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Owyhee Range, Idaho Rock Crawling - Your Own Private Idaho

Posted in Features on April 1, 2007
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People used to think that Idaho was full of potato farmers and militias. As our latest Ultimate Adventure revealed, there's some great wheeling to be had in the Gem State. Since we covered 1,100 miles in seven days on the UA, we didn't get a chance to explore all that Idaho had to offer, which provided us with a great excuse to go back. We recently returned to the Owyhee Range southwest of Boise for more rockcrawling action.

The name Owyhee is actually an early name for the Hawaiian Islands. Three Hawaiian fur trappers explored this region of Idaho nearly 200 years ago, and the name stuck. Most history reveals that a spur of the Oregon Trail also ran through this area near the Snake River, but it was more recently discovered routes that we were interested in. Numerous rockcrawling trails have been opened by Boise local Jesse Crews.

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Our trail for the day had only been run once prior to our visit. Dubbed Machine Screw, this trail is as nasty as they come. It took our group of eight vehicles nearly 10 hours to go 12.6 miles to and from the tow rigs and trailers. The 12 miles was easy; it was the 0.6 that took so long! This group wasn't made up of Dana 30 front ends, limited slip diffs, or 33-inch tires either. Each vehicle had locked Dana 44s and 37-inch tires at the bare minimum, yet everyone sustained body damage and had to winch repeatedly.

The trail starts with some large, loose rocks to weed out the wannabes. From there, a narrow V-notch keeps the driver's attention and makes it difficult to line up for the next climb. After that the real fun starts. A large dry fall with no available bypasses stands poised with diff-grabbing rocks sticking out of the middle.

The next climb has a 6-foot ledge followed immediately by another 4-foot ledge. The trail then narrows to the point that it was giving fits to those equipped with full-width axles. It widens only when the next dry fall is encountered. This obstacle had large, loose rocks that moved under the vehicles, requiring each and every vehicle to pull cable.By the time we limped off the trail and onto the nearby access road, the carnage count was two axles and a set of sheered steering studs, complicating the process of returning to the tow rigs. Once the wounds heal and all our repairs are made, we can't wait to see what else Idaho has to offer. For more info contact Jesse at or

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