Roadtrip West 4x4 or car?


Original Post
Kyle Berthiaume · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 60
  • I'll be headed West from Minnesota to Rushmore, Ten sleep, Lumpy Ridge, Turkey Rocks and Indian Creek. Should I drive a four-door sedan, or my straight-cab 4x4 work truck. Car = way better sleep when using vehicle instead of tent. Also, over 30 mpg vs 16 mpg truck... But I started thinking about access issues, would I regret not having the clearance and 4x4? Trip will be mid s September through mid October. Thoughts?
K. Le Douche · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 100

You'd be fine with the car.  Save the gas money for beer.

sherb · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 60

Having choices suck.  For the past 10 years I only had a car so it wasn't an option to take a 4x4, and have few problems most places.  It's nice getting 33mpg highway.  It sucks to bottom out, or have a fear that you won't be able to get back up a steep hill, especially if it's muddy (PMRP hill in the RRG).  The key is to drive slowly up a hill.  I haven't gotten stuck anywhere, not even in snow, except one time when it was 16" in my own parking lot.  I even drove thru what turned out to be a 50-car accident with cars and trucks spinning out all around me on ice.  The truck behind me skidded into the van in front of me when I got out the way.  

I have slept in my car versus setting up a tent for a night, or when I'm alone (like being able to make a fast getaway in case monsters come along, instead of pack up tent).  Are you sure you mean your car provides better sleep?  I'm curled up and on a slant in my car.  thought that perk would go to the truck, to sleep in the bed.

Regarding access issues, probably most places it would be nice but not necessary to have a 4x4.  For example Indian creek for certain towers (other towers have a paved parking lot) you don't necessarily need a truck, just higher clearance for off road- or a car you don't care about and don't mind bottoming out on, or scraping the bottom.  There are also normally areas where you meet people where you don't need 4x4 to access, and then you can hop in someone's 4x4, which is what I do if there is an access question.

I think at current gas prices and a 2,000 mile trip you save $150 with the car instead of truck.

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

At all of those places you will see some hardcore, dirty, climber pull out a rack of climbing gear worth more than his rig. I am talking some beater station wagons and sedans and what not. I am honestly amazed that some of the vans I see run. Clearance is nice but it shouldnt be a deal breaker. 

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300

You're going to have so many choices of things to climb that having a lower clearance car might simplify your decision making and probably make for a more comfortable trip in addition to cheaper.  How low is the car? Does it have a particularly low/long nose or tail? I had a rental Passat sedan at Indian Creek and it was definitely annoying and limiting in places where even something like a Camry would have been fine.  Do you have particular goal routes (especially some of the towers maybe) that have difficult access? Also, if it just means one route on the trip that you have to walk a ways for, then maybe not worth the money and carbon footprint?

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 483

While there's plenty to do at Indian Creek for a long time with a normal car, a high clearance vehicle is nice and maybe necessary for a bunch of classic areas there

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 23,225

My Toyota Carolla could access 90% of the places in the west I wanted to go to climb in the last 25 years.
My Subaru Wagon could access > 75% of the rest.
There have been a few where something more was needed to make me comfortable doing it (IE stuff along white rim, and a few other Utah towers) but it has been rare.

Take the car if it serves you.  Yes, there are classics that you can't reach in a car, but unless you are alone, you have a shot at getting to them still, or can walk a few extra miles (liek a few Indian Creek crags) or simply do the classics that a car CAN reach.  There is a lifetime of climbing out there, and if you can only get to 90% of it with that car, I bet you still have a darn fine time.

Kyle Berthiaume · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 60
sherb wrote:

I have slept in my car versus setting up a tent for a night, or when I'm alone (like being able to make a fast getaway in case monsters come along, instead of pack up tent).  Are you sure you mean your car provides better sleep?  I'm curled up and on a slant in my car.  thought that perk would go to the truck, to sleep in the bed.

My car (actually, wife's) is an Elantra, so fairly low clearance. Truck is regular cab with an eight foot bed. As far as sleeping goes, I think the odds of us wanting to move into the bed of the truck for sleep is low. Mostly because of the cold and wet (no topper) and most vehicle sleeping will be a quick nap to combat drowsy driving.

Thanks for the replies everybody, I'll probably just take the car. It's just that I don't like that feeling of defeat when there is a place I want to go guarded by a few miles of gravel potholes and I'm in a car. Can I climb those awesome looking cracks in the South Platte with a car? Oh, as far as towers in IC goes, maybe the Six Shooters and Owl on the tick list.

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
Kyle Berthiaume wrote:

My car (actually, wife's) is an Elantra, so fairly low clearance. Truck is regular cab with an eight foot bed. As far as sleeping goes, I think the odds of us wanting to move into the bed of the truck for sleep is low. Mostly because of the cold and wet (no topper) and most vehicle sleeping will be a quick nap to combat drowsy driving.

Thanks for the replies everybody, I'll probably just take the car. It's just that I don't like that feeling of defeat when there is a place I want to go guarded by a few miles of gravel potholes and I'm in a car. Can I climb those awesome looking cracks in the South Platte with a car? Oh, as far as towers in IC goes, maybe the Six Shooters and Owl on the tick list.

I think you'll be walking at least for South Six in the Elantra. Beautiful walk, long, but the climbing is really easy so it's fine.

Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 23,225
Kyle Berthiaume wrote:

 Can I climb those awesome looking cracks in the South Platte with a car? Oh, as far as towers in IC goes, maybe the Six Shooters and Owl on the tick list.

In that case, if you mean Turkey, it's not the car it is the driver...  you CAN get back there, but you have to know how to drive it or it adds a mile to your trip.  I've taken the Corolla back there..  It scrapes here and there.  Know where to put the differential and where to put the muffler.  Most other crags are easier to get to.  Sheeps' Nose, Acid Rock, etc and such are gravel, but flat, good roads.

Pete Spri · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 170
Kyle Berthiaume wrote:
  • I'll be headed West from Minnesota to Rushmore, Ten sleep, Lumpy Ridge, Turkey Rocks and Indian Creek. Should I drive a four-door sedan, or my straight-cab 4x4 work truck. Car = way better sleep when using vehicle instead of tent. Also, over 30 mpg vs 16 mpg truck... But I started thinking about access issues, would I regret not having the clearance and 4x4? Trip will be mid s September through mid October. Thoughts?

If you are planning a 2 month trip over those 4-5 areas, I would take the car.  You can hit classics at all of those places with a car without too much trouble at all.

Bill Czajkowski · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 30
Pete Spri wrote:

If you are planning a 2 month trip over those 4-5 areas, I would take the car.  You can hit classics at all of those places with a car without too much trouble at all.

Even Turkey Rocks? Last time I went there (it was night and wet) it was a pretty rough road in. Everywhere else I'd agree.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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