Day 6 of the 2015 West Coast JK Experience
By Day 6 of Nitto Tire’s JK Experience, the nerves are nearly all gone and the group has become one big unit of friendly, like-minded enthusiasts. After a memorable day of rockcrawling in Rangely, Colorado, the group saddled up early Thursday morning for a new destination. This day’s journey would send us to the more populated and flourishing Grand Junction, Colorado. While there are a few spots on the outsets of Grand Junction to ‘wheel, one of the biggest draws of the area is a trail simply known as 21 Road. As you might have guessed, 21 Road is actually the name of the road that feeds you into the short, but very treacherous mountain trail. Getting to the start of the trail requires traversing a long and sometimes rough unpaved road. Once our group arrived at the fork (the trail splits to the right), we regrouped for lunch and a special challenge for the invited guest and sponsors.
One thing every ‘wheeler must know how to do is change their own tire. While the participants got to see who had the fastest winch earlier in the week, today’s timed event would see who could change their tire the fastest.
Once we wrapped up the competition, the group aired down and hit the trail. There’s actually an upper and lower portion to 21 Road. For those not looking to get too hardcore, there are turnouts strung along the trail, which allow you to quickly exit to an easier section that snakes alongside the main trail.
Of course, our group was up for getting down and dirty. Participants quickly found that 21 Road can prove to be extra challenging for the full-bodied Jeep Wrangler JKs. Dynatrac’s representative Tony Carvallo threaded the company’s Wrangler Unlimited through like a seasoned pro. Equipped with the company's new ProRock XD60 axles, the Dynatrac's JK had the axle strength and clearance to take the hard lines with confidence.
The 21 Road trail has a mix of challenges, some catering to long wheelbases, and others not so much. Tony Smith of Chula Vista, California, had a bevy of high-end modifications done to his 2010 Wrangler Rubicon to make it more competent on the trail.
Traction is a mixed bag as the rock provided plenty of grip, but the wash was a sandy mix that could sink you quick. Erik Salzman had his 37x12.50R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers dropped into the single digits, which made a major difference in keeping his rig planted and floating atop the loose dirt.
Listening to your spotter was just as critical here as it was hanging off the mountain side the previous day. While there weren’t any near death accidents, there were plenty of opportunities to crumple the Jeep’s body panels.
Once our group wrapped up ‘wheeling for the day, we headed back in town so guys could address a few minor issues with their rigs. It would be here that we would gather any last minute camping supplies as post our plush night stay at the Double Tree, we would in the wilderness until Saturday night.