FJ Summit No. 6 Off-Road Gathering

Aug. 08, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez
GET SOME ALTITUDE - Jonathan Harris in his sleek 100 Series Land Cruiser, along with Dave “Black Ice” in his fully outfitted FJ Cruiser, made running with this pack at FJ Summit exciting and fun.

This year marked the sixth running of the FJ Summit. What started in 2007 with only a small group of Toyota FJ Cruiser enthusiasts has grown into one of the nation’s largest Toyota 4WD gatherings. 

When we heard the San Juan Mountains would be host to yet another FJ Summit, we jumped at the opportunity to make the trek to Colorado and meet other Toyota 4WD owners. takes you there!

The FJ Summit is held in the historic town of Ouray--better known as the “Swiss Alps of America.” The picturesque mining town is nestled in the San Juan Mountains, about 1.5 hours north of Durango, Colorado, along the “Million Dollar Highway.”

The four-day event kicks off with registration/check-in at FJ Summit HQ, located at the Best Western in Ouray, CO. The chalet-like property is transformed for the week with colorful FJs, exhibitor booths, and a large canopy filled with music and food.

Every Toyota deserves a little TRD. That’s why Toyota Racing Development brought out their ubber cool Toyota Tundra and trailer full of trick parts, loaded with superchargers, wheels, suspension and everything in between to modify your Toyota 4WD.

In addition to trail fun, the FJ Summit also features off-road clinics and product from top Toyota outfitters. The Who’s Who of the Toyota 4WD market was present, with companies like TRD, All-Pro, Slee Off-Road, Metal Tech, Baja Rack, Total Chaos and ARB on hand to answer questions. There were over 40 different off-road companies represented at the FJ Summit.

FJ Summit brings together top off-road companies and retailers, giving them an opportunity to showcase their latest offerings and also interact with customers in a relaxed outdoor setting.

The theme “Toyota Wheelers Unite” resonated well with many, bringing enthusiasts from across the U.S., Canada, Australia and Mexico. This year the FJ Summit registration closed with a total of 279 vehicles and 617 people looking for adventure in Colorado.

Attendees had the opportunity to register as early as January, and the earlier the better as it does fill up quick. With easy online registration, Summiteers are able to pick trails for each day. Nine main trails are wheeled during FJ Summit, ranging from easy and scenic to challenging and rocky.

What started as a FJ Cruiser attraction has expanded to include other Toyota 4WD models, such as Land Cruisers, 4Runners, Tacomas, Tundras, pick-ups and even Lexus models.’s Justin Fort made it out in his third-generation 4Runner.

Trails offered at FJ Summit No.6 included:
-The Alpine Loop
-Engineer Pass
-Cinnamon Pass
-California Pass
-Cork Screw Gulch
-Black Bear Pass
-Imogene Pass
-Ophir Pass
-Poughkeepsie Gulch

With spring-fed waterfalls, alpine flora and rustic mining camps around every corner, there’s no bad trail in the San Juans (Photo Elizabeth Hernandez).

Some additional trails in the area worth checking out include:
-Yankee Boy Basin
-Last Dollar Road
-Governor Basin

Tight and narrow trails climb along the majestic peaks of Yankee Boy Basin and Governor Basin, not far from Imogene Pass trail. This area is lined with pine, aspen and colorful alpine flowers. It’s one of Ouray’s most popular off-road areas.  (Photo Elizabeth Hernandez).

Descriptions to all of these trails can be found on the FJ Summit website They were also included in a nice FJ Summit program put out by FJC Magazine this year. It was handed to every registered driver inside a swag bag that included an FJ Summit No.6 grill badge and t-shirt, along with other goodies.

FJ Summit trail boss Don “Wikid” brings a group over Imogene Pass (elev. 13,114 ft.) in his highly modified FJ Cruiser. An old visitor mailbox and radio antennas make it worth the stop. There’s also a great bird’s eye view of Telluride, CO, from this vantage point (Photo Elizabeth Hernandez).

Colorado is home to many 14,000-foot peaks. Part of the excitement of driving off-road in this region is the ability to take your 4x4 over high passes. While at the FJ Summit, we drove over Imogene Pass, the second highest in Colorado. There are six different passes one can drive over at FJ Summit, each one with an exhilarating crawl to the top.

Toyota 4WDs make their way up to Engineer Pass at 12,800 feet elevation, located on the rim of two extinct volcanic calderas (Photo Elizabeth Hernandez).

