We know what a Jeep needs. It needs 4-wheel-drive, a modular roof, beefy tires, a trail rating. But that’s not really what a Jeep is. To paraphrase Captain Jack Sparrow, a Jeep is freedom. It’s your ticket out of the blacktop system, to the places they never said you could go. It’s a breath of nature and an ally for your conquest of all things steep and muddy. A Jeep is an escape plan. But you don’t have to go on this adventure alone, thanks to the Jeep Jamboree.
Jeeping isn’t best done alone, anyway. Sure, if you want to hit up some dirt roads and stock trails by yourself just to get away, go for it. But once you start in on the more intermediate and difficult trails, there’s strength in numbers. It removes a huge intimidation barrier first, so you’re not so nervous about getting out on the rocks. Your fellow Jeepers are often more than happy to pull you out, too, if you get stuck. They rather enjoy it. You have full access to their experience, and they have full access to yours, from trail driving techniques to the best mods. You can even share tools out on the trail. But most importantly, it’s just more fun. You make more friends. You get to hang out with like-minded people.
Enter the Jeep Jamboree 2015, a year-long series of weekend Jeep trail events stretching all across the country, with a history dating back to 1953. There are thirty of them, so no matter where you reside in the contiguous US, you can find one near you. As long as you have a Jeep with 4-low and 4-wheel-drive, you can join. Not just Wranglers, either. Many other models across the Jeep line come similarly equipped, so feel free to bring your Cherokee, Compass, Commander, etc. No Suzukis, no Toyotas. It’s a Jeep thing.
A Jamboree offers two full days of challenges, fun, and friendship out on the trail. Show up Friday morning in your Jeep, complete the registration and a short meeting, then head out. There is a fee, but it gets you alot. You get full access to some of the most rugged and beautiful off-road trails in America. Some of these trails aren’t even accessible outside a Jeep Jamboree. The vast majority of Jamborees offer trails of different difficulty levels within the same event, from trails for stock Jeeps to advanced, rock crawling trails, so even if you’re brand new to off-roading and modding your Jeep, you can join. You won’t be alone, either. The Jamboree estimates that around 38% of all entrants are brand new to taking their Jeeps off road.
But this isn’t a problem, because you also get experienced trail guides. These doctors of dirt have been Jeeping for decades, and if your Jeep can get over or around it, they’ll tell you how. As the Jamboree convoy treks into the wilderness, these guides are posted at many of the challenging obstacles, ready to coach you as you come through. How far should you turn your wheels? How much power should you add? They’ll let you know. It’s the best way to learn how to Jeep and mitigate any body damage. They’re Jeeping personal trainers.
Meals are even provided. You can opt for the dinner only option and cover breakfast and lunch yourself, or for a little more dough, get the full spread with all meals provided. Meals are a great time to connect with your family, since kids of every age are permitted and encouraged; as well as other Jeepers, because making new friends and contacts is probably the single greatest benefit of the Jamboree. Jeepers love community. Many consider it the most important aspect of off-roading. The Jeeps are only vehicles to forming lifelong friendships. Maybe it has something to do with the sport itself. Rock crawling requires a slow, patient pace and a ton of cooperation. And when you get to the top of the mountain, the view is best shared with your friends.
The Jamboree strives to remain accessible to every Jeep owner, but you will need a few light mods for your Jeep before you’re ready to set out. Every vehicle must have a CB radio. Communication is key, and the trail leaders will need to communicate with you when you’re out there. Plus, it’s just cool to have a CB radio. You can make up embarrassing callsigns for all your friends or pretend you’re Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China and start giving everyone unsolicited life advice. Actually don’t, so you can hear your trail guides telling you all about the particular area you’re heading through, from history to wildlife. You’ll also need tow-points, attached with grade-8 bolts. You know how we always gush on about the bumpers we offer and how they have mounts for D-shackles? These are your approved tow points. If you have an open-topped Jeep, including older CJs, you’ll need a roll bar. Finally, you’ll need a full-sized spare tire, the kind that mounts up out back.
But the Jamboree also recommends some other mods, as well. Skid plates will be helpful in dealing with the rocks and can be bolted on to protect your oil pan, gas tank, and transfer case. (If your Jamboree of choice is the mighty Rubicon trail, these are required.) Rock sliders (also required for the Rubicon) will protect your flanks from the inevitable bottoming out. Hookless, 20-foot nylon tow straps are a great idea. Straps with metal hooks are prohibited. And a suspension lift will always give you a distinct advantage. However, only lifts (body and suspension combined) under 6″ will be permitted on the trail with the Jamboree. If you bolted up some running boards or a snow-plow frame, you’ll need to remove them before getting to the event, since they won’t be allowed on the trail. You won’t want them out there, anyway, since you’ll need the ground clearance.
You don’t have to Jeep alone, and you shouldn’t. Not when you can have more fun and less frustration with your friends out there on the trail. Find your Jeep Jamboree and sign up right here.
2015 Event Schedule [Remaining]
|9th Killington 2015||Jul 16 – Jul 18||Killington, Vermont|
|20th Northwoods – Mole Lake 2015||Jul 16 – Jul 18||Crandon, Wisconsin|
|4th Coal Mountain 2015||Jul 30 – Aug 01||Shamokin, Pennsylvania|
|3rd Roof of the Rockies 2015||Jul 30 – Aug 01||Snowmass-Aspen, Colorado|
|18th Rubicon Trail 2015||Aug 06 – Aug 09||The Rubicon Trail, CA|
|7th Big Horn Mountains 2015||Aug 20 – Aug 22||Dayton, Wyoming|
|27th Palo Duro 2015||Aug 27 – Aug 29||Amarillo, Texas|
|28th Ouray 2015||Sep 03 – Sep 05||Ouray, Colorado|
|18th Catskill Mountains 2015||Sep 17 – Sep 19||Monticello, New York|
|3rd Black Hills 2015||Sep 24 – Sep 26||Deadwood, South Dakota|
|26th Maine Mountains 2015||Oct 01 – Oct 03||Bethel, Maine|
|2nd Ozark Adventure 2015||Oct 01 – Oct 03||Ozark, Arkansas|
|1st Uwharrie 2015 – New This Year!||Oct 08 – Oct 10||Troy, North Carolina|
|26th Ouachita 2015||Oct 15 – Oct 17||Hot Springs, Arkansas|
|22nd Gateway to the Cumberlands 2015||Oct 22 – Oct 24||Williamsburg, Kentucky|
|17th Moab 2015||Oct 22 – Oct 24||Moab, Utah|
|6th Cullman Alabama 2015||Oct 29 – Oct 31||Cullman, Alabama|
|2nd Greenbrier Valley 2015||Nov 05 – Nov 07||White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia|
See full schedule here. ‘View By List’ for chronological order of events.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.