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Johnson Valley Days - Cal 4 Wheel Hi Desert Round-Up

Posted in Events on November 1, 2011
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Contributors: Kevin Blumer
Photographers: Kevin Blumer

The Hi Desert Round-up is an annual fund raising event for the California Association of 4 Wheel Drive Clubs, Inc. (CA4WDC — aka Cal 4 Wheel). It’s been one of our favorite events to attend for a lot of years and this year Cal 4 Wheel provided a new twist by re-locating the event to the Johnson Valley OHV area.

Cougar Buttes is a great play area for rock crawl junkies and features a slew of established BLM-recognized trails. The area also host rock crawl competitions and is popular with trials motorcycle riders.

All of the Cal 4 Wheel events are run completely by volunteers, with all proceeds going back to the Association. The events include the Winter Fun Festival in January, the CA4WDC Convention in February, the Molina Ghost Town Run and the Hi Desert Round-Up in May, Sierra Trek in August, High Sierra Poker Run in September, Operation Desert Fun in October, and Panamint Valley Days in November. These are all great family events open to all levels of driver and vehicle ability.

Johnson Valley OHV
As we mentioned, in previous years the Hi Desert Round-Up has been held up the road at the Stoddard Valley OHV area near Barstow, California. This year, however, it moved to Anderson Dry Lake in the Johnson Valley OHV area to show support for this popular ’wheeling destination, which is facing partial closure due to a planned expansion of the nearby U.S. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. Over 180,000 acres of BLM land in Johnson Valley will be stolen to increase the Marines live-fire training (the center currently encompasses 598,000 acres). Some environmentalist groups applaud this land grab saying it will “restore” the natural desert environment. We are not sure how repeated bombings will have less impact than a set of tires across an established BLM OHV trail, but apparently there are some who think this is the case.

Always a welcome sign. The editorial staff of 4Wheel Drive Magazine have been recreating in Johnson Valley OHV since the ’60s (Phil) and ’70s (Christian and Kevin).

Cal 4 Wheel, along with other pro-access groups, is fighting to keep Johnson Valley OHV complete. You can help this battle by contacting your local lawmakers and stating your support for Johnson Valley OHV. More information on this important topic can be found on the Cal 4 Wheel web site at For those interested in adding their voice to keeping public lands open to motorized use the Blue Ribbon Coalition ( is a great information source, offering updates on land access issues nationwide and tips on how to contact your local politicians.

Anderson Dry Lake played host to the annual event and was a sea of RVs and tent campers.

The 2012 Cal 4 Wheel Hi Desert Round-Up will take place Memorial Day weekend, May 25-28, 2012. The event will again be held at Anderson Dry Lake in the Johnson Valley OHV area. For more information, check out

Each year, Cal 4 Wheel builds a sweepstakes vehicle to raffle off at its annual convention. This year’s rig is a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Dubbed Mango Tango, the Wrangler is outfitted with a Currie Enterprises 4-inch lift, Reid Racing knuckles, BFGoodrich KM2 tires, Raceline Renegade Wheels, Olympic 4X4 front and rear bumpers and roof rack system, a Warn winch, and many other great products.

4West in Colton, California, completed the installations. The second prize is an Atlas II transfer case from Advance Adapters, third prize is a Warn winch, and the fourth prize is an ARB Fridge Freeze. Tickets are available for purchase at

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Got Desert I.D.?
One of the vendors at the Hi Desert Round-Up was Got Desert I.D.? Got Desert I.D.? was launched in 2009 by Russ and Valerie Rogers in memory of a friend, Mike Roark, who passed away behind the wheel of his sandrail on his way back to camp. Emergency responders found Mike’s I.D., but they didn’t know who to contact other than those at his home address. There was no way to locate Mike’s camp or to know who was with him during the weekend trip.

Russ had been waiting for Mike to arrive in camp. When Mike didn’t show up, Russ doubled back and found Mike and the emergency responders. If Russ hadn’t doubled back, emergency responders would only have had Mike’s home contact information, yet his whole family was camped just a couple miles away.

Russ and Valerie realized that this same scenario is commonplace when people go off-roading: someone has trouble and emergency responders don’t know how to locate the person’s camp and others who are with him/her.

The Got Desert I.D.? placard includes information such as the location of camp (fill in GPS info if you have it), name and age of the person, and emergency contact info of someone else in the party (i.e. cell phone number). The placard is enclosed in a heavy vinyl pouch that can simply be zip-tied in plain site to any vehicle. Got Desert I.D.? is available for free, you just pay shipping. Donations of any amount are accepted with funds going toward the purchase of defibrillators for the emergency vehicles in the dunes and other desert areas.

Got Desert I.D.? operates entirely on donations and has distributed over 12,000 I.D. cards. It’s a great program that addresses an unfilled need. For more information, check out:

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Located adjacent to Johnson Valley OHV, the Lucerne Valley Market is a huge draw to the OHV enthusiasts who visit the area. It’s actually more of a general store than just a market, offering anything a road-weary traveler might desire. The automotive/hardware/building supplies and home maintenance/fishing and camping aisle is frankly one of the best we’ve seen and have personally logged quite a bit of quality browsing time here. It’s typically our last stop going out to ’wheel and first stop going home. The market also offers a wealth of maps and guidebooks of the desert area, great produce, a Deli counter and prepared sandwiches for on the go (call ahead to order or grab what they have), souvenirs and local artisan crafts, hats and sunglasses, sun block, tools and automotive supplies, large capacity AC systems and swamp coolers, ice and beverages, 4Wheel Drive Magazine, and excellent customer service.

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A Lucerne Valley Market neophyte, Kevin Blumer stumbled in after the Hi Desert Round-Up looking for a fix-it for his mashed tail-pipe — victim of a lengthy departure angle. He of course found what he was looking for and came across some guidebooks and maps he couldn’t live without, as well. The hack-saw did the job and earned a place in his on-the-go tool kit and a good story to go with it.

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