Rocky Mountain High: An Epic Week Of Colorado Wheeling At The 50th Anniversary Of All-4-FunPosted in Events on October 7, 2016
As we crawled up the steep rocky trail in our well-built Jeeps on the approach to the 12,800-foot summit of Red Cone Peak, we saw an American flag shrouded in the dense fog. We snapped a few photos of our Rubicon next to “Old Glory” and high-fived Gary Allen, trail leader for the Mile-Hi Jeep Club of Colorado (MHJC). Usually, the vistas at this elevation span for miles and this 4x4 trail is reputed to be one of the most scenic in the world. Surprisingly, the view today was nonexistent—nothing more than a soupy, ominous mist to navigate our rigs through. In fact, we were a bit nervous as we descended the 30-degree slope, hoping not to slip off of the trail and plummet 1,000 feet into the abyss.
We were at MHJC’s All-4-Fun, a four-wheeling event that is held in the Colorado Rockies every summer. The event commemorated its 50th anniversary in 2016 and the historic mining town of Empire was the base camp for well more than 1,500 4WD enthusiasts from all over the country. The town’s population of roughly 285 friendly souls welcomed the seemingly endless flood of man and machine for the week-long event. As we sat in a booth at the original Hard Rock Cafe, waiting on a plate of biscuits and gravy, we couldn’t help but notice our fellow wheelers enjoying the local flavor as they filled their bellies for a day on the trail.
The iconic celebration was jam packed with activities for young and old. The festivities included a Children’s Hospital drawing, family games, movie night, ice cream social, vendors galore, trail rides, and a BBQ dinner hosted by Warn Industries. There was fun to be had for the whole family under the big tent at “Warn Night.” Television personality Jessi Combs of Xtreme 4x4, Overhaulin’, and All Girls Garage was there to sign autographs and there was dancing to live music. Wednesday was “Vendor Day,” which started with a pancake breakfast and highlighted many current off-road vendor and manufacturing displays. An awards ceremony was held that evening.
For most, the best part of All-4-Fun was the high-country wheeling and variety of mind-blowing trails. In all, there were 17 guided trips with a difficulty rating from 3 (easy) to 10 (extremely difficult). The trips started each morning between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. and lasted between 4 and 8 hours and included some of the most scenic lunch breaks on the planet.
Thursday morning, we had the opportunity to join Warn’s “Anniversary Trail Ride.” We counted 25 participants as we climbed the rocky trail that serpentined through aspen groves and ponderosa pines on the way to Bill Moore Lake at an elevation of more than 11,000 feet. For a $10 donation, participants had a chance to win a winch and other great prizes on the trail. All proceeds went to MHJC’s Land Advocacy efforts to keep the trails in Colorado open.
On Friday, we joined Gary Allen for the Red Cone Peak trip. Red Cone is a spectacular yet very steep trail filled with loose rock and large boulders that wanders through aspen, blue spruce and pine forests and then follows the edge of a talus slope with 1,000-foot dropoffs on each side before reaching the summit. It has a reputation as one of the most scenic yet nerve-wracking trails in the Colorado Rockies. To drive this trail is an exciting experience not to be soon forgotten.
The All-4-Fun 50th anniversary week was certainly a fun-for-all event. It will go down in All-4-Fun history as one filled with adventure, excitement, camaraderie, and unsurpassed mountain four-wheeling. For those wanting to experience the rocky mountain high next year at All-4-Fun 51, the event will be in Leadville, Colorado. More info can be found at mhjc.org.