Bronco Nation Travel Logs: Bronco Knoll

David

Administrator
Staff member
Moderator
Super Moderator

Promoter II

Mar 19, 2020
1,709
9,701
3,501
Southgate, MI, USA
First Name
David
Last Name
Liebmann
Member #

144


There are some special places in the history of Bronco. The Romeo and Arizona Proving Grounds come to mind, and more recently the home of Bronco Driver Magazine’s Bronco Super Celebration event, the Tally Ho Inn in Townsend, TN. Communities are held together by stories, and an important part of any story is the setting. So, when Bronco Nation member #702 (AKA @Cooppierce, in the forums) posted an Easter egg that he’d documented on the 2021 Ford Bronco that included a set of coordinates, Bronco Nation member #185 (AKA @TorgSurv, in the forums) got curious about what setting Ford seemed to be pointing to. There couldn’t be a better person to find the remote spot, since Torgsurv (AKA Blake, in real life) is a surveyor.

In the original thread, Blake had already figured out that the coordinates were in Johnson Valley, the home of the famous King of the Hammers off-road racing event. From there, he put together a Round Up to see if anyone would be interested in exploring the spot with him. Covid and California being what they are, he didn’t get any takers, though several Bronco Nation members and users offered encouragement. He pressed on anyway, as any good Bronco owner would.

In my conversations with Blake in the lead up to his trip, he was confident that he wouldn’t have any trouble getting to the spot, since he was taking his ’91 Bronco to Johnson Valley to investigate the coordinates. He’d also thoroughly reconnoitered the location on Google Earth. Located on BLM land about 500ft above the surrounding valley, it can be accessed by a rough 4×4 trail. On New Year’s Day, he made it.

The exact spot of the coordinates didn’t have much to show, just a rocky overlook at the top of a hill. However, the view, overlooking where the reveal footage for the 2021 Ford Bronco was filmed, is great. To memorialize the spot, Blake put up a cairn, a pile of stones used to mark a trail or special spot in wilderness areas. We’re going to try to make it up there when we head to Johnson Valley for King of the Hammers later this month, and we hope to see you at the event.

Blake named the spot Bronco Knoll and, if you get a chance to go, you can add a stone to the pile. There are plenty around.
 

Rhiostatic

Rank V

Supporter I

Dec 21, 2020
106
340
1,605
Phoenixville, PA
First Name
Erik
Last Name
Johnson
Member #

2185

Not only am I going to add a rock but I think I am going to bring one of the rocks from around here. So if you see a Texas hill country rock that will be from me.
I think that could be a super cool tradition, bring a rock from your local to add to the pile. Perhaps even place the GPS cords where it came from on the rock? I smell fun in the works.
 

TorgSurv

Rank VI
Moderator

Champion II

Jul 13, 2020
830
2,515
3,501
Moab, Ut
First Name
Blake
Last Name
Torgersen
Member #

185

Thanks @David for writing up the article. That was great! I've got a little bit more to share about this adventure:

I was accompanied on this trip by my wife and our 16 year old son. We tent camped in an area known as Lucerne Valley Camp, near Cougar Buttes. Desert camping in December/January is no joke, and we would have suffered a great deal without the help of a tent heater. This is a popular destination on weekends and holidays, and this being both there were at least 1000 RVs/trailers within a mile of us. Still, we were lucky enough to find a relatively secluded alcove between some sandstone hills a couple hundred yards from anyone else. Many of our neighbors apparently invested a lot of money in fireworks to celebrate the new year. Here's a brief sample:
That was around 7:30pm on New Year's Eve. It went on for hours.

Our campsite was about 5 miles West-SouthWest of Bronco Knoll. The morning of January 1st we packed some water and snacks and started heading across the desert, avoiding any main roads, sticking instead to narrow tracks through the wilderness. We eventually made our way to Transmission Line Road, just South of Bronco Knoll, and began our climb up the South face of the hill.
This slope (Route #1 on the maps below) proved to be impassable for us, given the steepness of the slope (a 300-400 foot stretch of 35% + grades), loose rocks, and the fact that I had kept highway pressure in the tires (this was done as a precautionary measure; since we had no companion vehicles, I wanted to make sure we didn't get into any place that we couldn't get out of, and airing down would be our emergency escape plan).
Bronco Knoll 001.jpg