Most of the trails at FJ Summit can be done in a stock 4WD. Having better off-road tires will make traction and sidewall protection better on these dirt and rock trails. There is one trail that does require a higher degree of vehicle modification--Poughkeepsie Gulch.  Lifted suspension, 33+ inch tires along with a rear locker and sliders are recommended.  On wet and slippery days, a winch may also come in handy when going up “the wall.” This trail is popular with the daredevils, as the risk of vehicle damage does exist.

The FJ Summit offered a great opportunity to meet other Toyota 4WD enthusiasts and off-road forum regulars from IH8MUD and our sister site ( It was nice putting a name to a face.

You might show up by yourself at FJ Summit, but by the time you leave you will have made new friends. The environment lends itself to forging new friendships with other people that also enjoy exploring the outdoors in the 4x4s. 

With a dinner almost every night at FJ Summit HQ, and different parties around town, there’s no reason not to mingle on and off the trail.

Metal Tech and Total Chaos hosted a party at the Western Hotel, one of the oldest three-story wooden structures on the Western Slopes. The saloon and restaurant downstairs had plenty of “old west” charm.

On “Night in Ouray,” the entire town was buzzing with FJ Summit participants exploring the local eateries and watering holes. We stopped at the Western Hotel where a large group of Summiteers gathered for a “presentation.” Cool frosty beer and soda was served in collector Metal Tech pint glasses.

Not even rain could stop this party. With storms being a common occurrence during summer in the San Juans, the crowd quickly gathered under shelter and just kept on enjoying “Nigh in Ouray.”

They say that the family that wheels together stays together. We hope to stay true to that.

We can’t forget the family. The FJ Summit is very family friendly. We met other adventure parents that also brought their little tikes on the trail. The FJ Summit does offer some trail rides that allow for more stops, which are a blessing when you’re trying to juggle kids, bottles, cameras and diapers.

We brought our 1-year-old boy and 3-year-old girl to FJ Summit No. 6. As far as we can tell, everyone had a great time. I guess we’ll know more once they start formulating sentences and opinions.

Wildlife does peek its head out along the trail, making it fun for the kid in all of us. We spotted Colorado marmots, sheep and deer on this trip. We’re still looking for the Colorado Mountain Goat. I hear that requires hiking up to a “fourteener.” We’ll report back.

On Saturday night, the big FJ Summit raffle brings in the crowd. Finger-lickin’ BBQ ribs and chicken were served up that night, sponsored by Every registered driver gets four lucky tickets, but more can be purchased for even better odds of winning.

Big prizes were given away at FJ Summit, including heavy-duty bumpers, sliders, suspension components, tires and trail necessities like cozies and temporary tattoos.

People do win—really. My wife Elizabeth held the lucky ticket for a Premium ARB Recovery kit donated by ARB and Slee Off-Road. We had to buy some extra tickets, but it was well worth it.

Proceeds from the raffle and event are donated to help keep Ouray and Colorado trails open for off-roaders and also support the town of Ouray. During the raffle, a check was presented to Ouray PD and Ouray Mountain Rescue, each in the amount of $1,000. 

Both public services help keep the event safe and are there to ensure everyone has a good time. In addition, trail maintenance and work was done earlier in the week with the Forest Service and Tread Lightly. FJ Summit organizers really do care.

Nicole Pittell from Total Chaos Fabrication moves the crowd during the FJ Summit raffle with her fun and remarkable persona.

The big-dollar prize of the night was a Toyota TRD Supercharger. It was almost as good as the FJ toys given away during the kids’ raffle.

Most everyone walked away with something, even if it was hope for winning the TRD Supercharger next year.

All good things must come to an end, well…at least until next year. The FJ Summit concluded with a group photo on Ouray’s main street early Sunday morning. Vehicles line up as early as 5:30 am to make sure they get a good spot for the shot. A massive crane sits at the corner of 6th Avenue and Main to facilitate the photo of over 200 Toyota 4WDs.
Thanks to everyone for such a great time on the trail. FJ Summit No. 6 rocked!

We’ve been to some of the best off-road events in North America, but this one really stands out. The organizers at FJ Summit do a great job. It brings together great people, making it a fun and memorable event. The town of Ouray also has so much to offer--like hot springs, mining history, and local flavor.

We highly recommend it, so start making your very own FJ Summit plans for next year.

Please enjoy the event gallery for more FJ Summit photos.

FJ Summit No. 6 Photo Highlights
(Photos by Jaime & Elizabeth Hernandez, Justin Fort, Mireille Yanow)

To learn more about FJ Summit, please visit the links below. There are also additional photos, videos and conversation about FJ Summit No.6 on our sister site, where the Summit continues.

FJ Summit

FJ Cruiser Forums – 2012 FJ Summit Thread, Photos, Video

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