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Trail Side Taverns - A Little Ambiance

Posted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2009
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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.

Whistlin' Jack
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

O'Neal's Pub
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

Moab Brewery
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

Woody's Tavern
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.

Pozo Saloon
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

Fin's Seafood Restaurant
Location: 25 W. Grand Ave, Grover Beach, California
Highlights: Try the clam chowder bowl, and go for killer happy hour specials. Right next to the gate for Oceano Dunes OHV area, no airing back up needed.
Nearby trails: Pismo (Oceano) Dunes

The Sasquatch Inn
Location: 46001 Lougheed Hwy, Harrison Mills, British Colombia, Canada
Highlights: Authentic Pub Fare and colorful locals
Nearby trails: Hale Creek and Weaver Creek

Haps on the Harbourfront
Location: 130 Main St S, Kenora, Ontario, Canada
Highlights: Cool pub in a 100 year old basement on the harbor front.
Nearby trails: As well as local forest trails, Northwest Angle Provincial Forest and Whiteshell Provincial Park are a short jump into Manitoba.

Blue Moon Saloon
Location: Near the intersection of Hwy 43 and Old Highway 10 in Divide, Montana
Highlights: Cold Beer, hot women, steaks, burgers, and pasta on the menu.
Nearby trails: Lots of trails in Big Hole Valley.

Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon
Location: Hwy 4, Jemez Springs, New Mexico
Highlights: Pam's Prime Rib Special and the Los Ojos Special (a 1/3-pound burger with home stewed chili, swiss and cheddar cheeses with seasoned fries on the side)
Nearby trails: Lots of trails in Red River.

Anchor Bar
Location: 413 Tower Ave, Superior, Wisconsin
Highlights: A bar that doesn't take itself too seriously with a full menu as long as you like burgers and sandwiches, and a selection of micro brews.
Nearby trails: Ma and Pa Rockers OHV

Scheideck Lodge
Location: On Camp Scheideck Rd in Camp Scheideck, California
Highlights: Been around since the turn of the 20th century, lots of history at this family-owned bar
Nearby trails: Las Padres National Forest offers OHV trails.

Halfway Station Cafe
Location: On Hwy 33 near Ventucopa, California
Highlights: It is half way between Taft and Ojai
Nearby trails: Las Padres National Forest offers OHV trails and this is less than a half mile from one such fire trail into the forest

Iron Door Saloon
Location: 18761 State Hwy 120, Groveland, California
Highlights: Good place for drinks and lunch or dinner. Live music most weekends and mix of micro brews and imports on tap.
Nearby trails: Fire trails near Cherry Valley, Lost Claim, and Sweetwater campsites

Hangman's Tree Tavern
Location: 305 Main St, Placerville, California
Highlights: Said to be ghost that lingers, and the stump of the tree that was used to hang a guy still in the basement.
Nearby trails: Rubicon Trail

Old Longhorn Saloon
Location: 17 Main St, Scenic, South Dakota
Highlights: Not much has changed in the 100-plus years this Saloon has been here. Step inside and step back in time complete with sawdust on the floor.
Nearby trails: Wheeling available in the black hills all around Scenic

Badenoch's On the River
Location: US Highway 95, Parker, Arizona
Highlights: A favorite spot for the river-going crowd, regular pub-type food is available and the double mimosa is pretty good, if you are into that sort of thing.
Nearby trails: It is Parker, Arizona, go out in the desert and explore- there is plenty of wheeling available.

Chair 5 (aka "The Dive")
Location: 5 Linblad St, Girdwood, Alaska
Highlights: Quaint place that is hopping on weekends. If you like scotch, this is your place. Regular bar menu that can be seen on the website.
Nearby trails: Mount Alyeska is nearby and it is Alaska, so there is no shortage of wheeling potential.

Last Chance Saloon
Location: Wayne, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada
Highlights: Nine Rooms, Barbeque on the decks along the creek, cold beer, Alberta beef on the grill that you grill yourself, bullet holes in the walls, and 11 one-way bridges to get there.
Nearby trails: Look up a local 4x4 club before heading out for what trails nearby are challenging.

Iron Door Bar
Location: Split Mountain Road, about a mile south of Hwy 78, Ocotillo Wells, California
Highlights: Every inch of wall covered in one dollar bills and beer only.
Nearby trails: Ocotillo Wells SVRA

Lazy Lizard Saloon
Location: 1194 N. Imperial Hwy, Ocotillo, California
Highlights: While it doesn't exactly have a complete menu, there is food available it does have two pool tables and unique locals make this a neat place to stop.
Nearby trails: Ocotillo Wells SVRA

Hair Of the Dog Saloon
Location: 238 N. Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, California
Highlights: Open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., British-themed pub, and misters on the patio. "Our prices are always competitive and governed by only two fair market factors: 1) The sobriety of the bartender; 2) The attitude of the customer. You've been warned!"
Nearby trails: Johnson ValleyWebsite:

Kermitts Roadhouse
Location: 33295 Highway 6, Idaho Springs, Colorado
Highlights: Famous homemade chili, good beer, and full bar; near interstate 70.
Nearby trails: Cascade Creek, Spring Creek, and Saxon Mountain

White House Saloon
Location: 168 Butte Ave, Randsberg, California
Highlights: Ride bike/4x4 right up to door considered the heart of the town and food is available.
Nearby trails: Plenty of nearby trails and off-roading areas in this high desert living ghost town

Location: 866 Rt 206, Shamong, New Jersey
Highlights: It's the typical meeting place before and after going wheeling with a bunch of Jeepers. Half bikers and half Jeepers frequent the bar. Decent food,and cold beer.
Nearby trails: Near the mud soaked trails of the Pine Barrens

Calling All Barflies!
If we missed the bar that you hit after wheeling let us know. Send an email to along with a couple of pictures and what trail or trails are nearby and if we get enough responses, we'll run another Jeepin' Dive Bars article.

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