Jeep Jamboree USA - 9th Annual Ozark Mountains 2022

The 9th Annual Ozark Mountain Jeep Jamboree brought people from 18 different states to beautiful Northwest Arkansas.   The morning sun bounce off the yellow leaves announcing the arrival of Fall.  With a combination of sweatshirts and shorts the group gathered for the fantastic breakfast the Byrd’s staff had ready.  The drivers meeting introduced Pam Byrd Boulden and Zen Boulden, the owners of Byrd’s Adventure Center.  Pam’s family settled the land along the Mulberry generations ago and has thankfully made their family land available as a place for us to enjoy.   

After breakfast and the drivers meeting, everyone was ready to head out onto the trails.  We made our way to the Jeep and started off the day heading North on Hwy 23, affectionately called the Pig Trail. The old highway winds along the canopied trees while hugging the mountain side as the Jeeps single file make their way to the trail and start the real adventure.    The trail led us down to a favorite spot called The Waterfall for lunch.  The pools of water and the wide flat rocks were the evidence left of the water that normally fills the creek bed and flows down the ledge to the creek below.  The lack of rain made the flat rock great seats for lunch.  We enjoyed a visit with Craig, and his son Jack who were enjoying their fourth trip to the Ozarks.   Jack has grown over the years and this year came out of his shell.   Initially, some of the obstacles were overwhelming, but this year, he was ready to give us a high five, smile for the camera, and cheered as we left for the day.  Maybe it is the consistency of the group, maybe it is Jack getting a little older.  Personally, I think it is the special magic that happens when you put people in a Jeep out in the forest and let the day find its way.   It was a great feeling watching Jack be cheered on by the group and to see the happiness on his dad’s face knowing this place is where he doesn’t have to worry and just let his boy, be a boy.   

We made our way back to Byrd and to the fabulous dinner waiting.    Pam is known for making salmon with a blueberry sauce that is the talk of the night.  There is never any left over.   The bonfire was brought to life, on the stage music was played by the Jestice Family and chairs found their way to the lawn to watch the sunset and stars fill the sky.  

Saturday morning was filled with excitement to tackle the trails once again.  We headed for Wolf Ridge a forestry road with a rocky path a few mud holes that can take you by surprise.   Today, Amy, a driver new to her manual Willy’s conquered the trail in a big way.  Yesterday, with a little frustration, let her boyfriend drive.  With the new day and new confidence, she was back in the driver’s seat.   As the trail climbed a few rocky ledges, Amy’s the early morning confidence started to crack.   With help from Scott, a little insight on where to put the tires and a lot of encouragement from participants she climbed the ledge, and then the next and the next.  You could hear her shouts of joy and cheers from onlookers as Amy found something you only find on a trail, in a Jeep.  I am not sure there is a word that describes it.  It is a happiness. A confidence that in your Jeep you really can go anywhere.   It is that feeling that no matter what is around the next corner, you just have to pick your line and work your way through it.  Whatever it is, Amy found it and I am pretty sure she floated all the way back to Louisiana.  I look forward to hearing where the trail takes her. 

All good things end, and this jamboree wrapped up with another Byrd’s 1st Class dinner and a lot of goodbyes from old friend and a lot of new ones.   Every Jamboree is the result of a lot of hard work and friends that come together.  There is something special at Byrd’s.  Once you find yourself here, you become one of the bigger Byrd’s family and always feel at home.    We always look forward to coming back home to Byrd’s Adventure Center. 

- Jodi Phillips