Cliffhangers 4 Wheel Drive Club is one of the oldest Off-Roading clubs around. Established in 1978 and located in Farmington, New Mexico, this is one of the first family-oriented 4 Wheel Drive and Jeep clubs in New Mexico. Farmington is a city in San Juan County, New Mexico, with plenty to offer off-roading enthusiasts. Cliffhangers 4 Wheel Drive Club has been at the forefront in protecting the surrounding lands, the environment, and trails from abuse. Their goal is to preserve the beauty of the area while benefitting the community so everyone, from hikers, campers, overlanders, and off-roaders, can enjoy the natural beauty of this area of New Mexico.

A group of Cliffhangers waving to saying hello. Every spring they check and mark the trails to make the trails ready for the upcoming season.
A group of Cliffhangers waving to saying hello. Every spring they check and mark the trails to make the trails ready for the upcoming season.
As Kim Donald puts it,

The Cliffhangers are one of the original Jeep clubs started in the Four Corners area. I have personally been able to see different generations maintain this group, which shows their dedication. They are very active in the community when it comes to wheeling and events. One of the big events they put on every year is the Four Corners 4×4 week. They encourage any and all to come out and participate. The Cliffhangers are also very passionate about showing any new Jeep or 4WD owner the fun, obstacles, and safety involved in this recreational hobby.”

A Well-Organized Community-Centric Organization

Cliffhangers 4 Wheel Drive Club is one of the most well-established Jeep clubs we’ve had the honor to cover. It is arguably a crucial part of the Farmington, NM, community, which makes up one of the four Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in New Mexico and the commercial hub of the Four Corners area.

The club was founded in 1978 by Jim Peterson, Don Sisson, Bobby Harrison, Harold Fahs, and Leroy Riley as they came together to build a family-oriented group that enjoyed 4-wheeling locally and beyond. Over the years, they have become an integral part of Farmington.

Farmington is a gem for off-roading enthusiasts of all levels. Cliffhangers 4 Wheel Drive Club welcomes all off-road enthusiasts, from beginners to full-fledged competitive off-roaders. The community and off-roading events, helping charitable organizations raise donations, raising money and awareness for land preservation are just a few of the goals Cliffhangers is involved in. They also collaborate with other OHV clubs in the area to promote, protect and preserve the area.

 

Gaby Brunwasser poses for a picture during Off-Road Downtown Takeover in Farmington, NM. She’s heading to the flex ramp to test her Jeeps suspension.
Gaby Brunwasser poses for a picture during Off-Road Downtown Takeover in Farmington, NM. She’s heading to the flex ramp to test her Jeeps suspension.
Nate Duckett, Mayor of Farmington, NM, commented,

“The City of Farmington, and the broader outdoor recreation community here in the Four Corners, have benefitted from the dedicated efforts of the Cliffhanger’s off-road club. From annual canyon cleanups, trail maintenance and sign placement, to supporting and helping host the WE Rock National Championships, Cliffhangers leads the way, setting a high standard for the responsible use and care of our shared outdoor spaces for all users to follow.”

 

Cliffhangers work on a new easy / stock vehicle trail. To really make sure it is for stock vehicles, they have a ride where they bring a mix of stock rigs to check it out and have fun.
Cliffhangers work on a new easy / stock vehicle trail. To really make sure it is for stock vehicles, they have a ride where they bring a mix of stock rigs to check it out and have fun.

An All-Inclusive Club That Loves To Have Fun

Cliffhangers is a very inviting group, welcoming wheelers of all skill levels. They are a strong off-roading family and want to make sure they get to know every prospective member first. To become a Cliffhanger, you must be sponsored by an existing club member. Most of the time, a member will invite someone that they have been wheeling with for a while or someone that moves to town. After you are sponsored, you have to go to a couple of club meetings and outings. This gives the club members time to meet the person and/or their family and see how they will interact with the club. You can learn a lot about a person or family by getting out four-wheeling!

It’s always a light-hearted and fun affair going on rides with the Cliffhangers. The club is big on ensuring safety for everyone. Most of their members are qualified trail guides. They have members that trail guide and help with Easter Jeep Safari and Jeep Jamboree USA. When you go on your first ride with Cliffhangers, a trail guide will look over your vehicle to verify it is trail-ready, go over proper trail etiquette and review the club’s liability waiver.

If you want additional training, several members work with the various training organizations, including Jeep Adventure Academy, The International 4WD Training Association – I4WDTA,and Jeep Jamboree USA.

 

Kim Thomason gets her group back in line after a stop during Fall Crawl. Kim usually does a Largo Canyon Ruin run during Fall Crawl.
Kim Thomason gets her group back in line after a stop during Fall Crawl. Kim usually does a Largo Canyon Ruin run during Fall Crawl.

Where can you find Cliffhangers?

Places Cliffhangers regularly visits are the San Juan Mountains, Moab, several areas in Arizona, Largo Canyon, Chokecherry Canyon, Rock Garden, and Sand Hallow. Multiple teams will be competing in the East and West at WERock this year as well.

Almost every weekend, you will also find Cliffhangers at the Chokecherry Canyon entrance on Saturdays and Sundays, around 9 am, along with several different groups that also visit Chokecherry Canyon on the weekend.

 

Cliffhangers collecting toys for "Toys For Tots"
Cliffhangers collecting toys for “Toys For Tots”

Helping the Community

Each year Cliffhangers picks three charitable organizations to help. They have helped food banks, Toys for Tots, various senior homes, pet shelters, Child Haven, and many more.

