By Jon Crowley
On a recent trip to Phoenix from Northern California, Teresa and I drove through Joshua Tree National Park in our 2022 Ford Raptor. We entered the park through the west entrance near Yucca Valley and planned to drive through the park and out through the southeast side via Box Canyon Road and the Cottonwood Visitor Center.
After a short hike at Hidden Valley I was looking at the park map and saw there was a dirt road labeled Geology Tour Road that connected to Berdoo Canyon Road that dropped you out of the park near Indio on Dillon Road. We decided to stop by the turnoff to see what else we could find out about this since we did not have cell service and had not researched the route prior to our arrival. While these trails are on dirt, OHV are not allowed – only California street legal vehicles can drive in Joshua Tree National Park.
Trailhead for Geology Tour Road: 34.00617, -116.08490
I wasn’t too worried about the loop down and back on Geology Tour Road, but I had a feeling that Berdoo Canyon Road might be a bit more questionable. Whenever you have a trail that descends a canyon in the desert, chances are it can change dramatically after a storm. According to the information at the beginning of the tour, only high clearance 4×4 vehicles should attempt the road and it would take you about two hours to complete the loop. By our very rough estimates from the map we got at the park entrance, it looked like it was 20-25 miles of dirt.
We charged on along Geology Tour Road and as expected, we were making good time. Along the way, we did see a Toyota Prius that somebody had left along the way. While the Geology Tour Road was a piece of cake for the Raptor, the Prius owner certainly didn’t pay attention to the warning signs.
Pleasant Valley GPS Coordinates: 33.92357, -116.05412
After we left Geology Tour Road and go onto Berdoo Canyon Road, the road conditions degraded. While still not bad, we did finally shift to 4H Off-Road in the Raptor.
Berdoo Canyon Road GPS Coordinates: 33.91045, -116.05750
We drove for several miles before cresting the pass and descending into the canyon.
Once we got further into the canyon, Berdoo Canyon Road became a wash and as we descended further towards Dillon Road, you could tell the conditions were affected by storms.
Berdoo Canyon Start: 33.84321, -116.05856
There were a few spots where the canyon narrowed and the road could definitely be impacted by runoff.
Berdoo Canyon and Dillon Road: 33.79967, -116.18572
We made it through the canyon without having to shift to 4L, but if we were going the opposite direction, that may have been required.
Overall, we lucked out on the decision to take the road less traveled. I don’t mind going off on our own on occasion, but I’d like to be a bit more prepared to do so. With limited tools, no prior research, no cell service and nobody else on the trail with us, we could have easily been in a rough spot if something went wrong.
Our 2022 Ford Raptor is equipped from the factory with FOX Live Valve shocks and 35-inch BFG tires. We have added a a VHF digital mobile radio from Rugged Radios so we can easily communicate between vehicles on group rides.
Our Raptor handled the trail like a champ. The FOX shocks soaked up the washboarded roads very well and we survived the light rock crawling we encountered without damaging the truck. If I was going to off-road on a more frequent basis, I think 37-inch tires would be the ticket, but as a daily driver, the 35-inch tires perform much better. The side steps do help protect the rocker panels in the rocks, but the do hang down more than I’d prefer.
Having your Ford Raptor’s shocks serviced is an important aspect of maintaining your vehicle and ensuring that it performs at its best. Shocks play a crucial role in the handling and stability of your vehicle, and if they are not in good condition, it can lead to a number of problems. If your Ford Raptor is a daily driver that never goes off-road, we recommend having your shocks serviced every 30,000 miles, and if you drive your Raptor off-road 100% of the time, your shocks should be serviced every 3,000 miles. If you are somewhere in between, try to estimate your percentage of off-road vs. highway usage to approximate the mileage accordingly. Learn more: Ford Raptor Shock Service.