Up early and off on the Fourth of July. It was a great day for a drive though the Midwest
Day 3, Monday, July 4
Jones Mudfest & Trails, Missouri
Sunday was our last night in Nevada, Missouri, and in a hotel bed. After returning from Kansas Rocks most of the crew grabbed a quick bite to eat and hit the hay early since we knew we would be sleeping under the stars for the next four nights. A number of drivers and co-drivers stayed up until the break of dawn fixing broken axles and swapping out a ring-and-pinion.
The rest of us woke up early Monday to an always entertaining 7:30 a.m. drivers meeting. We hit the road promptly at 8, destination unknown. (Only Péwé knew we were headed to Jones Mudfest and Trails.)
We started our twisting, turning, 52-mile route through backcountry roads and detours, making our way to Lockwood, Missouri. We stopped in Lockwood for gas and ice and a few practical jokes (water balloons, zip-ties on driveshafts, a cupful of ice on the driver’s seat). Then we headed to Jones Mudfest and Trails. Independence Day is a great day for a road trip. The little towns we pass through come to life on this national holiday. It’s a slice of small-town life we really enjoy, time to appreciate American pride and the incredible feats our great nation has achieved.
On our way we stopped at an abandoned store in the middle of nowhere. The roadside stops a
Yup, another meeting. “Spray for bugs, be safe, watch for copperheads, and hydrate, hydrat
Tim Coltey of Nitto Tire was one of the few drivers and vehicles to make it across this se
The Jones Mudfest and Trails park is also a working cattle ranch owned and operated by the Jones family. Brad Jones was waiting for us at the gate with his buddies, who help cut most of the trails. We jumped out of our rigs and hit the ground running. Camp was quickly pitched, and then Rick gave his preliminary speech and Brad gave us the lowdown on the park.
Don’t let the cattle ranch part of the park deter you from visiting. We weren’t pushing cows out of our way. There is more than enough room here for great four-wheeling and tasty bovine to coexist. In fact, the Joneses hold one of the largest mud fests in the area every year that includes a 20-acre mud pit, rocks, mud drags, trails, bogs, and mud drags.
We sure found what we were looking for at the Jones park: mud. Three or four rigs made it
After the meeting we aired down and hit the trail. The temperature soared as we rolled off one of the pastures and pushed our way through the brush and onto the first trail. Under the canopy of trees we found a maze of trails with tricky off-camber ravines, rocks, trees, and stumps to negotiate. Driving in heavily forested areas requires a different set of skills. There were a number of instances at the parks during the week when drivers had to use the rocker of the vehicle to pivot a turn on the trail (especially in a 145-plus-inch wheebased F-150). A driver simply pushes the side of his rig against a tree and hits the skinny pedal. Throw a few rocks into this scenario and a couple of branches sticking through the window poking you in the face, and it makes for some great four-wheeling.
Matt Kime gave us the thumbs-up after he throttled through the mud pit. Undoubtedly this i
All the parks we wheeled were on private property, and most of the trees are harvested or relatively new. We aren’t out destroying old growth timber, nor would we condone the wanton abuse of any environment. In fact, some of the land we used was at one time or another cleared for farming and ranching. The land was left alone for a few years and it became so overgrown that most people would never know there was a farm or a trail there.
After running many trails, we came across a swampy section of park about 50 yards long that literally bogged us down for the rest of the day. We put the Warn winches and Bubba Ropes to good use here. A few of the rigs made it across the bog, but most took a high-speed run at it, only to be stopped dead center in it. On the way out of the park’s trail system we hit a few other obstacles, including an old farm wall built from the rocks cleared from the fields. A few of the long-wheelbased rigs got high-centered here, which required another round of recovery tactics.
Even the most capable rigs, like Blake Shepherd’s ’78 J-10 Honcho, didn’t make it very far
After we left the trail, Brad Jones and his guys set up a high-pressure wash station so we could knock the mud off the vehicles. The deeper mud we plowed through smelled to high heaven (or bovines?) and we needed to clean out the radiators so they wouldn’t overheat on the road. Afterward we settled into camp, broke out the stoves, cooked up meals, downed a cold brew or two, and watched a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display compliments of the park’s crew.
More tight trails! Outside of the mud pits the trails wind their way through the heavily f
Here’s a close look at the mud that stopped most rigs in the tracks. This isn’t typical of
Phil Dunievitz and his old ’75 Ford blasted through most of the obstacles on the UA with e
Ed Covey at D-Day Adventure Park chats with the UA group to explain the park and trails. D
Day 4, Tuesday, July 5
D-Day Adventure Park, Oklahoma
Many of us crawled out of our sleeping bags in the morning to find our bodies riddled with red welts. Chiggers and ticks! It also looked as if it was going to be another scorching day in the Midwest. That’s not whining; it’s an adventure. We quickly packed our gear and hit a few side roads before we jumped south and west to the D-Day Adventure Park near Wyandotte, Oklahoma, about 67 miles away.
After our mud run we found ourselves on tight trails with some creek crossings. Chuck Wigh
D-Day Adventure Park is a unique 1,000-acre multiuse park dedicated to many recreational activities. The park has a slew of difficult off-road trails and is also home to the largest paintball gaming areas in the world. It’s packed with cool old military vehicles, faux towns, and other interesting sights. The trails here range from steep and dangerous hillclimbs to rocky and washed-out ravines. Once we arrived at the park we met our host, Ed Covey, and the trail crew and then quickly set up camp.
An hour later we found ourselves in a tricky gorge on our way to a steep hillclimb. The hill was covered with loose stones and powdery dirt that gave our vehicles a tough time. Each driver only gets three chances to make an obstacle, then the winches come out. A number of the rigs had to be winched on the first hill. The climb didn’t look that steep, but it felt like it was covered with ball bearings. Ball bearings might have given more traction!
On the way off the trails at Jones Mudfest and Trails, we had to climb up and over an old
The ravine and the hillclimb took the better part of the day. Before we knew it the sun was sinking behind the Oklahoma hills. In order to make our way back to camp we bypassed the last hill we were supposed to descend into camp on, which might have been a blessing. The hill was nearly vertical and about 75 yards long with a rock ledge halfway down, which really looked like a cliff. Some of us were a bit nervous about it since there were shear drops on both sides. Losing traction and sliding off one side of the trail or other would certainly lead to disaster. We’ll save the hill for another day!
Carter Reed and co-driver Dave DeVormer from Zone Off Road Products blasted up this tricky
Builder of the Ultimate F-150, Randy Ellis wheeled everything with ease in his last-minute
Faron Tidwell representing Bubba Rope and his driver Ricardo Olavarrietta were a couple of
Stephen Watson of Offroad Design and his brother Brandon are always great to have out on t
Chad Noll from Quigley Motor Company joined us this year and brought along one of the comp
The Quigley van quickly turned out to be more than a shuttle. It was lifted and fitted wit