In addition to organizing food and toy drives, Cliffhangers also has their very own “Club Sheriff,” who loves to issue fines. This is Cliffhanger’s fun way to raise money for charity within the group. How it works is the “Club Sheriff” charges 25 cents for various “offenses,” including scratching your rig, getting caught with your hood up on the trail, and a host of other things. Basically, you may get fined for anything the “Club Sheriff” sees. The extra money raised by these fines goes towards funding various projects. While the fines are just 25 cents, many members end up paying much more because it’s always for a good cause.

 

We were fortunate to wheel with great folks that can see past themselves and help those that have served. AMVETS is a nationwide organization that helps local veterans and would like to thank Cliffhangers for making this annual donation possible. Cliffhangers has given AMVETS over $1250 in the last three years. Cliffhangers has a solid appreciation for our military forces both active and retired.
We were fortunate to wheel with great folks that can see past themselves and help those that have served. AMVETS is a nationwide organization that helps local veterans and would like to thank Cliffhangers for making this annual donation possible. Cliffhangers has given AMVETS over $1250 in the last three years. Cliffhangers has a solid appreciation for our military forces both active and retired.
As Cameron Otero puts it,

“We’re a very inviting club! All skill levels of drivers and rigs are welcome. We’re very family oriented. I’ve been a member for a little over a year and it’s a great group of people! We invite everyone to come take on Chokecherry canyon and we will gladly help you experience it to your rig’s full potential! Safety has no shortcuts! To sum it up!”

 

A Premium Must See Weeklong Off-Road Event

The 4 Corners 4×4 Week is an event held annually starting on Labor Day and continues through the next weekend, ending when WERock Grand Nationals holds their Professional Rock Crawling Event. The week-long off-roading event begins with a Labor day 4×4 Parts Swap, followed by a Meet/Greet and registration, transitioning into “Fall Crawl,” which is three days of guided Trail Riding.

Danny Israel of Bear Automotive and a member of Cliffhangers is using one of his tour Jeeps on the Flex Ramp. This is a good example of how to test the flex of a suspension.
Danny Israel of Bear Automotive and a member of Cliffhangers is using one of his tour Jeeps on the Flex Ramp. This is a good example of how to test the flex of a suspension.

After the Fall Crawl, the heart of Farmington closes down for the Off-Road Downtown Takeover. This is a fun-filled festival that attracts visitors and area residents. There is an off-road vehicle show, vendors of all kinds, and a raffle. The event wouldn’t be complete without a flex ramp where you can test the articulation or flex of your vehicle’s suspension.

Finally, after the Downtown Takeover, WERock Grand Nationals Professional Rock Crawling Event begins, which makes this week a must-attend event. Several of Cliffhangers members compete in nationwide rock crawling competitions with WERock and  SuperCrawl. So, come out and root for their members that are competing in WERock Grand Nationals Professional Rock Crawling Event.

1. Jewell Jenkins and Trevor Ritch thread their JenCor Racing 4-wheel steer buggy through the course during the WERock Grand nationals in Farmington, NM. Cliffhangers have been instrumental in this competition from the beginning. One of their members helped design the course and some of his ideas are still part of the course today.
1. Jewell Jenkins and Trevor Ritch thread their JenCor Racing 4-wheel steer buggy through the course during the WERock Grand nationals in Farmington, NM. Cliffhangers have been instrumental in this competition from the beginning. One of their members helped design the course and some of his ideas are still part of the course today.

Cliffhanger’s members have also competed in several other main off-roading events over the years, including Ultra4, King of the Hammers, ARCA, Pro Rock, and Dirt Riot.

 

Big On Protecting The Land

The club is active with New Mexico Game and Fish and the Bureau of Land Management, helping them protect the surrounding lands, the environment, and trails to ensure that everyone’s having fun but reducing their impact on the area.

Cliffhangers Allen Elmore and Rick Jenkins are setting up for a fall trash clean up at Chokecherry Canyon. The event usually fills about 6 roll back dumpsters. The dumpsters, in the background, are waiting to be filled.
Cliffhangers Allen Elmore and Rick Jenkins are setting up for a fall trash clean up at Chokecherry Canyon. The event usually fills about 6 roll back dumpsters. The dumpsters, in the background, are waiting to be filled.

Each year, Cliffhangers organize two trash cleanup events, one in spring and another in fall. The club also has additional trail ride cleanups to ensure that the area’s notoriety for the mess a few people create doesn’t leave a negative impression on such a wonderful place. Most of the fundraising efforts Cliffhangers does are protecting and cleaning the trails and lands in their area. Cliffhangers funds projects in Chokecherry Canyon and goes to bat for other groups that use the lands in the area.

Robert Barr, the current club president, said,

“I have been a member for three years now. When I first started, they all helped me get going by making sure my Jeep was safe and helped me as I progressed in my ability. The members of this club are friendly and easy-going and love going wheeling. We want to promote safe wheeling and help new people to the Jeep / off-road hobby get started safely and enjoy their experience.

We are really trying to promote Farmington as a place for great wheeling for all levels, from beginners to full-on competition wheelers. We sponsor a 4×4 week every year in September named Fall Crawl with a downtown take over on Friday night. Close down Main Street and have vendors and food.”

 

Check Them Out

If you are ever in San Juan County or are new to Farmington and want to become a Cliffhanger, you should check them out. The club’s very active on social media, and you can find them on their club forum page Cliffhangers, email them at cliffhangers4x4club@gmail.com, or connect with them through Instagram @cliffhangers4x4 and @4Corners4x4Week.

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