2012 Jeep Wrangler: Last Chance Canyon
January 22, 2013
The Sunday trip was set and we were off. Last Chance was the destination and we made good time getting there. This particular area is south of one my other favorites, Jawbone, where I spent countless weekends trying to ride MX bikes that were way too tall for me as a kid.
Last Chance Canyon is a beautiful remote canyon within Red Rock Canyon State Park. Not exactly the most hardcore wheeling, but it's spectacular and there's a lot more than just rocks and sand. The name Last Chance is generally associated with explorers and prospectors who finally found water as time was running out via dehydration.
The 10-mile trail led mostly along a wash with deep sand interspersed with rocky sections. That made careful wheel placement and a bit of spotting necessary to prevent any body and/or undercarriage bonks. Now, the Jeep didn't have any trouble, but the combination of the short wheelbase and the spring set up made it a VERY jarring ride. Even with the tires aired down to 25 psi, every single rock said hello and anytime a bump stop was "reached" it was so violent I would jump out and check for damage.
The concrete foundations and scattered tramways are all that remained of the Cudahy Camp and the Old Dutch Cleanser Mines, which produced the pumice-based cleanser from 1923 to 1947. The chalky white pumice deposits were the result of many layers of volcanic ash that settled over time.
The trail left the wash and headed up a short but steep low traction climb. The Pentastar equipped Jeep made it up no problem. Once through the main wash the trail opened up to show off pink and rose-colored walls and rock formations, and led us to the southern tip of the El Paso Wilderness. From there it was a quick trek via some sandy valley floor single track back out to California Hwy 14. Now that's where this thing shines. Higher speeds and no rocks made our trip back to the asphalt world much more enjoyable.
John Adolph, Senior Multimedia Editor @ 24116 miles