Jeep Jamboree USA - Ouray, CO - 2022
The last time I was in the San Juans was over 20 years ago for a snowboarding trip to Telluride. Despite taking a variety of Jeeps all over Colorado, I'd never made it into the San Juans for any 4x4 exploration. So when the opportunity came up to attend the Jeep Jamboree event in Ouray I was really excited to finally get the Jeep to Southwest Colorado.
With the leaves changing, the drive from Denver itself is a treat. Kenosha Pass is always beautiful and dropping into Buena Vista never gets old but as we left Montrose and drove towards Ouray we really sensed that this was going to be a special trip. So with excitement being peaked with the views, the Jeep Jamboree signs and the sight of a dozens of Jeeps was such a happy site to see as we rolled into town. The volunteers got us quickly through inspection and then we were out catching up with old friends and making some new ones. We took a little time to explore the little town of Ouray, their unique shops and restaurants and the mannerisms that make these small towns so unique.
Friday morning started off with one of many delicious meals provided by the Jamboree. Excitement guickly grows as you hear stories from past attendees, the anticipation of new Jeepers and the glow of the sun starts creeping down the mountains toward the staging area. Some quick announcements and then back to the vehicles where you get to meet those in your trail group and the trail leaders for the day. Everyone is always in such good spirits and I feel that Jamboree brings out the best in a diverse group.
Ophir to Imogene was our Friday adventure and was a great start to the weekend. I've been in Colorado for 27 years and have never seen fall colors quite like this. There were times the leaves looked like they were on fire in the way they caught the sun. The trails didn't disappoint either. While not terribly difficult, it was an enjoyable climb to and above treeline. The climb up and down Imogene was a little more exhilirating with the steeper drop-offs on the shelf roads. Probably not as fun for those with a fear of heights but I thoroughly enjoyed it and, as always, was thankful for the Jeep that gets me to these amazing areas. The view from the top of Imogene was quite spectacular.
Day two had us headed up Poughkeepsie Gulch, over Hurricane Pass and down Corkscrew Gulch. This trail was a blast the whole way through. Despite some mechanical issues on one of the Jeeps, the Trail Guides did a great job keeping everyone moving and enjoying the trails. The Wall on Poughkeepsie was fun and saw a variety of rigs take a couple different lines. Hurricane had some of the best views from the trip, though it was hard to really pick a favorite. Everywhere you looked throughout all the trails was worthy of a photo. There really is something up the mountains here that's different. The stop at Lake Como was special as well. The water just doesn't seem real. Clear and vibrant and incredibly cold. It was nice to hang out there for a while. I think everyone pulled some energy from this magic place. It was nice to see the group pull together for another trail repair that was taken care of pretty quickly.
On our way out of town on Sunday we met up with a few new friends from the Saturday run and decided to knock off a bucket list item: Black Bear Pass. The iconic trail quickly winds up Black Bear pass and greeted us with more spectacular colors and couple deer near the summit. The back half is where things really get interesting. Off-camber rocks and the tightest switchbacks I've ever been on called for some concentration. We made lots of stops to enjoy the scenery of the falls and little town of Telluride growing as we descended.
All the trails had abandoned mining areas and the guides provided both historic and personal stories of the area and the mines on top of keeping everything running smooth with large groups of Jeep crossing paths throughout the day. It's bittersweet to leave after such an amazing weekend. New friends, amazing views, hours and hours of Jeeping and a community unlike any other. But the memories made are special and the anticipation of meeting up at the next Jamboree is reassuring.
We can't overstate it, but if you haven't attended a Jeep Jamboree event, you really should do yourself a favor and get registered. And get on a waitlist if your preferred event is sold out. We met so many people that got in last minute. Curios what you'll need? Check out our Jeep Jamboree Checklist. We ran this event in our JLU Rubicon setup with our 3.75" Advanced Kit and 37" General Tire Grabber X3s. Performance to easily handle almost any obstacle and comfort to drive to any trail!
Until the next Jamboree, Happy Wheeling!