ModernJeeper - News about Jeeps, Jeeping and Jeepers
The Real Treasure? The People of the Rubicon Trail The Real Treasure? The People of the Rubicon Trail
Special to ModernJeeper by our friend and contributor, Don Amador who just completed driving a Metalcloak Jeep over the Rubicon Trail with a serious,... The Real Treasure? The People of the Rubicon Trail

Special to ModernJeeper by our friend and contributor, Don Amador who just completed driving a Metalcloak Jeep over the Rubicon Trail with a serious, political OHV tour.

The Editors


The Rubicon Trail may be the best example of how diverse agency and non-agency partnerships have become the core element of any successful local, state, or federal OHV program.

Thanks to Metalcloak’s long-standing support for sustainable OHV advocacy efforts, both myself and fellow access champion from the American Motorcyclist Association, Nick Haris, were able to drive and otherwise participate in the recent Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMVR) Commission Tour of the world-famous Rubicon Trail.

Tom Lemmon (L), OHV Commission Chair – Brian Robertson (C), OHMVR Division Chief – Vickie Sanders (R), El Dorado County Parks and Recreation Director

Before heading in the article, I want to say that one of my first official actions as a member of the OHMVR Commission in the early 1990s was to review and approve OHV grants to start important trail armoring on the Lake Tahoe side of the Rubicon Trail route.

Sarah Miggins (L), Current OHMVR Commissioner talks with Daphne Greene, Former OHMVR Division Deputy Director at start of tour

Early Rubicon rides organized by the Forest Service or the OHMVR Division helped many elected or appointed decision-makers understand just how important it was to make the trail sustainable for future generations of avid off-road enthusiasts. It made me a believer! (More about ride-along idea).

Former OHMVR Commissioner, Don Amador, in Metalcloak’s Flagship Jeep that helped facilitate public participation in the OHV Commission Rubicon Tour

The trail was extra tough this year. Experienced as we are off road, Nick and I had one of those OMG rides where each minute our eyes were fixated on the trail with my hands locked onto the steering wheel waiting for the next “bang” or grating sound. Both of us got a good old fashioned butt kicking and it was worth every minute. There is nothing like the Rubicon.

Land Agencies present Sustainable Management Program at  tour stop

Now back to the story. The interagency collaboration to manage the Rubicon for public enjoyment is highlighted in a Memorandum of Understanding where numerous government agencies and the California State Park OHMVR Division have documented their cooperation to:

• Improve, Manage, and Operate the Rubicon Trail for Use
• Protect and Enhance Natural and Cultural Resources
• Provide for Public Safety
• Ensure the Rubicon Trail and Surrounding Public Lands Remain Available for Long-Term Ecologically Sustainable Recreation Use

As the tour noted, OHV management is a holistic approach that utilizes modern tools to implement plans that address forest health, soil loss, water quality, education, law enforcement, fuel reduction, signing, trail maintenance, trail construction or reconstruction, and habitat restoration.

OHV clubs are also a key part of the Rubicon Trail success story. Several decades ago, OHV advocacy pioneers realized that new non-profit organizations or existing clubs needed to get some skin-in-the-game to keep the Rubicon Trail open for current and future generations.

Former El Dorado County Supervisor and Rubicon icon, Jack Sweeney, talks about Rubicon Trail history 

Those groups also had a common goal of both protecting resources and providing a high-quality outdoor experience. Their proactive efforts were centered on building relationships by attending meetings, planning field trips, and leading volunteer work parties.

That collaborative spirit led to many private-public work parties where serious resource impacts were addressed and travel management concepts were put into practice. Although they were not government land agencies, they became “indirect” managers of route.

Daphne Greene (L), Former OHMVR Division Deputy Director – Will Harris (R), OHMVR Division Senior Engineering Geologist – Both had, or continue to have, key roles in Rubicon management programs and projects.

I consider it a privilege and honor every time I get to drive the Rubicon Trail. However, this trip caused me to reflect on the trail’s success. It’s now clear the diverse group of people tasked with caring for, and managing, this historic alpine county road/OHV trail are the real treasure buried not so deep in this rugged portion of the Sierra Nevada.


More on the untold story of how the Rubicon Trail was saved here.
# # #

Don Amador has been in the trail advocacy and recreation management profession for almost 30 years. Don is President of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting. Don is President/CEO of the Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance. Don is core-team lead for FireScape Mendocino and serves on the CA Governor’s Wildfire Taskforce, Northern Region Prioritization Group. Don served as a contractor to the BlueRibbon Coalition from 1996 until June, 2018. Don served on the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission from 1994-2000. He has won numerous awards including being a 2016 Inductee into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Don currently serves as the government affairs director for AMA District 36 in Northern California. Don is contributing author at Modern Jeeper.

Don Amador Author

Don Amador has 28 years of experience in the field of OHV recreation management and federal/state land-use policy. Don is president of Quiet Warrior Racing/Consulting, an OHV recreation consulting company. Don also serves as Core-Team Lead for FireScape Mendocino, a forest-health collaborative that is part of the National Fire Learning Network. Don is a contributor to