2012 Jeep Wrangler: The Big Loop
January 23, 2013
Los Angeles, Sacramento, Reno, Virginia City, Bishop, Panamint Springs, Death Valley and back home.
The 2012 Jeep Wrangler wouldn't be considered much of a road trip vehicle, but with two dogs and two adults it fit the bill. The back seat was removed to help with canine and cargo space. With a smartphone/iPod hooked up to the aux we were off.
The highlight for me was Hwy 395 along the southern sierras and the Saline and Panamint Valleys. This is the good stuff. The Jeep seems happier in these surroundings.
After meeting up with some friends camping in Death Valley, we ran down to the Racetrack of Moving Rocks. One thing we did notice was rental Jeeps. Tons of them. Makes sense to me since a bit of confidence can go a long way in unfamiliar surroundings, and also Jeeps are symbolically American. Like Harleys and Route 66, people come from all over the world to experience this place in an American way.
When leaving the Racetrack we took Hidden Valley Road as a shortcut back to camp at Panamint Springs. One stop before the sun went down was Lost Burro Mine. Rusted equipment, abandoned shafts, and the camp structures are still standing. Nothing hardcore about this trail, but we did hit a foot and a half of snow and a ton of ice. The desert landscape mixes with red sand and junipers at the higher elevations of the pass and at the top both aforementioned valleys can be seen.
So after 1,300 miles here's my gripe: the soft top. I don't mind the noise. I don't mind the leaks. Visibility? Oh well. My main concern is security and access. Having to unload all the gear nightly was a real pain. The zippers are sticky and hard to handle in sub freezing temps.
Overall. mpg was 13.56, and that's pretty good considering the extra weight of people, luggage, and recovery gear (including heavy duty snow chains).
John Adolph, Senior Multimedia Editor @ 25,686 miles