There are six major association sponsored events held all over the state during the year. They are Winter Fun Festival, Molina Ghost Run, Hi Desert Round-Up, Sierra Trek, Operation Desert Fun and Panamint Valley Days.
For the past 41 years, volunteers from the North District have worked diligently to promote, organize and put on Sierra Trek, one of the association’s best attended and most successful fund raising events held every year in the high Sierra in northern California. It all began with a dream. Ed Dunkley, Lew Siepert, and a few other dedicated volunteers, decided to see if they could find the old wagon trail from Cisco Grove to Meadow Lake.
The first Trek was held Oct. 7-8, 1967 with the base camp at Meadow Lake and participants used the Fordyce Creek Trail. Fifty Jeeps and Broncos made the trail ride. The following year, Trek was moved to Mormon Emigrant Trail at Carson Pass and in 1969, the event was held at Grouse Ridge. In 1971, the Fordyce Creek Trail and Meadow Lake were voted by the North District to be the official site for Sierra Trek.
Due to fire restrictions and fire dangers, the Trek base camp was moved to Cisco Grove for the 41st annual Sierra Trek in 2008.
Hi Desert Round-Up was born in 1969 and was called Randsburg Round-Up until the name was changed in 1971 to Hi Desert Round-Up. This annual four-wheel drive extravaganza is held over Memorial Day weekend each year and includes a wide variety of trail runs, 4X4 games, great food, and ever-lasting friendship. Some interesting trail names include The Empire Strikes Back, El Diablo, Devil’s Loop, Blue Moon, Achy Breaky and Calico Ghost Town.
Clubs involved in the recent 37th annual Hi-Desert event were the Desert Dawgs, Inland Empire 4 Wheelers, Riverside Ruff Riders, Gad-Zuks, Rock Cat Racing, Drifters Jeep Club, On the Rocks 4 Wheelers, Hemet Jeep Club, and Point Mugu 4 Wheel Drive Club.
The south district recently completed its 23rd annual Panamint Valley Days, located east of Ridgecrest. Panamint is a three-day, family-oriented event that draws four-wheelers from throughout southern California and other states. Event officials have set up challenging and historical runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The Molina Ghost Run, hosted by the Central District, saw its beginning in March, 1974. The trailhead is Clear Creek Off Highway Vehicle Park, located approximately 30 miles northwest of Coalinga and managed by the BLM. [Note: Due to the closure of the Clear Creek area, the run has since been relocated to Hollister Hills SVRA.]
The main trail for the event is Goat Mountain, which typically draws about 200 rigs from around the state. Trail committee members set up two distinct runs: One, “Hard” for those having lockers and “Easy” for the neophytes and rigs without lockers.
As you read this chronicle, Winter Fun Festival, hosted by the North District, just completed its 27th annual event. Beginning with just a few vehicles and families in the early days, the event has grown to more than 600 participants each year. With a base camp at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, Winter Fun offers 13 different trips in the snow ranging from historical sport utility vehicle (SUV) runs to the Frostbite Express with potentially unlimited snow depths.
In addition to the exciting snow runs, Winter Fun officials provide meals from Friday night dinner through Sunday lunch and a wide array of games and entertainment for adults and children in the large fairground hall.
The newest member of the association event family is Operation Desert Fun (ODF). ODF, in conjunction with the San Diego Paralyzed Veterans, completed its sixth successful event this past September. The event, staged at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area in the southern California desert, offers not only four-wheel drive trips, but also motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) runs for every skill level. One of the highlights of ODF is the Powder Puff Run, where women and men dressed like women have a great time on their special run. The men contestants compete for the prestigious “Ugliest Broad in the Desert” award.