Over 1,000 miles on terrain as varied as the personalized JKs that attended, the second annual Off Road Evolution JK Experience presented by Falken Tire was one of those amazing trips people wait a lifetime to cross off their bucket list. This year's weeklong JK-only adventure took us through the three scenic states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, each with endless backcountry trails at our disposal.
JK Experience is an invite-only event where the first rule of eligibility was owning a modified 2007 and newer Jeep Wrangler. The itinerary is kept secret and the participants are only told to be self-sufficient and prepare for anything-including cold, wet nights of camping. With a good mix of enthusiasts and long time industry friends, we were honored to have been invited to attend with our tried and true Project 'Con Artist.
This was also Falken Tire's first year on board as the presenting sponsor, so we jumped at the opportunity to evaluate their new Falken WildPeak A/T (Jan. '11). As it turned out, there couldn't have been a better test of the WildPeak, or any of the products on these Jeeps, as we saw snow, rain, mud, rock, dirt, pavement and just about any other terrain you can imagine a Jeep going over. Other sponsors of the event included: EVO Manufacturing, RCH Designs, Dynomax, Dynatrac, Mastercraft Safety, PSC, ATX Wheels, Reel Driveline, Off Road Jerky, Quadratec, Visual Imaging Corporation, Skyjacker Suspension, Rockstar Energy Drink and Warn Industries.
The first part of the trip took us from Cody, Wyoming, to Red Lodge, Montana, via Wyoming's Morrison Jeep Trail. Starting at the floor of an incredible gorge in the Beartooth Mountains, the Jeeps were required to climb a series of steep switchbacks. Once on top, we were treated to vast panoramas and stunning scenery.
We stayed the night in Red Lodge to rest up for the drive to a private ranch and virgin granite trails near Winnett, Montana. After a night of lakeside camping at the ranch, we headed out to Yellowstone National Park where we made a brief stopover at Old Faithful before continuing on to the North Meadow Creek Trail.
This road, used in the loosest sense of the term, is where we were greeted with a cold storm and plenty of mud, logs and rocks. Camping that night in the rain may have dampened our sleeping bags, but not our excitement for the next day of mud wheeling in the bottom of a semi-drained reservoir before hitting historical Virginia City, Montana.
Our last trail day took us from the high country to the sand dunes in St. Anthony, Idaho. We based out of the Idaho Dunes RV Park before exploring this huge southeastern Idaho dune complex. With dunes rising nearly 500 feet in to the sky, we were able to cap the trip off with some highflying antics.
When it was all said and done, we had an incredible adventure under our belts with 18 JKs and a great group of people from all over the country. The rigs had very few failures, proving once again what a reliable vehicle the JK is for deep backcountry travel. The only disappointment came when the week ended far too soon, forcing us to part ways with more friends than we started with. The JK Experience lives up to its billing and we are looking forward to the next time we can hit the trails with this group again.