Day 5 of the 2015 West Coast JK Experience
Day 5 of Nitto Tire’s 2015 West Coast JK Experience would be spent entirely in the small town of Rangely, Colorado. Located just 13 miles east of the Utah border, Rangely is a town built around oil. With 406 oil producing wells and 351 injection wells, the Rangely Weber Sand Unit (formally known as the Rangely Oil Field) continues to produce about 20,000 barrels per day. This equates to about a third of Colorado's total oil production.
While oil makes up the business portion of the town, the nearby ‘wheeling makes it a constant draw for recreational off-road enthusiasts. In the world of off-roading, Colorado is well known for its hardcore ‘wheeling and epic scenery. While some of the most famous trails in the state are renowned for their treacherous switchbacks and high elevation, few spots are as challenging at the trails found lining the perimeter of the of Rangely. With over 541 acres of 4x4 play land, the Bureau Land Management, along with the Rangely Rock Crawlers, have done an incredible job of transforming the natural landscape into a ‘wheelers paradise.
Despite many of the trails being better suited for compact and sheetmetal-free buggies, our group of JK enthusiasts were eager to attack the trail system. With so many trails of varying difficulty within close range, it was decided to break off into small groups. This would allow more time spent ‘wheeling and less waiting in line as the trail traffic backed up. Our first trail for our small group was Stegosaurus.
Like many of the Rangely trails, Stegosaurus is a mix of loose boulders and giant rock slabs. Here, Northridge 4x4’s Oiler Crane went after one of the optional climbs. While he did a great job balancing the critical wheel placement and clutch usage, he ultimately needed a winch to get him up the Jeep swallowing offshoot.
After hitting a few other named trails, our group met up with part of the group at the areas pinnacle trail, Megasaurus. This short, but extremely challenging trail would be where we’d spend a significant portion of our day. One of the first to attach the tail, was JKX veteran Randy Byers.
With the front end light too light for comfort, the decision was made to give Byers a hand making it up the ledge. Since there wasn’t a vehicle to anchor to directly ahead of him, man power was used to give him that extra bit he needed.
Wheelbase was critical on Megasaurus. Discount Tire’s JK pickup had plenty of stretch to remain stable on some of the more challenging climbs. Despite being the largest and longest in the group, the land yacht Wrangler made the majority of the obstacles with relative ease.
Many sections of the rocky trail offered loads of grip. In fact, ‘wheelers familiar with Moab's grippy red-rock surface commented on the similarities between the two.
CJ Maurer of Williamston, New Jersey was always up for a challenge. His supercharged 2009 JK two door was outfitted with an eight-inch wheelbase stretch, which made a tremendous difference in keeping the rig planted on some of the steeper climbs.
Just when you think the trail is over, you find yourself at a tight and nearly vertical climb out at the top. KMC’s Russ Huff has plenty of ‘wheeling experience, which helped him know when to commit and conquer the major climb in one shot. His 2012 was one of only a few to be able to drive the majority of the trail without winching.