Back in the fall, we hosted our Vehicle of Summer promotion, asking you to tell us about the best summer adventure you’ve had in your Jeep® brand vehicle, or why you think your Jeep brand vehicle is the vehicle of summer. Below are the three winning entries from the contest. Enjoy!
From Justin K.
My Jeep brand summer feat was an incredible one, filled with wild beauty and adventure! My girlfriend and I loaded up my 2007 Jeep Commander Limited and took a 10-day road trip through Badlands, SD, Black Hills, WY, and Glacier National Park, MT. In all, we would cover over 3500 miles of highways, back roads and trails and see all sorts of wildlife and beautiful scenery.
We arrived in Badlands in the early afternoon, just in time to watch the sun start to set and bathe the candy-striped, sandcastle rock formations in a warm red glow. The Commander absolutely gleamed in the sunlight against the red and white striped rock formations and purple and gold striated hills. As we set out through the 50-mile auto tour, which was dotted with some of the most unique hikes out onto rock formations I’ve ever done, we encountered some large, curious bison and some grazing bighorn sheep climbing on the knife-like rock outcroppings. The sheep’s big rounded horns grazed the seven-slot grille on my Commander as they curiously explored my vehicle and crossed in front of us to try that greener grass on the other side of the road. As the sun set on the colorful landscape, the Commander aptly delivered us down rocky paths through buffalo country to the far-west campground just in time for us to set up camp and watch the bright red moon rise above the tent. The scene was so mesmerizing that we had to leave the tent and lie on the hood of the Commander to watch the moon rise over Badlands while shooting stars lit the night sky. The next morning we awoke surrounded by the barking and howling calls of what sounded like millions of prairie dogs, and as I peeked out of the tent to see what was making all the noise, I saw several large bison grazing around the Sage Creek campground. We unloaded our mountain bikes from the hitch rack on the Commander and rode out into the wilderness to encounter more bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and incredible, otherworldly geological formations. As quickly and as awesomely as it started, the visit ended and we left the Badlands in the mid-day 100+ degree F heat, cruising over rocky rutted trails in the comfort of the Commander again. Now we were on our way to Glacier National Park, the famed 1 million+ acre wilderness in northern Montana. The Commander carried us swiftly and comfortably across miles of expansive prairie land where the pronghorn deer and bison outnumber the people and towns.
Finally out in the distance, the buttes came into view and then the mountains and then the high-pitched snowcapped glaciers! We were finally within view, and the Commander’s 5.7 Hemi® V8 engine roared as we excitedly passed another farm truck on the highway. We entered the park in the north heading down the old beat-up road to Many Glacier. On the way, the Commander, with its windows down and sun roof wide open, reflected in the pristine blue waters of Lake Sherburne. A lone grizzly bear slowly swam across the lake, his wide brown head leaving a wake as he approached the far shore. We stopped for pictures and couldn’t resist taking a few of the gorgeous mountains and glaciers reflecting in the lake and off the seven-slot grille of the Commander. Once we arrived at Many Glacier we were greeted by around 30 bighorn sheep posing on the rocks up above the hotel. I could almost reach them from the driver’s seat! We got out and took some more pictures, and then we paused to contemplate the journey ahead of us as the sun set over Many Glacier Hotel. Before sundown, we hiked around the small lake just to stretch our legs a bit. At the backside of the lake we were greeted by a bull moose, who was coming down the trail to the lake to take a dip and grab a drink!
The next morning we awoke to see the early-morning sun bathing the mountains in a beautiful warm red glow. We ran out to experience it in person and met a handful of other early risers and eager photographers. After breakfast we loaded up the backpacking gear and headed to the Jackson Glacier overlook to start our three-day backpacking trip. Fortunately, the Commander has ample room to accommodate mountain biking, fishing, camping and backpacking gear. I needed to make this the road trip of a lifetime. We unloaded and ate lunch at the trailhead and left the Commander behind us as we hiked out into the wilderness towards Gunsight Lake and Gunsight Pass. Three days and two nights of backpacking across Gunsight Pass brought us much closer to the wildlife, including some very personal encounters with the mountain goats and grizzlies that shared the trail and high mountain pass with us. Once we reached the other end of the 22-mile hike, we shuttled back up to the Commander. Just as we started descending back down the road, a storm rolled in, dropping hail and branches and leaving us temporarily stranded while the crews worked to cut and roll trees off the road. We sat and refueled in the comfort of the Commander while the crews cleared the roads, and I thought, “I guess I should have brought a chainsaw on this adventure too.”
