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2000 Superstition Mountain Run - Trails for the Novice SUV Driver to Dents-Be-Damned 'Wheeler

Rear Driver Side View
Jimmy Nylund | Writer
Posted June 1, 2000

'Wheeling San Diego Style

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  • There were less demanding trails for SUVs, but that doesn’t mean a good driver couldn’t pilot a well-set-up wagon over some of the more difficult trails without incurring any damage. Also, there is usually a bypass at the harder sections.

  • Having the proverbial hard spot on the left and a rather large rock on the right, this section of trail was best suited to the smaller rigs. Bypasses were always available for those with wider berth or a fear of damage.

  • As on most any trail, good articulation and/or lockers are usually helpful. Each vehicle is safety-inspected before it is allowed on any run, and some trails require the vehicle to be equipped with two lockers.

  • Getting temporarily immobilized (aka stuck) can be as easy as saying “cheese,” and it isn’t unusual on the larger parts of the Superstition Mountains dunes. With a decent drop-off to his right, this happy ’wheeler isn’t too proud to ask for a winch cable at this point. Smart.

  • It’s not common to have both rocks and soft sand in one area, let alone to drive on both at once. This obstacle, called Tow Strap Hill, has supposedly thwarted most attempts at driving up unassisted. Just to get to the start of it discourages many, and once you get there, backing out is not really an option due to the narrow and twisty canyon that leads to it.

  • Even the easier sections of sand can present a challenge for a heavy vehicle on small tires. That also holds true for those who were so enthused by the low-flying airplane stunts that they forgot to air down.

That this event even took place is testimony that four-wheelers have more fun than scientifically allowable, because it was doomed. Full of bad omens. For starters, the inaugural ’99 event was promoted as the “first annual,” so technically, it didn’t even exist. Then there was the Y2K hoopla that preceded this second happening by a mere two weeks, where little, if anything, was supposed to survive. Add to this that the entire gig takes place in the Superstition Mountains and you have a recipe for near certain disaster.

Against these odds, the second annual San Diego 4 Wheelers’ Superstition Mountains run was quite enjoyable, much like last year’s event. With runs suited for everything from the novice SUV driver to the harebrained dents-be-damned ’wheeler, and the terrain ranging from rather large sand dunes to unforgiving rock (sometimes combined), it would be hard not to find fun at this site. Should someone still manage to get bored, there was always the opportunity to discuss the weather, which in this locale just north of El Centro, California, offered temperatures in the low to mid 70s under clear to occasionally overcast skies. In other words, perfect January desert weather. Four-wheel-drives of most every make (when was the last time you saw a Nissan Patrol?), model, and size lined up in the morning for Saturday’s trail runs, and shortly thereafter the Blue Angels started their free show, practicing spectacular aerial maneuvers over a nearby bombing range for all participants to see.

The first two San Diego 4 Wheelers’ Superstition Mountains runs attracted about 100 registered vehicles, and this relatively small number indicates that the odds for winning on the entry ticket at the raffle were good. That may change, of course, if more people find out about the third event, scheduled January 13–15, 2001. In other words, don’t tell too many of your friends to check out the San Diego 4 Wheelers’ Web site ( for more info on next year’s run. Unless, of course, the new millennium does the world in when it arrives for real just a few days before, and the whole thing gets canceled. Nah, that’s just one lousy threat, and besides, the third time is supposed to be a charm.