This year, Camp Jeep was held at the Oak Ridge estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, from July 15-17 th. Camp Jeep provides a family atmosphere with activities for everyone, including crafts, tubing, mountain biking, fly-fishing, and of course, tackling some trails in your Jeep vehicle. The only requirement to join in the fun is having a Jeep and enough seatbelts in it to hold everyone coming along for the ride.
The actual camp at Camp Jeep is a tent city composed of countless white tents that contain different themed attractions. In the center of the city were three tents that showed the model history of each of the current production Jeep vehicles. I found it interesting that the Darkar concept vehicle was parked in the Liberty tent and not the Wrangler tent. (Editor’s Note: The Dakar concept, though looking like a 4 door Wrangler, actually was the precursor to the Liberty). There was also an engineering tent containing representatives from companies like New Venture, Goodyear, and BesTop.
The Liberty tent also contained the newest Liberty model, the CRD (Common Rail Diesel). They had it up on some rocks so that you could see under it pretty well. This vehicle has the largest muffler I have ever seen. Next to the Liberty was a CRD engine on display - complete with turbo and accessories.
Just inside the entrance, the large Skyjacker Jeeps were sitting outside showing off their new BFG Krawler 2’s. On the other side of the first tent were the Jeep concept vehicles including the new Rescue. This vehicle looks larger in person that I imagined it from the photos on the web. It also looks a lot less like an H2 in person. The Rescue is all Jeep - all BIG Jeep.
One of the highlights of Camp Jeep was the Rubicon Challenge course where you could drive a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon over a challenging man-made obstacle course that is a little more challenging than the 101 course. This proved to be a popular part of the camp due to the length of the lines there. We signed up the day before for a 1:30 pm time slot. I managed to climb into my Rubicon at just about 2:45 pm and it was well worth the wait.
The course had two steep hills to climb and descend and after the hills came a small water fording area that managed to make the next section of the course quite muddy. This section had a few 4x4 pieces of wood across the path bolted into place with dirt piled over them. They were just high enough to get the Rubicon hung up on and the addition of mud from the water crossing made it quite fun to navigate. This section was definitely giving some of the non-wheeling Jeepers there a challenge and a look into what rear four wheeling can be like. Most people left this section with a big smile on their faces.
New to Camp Jeep this year was the 401 course. This allowed campers to take their own vehicle through a 101-style man-made course. Nicknamed “The Playground,” it was a well-received addition. The Playground consisted of two loops - inner and outer - of different difficulties. The inner loop could be navigated by any stock Jeep vehicle. The outer loop was intended for modified vehicles with 33” or taller tires.
Each loop started with a mud pit to get the Jeeps good and dirty. After the tires were slick with mud it was time to hit the rock pile. The inner loop rock pile was stacked so that the rocks were pretty flat. The outer loop rock pile was quite challenging. After the rocks you had to navigate a few tight turns then head through some V-shaped ditches, then over the logs. Next came the hill climbs. Both were tough when it was wet, but luckily there was no rain during the three days of trail rides at Camp Jeep.
After the hill was completed you were given a chance to balance your vehicle on the teeter totters that are normally used on the 101 course.
There is much more to Camp Jeep then just four wheeling. This event was one of the most family-oriented Jeep events that I’ve ever been to. There were two tents set up to do hands-on arts and crafts projects. By Friday these classes were booked for the entire weekend.
For those that wanted some relaxing time out on the water, there was tubing. The Adventure tower looked interesting, but it was booked by the time we got around to signing up. There were also small Jeeps near the Rubicon Challenge course for the children to drive. For the more active campers there was a tent full of very nice Tomac full-suspension mountain bikes to take out into the woods.
The three days that we spent in Camp and on the trails were the most relaxing that I've had in a while. The atmosphere was very friendly and inviting. It was nice to not be wrenching on my Jeep to get on the trail the next day. The trails are a bit more sedated than at other events, but if you are looking to spend some time with your family and enjoy the Jeep, there aren't any other events quite like Camp Jeep.
Camp Jeep is held annually. You can learn more at www.jeep.com.