A few photos of exploring in my trusty Jeep when I lived in Colorado...
Hagerman Pass (FS 105), Colorado
If you are traveling to Aspen and want an alternative to Independence Pass, try driving over Hagerman Pass. The mild Jeep trail going over this pass ascends to 3,645 meters (11,960 feet) and offers great views of the surrounding valleys and the north side of Mt. Massive, the second highest peak in Colorado.
Arches National Park, Utah
There are only two roads that access the impressive Klondike Bluffs area of Arches National Park. One is the washboarded Salt Valley Road and the other is a Jeep trail. The Jeep trail is not extremely difficult, but there are some interesting slick rock and sand challenges. They say the sand is impassable going in the uphill direction once the summer sun bakes the moisture out of it.
Bill Johnson's Gold Mine (FS 509), Colorado
The short Jeep trail passing Johnson's gold mine cuts across from Left Hand Canyon to James Canyon. There are a couple challenging sections, and luckily we were following a Ford truck with a winch. After he winched his vehicle up one section, he pulled us up, too. He mentioned that his shorter wheelbase CJ got up it before without a problem. On the way back we got a little lost, and the Pilaf Tank slid half way into an abandoned mine shaft! Once again the Ford pulled us out.
Pearl Pass (FS 738), Colorado
The road over Pearl Pass climbs up to 3,872 meters (12,705 feet) and connects Aspen with Crested Butte. We caught up to a 4x4 club on the trail and spent more than an hour getting everyone's vehicles over one tricky spot. A couple vehicles had to be winched up the section. The Pilaf Tank took two tries but did eventually make it up on its own power.
Montezuma's Mine (FS 102), Colorado
If you follow Castle Creek south from Aspen, you eventually get to FS 102 which goes to Montezuma's Mine and continues up to Montezuma Basin at about 3,720 meters (12,200 feet). From there we hiked the foot trail to the top of Castle Peak at 4,352 meters (14,279 feet), one of the 54 Colorado fourteeners. Great views!
Mosquito Pass and Birdseye Gulch, Colorado
This classic Jeep trail over Mosquito Pass at 4,019 meters (13,185 feet) is the highest through road in North America. The trail is not difficult, but travel is slow due to a very bumpy ride over jagged rocks. I started at Leadville and drove up over the pass. However, I encountered a large snow drift on the other side of the pass and had to turn back. On the way back I found a nice Jeep trail that forked to the right into Birdseye Gulch.
Rainbow Lakes (FS 505), Colorado
The regular road to the Rainbow Lakes entrance of Indian Peaks Wilderness Area was closed for construction, so we took the FS 505 Jeep trail from the town of Caribou. The river crossing was a bit harry but having the Rainbow Lakes all to ourselves was well worth it!
Golden Age Hill and Fairview Peak (FS 2025), Colorado
Just outside of Boulder up Lefthand Canyon is a Jeep trail leading up to Golden Age Hill and Fairview Peak. The views east over the plains and west to Indian Peaks are a fantastic reward for reaching the top.
|Engine||4.0 liter (243 cu. in) inline 6-cylinder, overhead valve|
|Fuel System||Multi-point Fuel Injection|
|Transmission||5-speed manual BA 10/5|
|Transfer Case||2.72:1 New Process Gear 231AMC (Command-Trac System)|
|Driveshafts||Type 2 (double cardan joint) front and Type 1 (one piece shaft) rear|
|Drive Axles||Dana 30 front and Dana 35 (Trac-Lock) rear|
|Suspension||Coil-spring/solid-axle front and leaf-spring/solid-axle rear with factory off-highway suspension package|
|Tires/Wheels||Goodyear Wrangler AT/S 30-9.50R15 on 5-spoke aluminum wheels|
|Skid Plates||Front, transmission rear, transfer case, and gas tank|
Old Nicaraguan Willys Jeep
While backpacking in Nicaraguan, I stumbled upon an old Willys jeep that looks like it might be a CJ-3B, which were built from 1953 until 1964. It was on the volcanic island Isla de Ometepe in the lake Largo de Nicaragua.
The island's dusty, bumpy dirt road takes its toll on the few vehicles there, but this old Jeep is still a good workhorse.