The first things you notice about Montana and Wyoming are the dramatic landscapes, high Rocky Mountain terrain, vast open plains, small towns, and abundant wildlife. These places truly leave an everlasting impression on the senses. Also, the two states constitute one of the few remaining sanctuaries in the lower 48 that still retain some of the Old West frontier feel and adventure.
The extent of the states' spectacular and diverse terrain made them the perfect setting for the 2006 Eaton Corporation/Detroit Locker and 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine Trail Tour. Eaton/Detroit is a company that has made a lasting impact on the sport of four-wheeling, and it is always an honor to hit the trail with its representatives.
Jim McGean and his wife Toni...
Jim McGean and his wife Toni tested the water of the Judith River.
This is the second year 4WD&SU has participated in the Trail Tour event, and we covered just over 950 miles of trails and highway and experienced every type of wheeling terrain imaginable. Dirt, rock, mud, deep snow, river crossings - you name it, we rolled through it. With the freezing sleet and snow in the high mountain passes and the hot, dry desert heat, it was like experiencing all four seasons in one short week.
The event started in Lewistown, Montana, about 200 miles east of the capital city, Helena. If you aren't familiar with this part of the country, Lewistown is the epitome of a quaint farming community. Like the majority of towns in this area, community life revolves around agriculture and a redbrick Main Street. It's quite a refreshing visit for us city folk.
Brothers Curtis and Dave Warner...
Brothers Curtis and Dave Warner from the Gear Centre in Canada see just how deep they can go.
For day one of the adventure, we lined up the 22 participating vehicles and headed to the Judith River Trail system southwest of Lewistown in the Little Belt Mountains. This turned out to be a full day of river crossings and wet fun through an astoundingly beautiful mountain range. By the end of the day, we had chalked up a total of 36 river crossings and one injured and hydrolocked Project Grand Caddy, which remained out of commission for the rest of the trip. After a full day on the trail, we looped back northwest to Lewistown for the evening.
On day two of the journey we headed east on Highway 87 and Highway 200 toward Winnett, Montana. This is one of the smallest towns we encountered on our journey, with its population of 187 according to the 2000 Census Bureau report. Actually, we had passed through a few smaller towns but didn't notice until the towns' only two buildings were a small silhouette in the rearview mirror. Just outside Winnett, we found ourselves wheeling on the Lund Cattle Ranch. Ranches in Montana are really still ranches, if that makes sense. Believe it or not, with 23,000 working acres, this ranch is small in comparison to other Montana ranches.