Rubicon Education

Remember the 4 S's: Sanitation, Spills, Sedimentation, Safety

Rubicon Trail Guidelines for Travel

Rubicon Trail sign

  • Stay on the trail 25' from center of the roadway
  • Do not drive thru meadows or over vegetation
  • Respect private property and natural resources
  • Look for trail markers
  • Straddle ruts, gullies and washouts
  • Cross streams at designated points only
  • Minimize wheel spins
  • Be patient at hold ups
  • No shooting over lakes, rivers and around the granite, it is unsafe
  • No drinking and driving, buckle up
  • Know your local fire restrictions
  • Pack it in/Pack it out
  • Use a WAG BAG
  • Complete pre-trip inspection and maintenance
  • Carry and Use a Spill kit and dispose of any used Spill kits in the hazardous materials sheds at the staging areas
  • Use a spotter
  • Carry or locate a HAM radio
  • Help other wheelers in need

Pre-Trip Maintenance

Pre-Trip Maintenance should include:

El Dorado County Sheriff OHV Unit Jeep

  • Check engine and transmission fluids
  • Check brake fluid, pads and shoes
  • Check radiator coolant
  • Secure battery straps
  • Check belts & hoses for leaks and cracks
  • Check power steering system
  • Check seat belts
  • Check tires for wear and damage
  • Check lug bolts
  • Check for loose nuts and bolts
  • Grease all fittings
  • Check winch & cable

What to Bring on the Trail

  • First Aid kit
  • Tool Bag (include the essentials for any unforeseen repair)
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Change of Clothes
  • Jacket
  • Sunscreen and Insect Repellent
  • Flashlight with Extra Batteries
  • HAM Radio
  • Tarp

Additional Accessories You Should Consider

Tents on rock outcropping

  • Spare Parts and a Spare Tire
  • Onboard Welder
  • A winch rated at roughly twice your vehicle's weight, preferably equipped synthetic rope
  • Extrication hardware (tree strap, clevis, dowels, chain, etc.)
  • Tow strap
  • Work gloves
  • Hi-lift jack
  • Adequate attachment points for towing (tow hooks!)
  • Roll cage
  • High quality seat belts
  • A functional parking brake or Line Lock device

Other Things to Consider When Traveling the Rubicon Trail

  • Travel in pairs and not alone
  • Fire permits are required - Fire restrictions are in place which means no campfires are allowed, but with a permit from the U.S. Forest Service you can have a propane fired device (stove, fire pit, etc)
  • Electronic devices, such as you cell phone, will not work. HAM radio is highly advised. Check online for HAM operator classes in your area as a license is required to operator a HAM radio.
    • El Dorado repeater 146.805-.600PL 123.0
    • Tahoe repeater 145.350 RX, 146.205 TX, PL 123.0
    • Rubicon repeater 444.9875 +5.00 PL 156.7 (use on the Rubicon)
  • If it is your first time on the trail - pay attention to the trail and your surroundings
  • Be prepared to spend an extra day or two in case of emergency or broken equipment
  • Bring enough food and water to cover you for a few extra days if you break down
  • Bring a tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes, and a jacket.

Rubicon Winter Use Suggestions

Winter on the Rubicon can be challenging, go with someone experienced if you can. Let someone know where you are going and when to expect a check in. Never go alone.

Conditions can change by the minute in the winter. It is not only storms but the ability to travel on the snow. Cold temps can give you the ability to stay on top of the snow but a change in temp by just a few degrees can leave you sinking in. Nighttime travel can be advantageous but comes with its own set of difficulties. Look for the “sparkles” on the “crispy” snow.

What to bring for a winter trip:

  • Clothes and Food: Always carry spare boots, spare clothes, gloves, and enough food for at least one extra day. Dry bags are great for anything you do not want to get wet, like clothes and food.
  • A dual battery setup and high amp alternator to keep up with the demands are strongly advised. Your winch will drain your battery quickly when used for extended periods. On board air is almost a must have when running very low tire pressures. Bead lock wheels are also advised. Very often your tire pressure could be down below 2 PSI and without a bead lock wheel the chances of losing a bead are significantly increased.
  • Bring extra fuel. You will use more fuel in the snow scratching and clawing your way for every little bit of forward progress.
  • Carrying a spare serpentine belt, V belts, spare tire, plug kit, tools, welder, hoses, parts, fluids, etc.
  • Tow Equipment: When you think you have enough straps, pack some more. There are areas on the Rubicon that a winch point can be very few and far between. It may be helpful to carry four steel and have four soft shackles on all corners. A spare winch rope is recommended.
  • Bring a shovel, chainsaw, and axe.
  • Snowshoes and Boot Snow Chains
  • Shelter: If you need to hunker down you need to be able to make shelter and sometimes fast. Heater buddies work great but don’t depend on them for your only source of heat. Tarps are always useful. Carry lots of tarps along with twine, bungie cords, etc. Canvas tarps are recommended because they are treated with a paraffin wax that will keep you dry. Winter is no time to have inferior gear. A summer bag isn’t going to cut it in freezing temps.

What to Expect from Your Tire Size

  • 30”-33” Tires will most likely cause travel to be slower and ground clearance will be limited. Because some of the more difficulty sections of the trail where more ground clearance is an advantage, heavy duty differential covers are advised to avoid dragging the differential over rock causing the diff cover to possibly peel off.
  • 35”-37” Tires will provide more ground clearance making the travel on the trail a little bit easier. There will still be the differential hang ups here and there.
  • 38” & up” Tires will give the vehicle a huge advantage in ground clearance. Even with the larger tires the trail still poses a challenge.
  • Rocker protection, body armor, and front locker or front and rear lockers are recommended with all size of tires.

Remember your wag bag and spill kit!!