Jeepin Dive Bars
OK, look, before you all get tweaked because we are doing a story on bars, it's not like we are telling your six year old to go to one and order three fingers of Jack. Going to a bar doesn't often require you be 21 and being in a bar doesn't mean that you are double-fisting boilermakers after a long day on the trail.
After a long, dirty day on the trail challenging yourself and your Jeep it is nice to sit down to a decent meal with your wheeling buddies, and sure, maybe even throw back a few suds. We know you all can relate, because if you couldn't, you wouldn't be reading this magazine.
The original thought was that the only kind of bar that would not only accept but encourage a dirty Jeeper would be a dive bar. You know; the kind of place where they serve beer in mason jars, not because of some bourgeois country music song, but because the jars weren't used for jam that year. A good dive bar has a crappy music band, cheap beer, and peanuts that you shell yourself, and then drop the shells on the floor; and that is exactly what the proprietor wants you to do.
Well, we got to thinking about it, and it made more sense for this article to not focus on "dive bars" per-se, but hole-in-the-wall or local bars that you can take your aired-down Jeep on 35s to at the end of a long day of wheeling. Maybe they are off-road, maybe they are just near the trail, but they are all the kinds of places that fit our dirt-in-the-teeth lifestyle. The problem with many of these places is that unless a buddy showed you where it was, you likely don't know about it, even if it's right near your own stomping grounds. So, we put out the call for some of your favorite hole in the wall bars and here's a list of them with nearby wheeling ideas you might want to check out.
Location: 20800 State Route 410, Naches, Washington
Highlights: Fireside Lounge, Fireside Mountain Steak Chili, and the Cougar Burger. Also has a deli, a gas station, and is a good place to air back up.
Nearby trails: Naches Pass Trail and more
Crown King Saloon
Location: Main Street, Crown King, Arizona
Highlights: In the middle of a living ghost town where the first mine was claimed in 1875, there is a brothel upstairs (for historical purposes), jalapeo burgers, and cold beer. If you like chili, check out the fall chili cook-off. You need four-wheel-drive to get there.
Nearby trails: Bradshaw Trail, Wagoner Trail, and Yankee Doodle Trail to name but a few
The Cleator Bar
Location: On the way to the Crown King, but located in Cleator, Arizona
Highlights: If you like seeing "artifacts" from 50 years ago or more when mining was still going on here, stop in on the way to Crown King
Nearby trails: Same trails as above, if the narrow, washboard, side of a cliff road in wasn't enough for you.
Slash X Ranch Cafe
Location: 28040 Barstow Rd, Barstow, California
Highlights: Coldest beer around, great chili-cheese fries, and the quad burger. The caf is named for the ranch that was in the area.
Nearby trails: Stoddard Wells
Capt'n Jim's Cocktails
Location: 2108 Salton Arena, Salton City, California
Highlights: Dive-bar where you can learn the history of the Salton Sea
Nearby trails: Truckhaven Hills
Location: 112 South Tulpehocken St, Pine Grove, PA
Highlights: O'Neals Pub porter, quesadillas, a mini-lounge, and cute servers.
Nearby trails: Rausch Creek
Big Bear Mountain Brewery
Location: 40620 Big Bear Blvd, Big Bear, CA
Highlights: Quaint Bar with decent food and brewed-on-site beer. If you want to get away from Budweiser, this is the bar to go to on Big Bear Mountain
Nearby trails: Holcolm Creek, John Bull and many more
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Location: Off Wentworth Springs Rd, 4.5 miles west (lat. 38 degrees55'45"N, long. 120 degrees29'10"), California 193, 30 miles east of Auburn
Highlights: Last stop before hitting the dam at Loon Lake and starting on the trail proper
Nearby trails: The Rubicon Trail
Robb's Valley Resort
Location: 14216 Ice House Road, Pollock Pines, California
Highlights: Wait staff is easy on the eyes, good food, great service, Jeep enthusiasts, and plenty of camping spots on the grounds.
Nearby trails: The Rubicon Trail
Nellie E Saloon, AkA The Desert Bar
Location: 5 miles off the Cienega Springs Rd exit on highway 85, approximately 5 miles north of Parker, Arizona
Highlights: Run off solar power, 5 miles from asphalt, swaying bar stools, brass bar top, closes at dark
Nearby trails: Various trails in Parker
Location: 686 S. Main Street, Moab, Utah
Highlights: Good beer (for Utah), great food
Nearby trails: Pritchett Canyon, Behind the Rocks... heck, it's Moab, Utah, you'll find somewhere to wheel
Location: 221 S. Main St, Moab, Utah
Highlights: Small bar which actually could be considered a dive bar by some. They might have food there, but we've never ordered any.
Nearby trails: Potato Salad, Hell's Revenge, Fins and Things. Again, it's Moab, need we say more?
Redd Rascal Pub
Location: 445 Main St, Bennington, Vermont
Highlights: Heather the bartender, and Heather's Grateful Deads
Nearby trails: Plenty of trails and forest nearby, but not many legal places to go wheeling. Ask locals what's legal today.
Location: 90 W. Pozo Rd, Santa Margarita, California
Highlights: Historic site, try the trademarked Pozo martini, and also check out concerts for some pretty big names such as the Charlie Daniels Band, Snoop Dogg, and Ted Nugent.
Nearby trails: Hi Mountain Trail to Campgrounds
Old Juan's Cantina
Location: 649 Pier Ave, Oceano, California
Highlights: Great Mexican food (especially the salsa) and monster margaritas
Nearby trails: Pismo (Oceano) Dunes