the movie was a studio set, while the few exterior shots of the hotel were actually of the Timberline Lodge in Mount Hood, Oregon. However, the 1997 made-for-TV remake was actually filmed on location at the Stanley. It was also "Hotel Danbury" in the original Dumb and Dumber movie. For more information on the Stanley Hotel click here.

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After getting checked in at the Stanley and gathering our tickets for the late-night ghost tour of the hotel, trip head Mel Wade gathered the group for a sponsored dinner at Smokin’ Daves BBQ & Taphouse in Estes Park, Colorado. Smokin’ Dave is actually a ‘wheeling enthusiast and JK owner that was thrilled to host the group. Without question it was a great night and an exciting way to end what was far from a typical road day.

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To find out more about the JK Experience, visit

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