Bronco Knoll 002.jpg


I had planned an alternate route (#2) for our descent, so instead we went around to the East side of the hill and ascended that way. This trail was a little less steep (max 30%), but there were a few small rock ledges to be negotiated. On one of the ledges I took a hard hit on the passenger side tube step bumper (aka nerf bar). I didn't have a lot of confidence in the tube step's ability to take any punishment from the rocks, so I was pleasantly surprised when it held firm with just a surface scratch:
20210105_165728.jpg


Here's our final ascent to the ridge, coming from the North on Route #2:

After that it was a simple traverse across the Ridge Trail to the peak of Bronco Knoll:

After reaching the top we zeroed in on the coordinates, took a look around at the amazing views, and erected the cairn.
20210101_105604.jpg


Since we had ascended Route #2, I wanted to try going down Route #3 for variety, but this trail also proved to be more difficult than expected due to one narrow rocky section that looked more suitable for an atv than a full-size Bronco. It may be possible to negotiate this obstacle, or find another way around, but I wasn't comfortable attempting it alone, so we turned around and headed back the way we had come. The rest of the day was a relatively mild trip along some old mining roads, and then back to town for gas and provisions (someone forgot to pack the bread for the sandwiches :cautious:).

The next morning we took a quick detour to go see the rather underwhelming "Skull Rock of Johnson Valley":
20210102_104945.jpg

Next we cruised across the open desert in search of some more challenging terrain. At times we were following nothing more than motorcycles tracks through the sand and brush, and at other times narrow trails through canyons and over small hills. We eventually made our way to the "Shaft Canyon" and "Cross-Mountain Route" trails near the end of Green Rock Mine Road. I knew that Shaft Canyon was much to difficult to attempt, but I hoped to be able to take the more moderate Cross-Mountain Route over the pass and on to the Rock Pile area (another popular camping spot). Despite some very steep hills, ravines, and loose rocks, we made good progress most of the way through the trail. About 1/2 mile into the 1.5 mile trail, I encountered a very difficult obstacle: an S turn up a short, very steep climb with large jagged rocks at the top. With my small stock tires, sway bar connected, and no lift, I had trouble negotiating the rocks and found myself teetering on two wheels a couple of times. I came down hard on the driver side tube step, which turned out to be less sturdy than the one on the passenger side. Apparently some rust had begun eating it away from the inside, and it collapsed like tinfoil, and cracked at the rear mount. Here are some pictures of the damage (don't worry, the rocker panel already had that rusty hole):
20210105_165741.jpg

20210105_165751.jpg

20210105_165759.jpg

Despite all that, I was able to make it over the rock and another 1/2 mile up the trail. At that point we paused to watch an atv rider coming down another extremely steep (35%-40% for +/-700 feet) rocky slope. When the atv took a tumble, we decided it was time for us to turn around and head back the way we had come. Unfortunately, the same rock that had laid waste to my tube step was not done with me. On the descent, it snagged the corner of the rear bumper, nearly wrenching it from the frame.
Here's the result:
20210105_165807.jpg

20210105_165815.jpg

Now I've got a bit of work to do to straighten that out (and trim it) before heading back to Johnson Valley for the King of the Hammers in a few weeks.

Despite a little minor damage, the Bronco ran extremely well and held it's own. We had a wonderful time, and can't wait to go back!

"Now you know ... the rest of the story. Good Day!"
 

TorgSurv

Rank VI
Moderator

Champion II

Jul 13, 2020
830
2,515
3,501
Moab, Ut
First Name
Blake
Last Name
Torgersen
Member #

185

Apparently Ford likes to call this spot "Bronco Outlook", "Bronco Vista", and/or "Bronco Overlook" according to the latest walk-around video by @jparker
If you haven't seen it yet, here's the link:
 

David

Administrator
Staff member
Moderator
Super Moderator

Promoter II

Mar 19, 2020
1,709
9,701
3,501
Southgate, MI, USA
First Name
David
Last Name
Liebmann
Member #

144

Apparently Ford likes to call this spot "Bronco Outlook", "Bronco Vista", and/or "Bronco Overlook" according to the latest walk-around video by @jparker
If you haven't seen it yet, here's the link:
Earliest record on this site says Bronco Knoll. I don’t mind sticking with that.
 

Hobgoblin

Rank VI

Champion III

Jul 29, 2020
596
1,937
2,964
Milton, Georgia
First Name
MATT
Last Name
HOBBS
Member #

0811

Thanks @David for writing up the article. That was great! I've got a little bit more to share about this adventure:

I was accompanied on this trip by my wife and our 16 year old son. We tent camped in an area known as Lucerne Valley Camp, near Cougar Buttes. Desert camping in December/January is no joke, and we would have suffered a great deal without the help of a tent heater. This is a popular destination on weekends and holidays, and this being both there were at least 1000 RVs/trailers within a mile of us. Still, we were lucky enough to find a relatively secluded alcove between some sandstone hills a couple hundred yards from anyone else. Many of our neighbors apparently invested a lot of money in fireworks to celebrate the new year. Here's a brief sample:
That was around 7:30pm on New Year's Eve. It went on for hours.

