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Rock Crawling: Ultimate Motorsports

What Is Rock Crawling?

Rock Crawling is an extreme form of off-road sport where different types of vehicles are driven through and over difficult terrains and obstacles. Any type of vehicles can be used, but the most common are jeeps, trucks, and buggies. Many rock crawling enthusiasts modify their vehicles in order to make them more powerful and flexible in any type of harsh terrain.  Rock crawling usually takes place on mountain trails, boulders, mountain foothills, and terrains with almost impassable trails. Rock crawling is a fast growing sport and it is even featured on some TV shows.

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History Of Rock Crawling

When automakers started manufacturing more four-wheel-drive vehicles and people started buying them, the growing interest in driving off road also flourished. Many outdoor enthusiasts started using their four-wheel-drives on off-road trails.  It started as a follow-the-leader type of game until only the hardcore off-roaders were left. Phil Howell is the rock crawling originator and he made the rules and point system for the sport. In 1998, the first ever nationally recognized rock crawling event started with 40 highly modified vehicles competing.

Rules And Point System Of Rock Crawling

A team is composed of the four-wheel-drive vehicle, the driver, and the navigator or spotter. The goal is to have the lowest points at the end of the competition. The team doesn’t accrue points if they follow these rules:

  • Vehicle should not hit any navigational markers located on the courses they have to drive through.
  • Drivers should avoid putting the vehicle in reverse.
  • The team should avoid using a winch to help them get forward on the course.

Customizing The Vehicle

Ordinary manufactured four-wheel-drives will never survive the unforgiving trails of rock crawling courses. Competitors and enthusiasts have to modify and customize their vehicles in order to get through boulders and large rocks. The custom parts for rock crawling vehicles include:

  • Off road mud terrain tires that are taller and bigger than usual
  • Four wheel steering
  • Modified suspensions
  • Locking differentials
  • Torque modifications
  • Engine upgrade
  • Roll cage to protect driver
  • Winches
  • Portal axles
  • Body armor
  • Upgraded shock absorbers

These are just some of the custom parts that can be installed in the vehicle. The possibilities for modifications are endless.


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Where Are The Best Places For Rock Crawling?

Now that you have modified your vehicle and you are ready to take your rock monster vehicle for its ultimate test, where would you go? Here are some of the best known places in the US for some rock crawling action.

Rubicon Springs – McKinney Road

It is located 50 miles east of Sacramento and this trail is very popular for rock crawlers. The course is 12 miles in length and it includes popular four-wheel obstacles such as Big and Little Sluice Box, Walker Hill, and Cadillac Hill. You can finish the trail in one day and the view at the top of the Cadillac Hill obstacle is truly spectacular.


The Anaconda course is located 30 miles north of Phoenix and it is considered to be one of the most difficult rock trails in Arizona. The highlight of the Anaconda course includes sheer waterfall, vertical rock walls, and very narrow notches. If you survive this challenging snakelike trail, you can also try out the other nearby trails, which offer average to advanced difficulty.

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Habanero Falls

Habanero Falls is located 10 miles west of Las Cruces, New Mexico and it is the site for the Chile Challenge that is a gathering of rock crawling enthusiasts. The trail may be short, but it offers many difficult challenges such as large, rock faces and scattered boulders. At the very end of the trail, you will encounter six, very steep waterfalls, which should not be taken lightly.

The Snake Pit

The name itself is very daunting and you should expect difficult obstacles for this course. The Snake Pit is located 10 miles south of Clayton, Oklahoma. This trail will take you through a series of creek beds with lots of large, wet boulders, and big, underwater drop offs. Water will be a huge factor for this trail so you have to do your own waterproofing modifications. Your rig will mostly be half underwater and beware of poisonous snakes as well.

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