It doesn't matter whether you want to be a participant or a spectator or both; there are a multitude of four-wheel-drive-based events that'll satisfy your off-highway cravings. We've compiled a list of our 25 favorite events from 2008. Yeah, we have even more favorites, but we had to stop somewhere. The list is quite diverse and it runs the gamut from the hard-core to the docile. Some of the events are relatively new while others have been around for a long time. One thing that they all have in common is that they require or celebrate four-wheel drive and we'd drop what we're doing to attend 'em.
4Wheel Jamboree Series
Where it happens: Multiple locations
The basics: We've been trekking to these events for years and it's hard to beat 'em for variety. Whether you're into pimpin' your daily driver or crawling boulders, the folks at Special Events have something to trip your trigger. Tough Truck racing is one of our favs, but there's also a burnout competition, show 'n' shine, Performance Marketplace, and monster-truck and mud-bog racing. There are Jambos in a variety of cities, but we dig the Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, Summer Jamboree for its earthiness, and for sheer awe-factor nothing tops the massive Indianapolis Fall Jamboree.
More info: www.familyevents.com
Where it happens: Colorado (location varies annually)
The basics: This Mile High Jeep Club-sponsored event has an impressive history and it's been around since 1967. It has grown to a weeklong event that features trail rides in some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere. Over the years it has been based in Gunnison, Silverton, Salida, and Central City among others. In addition to awesome trail riding on legendary trails, the week's activities also feature a vendor show and huge raffle. The '09 show will be based in Leadville.
More info: www.mhjc.org
Tecate SCORE Baja 1000
Where it happens: Begins in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, and ends in La Paz
The basics: This event happens each November and is hands-down the granddaddy of all desert races. We like it so much we usually have at least two staffers directly involved. The race covers a wide variety of terrain at ultra-fast speeds and this combination makes this event arguably the ultimate test for man and machine. From high-dollar trophy trucks to low-buck buggies, it has something for everyone.
More info: www.score-international.com
Carlisle All-Truck Nationals
Where it happens: Carlisle, Pennsylvania
The basics: The folks at Carlisle Events pack a mind-blowing amount of truck-related activities into this three-day show. We're talkin' everything from monster trucks to a rockcrawl to lawnmower races to a mini Baja race and much more. There are even special appearances by celebrities. It's held at the Carlisle Fairgrounds each August.
More info: www.carsatcarlisle.com
Where it happens: Las Cruces, New Mexico
The basics: Hosted by the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club, this event has been around since 1991 and takes place in February. It utilizes a variety of trails with the four hardest being outright nasty. In a good way. To give you an idea of how popular this event is, the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club capped registration at 350 vehicles in 2008 to keep from overwhelming the trail system. In addition to trail rides there's also vendors and a huge raffle.
More info: www.lascrucesfourwheeldriveclub.com
Championship Off Road Racing
Where it happens: The '08 schedule included stops in Pomona and Chula Vista, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada
The basics: Championship Off Road Racing (CORR) puts two- and four-wheel-drive race trucks on a specially designed closed course in fender-to-fender racing where spectators can get a great view of all the action. It's great for those who dig the Baja 1000 but can't make the trip to Baja. In 2008 there were eight races featuring four Pro classes and three Sportsman classes. Trust us; the action is incredible and addictive.
More info: www.corracing.com
Hump N Bump
Where it happens: Logandale, Nevada
The basics: The Logandale Trail System, located 60 miles east of Las Vegas, is the home of this Vegas Valley 4 Wheelers-sponsored event. Sure, it's fun to say, but it's also fun to do. Held the weekend after the gargantuan SEMA show, this event offers a look at Nevada backcountry the compact-car crowd will never see. The Vegas Valley team has been holding this event for 28 years and the event has become legendary in part to trails like Bronco Falls and Rock Bottom. Of course there's a barbecue and raffle to cap off this cool two-day event.