Our campsite was about 5 miles West-SouthWest of Bronco Knoll. The morning of January 1st we packed some water and snacks and started heading across the desert, avoiding any main roads, sticking instead to narrow tracks through the wilderness. We eventually made our way to Transmission Line Road, just South of Bronco Knoll, and began our climb up the South face of the hill.
This slope (Route #1 on the maps below) proved to be impassable for us, given the steepness of the slope (a 300-400 foot stretch of 35% + grades), loose rocks, and the fact that I had kept highway pressure in the tires (this was done as a precautionary measure; since we had no companion vehicles, I wanted to make sure we didn't get into any place that we couldn't get out of, and airing down would be our emergency escape plan).
View attachment 7077
View attachment 7078

I had planned an alternate route (#2) for our descent, so instead we went around to the East side of the hill and ascended that way. This trail was a little less steep (max 30%), but there were a few small rock ledges to be negotiated. On one of the ledges I took a hard hit on the passenger side tube step bumper (aka nerf bar). I didn't have a lot of confidence in the tube step's ability to take any punishment from the rocks, so I was pleasantly surprised when it held firm with just a surface scratch:
View attachment 7075

Here's our final ascent to the ridge, coming from the North on Route #2:

After that it was a simple traverse across the Ridge Trail to the peak of Bronco Knoll:

After reaching the top we zeroed in on the coordinates, took a look around at the amazing views, and erected the cairn.
View attachment 7076

Since we had ascended Route #2, I wanted to try going down Route #3 for variety, but this trail also proved to be more difficult than expected due to one narrow rocky section that looked more suitable for an atv than a full-size Bronco. It may be possible to negotiate this obstacle, or find another way around, but I wasn't comfortable attempting it alone, so we turned around and headed back the way we had come. The rest of the day was a relatively mild trip along some old mining roads, and then back to town for gas and provisions (someone forgot to pack the bread for the sandwiches :cautious:).

The next morning we took a quick detour to go see the rather underwhelming "Skull Rock of Johnson Valley":
View attachment 7079
Next we cruised across the open desert in search of some more challenging terrain. At times we were following nothing more than motorcycles tracks through the sand and brush, and at other times narrow trails through canyons and over small hills. We eventually made our way to the "Shaft Canyon" and "Cross-Mountain Route" trails near the end of Green Rock Mine Road. I knew that Shaft Canyon was much to difficult to attempt, but I hoped to be able to take the more moderate Cross-Mountain Route over the pass and on to the Rock Pile area (another popular camping spot). Despite some very steep hills, ravines, and loose rocks, we made good progress most of the way through the trail. About 1/2 mile into the 1.5 mile trail, I encountered a very difficult obstacle: an S turn up a short, very steep climb with large jagged rocks at the top. With my small stock tires, sway bar connected, and no lift, I had trouble negotiating the rocks and found myself teetering on two wheels a couple of times. I came down hard on the driver side tube step, which turned out to be less sturdy than the one on the passenger side. Apparently some rust had begun eating it away from the inside, and it collapsed like tinfoil, and cracked at the rear mount. Here are some pictures of the damage (don't worry, the rocker panel already had that rusty hole):
View attachment 7080
View attachment 7081
View attachment 7082
Despite all that, I was able to make it over the rock and another 1/2 mile up the trail. At that point we paused to watch an atv rider coming down another extremely steep (35%-40% for +/-700 feet) rocky slope. When the atv took a tumble, we decided it was time for us to turn around and head back the way we had come. Unfortunately, the same rock that had laid waste to my tube step was not done with me. On the descent, it snagged the corner of the rear bumper, nearly wrenching it from the frame.
Here's the result:
View attachment 7083
View attachment 7084
Now I've got a bit of work to do to straighten that out (and trim it) before heading back to Johnson Valley for the King of the Hammers in a few weeks.

Despite a little minor damage, the Bronco ran extremely well and held it's own. We had a wonderful time, and can't wait to go back!

"Now you know ... the rest of the story. Good Day!"
Blake, great adventure. Thank you for sharing it with us. You are certainly adding to the legacy of adventure for Bronco.

