Listening to Cat Stevens sing … “Ooh baby, baby, it’s a wild world,” there is no doubt many people hearing the song for the first time thought Stevens was instead saying “… it’s a wide world.” No matter your lyrical preference, wild and wide the world indeed is, and even in the third largest country in the world – the God-blessed United States of America – there is no shortage on interesting spots and sights to see before your bucket gets kicked.
For automotive enthusiasts, those places vary from culture to culture: hot rod and musclecar people go to California, rockcrawling off-roaders go to Utah, and Harley-Davidson owners migrate annually to South Dakota. But where do the diesel folks go? Turns out, we discovered there were quite a few hot spots to check out.
So buckle in, whip out a map, and plot a course to one, or all, of these locations. Whether you’re singing Willy Nelson or Wham!, it doesn’t matter: You and your big rig deserve some time away to go check out these places.
No. 5: The Eisenhower Tunnel, Colorado
Towing is indeed a central part of owning a diesel. Boats, trailers, and more can really put a diesel truck through its paces, and one of the best and most rewarding places to do this has to be the Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado. It’s also known as the Ike Gauntlet in some circles.
The dual-bore, four-lane tunnel runs about 60 miles west of Denver and was first opened in 1973 to allow eastbound traffic, and in 1979 to allow westbound traffic. Our award-winning yet morbidly flatulent history experts tell us that this (Dwight) Eisenhower fellow was actually a president of the United States, and was honored with this tunnel due to his significant efforts toward creating the nationwide highway system we know and love today.
The tunnels each run over 1 1/2-mile in either direction, and at the highest point, they surpass 11,000 feet above mean sea level. In fact, these were the highest vehicular tunnels in the world in the ’70s. These days, the tunnels permit more than 32,000 vehicles a day to pass through the forbidding reaches of the Rocky Mountains, and in the case of diesels, can prove to be a grueling location to drive through while hauling cargo. Amplifying the stress factors of weight, gravity, and air density, the Eisenhower Tunnel can be challenging but the views it offers are well worth the effort.
No. 4: Scheid Diesel Extravaganza, Terre Haute, Indiana
It wouldn’t be a good list if we didn’t throw a nod to our Midwest fans. By far the most popular region in the country for diesel trucks, the Midwest has its annual shindig with the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza (SDX). With 2016 marking its 20th anniversary, it’s expected to be one of the largest SDXs on record, with more than 15,000 attendees present for the three-day event.
It’s fun for the visitors, but SDX is also important to the Scheid folks. Since opening its doors in 1982, Scheid Diesel takes pride in its extensive knowledge of diesel applications that range from civilian to agricultural to commercial. The first blowout event was called TDR Rally and was held in Effingham, Illinois in 1997. It didn’t take long for the event to pick up steam, and by 2000, it was renamed the Scheid Diesel Extravaganza and opened its doors ever wider to larger audiences.
This year’s SDX is scheduled for August 26-28, and will feature a host of multiple activities and attractions. These include a show-n-shine, Dyno contest, truck and tractor pulls, and a burnout contest. A host of vendors will also be on display, including Lucas Oil and Edge Products.
No. 3: National Hot Rod Diesel Association — Texas Diesel Nationals, Ennis, Texas
The smell of burnt rubber, diesel fumes, and a fresh, warm pretzel with a cup of beer – if this isn’t the American dream, we don’t know what is. With dozens of vendors and spectator attendance in the thousands, the Texas Diesel Nationals comprises the crown jewel of National Hot Rod Diesel Association (NHRDA).
It’s here that some of the biggest and craziest rigs come out to strut their stuff. With coal a-rolling and turbochargers a-whistling, the beasts and freaks can be quite impressive. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that you’ll see something like the “Fodge,” — a 1931 Ford Model A mashed with a 1997 Dodge Ram truck frame — that made its presence known at last year’s Texas Diesel Nationals. You can find out what happened as it entered the burnout contest here.
Some of the classes heading to the Nationals will be real crowd-pleasers, like the Top Diesel and Hot Rod Semi (that’s right, semi-truck tractors made to run at lightning-quick speeds). The time is fast approaching for the event to take place this weekend – April 15 to 16 – so be sure you grab tickets soon.
No. 2: Glamis Dunes, Glamis, California
Does a diesel always need to be the star of a show? Or can it just be a supporting cast member? We’d like to think the latter is possible, as diesel trucks can haul all sorts of fun vehicles to hotspots off the beaten path. One such hotspot that came to our minds while brainstorming for this article was the vastness of Glamis, California.
You could call it the Glamis Dunes. You could also call it the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. Whatever you call it, this 127,000-acre expanse is the largest sand dune site in the nation, and home to some of the best off-road action this side of the Mexico border.
For some great visuals of what makes Glamis a must-see, YouTube is the number one choice. Channels like TheRidersChannel and DuneFreq have hours of footage devoted to the location, and showcase all the types of fun-mobiles that make their way over the dunes, from motorcycles to UTVs to pre-runners. Attractions like sand drags and viral videos like the Doonies by Monster Energy have bolstered Glamis’ numbers in recent years. Provided the Bureau of Land Management continues to play nice, Glamis will be around for a long, long time.
No 1: Hog Waller Mud Bog, Palatka, Florida
Off-roading is a blast, and the best part is that it comes in many flavors. Take the example of mud bogs, those events unique to the Southern U.S. If you and your diesel have a date with liquid soil, you can’t do much better than the Hog Waller Mud Bog in Palatka, Florida.
The reason we like the idea of the Hog Waller Mud Bog so much is because there is always something happening. If you missed your chance in February and March, well, there will be more events in April, June, July, and so on.
Hog Waller is a 1,100-acre outdoor park that was once a logging community. It slowly lost its allure to enterprising folks as opportunities dried up and wild boars attacked. It has since become the property of a family in Putnam County, and prides itself on being open year-round.
The mud pit is the star attraction of Hog Waller Mud Bog, naturally. It reaches a max depth of 10 feet and spreads out over six acres, with safety cables surrounding it to prevent accidental entries. If there’s one place we’re dying to go to in a lifted coal-roller, it’s got to be the Hog Waller.
And there you have it: The Top Five spots to take your diesel. Which one will you to head to first? Were there any hotspots we left out? Let us know in the comments below.