The storms rolled out, leaving an eerie color to the sky, and a cool breeze blew gently as we lit the grill at our West Glacier cabin and started searing our celebratory post-backpacking meal of grilled steak, lobster, squash, red pepper, asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes…oh luxury at last! The next morning broke too early for me, and we crawled out of bed and meandered over to meet our guide and head out onto the Flathead River for some whitewater kayaking. The trip started out with about 10 miles of mostly flat water with some ripples. We followed a flock of Merganser ducks as they bobbed through some rapids and down a chute back onto flat water, where we found our lunch takeout. The guide unpacked and prepared juicy bison burgers served with quinoa salad, fruit and espresso brownies. Refueled and relaxed we headed back onto the water towards the rapids. The last five miles were packed with exciting rapids with names like “bonecrusher” and “screaming right hand” and the infamous “pillow wave” that I rode up onto a rock and back down into an eddy! Wow, what an adventure!
I found myself almost constantly trying to add up all of the amazing places I had already seen and things we had done, only to overwhelm myself with excitement. After backpacking, hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking and gourmet dining our way across Glacier National Park, we headed out to our final destination on our way back to Wisconsin. Black Hills, Wyoming, specifically the Spearfish Canyon area, was covered in off-road trails and 4×4 vehicles. The Commander felt at home at last climbing through rocks and roots and washed-out old logging roads to deliver us to a pristine trout stream at the trailhead where we were going mountain biking. My full suspension bike climbed just as nimbly as the Commander (but with a lot more physical effort) through old-growth ponderosa pines and along cascading waterfalls in the Spearfish Creek. I’ll never forget the beauty and the adventure that my Jeep brand vehicle brought us through. She carried us up over treacherous terrain, she reflected in the glacial lakes against the mountains, and she never let us down.
From Jessica H.
The best summer vacation we had this year was actually taken with BOTH of our Jeep brand vehicles! Our 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee was used to pull our travel trailer to Drummond Island, Michigan. My husband followed along with his 1998 lifted Jeep Wrangler. Our three Siberian Huskies also came along for the ride! We took the ferry across to the island and set up camp. We woke up the next morning, loaded all three dogs in the back of the Wrangler (with the net on, of course), and hit the trails. Talk about seeing some amazing scenery and using a Jeep brand vehicle for what it was meant for!
We climbed rocks, drove through mud, took high-clearance-only trails, and saw some sights that not everyone gets to see. We parked at the edge of a cliff called Marble Head overlooking the beautiful Lake Huron. As if all of that wasn’t enough fun, on the day we went to leave, we wanted to trail ride for a bit longer. Sure enough, there were some menacing clouds surrounding us, and before we could get the top up, we got poured on! The dogs were soaked and we were soaked, but we laughed so hard!
We found an awning to hide under, pulled the drain plugs, put the top up and headed to pack up camp. It was one of the most memorable mini-summer vacations we took this year. My husband and I, our three dogs, our two Jeep brand vehicles, and the travel trailer. Dinner under the stars every night. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
From Jeannie N.
For our 20-year wedding anniversary, I wanted to go wheeling in our Jeep brand vehicle in the Kentucky mountains! If our vehicle alone would be fun, bringing more Jeep brand vehicles to play would be a blast! So we loaded up for a seven-hour ride trailing two of the vehicles. Ten hours later, the trailer broke. We unloaded the vehicles and rode the rest of the way (three hours) with the wind in our hair and the tunes blasting.
The next day, we were in some of the best trails ever! We got lost for a while and the gas tanks were low, but there was nothing better than climbing over 3,000 feet and looking off the edge of the mountains that afternoon. We activated the compass in our Cherokee and we were on our way!
The next day we went the wrong way on a trail, and one wrong move and we would have been off the side of the mountain! With our trusted Jeep Wranglers, and of course drivers with nerves of steel, we were able to turn in a VERY tight spot and make it off the trail in one piece. We had a great time!
Thanks to all our readers who submitted stories! If you have a great adventure that you’d like to share, post your best photos and stories to our Facebook page!