ModernJeeper - News about Jeeps, Jeeping and Jeepers
Festive Four Wheeling Festive Four Wheeling
It is the Christmas season! The most wheeling-ful time of the year! Depending on where you live, that may or not be a true... Festive Four Wheeling

It is the Christmas season! The most wheeling-ful time of the year!

Depending on where you live, that may or not be a true statement. In areas like the South-West, wheeling in the desert is much nicer in Winter than heading out on the trail in the blazing hot Summer sun. In contrast, for those of us that live farther north, the holiday season is a relatively down-time for off-roading. Trails high in the Sierras like the Rubicon, Fordyce and the High Lakes are covered with deep snow, making them impassable to all but the most capable of buggies. Trying to wheel these trails during the winter is also dangerous and potentially deadly if you do not REALLY know what you are doing, are not prepared correctly with the right gear and equipment or do not have a capable rig. Many public lands also have “wet-season” closures, where all dirt routes in national forests are closed to motor vehicle us. That severely limits off-roading possibilities during the winter months.

Because of this, many hard-core off-roaders spend their winters in the garage wrenching on torn apart rigs and preparing for the next wheeling season. But what about us normal people who use their Jeeps as daily drivers? How can we make it through the off season while many trails are closed?

Here are four festive ways to use your four by four this holiday season:

1. Go get a Christmas Tree!

The author and his family, getting a real tree


While you COULD just drive to a corner Christmas tree lot and pay some exorbitant price for a tree, that is not a very “out-doorsy, 4×4 kinda person” way of getting a tree. Why pay nearly $100 for a Christmas tree when many National Forests offer Christmas tree permits for as low as just ten dollars?

Off-roading is about adventure and getting out into nature, and one way to do this is to drive out into the woods and cut down your own tree. Not only does it make for a great day trip into the woods, harvesting Christmas trees helps reduce hazardous fuel ladders that have built up over years of fire suppression. You are getting a cheap tree, making the forest less susceptible to fire, helping the environment and having an adventure all at the same time!

Please remember that unlike Christmas trees from a tree lot, trees from a National Forest are not groomed. You will never find the “perfect” tree, but you will have a blast wandering through the woods with your family trying to find a good one! There are few things more satisfying than cutting down your own Christmas tree right out of the woods, it just seems to have more meaning during the holidays.

Even Toyota owners deserve a Christmas Tree.


Cut your tree as close to the ground as possible.  The stump should be 12 inches or less. Select a tree that is the right height for your needs and do NOT cut a tall tree just to take the top. To really help the forest get rid of “ladder fuels” if there is a forest fire, you really want to choose a tree within 10 feet of another green tree. Also make sure that any clippings that you leave behind are not on a road or in a ditch or culvert.

When transporting your tree, make sure you have a blanket or large towel on your roof. Not only will this protect it from being scratched, but in my experience, trees cut straight out of the woods tend to have more sap than trees from a tree lot. If you have a soft top on your rig, you will want to put it down and rest the tree on top of the cage instead. Strap it down tight with the base of the tree towards the front of your rig. Also make sure that you have your tree permit (available from ranger stations) in case a Forest Ranger pulls you over.

2. Wreath your rig.


Bring your holiday spirit to the highways! Evergreen wreaths symbolize strength as evergreens last throughout the winter, even through the harshest storms. In Christianity it is a symbol of everlasting life. There is also the story of Saint Lucy, who used a lighted wreath upon her head to light her way into the Roman catacombs to bring food and aid to the Christians hiding there to avoid persecution.

As a vehicle whose roots come directly from the military, Jeeps are also a symbol of strength and aid. So there are few things more fitting than a lighted wreath attached to your grill during the holidays. While you do not necessarily need to have lighted wreath on your rig, wreaths with LED lights on them powered by a small battery pack are fairly cheap and easily found on Amazon.

Mean rigs need mean wreaths!


