You are sitting behind the wheel of your JK, completely removed from society just staring at the trail ahead that is lined with rocks and boulders. You scan the trail, looking for how you can pilot your rig over all the obstacles in front of you, while your spotter gives you the thumbs up and points to the path you need to take—this is what owning a JK is all about. There is a certain feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes from looking at an area you should not be able to drive through, yet ultimately conquering it from behind the wheel of your Wrangler.
Regardless of how modded your Wrangler is, every Jeeper should get out and go rock crawling today (or tomorrow if you already have plans). Going rock crawling is a rite of passage for every Jeep owner as it is the ultimate bond between a driver and their rig. Crawling ultimately offers you the chance to gain a better understanding of your limits as well as your rig’s through a challenging course that you navigate with the help of a friend/spotter, all the while being in the middle of nature. Every Wrangler owner should go crawling at least once so they can experience first-hand all the benefits of one of the most fun off-road activities anyone can do.
The Challenge of the Course
When looking at the big picture of all the different things you could do with your JK, rock crawling is the most challenging and technical of them all. Rock crawling is in the upper echelon recreational off-roading as it requires a greater level of thought and execution, unlike other types of off-roading. You can’t just hop in your rig and hit the throttle, hoping for the best, when you go crawling; you have to carefully think out your approach and your delivery, taking into consideration if you will high-center yourself, if the suspension will bottom out, where to turn, how much throttle to apply, where to place rocks, and what way-points to hit.
Rock crawling is a challenging endeavor, which can come off as intimidating to some, but ultimately it just means you need to treat it with a greater level of respect then you would rolling down a fire access trail. While rock crawling does offer its fair share of challenges, it does come with a mix of rewards; a day of crawling can offer unparalleled scenic views, a better understanding of your rig’s capabilities, and improved vehicle control.
Understanding Your Relationship with Your Rig
One of the biggest benefits of rock crawling – something every off-roader who is still green behind the ears needs – is that you get more seat time behind the wheel which ultimately makes you not only a better driver, but also helps you to understand your JK better. When you hit the trail to go crawling, you will quickly realize the limits of your rig as well as yourself. Putting your JK through its paces on the trail will help you to realize where you may need to mod/improve your Wrangler, as well as what you need to work on to become a better driver, whether it is eyeing up your approach or getting a grasp on throttle control.
Now in the case of modded Jeeps being piloted by under-experienced drivers, there are situations where the rig is more capable than the driver—and that’s perfectly okay (when you use a level head). It is important to not let your pride get the best of you and to know when a trail/course is above your skill level. However, should you find yourself in a precarious situation, remember to take your time and to not rush the route out of frustration. Communicating with your spotter and working together to find the best path on the trail (erring on the side of caution) will help you to have a successful rock crawling outing. Modded or not, every time you go crawling you should walk away from the experience having gained more skill behind the wheel and feel more comfortable driving your rig through intimidating landscapes.
Experiencing Nature in a New Way
A large part of the crawling experience isn’t just about you and your Jeep, but also where you are at. If you are going rock crawling, you are not going to be around paved roads and developed neighborhoods; instead you are out on the trail with mud and dirt beneath your tires, in remote parts of the country, taking everything in while you navigate the adventure ahead of you. Going deep into nature, with your Wrangler opened up to the world around, you get to experience and see things that most other people don’t—something we Jeepers can take for granted. Your JK is your ticket to seeing sights and going places that most other vehicles will never have the ability to.
No matter how modified your JK is, every Jeep owner has the ability to go rock crawling simply because of the set of keys they have in their pocket. Granted, you may not be able to tackle the most challenging of trails, but you can still get out and have an incomparable experience that will leave you a better driver with some good memories, and even some good pictures if you take your camera with you!