I also appreciate your homage to Paul Harvey! It was the perfect way to wrap up your adventure. Keep wheelin’.
 

TorgSurv

Rank VI
Moderator

Champion II

Jul 13, 2020
830
2,515
3,501
Moab, Ut
First Name
Blake
Last Name
Torgersen
Member #

185

Earliest record on this site says Bronco Knoll. I don’t mind sticking with that.
Me too. As far as I'm concerned it is and will always be Bronco Knoll. I'm sure the folks at Ford will agree and start calling it that too. I considered several names and discussed them with my son on our way up and back down the trail, including mountain (not tall enough), bluff (good alliteration but not really accurate geographically), hill (not unique enough), ridge (too imprecise), point (confusing), peak (too aspirational), and several others. To me, nothing else quite captures the essence of the location like Bronco Knoll.
 

TorgSurv

Rank VI
Moderator

Champion II

Jul 13, 2020
830
2,515
3,501
Moab, Ut
First Name
Blake
Last Name
Torgersen
Member #

185

I also appreciate your homage to Paul Harvey! It was the perfect way to wrap up your adventure. Keep wheelin’.
Haha, thanks! I was hoping a few people would catch that. One of the greatest radio programs ever. I wish someone would rebroadcpodcast all of his stories as a pocast!
 

Jakob1972

Rank VI

Champion I

Aug 17, 2020
1,655
4,192
2,964
Guadalupe River State Park TX, USA
First Name
Steven
Last Name
Jakob
Member #

1100

Haha, thanks! I was hoping a few people would catch that. One of the greatest radio programs ever. I wish someone would rebroadcpodcast all of his stories as a pocast!
Well not a re- broadcast but Mike Rowe pays homage to Paul Harvey with his pod cast, That’s the way I heard it.
 

TorgSurv

Rank VI
Moderator

Champion II

Jul 13, 2020
830
2,515
3,501
Moab, Ut
First Name
Blake
Last Name
Torgersen
Member #

185

I had someone elsewhere question my need to "mark [my] territory" with this cairn. I put so much thought into my response, that I wanted to share it here with all y'all as well:

I respect your opinion. I do love the outdoors, and I strongly adhere to leave no trace principles. While not an excuse to purposely destroy the land, it should be understood that Johnson Valley OHV Area is not exactly an untouched pristine wilderness. It's an open vehicle area containing dozens of mines and prospects, and criss-crossed with thousands of roads, trails, and tracks.

While I generally agree with your perspective in most cases, and I'd hate to see mounds of rocks or other markers dotting the landscape every hundred yards, there are some important locations and routes that deserve a memorial or waymarker. Already there are man-made survey monuments (usually either chiseled stone or capped metal pipe, often with rock mounds next to them) every half-mile on a 1 mile by 1 mile grid covering the vast majority of the Western US that define land ownership of private lands and the management agency boundaries of public lands, including throughout Johnson Valley. The only exceptions I know of are Spanish Land Grants that pre-existed the Public Lands Survey System, some wilderness areas, and some tribal lands (and some as-yet unsurveyed land in Alaska). Many of the monuments date back to the late 1800s. If you look around, you may see some of them there. The USGS Topo Maps show those 1 mile by 1 mile squares (known as sections), usually as red lines, and the sidelines of each one of those squares is (or at one time was) marked on the ground at the corners and midpoints (hint: if you see a '+' mark on the map, the monument was recovered by USGS surveyors in the course of their cadastral work). Where public and or private ownership boundaries follow divisions of those sections into 1/4 sections, or 1/16 sections (what your grandfather might have called the "back forty"), or even smaller divisions, there is usually a marker. There is probably a survey monument at the corners of the land your home sits on. Other monuments not on the grid lines have been installed at various locations for other uses as well, such as mining claims, benchmarks, triangulation stations (those are shown on the USGS maps as triangles), reference monuments, witness monuments, bearing trees (those are really cool to find) and a host of others. In fact there is a triangulation station about a mile and a half Northwest of Bronco Knoll that I intend to search for next time I'm out there.

If the Bureau of Land Management objects to this cairn, then I will remove it. Otherwise, I believe this spot is of significant importance to the off-roading community and merits a respectful monument. I believe this cairn to be an appropriate way to preserve Bronco history and create a challenging and rewarding destination for off-road enthusiasts.

(Also, I just happen to earn a living by marking my and your territory.)

As a side note, Johnson Valley is negatively impacted by litter. I hauled away a garbage bag full of trash that I picked up around my campsite, and I challenge every other member of this forum to do the same whenever they get a chance to enjoy our public lands.