Story/Photograph Nate Hughes

So I’ve got a real change of pace for you guys, instead of racing around a paved track, we’re going to be crawling up and over giant boulders.

This is the Great American Crawl, an event organized by Rockstar Energy, where the whole purpose is to travel across the nation and find the trails that offer the best wheeling they can find. This is something that I have been watching on YouTube for the last couple of years. So when I first saw the announcement that they were coming to Montrose as part of this year’s tour, I got excited that I’d get the chance to watch the event in person. But also at the same time, I was wondering where the hell they would be wheeling. Since I’ve never had a capable vehicle of my own I had no clue that my hometown, Montrose, had such extreme trails. I have heard that Montrose did have some great off-road trails when I went to a similar event last year but I just figured they got Montrose confused with Ouray since the majority of them were from the east coast. 

As I was walking around in the staging area I caught myself with a giant grin on my face. I love seeing all the different rigs, each with its own battle scars and dents. Trying to figure out which vehicle the chassis was inspired by, or how much of the vehicle is original. Watching everyone fix the problems on their vehicles, one of my favorites was a catch can or overfill reservoir made out of an old 5-quart oil bottle zip-tied to the engine. 

Being amongst all of these amazing and extremely capable 4-wheeling vehicles reconnects me to some of my childhood and some of my favorite videos to watch as a kid. It was tied between Grave Digger 25th-anniversary DVD and Top Truck Challenge: Ultimate Four Wheeling for the top spot. Along with that, my parents took me to some off-roading meet-ups on the trails. 

Before everyone went out to the trials there was a drivers’ meeting that was making sure everyone got into their right groups and that anyone that wanted to be a part of the barbeque was accounted for later that night. Anyways, my original plan was to try and catch a ride with someone in the main group, but since the main rig in Rockstars Garage “Gridlock“ was not here as it was undergoing repairs I wasn’t dead set on having to tag along with “media group” as they called it. Fortunately, getting a ride was not anywhere as hard as I thought it would be. I ran into an acquaintance from high school, who was just taking his new rig out on the trails for the first time since he bought it.

I was fortunate enough to catch a ride with him on the trial. The trail that they were running was called Death’s Row, it’s supposedly one of the hardest trails that the area has to offer. After a short drive from the staging area, I met up with my ride and hopped in. The trail that we went down splits into two trails shortly after we left the trailhead.

Once we got to the first obstacle I truly got a grasp of how hard the trail was going to be. There were three different ways up it; one of the easier ways was to put your driver-side tires on the giant rock in the middle of the trail and continue up it. As you begin to get off-canter you get to the ledge that you have to go over to continue on the trail and it puts you in a crack that swallows 40-inch tires, the easiest way up is to just completely ignore the giant rock and just attack the giant ledge head-on, right afterward you have an immediate right that’s going to pinch you between another giant boulder and an extrusion of the hillside, the final and hardest way to approach the first obstacle is to just go up the hillside that just has about a 5 foot or so ledge that has many smaller ledges at the top and then you’d have to traverse across the hillside to be perpendicular to the easiest route up. 

Unfortunately, that is all I was able to see as I had to go to work later in the day and by the time the whole group was finished with the first obstacle, it was already noon. So I had to walk back to my car at the trailhead and went home to prepare for my shift at work. I left wishing I could have been there all day and got to enjoy more of my hometown’s trails that I knew so little of. But I enjoyed it and left the trials as happy as I could be.