For the past four years, Jeep Jamboree USA has been putting on a Just Trails event outside of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, at the Valley of Fire State Park. 2006's event, like all Jamboree events throughout the year, was sold out. We had never covered this event and were very curious as to the type of terrain to be found in the canyons there, so we packed up our overnight bags and made the trek to Vegas.
If you live in the area or frequent this trail system, then you are most likely familiar with the trails Jeep runs during the Valley of Fire event. They include: Wheeler Pass, Logandale Trail, Bowl Trail, Rock Bottom Trail, Upper Rock Bottom Trail, and Bitter Springs Trail. The trail ratings range from 2 all the way up to 8. We decided to head out with a group of 10 vehicles to challenge the Bowl Trail (rated 8). Unfortunately, it rained most of the time during our trip, but that wasn't about to stop us from bringing the action back to you, our readers.
The Bowl Trail consists of a few very well-known obstacles such as S-Turn, a creepy-crawly, narrow mountain pass that enjoys eating body panels; Matterhorn, which is known for its steep, slick climbing; and Waterfall, where you have to pass a couple of narrow ledges that cannot be overcome without a difficult bump-and-climb maneuver.
Kelly Payne in his '90 Jeep Wrangler was our trail guide for the day. Kelly is a Jeep Jamboree volunteer and grew up not far from the canyons, so he knows them like the back of his hand. Giving us a ride was Aubrey Haworth of Florence, Arizona. We ran into Aubrey and his bright-green '04 Jeep Rubicon at the Chinle, Arizona, event recently and asked him if we could tag along this time around. He gladly accepted the company since he had driven to the event solo all the way from his hometown.
We left our meeting spot in Las Vegas and traveled 40 minutes east on the 15 freeway, exiting at Ute Road (Exit 80). After we arrived at the trailhead, the group of participants spent a few minutes introducing themselves and performing the usual air-down chores, then off we went. Check out the photos!