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Colorado Superlift Suspension 4xAdventure - Mine Shafts & Axleshafts

Posted in Ultimate Adventure on April 1, 2001
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The brand-new Colorado Superlift 4xAdventure launched in 2000, and it did what very few organized Colorado trail runs have done - it offered the opportunity to 'wheel on an astonishing array of trails from famous old mining roads, such as Black Bear and Imogene Pass, to the notorious Western Slope's hard-core rockcrawling trails, such as Die Trying and Calamity Canyon.

The Colorado 4xAdventure was event number three in the four-event 2000 series, which included trail runs in Florida, Arkansas, and Indiana. As usual, the Superlift Suspension staff was on hand with a wide variety of vehicles, and they never missed an opportunity to 'wheel with the participants. Bob Hazel and Mark Lloyd of Sports-In-the-Rough handled the event logistics, and they coordinated the trail ride scheduling, the raffle, and the five included meals. The headquarters for the event was the Montrose RV Park, which is just outside of Montrose,Colorado, and is within an hour's drive of the hot trails in the area.

Each morning of the event, seven trail rides left from headquarters, led by a knowledgeable guide. We wanted a real taste of Colorado extremes, so on the first of our two days at the event, we opted for the high-country trails that are steeped in history. The second day was hard-core heaven on the western slope when we 'wheeled some of the newest and toughest rockcrawling trails available.

Poughkeepsie Gulch
Many of Colorado's high-country 4x4 trails are impassable throughout much of the year because they're clogged with massive snowdrifts from the previous winter's snowfall. It's not unusual for the trails at higher altitudes to open only when county plows break through in mid-July. Hence, the season to explore the area in a 4x4 is quite short before the next season of snow begins, relatively speaking. During this time, adventuresome tourists in rental Jeeps and personal trucks flock to southwestern Colorado to enjoy the challenge and beauty of the San Juan Mountains. Some believe that over the last few years the trails have gotten easier, but make no mistake, there is still plenty of challenge lurking in the mountains. One of the most entertaining and visually stunning trails is the Poughkeepsie Gulch trail, which was our destination for Saturday's trail ride. It begins a few miles south of Ouray, Colorado, and climbs to Hurricane Pass before descending down to the Corkscrew trail, where we were able to connect to Highway 550. After airing down at the trailhead, our group of 14 vehicles, led by Montrose resident Lee Bacon in his '97 Wrangler, climbed steadily upward on the narrow shelf trail. We passed old mining claims dotted with ramshackle tin-roofed buildings and rusting equipment, while hundreds of feet below and to our right a snow-fed stream blasted through a deep canyon. It was truly stunning, and the smell of pine permeated the cool air as we climbed farther into dense stands of trees. Shortly into the trail ride, Bacon's TJ spit out its left rear axle on a difficult optional obstacle, which left the Dana35C-equipped vehicle stranded. Our group continued while Bacon and a friend began a two-day odyssey to get the TJ off the mountain. When we continued above the tree line and over the top of Hurricane Pass, we were surprised and a bit disappointed to find virtually no snow on the mountain due to less-than-normal precipitation and warmer temperatures. But weather can change almost instantly in the Rocky Mountains, so it's always wise to be prepared. As a matter of fact, the San Juan Mountains experienced a huge weather change a couple of days later that brought snow and cold temperatures, which contrasted our sunny, snow-free run. In our group was a mix of vehicles, including fullsize pickups, Jeeps, and SUVs, and all of them made the trek over the stunning trail without serious breakage. Our daylong ride ended in the late afternoon, and everyone was back in camp in plenty of time to dig into chef Mark Lloyd's all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner, which was followed by the Superlift 4xRaffle.

Scratch & Dent
Some 4x4 owners run away screaming when they see the evil, boulder-strewn trails that lurk in the high desert west of Montrose, Colorado, while to others, the trails are screaming their name. These trails include the infamous Die Trying, Scratch & Dent, Cactus, and Calamity Canyon, and they are the handiwork of the Western Slope 4-Wheel Drive Club - a club dedicated to maximum challenge. The 4xAdventure offered a number of trail rides in this area, and we fastened our seatbelts on Sunday for a half-day trek over the Scratch & Dent trail, which offers first-class rockcrawling deep in the hidden gorges and valleys. Gone were the pine trees, rushing streams, and high mountain passes of the previous day's trail ride, which were replaced by dry creek beds, sand, and cactus. By the time we ran this trail on Sunday, the 4xAdventure was two days old, and numerous 4x4s had been sidelined with trail damage, while others had chosen to take the easier San Juan Mountain trails. Our group consisted of survivors from the previous two days, and the group included about ten vehicles, including a Scout, an early Bronco, a mixture of TJs, YJs, and CJs, and a Bronco II. Our six-hour run took us over about half of the trail, and winching and broken parts were the order of the day as we gleefully challenged what is arguably one of the toughest trails in Colorado.

The first Colorado Superlift 4xAdventure drew in more than 100 vehicles for three days of trail riding, and the registration fee included five free meals, a T-shirt, and a bunch of other stuff, which made it a great value as well as a good time. The 2001 event is slated for September 14-16. For more information, contact: Sports-in-the-Rough, Dept. OR, 284 14th Ave. N.E., Ste. 5400, Hickory, NC 28601, (828) 261-0221, www.sports-in-the-rough.com.

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