As an avid off-roader since the age of 17 and an off-road racing and recreational photographer for the last 10 years, I was excited for another trip to one of my favorite races. Rage at The River.
But this year would be different. The race was moved from Laughlin, NV to a shorter course that lies on private property in Primm Nevada. A track that I know well and was excited to shoot once again.
This year would also be different for another reason. I would be taking dirt the majority of the way with a few buddies (JD, Tanner, Collin, Mike, and Justin) via the famous Mojave Trail. And I would be doing it in a new to me, built, 4th gen. v8 4runner with two fellow camera guys (Kris and Will). The SUV has 16” of wheel travel front and rear and a bypass and coilover on each corner. It is easily the most suspension travel and dampening that I have ever had on a vehicle, so I was stoked to get more seat time in this very capable and unique build. I had also just mounted a new set of 703 Trail Series wheels and was eager to see how they held up on the trail with a low psi in the tires.
Starting from Calico, Ca. we would be driving 200+ miles through the Mojave Desert to Primm Nevada via (Mostly) the famous Mojave trail. The first leg of the trip turned from smooth, graded powerline roads to a choppy wash section that lasted 30+ miles. Our first stop was a famous river crossing adjacent to a remote campground and shooting range. The original plan was to go around it, but someone had recently added a bunch of rocks to the crossing making it less treacherous for non-sealed vehicles. So, after doing some trail repair to JD’s ranger (Exhaust was falling off from the morning’s abuse), we decided to cross the river and continue to the next location. A ridge of carved out mountains that were out of this world.
After getting some cool drone shots of the scenery, we moved on to our next attraction, the Spooky Cave. What a cool hidden spot. The further into the cave you got, the tighter and darker it was. You can go up to the surface via some steep climbs with the assistance of pre-placed climbing ropes. It was a really cool experience and I urge anyone doing the trail to stop and explore it. After the Spooky Cave, we headed to Baker Ca. to get fuel and food. This section of the trail was rocky and slow, then fast and tight through a field of Joshua Trees. Along the way, we stopped at the Travelers Monument to pay our respects, then jetted across a lakebed to a paved road that led to Baker. Once we got into town, JD decided that his exhaust was not going to withstand much more abuse and decided to take highway the rest of the way to Primm. With the three of us left, we got back on the trail to our next stop which was the famous Mojave Trail sign in box. We signed in and roamed around for a minute taking in the beauty of the desert and seeing the kooky things people leave at this pit stop. By this time, it was late afternoon so we hurried as best we could to the next spot which was this rad whoop section that stretched for 10+ miles. We arrived just in time for some really cool golden hour photos and clips of Justin and Collin smashing through the whoops.
As the sun was setting, we decided that we wanted to get to Primm as quickly as possible, so at the next paved road crossing, we hopped off the trail and jammed to Primm via the I-15. Once we arrived, the camera guys and I went to get our media passes for the weekend’s race and were quickly let down by being informed that the race was just shut down by Clark County threatening the Primm Valley Casinos’ Gaming license if they allowed the race to continue. This was such a major bummer, and we were stuck. But luckily for us, we have motivated friends. One of them (Darren Parsons) invited us to Dumont Dunes the next day for an afternoon shred. We jumped at the opportunity and headed to the hotel to get some rest.
The next morning, we met up with Darren to get a game plan for the day, and then met him out in Dumont early that afternoon. The conditions were not ideal for shooting. It was super windy, and we were getting sandblasted all afternoon, but we were willing to bear through it and got some really cool stuff of Darren shooting flames, railing dunes, smashing whoops, and hitting big jumps.
That 1450 pro truck is one hell of a machine. The dunes were also a great test for the 703 wheels that I had mounted. We went down to 12 psi in the tires and the wheels gripped that bead like a Pitbull grips his favorite toy. The wheels gave me all of the confidence to push the truck harder and harder throughout the day.
When the sun went down, we thanked Darren for the invite and headed back to Primm so we could get on the trail back to Calico the next morning.
After an early morning fill up, we headed south down the I-15 and hopped on a trail behind the Ivanpah solar power facility. It was so cool to see that plant up close. It’s truly and engineering marvel. We then climbed up a steep trail to a colosseum mine. This was a massive pit with a body of water at the bottom. Another epic view with massive amounts of engineering behind it.
This trail would be shorter than our trip in, but it was definitely just as used as the Mojave trail, full of chop and tight, technical sections. The longest section of this trail however, was powerline road, a long straight of giant rollers and epic views. We made sure to stop in this section to admire the beauty around us and get more drone shots of the trucks driving along the trail. As we approached the highway between Baker and Dumont, we decided that if we wanted to make it to Calico before sunset, we had better get off the trail and on to pavement. Once again, we stopped in Baker for gas and food. JD was now having wheel bearing issues, so we took the opportunity to address that while we were there.
On to Calico Ghost Town! What a cool slice of history. If you can get there in time, there are all kinds of cool things to do like train rides, mine tours, gold panning, and gun fight shows. After speed walking through Calico, we decided to do a little bit of night running through some tight trails just outside of the Ghost Town. We got to test out our lighting systems and the boys hit a good size jump to cap off the weekend.
All in all, we covered about 250 miles off-road over the course of three days. The 703 Trail Series wheels that I had acquired held up with no issues, even though we encountered 100+ miles of choppy messed up trail at speed, and an entire afternoon in the Dumont Dunes with 12 psi in the tires. It was such an awesome weekend, and I can’t wait to get back out and explore more of our Southern California Deserts with family and friends documenting our experiences along the way.