Colorado Off-Roading

Mike Berg

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By Drayton Browning

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I have been hooked on Jeeps my whole life, ever since my first time behind the wheel of my Dads 1984 CJ7. My first Jeep was a 1994 Wrangler which unfortunately met its demise in a wreck. I built my second Jeep from the wreckage of the first one and I am still driving it today. Off-Roading is an activity that allows me to combine the inner Jeep addict with my love for the outdoors. Some of my best memories have been on camping trips with friends that would not have been possible without the Jeep.

If you are interested in hitting the trails with your rig Fort Collins could not be a better place to start. We have miles and miles forest roads just outside town that can be accessed and enjoyed by every skill level. Fort Collins also has a great off-road community full of fellow Off-Road enthusiasts who are always willing to give advice on upgrades and repairs. This also makes it easy to locate wheeling buddies to tag along on off-roading adventures.

Map highlighting Drayton’s three recommendations for spring/summer off-roading.

Something to keep in mind before you head out for the trails is that it’s always good practice to check the Forest Service website for road closure information, particularly during the next few months, as many roads are still under seasonal closures from the winter or spring runoff conditions. Nothing is more frustrating that traveling all the way to a trail just to have your trip stopped short at a locked gate. If you are looking for a fun trail this time of year I highly recommend Bunce School Rd (Bottom, Red). It is about 30 minutes west of Lyons, CO and has a ton of connecting trails of varying difficulty. As the summer starts to roll around and you are looking for something a little more challenging Kelly Flats (Top, Yellow) or Moody Hill (Middle, Green) are even closer to Fort Collins and provide an exciting experience. Beginners attempting Kelly Flats for the first time should consider avoiding Heart Attack Hill and taking the by-pass as it is a technical climb. I personally recommend incorporating a camping trip into your off-road adventures for added enjoyment.

If you are a true beginner to Off-Roading here are some tips and tricks to making sure you have a good experience on the trail. First and foremost, never Off-Road alone especially in the winter time, a second vehicle can be a difference between a fun outing and you being stuck in the woods overnight. If you are taking a long trip on dirt roads pay extra close attention to where you are going, there are roads that may be marked differently than they are on your map and they can be confusing to back track on if you don’t have a good understanding of your location. Another thing to keep in mind, snow drifts this time of year are not to be underestimated. they are usually thicker, heavier, deeper and more likely to leave you high centered than you think. Be particularly cautious if you don’t have adequate recovery equipment. Also understand your vehicles limitations, don’t do anything you feel uncomfortable with and have as much fun as your can!

If you are looking to get into Off-Roading or find a group of fellow students to wheel with, check out CSU Off-Road Club and CSU 4×4 Club. For those interested from an engineering standpoint check out Aggies Offroad Racing and Development. You can follow my build and the adventures I am having on Instagram @redrosa_offroad.