More info: www.vv4w.org
Dakota Territory Challenge
Where it happens: Rapid City, South Dakota
The basics: This year marked the 26th anniversary of the Dakota Territory Challenge. This event is held in a spectacular area of the Black Hills over Labor Day weekend. The area boasts outstanding scenery and the event offers a wide variety of trails to run during the day, and a family-oriented atmosphere at night. This event made trails like Hal Johns and Upper and Lower Buzzworm household names. Headquarters are at the beautiful Whispering Pines Campground which is surrounded by Ponderosa Pine and Aspen trees. It's a great event held in a great area.
More info: www.bh4wheelers.com
Where it happens: Upper Tellico ORV Area, Murphy, North Carolina
The basics: When we think of Tellico we think of this outstanding event. And why not? The Dixie Run has been around for 22 years. This Southern Four Wheel Drive Association-sponsored event utilizes the incredible Upper Tellico ORV area and features a wide selection of trails as well as gobs of family and kids activities in the campground. In 2008 there was even an Extreme Ridge Runners-hosted Rock Challenge competition scheduled.
More info: www.sfwda.org
Where it happens: Cleves, Ohio
The basics: Talk about history. With 38 years under its belt, Gravelrama is a staple of the wheeling world. Without question its most notable feature is the Big Eliminator Hill Climb. It's something you have to see to believe and the action it creates as rigs try to climb it is extraordinary. But that's not all. Gravelrama also boasts a slew of other activities including flat drags and an obstacle course. This well-run, family-oriented event is held in August.
More info: www.gravelrama.com
Where it happens: Austin, Texas
The basics: One would think that having a truck show in Austin in the sweltering month of July would be success suicide, but amazingly the Texas Heat Wave is a very well attended, successful event for both two- and four-wheel-drive trucks. It boasts a huge truck show with a slew of classes, a monster-truck show, burnout contest, motorcycle stunt teams, and live big name entertainment to name just a few of its features. Just bring water.
More info: www.heatwaveinc.com
Illini 4x4 Safari
Where it happens: Pittsfield, Illinois
The basics: For the past 7 years the folks over at the Two Rivers Jeep Club have held this popular event in the densely wooded terrain near Pittsfield, Illinois. This two-day event takes place in May and features guided rides on trails with names like Atlas, Myers Mayhem, Mongo, and Smacker. It's an up-close-and-personal look at what is lurking in the thick southern Illinois woods.
More info: www.trjc.com
Pit Bull Mud Bash
Where it happens: Bloomsdale, Missouri
The basics: This October event is 9 years old this year and it's held at the J&N Entertainment 4 Wheel Park that is adjacent to Custom Differentials. The Mud Bash draws spectators and participants from all over Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and points beyond and it routinely draws 1,500 vehicles. Of course it features mud racing, but it also has a sled pull, a huge play area, a rock garden, music, food, and much more. It's grassroots wheeling at its finest.
More info: www.custom-differentials.com
Where it happens: Mesick, Michigan
The basics: It is what its name implies, though rigs of "lesser stature" are also invited to attend and they too are blessed. After the morning service and blessing, this one-day event moves on to include a variety of events including Master Drivers Course, mud pit, teeter-totter, RTI ramp, swap meet, raffle, and kids games. This year was the 7th annual event and it drew more than 700 rigs and more than 1,400 people.
More info: www.cadillacjeepers.com
Where it happens: Truckee, California
The basics: This is the California Association of 4WD Club's largest event of the year and it's held in the spectacular Sierra Nevada Mountains. For those wanting extreme adventure, this 41-year-old, two-day event offers runs on upper and lower Fordyce Creek Trail. There is also an intermediate run on the Signal Peak Trail and an easy historical/SUV run. Many meals are included and the scenery is absolutely beautiful.
More info: www.cal4wheel.com
Memorial 4x4 Total Off Road Rally
Where it happens: Dresser, Wisconsin
The basics: For 40 years the folks at the Minnesota Go 4-Wheelers have hosted this incredible event each Memorial Day weekend. Not ones for the same ol' thing year after year, they change the event annually to keep it fresh. This year they offered trail rides, a demo derby, a huge 4x4 playground, a mud pit, mud racing, a rock pile, and of course on-grounds camping.
