All Jeeped up, nowhere to go...

Activity Date: 
07/11/2009

So, we bought the Jeep on Wednesday, and here it is Saturday and we've not done anything fun with it yet! Sure, we drove around town a lot for errands and got to know it a little better, but still!

We also had to get everything we kept in the Honda, and the Yakima spacecase on its roof, into the RV, Jeep, or otherwise dispose of it. That took a lot of time as well.

So, finally today, we set out to do more. We looked up a couple of off road trails in the area. We did not want something super challenging or long to get our feet wet in our own Jeep, so we picked a couple of the easier ones. Our first choice was the Phantom Creek, Signal Butte loop that starts just outside of the town of Divide which is about 20 miles west of Colorado Springs down Hwy 24.

We got our gear together, sunscreened up, took off the two front roof panels, and hit the road. We took I-25 south a few miles, and as we got close to Hwy 24, there was a huge backup of traffic waiting to exit onto 24. It looked a lot like there was some kind of big accident on 24, and the exit lane didn't seem to be moving. So, we drove by and exited at the next chance, turned around and headed north again. Things looked no better for 24 from this direction, so we decided to bail and try our second choice trail; Mt Herman and Rampart Range.

So, we drove about 20 miles or so north to the city of Monument where we could pick up Mt. Herman road. We drove through the town and ran across a tiny farmers market and smelled some yummy food cooking somewhere. Well, we had packed our lunch (PB&J) for the trail and so drove on by. After a few more miles and turns we came to the trail. It was closed! :( Apparently there was some kind of accident a week earlier and things were closed down for cleaning it up.

We didn't have any other trail information with us, so we decided to go back to the RV and look up some other possibilities. But, going by the farmers market again we could not resist wonderful smells and got sucked in and had philly cheesesteaks! Yum! :) After filling up, it was back down to Colorado Springs we went. We got back to the RV park and most all we'd done to that point is drive up and down the interstate. We were getting a little tired of the sunshine and wind, and rain clouds were rolling in, so I put the roof panels back on.

Given a better map, we found a way to bypass the traffic on 24 and we managed to get on the highway heading west quite easily. We planned to head to Divide and go for the Phantom Creek, Signal Butte trail. However, there was a big storm building further west and we doubted we could get there and drive the trail before big rains. So, we decided to stop short in Woodland Park and pick up the lower part of the Rampart Range trail as it leads its way back to Colorado Springs.

We finally got to the start of a trail!! It was about 15 miles long, ultimately taking us back to the Garden of the Gods Park and into Colorado Springs.

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Hmmm... as you can see, this looks like a normal road(!). This road was quite well maintained and really was a letdown for us. It can be driven in a regular old car. In fact, we happened to see quite a few of them including minivans and luxury cars! Not really a "4WD trail".

Oh well, regardless of the road, the scenery was nice. More wildflowers in bloom:

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The road wound around a mountainside so we had some great views. The rocks were pretty cool.

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The thunderstorm was catching up to us, but we managed to stay just at the edge of it for most of the drive.

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At one point, we saw an unoccupied dispersed camping site that was a little ways up a somewhat tortured side road. So, we had a little fun switching to 4WD-lo to drive up and down that. Yee haw! :) Here's another side road (yes, we were desperate to find some real 4WD terrain).

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Views to the south towards Pikes Peak.

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A view east...the thunderstorm was dumping on Colorado Springs. That's our road right below us on the bottom of the picture.

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Yet another picture of our new jeep. :) The rocks along the road were really beautiful.

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Eventually, we wound our way down the mountain and came out through the Garden of the Gods park. It has some stunning rock formations. Here is where you drive around a corner and have rocks pop up right in your face. It seemed like every car was pulling over to take a picture, just like we did.

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Another view of Garden of the Gods rocks.

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We would have liked to get out and hike around in the rocks, but the storm was catching up to us. It doesn't just rain here, it pours along with hail. Better off in the car than out hiking on a trail.

Anyway, while we did see a lot of nice stuff, it was no stretch for the Jeep. But, the Jeep was just great on the interstate. We got up to about 75 MPH, and it felt steady and reasonably quiet on the road. We were both quite comfortable and everything worked great. So, it's not just good at the off-road stuff. :)