It takes less than a minute to zip-tie a Christmas wreath to your grill, but this quick and easy addition to your rig really adds to the already imposing figure of your Jeep driving down the road. You will be surprised as to the number of smiles you create while driving down the road in your wreathed rig.

3. Join a Holiday Parade.

Get lighted up and join a parade.


Many small towns across the country have holiday parades. Organizers of these parades often have a hard time finding people to become involved, so it is often very easy to sign up and join a parade. Gather up your 4×4 club or a few of your jeep buddies, decorate your vehicles and go have some fun! Having crowds of people cheer as you drive by will really put a you into the holiday spirit and bring a smile to your face.

If you are running Christmas lights on your rig during the parade, you will need to by a cheap inverter to power the lights. Inverters than plug into a cigarette lighter in your vehicle are okay, but it is always better to run an inverter straight to your battery. Try to find an inverter with alligator clips that you can just clip on your battery terminals. LED lights are also a must since they have less draw and are not as hot.

Get everyone in your vehicle to wear Santa hats, and if you really want to be a huge hit, buy a few big bags of candy and toss the candy out to the crowd as you cruise by. To keep a nice easy pace, I often put in jeep into four-low while in parades and  just creep along. Some of my best times behind the wheel of my jeep was participating in parades with my friends.

4. Rejoice in the ritual of Recovery!

Guys, seriously. You don’t need to do all this. I am not stuck.


As a little boy growing up in Upstate New York, I have survived a few very harsh winters. Winter storms from the frozen north of Canada would pass over lake Ontario and suck up tons of water, creating what is called “lake-effect” snow. This snow is thick, wet and utterly miserable. And to make matters worse, it only comes delivered in feet, not inches. After a huge storm, my father would toss me and a bunch of recovery gear (which back in the 70’s included chains)  into his Jeep Wagoneer, shift that Quadra-Trac in low gear, and head out to the roads to help recover people’s vehicles that were stuck in the snow. From my little 1st grader perspective at the time, by dad was a hero. He literally saved countless people and never accepted a dime in return.

Recovering people stuck in snow fits right in with the holiday spirit because you are helping others in need. It’s not only fun to play the role of the savior/superhero in a Jeep, it is also very rewarding seeing the gratitude in people’s faces. A true jeeper never excepts a payment from someone who they have pulled out (other than maybe an occasional “thank you” beer), because you never know when you may need to be the one to be recovered. Just ask them to pay it forward.

If you live in an area that is prone to snow-storms, load up your recovery gear and go out and help people! A word of warning however before you proceed on playing “Captain Pull-out”: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW PROPER AND SAFE RECOVERY METHODS! The best way to learn these is to attend a recovery class. Look for local 4×4 clubs or organization in you area as many of them hold clinics and the like on recovery. While there are multiple YouTube videos on proper recovery, a class where you can actually practice the techniques is ALWAYS better

While a winch is ideal, it’s not mandatory to have one. They just make it much easier. Make sure you have gloves, a shovel, straps and solid tow points on your rig. (D-ring shackles are the best) Use tow straps without hooks, and NEVER go old school and use chains because chains and metal hooks can become deadly if a strap breaks. As a precaution, I also recommend having the person you are pulling out hook up your strap to their own car as long as they are somewhat capable. (I would not make a 70 year old Grandma strap up her own car for example) That way if their car is damaged by pulling it out, the liability is on them.


Kurt Schneider Land-use Advocate

Kurt Schneider has been involved in Off-Road Motorsports his entire life. Literally growing up in the back seat of his father's Wagoneer, Kurt's childhood was spent camping and four wheeling over nearly the entire country. For the past two decades, he has been very involved in many aspects of the off road industry as a land-use advocate, a writer, a race team promoter and manager, a racer, and educator. He is a founding member of the Kyburz Krawlerz 4x4 club, and has been relentless in fighting to keep public lands open to public. For Kurt, off roading is not a hobby; it is a lifestyle.