More info: www.memorial4x4.org
Where it happens: The Rubicon Trail
The basics: When it comes to the Rubicon Trail, the mother of all events is the Jeepers Jamboree. Since its inception 56 years ago this event has taken more than 34,795 vehicles and more than 101,440 people over the Rubicon Trail. Yep, you'll see Loon Lake, Devil's Post Pile, Spider and Buck Island Lakes, and Rubicon Springs. Meals are included and they even provide nightly entertainment. If you like civilization with your rugged backcountry this event is for you.
More info: www.jeepersjamboree.com
Off Road Expo
Where it happens: Pomona, California
The basics: Think of the Las Vegas SEMA show without any of the frou-frou and bling and you have the Fall Off Road Expo in Pomona. It's wall-to-wall off-highway stuff and it's paradise for dirt junkies. In addition to a vast number of vendors, there's also freestyle motocross demos and live bands to keep you entertained.
More info: www.offroadexpo.com
Okanagan Rumble on the Rocks Off-Road Showdown
Where it happens: Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
The basics: This may have only been its first year, but this event impressed members of our staff and it's clear that this event has lots of potential. An Extreme rock race and high-speed trail run were on tap and the action and destruction were incredible. If you're into extreme action, this is one you shouldn't miss. Oh, Canada!
More info: www.4x4club.ca
Moab Easter Jeep Safari
Where it happens: Moab, Utah
The basics: The Moab Easter Jeep Safari is legendary. If you haven't been you are missing one of the greatest off-highway events of all time. Hosted by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, it is a finely tuned event that has become a favorite of wheelers and those in the industry alike. It spans nine days and includes a huge vendor show at the Spanish Trail Arena. The Moab area offers trails for all skill levels, so you're good to go whether you drive a rock buggy or stock machine.
More info: www.rr4w.com
Where it happens: West Branch, Michigan
The basics: Winter trail runs are awesome and the Mudchuggers Four Wheel Drive Club puts on a great winter event in the upper lower peninsula of Michigan each February. The event bases out of West Branch and trail rides depart each day of the three-day event to explore the snow-clogged woods. Slippery hillclimbs and even slipperier hill descents are some of the things to be expected. This is a very unique and well-run event that routinely fills preregistration quickly and draws around 140 vehicles.
More info: www.mudchuggers.com
Where it happens: Tallmadge, Ohio
The basics: Held at Summit Racing headquarters, this event trots out a truck show, Rubicon Rock Crawling Trail, a manufacturers midway, and lots more. Summit also rolls out special deals on truck parts and accessories. Best of all, the show is totally free for participants and spectators. What's not to like?
More info: www.summitracing.com
Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari
Where it happens: Ocotillo Wells, California
The basics: This year marked the 45th year of "TDS" as it is referred to. This Tierra Del Sol Four Wheel Drive Club of San Diego-hosted event is typically held in late February or early March. This year the event was moved to Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area due to closures in the Truckhaven Hills area where the event is usually held. Even with the change in venue TDS drew well over 1,000 registered vehicles which is typical for this popular event.
More info: www.tds4x4.com
Winter Fun Festival
Where it happens: Grass Valley, California
The basics: Wheeling in the Sierra Nevada in winter is a breathtaking experience and the folks at the California Association of 4WD Clubs sponsor this outstanding event that puts you front-and-center of some of the most amazing scenery and fun winter wheeling that there is. Snow runs such as the Blizzard Brigade, Glacier Assault, and Avalanche Express join a number of other runs of all skill levels to keep the fun factor high.
More info: www.cal4wheel.com
Xtreme Rock Racing
Where it happens: Numerous locations
The basics: The easiest way to explain Xtreme Rock Racing (XRRA) is to say that it's a cross between rockcrawling and Tough Truck racing. It's incredible. Other than cones and a stopwatch, nothing else matters and the competitors have to balance smart decisions with throttle to blow through the obstacles. The rigs are works of art, with maximum approach and departure angles and ultra-bulletproof drivelines. XRRA has an Eastern and Western Series and the top finishers in each battle it out at the Nationals.
More info: www.rockrace.com