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Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari

Front Passenger Side View
Verne Simons
| Senior Editor, Jp
Posted July 1, 2001
Photographers: John Cappa, Christian Hazel

Wheeling at Sea

Step By Step

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  • Real short Jeeps rule the twisties but longer wheelbases make the climbs.

  • Down in the smaller gullies and washes you can find twisty creepy sections that amount to more fun than a clown car full of circus sideshow freaks.

  • Camping tip: The main camping area was filled to the gills with people and campers. Our favorite editor, John Cappa, and 4-Wheel & Off-Road’s Christian Hazel, figured out that the storage bins on the side of campers can make cozy little houses for the night. Just avoid the one under the toilet. Oh yeah, if you get locked in just wait; someone will eventually notice you are missing.

  • All types of Jeeps were on hand at this year’s Safari. We even came across this FC which was fairly well modified except for the vandalism-like paint scheme. It did rather well, although it looked like a frightened pug on the downhill sections.

  • Some areas became a bit of a playground before and after the event. If you like playing the fool or think you can attract a crowd this is the spot for you.

  • The event starts in the early morning with all participating vehicles waiting in line like rush hour traffic...but as the day goes by, little groups form on the branches of the main trail.

  • “Howld awn brother—wees goin up this’in.”

  • The Safari trails are set up with ratings similar to salsa: easy, mild, and hard, but unlike salsa the dirt tastes bad on chips.

  • Y’all come back now—ya hear?

  • Wheeling at sea.

A couple miles from the Salton Sea in Southern California there is a place that looks like it should be on the moon. The area is home to a few jackrabbits, some desert brush, and lots of dust. Once a year these permanent residents of the area play host to a large pack of Jeeps and Jeepers for the annual Desert Safari. This event has been hosted by the Tierra Del Sol 4-Wheel Drive Club of San Diego for 39 years now, with attendance growing each year. This year, over the first weekend of March, Jeeps from all over the country could be seen creeping and crawling all over the ridges and valleys a few miles from the big salty lake. If you would like to attend the 40th annual TDS run this year check out the Tierra Del Sol 4-Wheel Drive Club of San Diego’s Web site at