Every year, a group of passionate Toyota owners put on a one-of-a-kind event called FJ Summit. It's like that VIP experience you couldn't believe existed—but here the dirt trails take you to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Seth Kovanic created the FJ Summit in 2006 as a way to get out of the city and use his four-wheeler for what it was built for—climbing mountain trails, getting dirty, and going places most people never get to see.
"When I bought my FJ in 2006, myself and a couple other guys wanted to have a centralized get together," Seth explains. "We expected 30 or 40 vehicles the first year. And we ended up having 120, 130 vehicles. From that year, it just blossomed to what it is now—one of the premier four-wheeling events in North America."
This year, almost 900 people and 400 trucks gathered in Ouray, Colorado, to share their love of four-wheeling and rugged nature. Families, couples, and single folks alike shared campgrounds and trail paths for five days of glorious off-road living.
Due to some unseasonably late snow, this year's event featured new trails never before explored. The Forestry Service and the Bureau of Land Management were able to clear some new routes that took attendees through some of the beautiful terrains of southwest Colorado. Instead of more technical climbs, these paths offered more wide-open areas with gorgeous vistas and breathtaking sunsets.
Oh, and all while supporting the local community.
For Seth, Director of FJ Summit, this event is the very definition of a passion project. The leadership team for FJ Summit is committed to keeping this a non-profit event. Which means nobody gets paid a penny; it all goes back to making the event great, and giving back to the Ouray community that has supported them for over a decade.
Since that first year, FJ Summit attendees have giving over $150,000 to organizations like Stay The Trail, Ouray Mountain Rescue, the local fire fighters and sheriff's department, and even have two "FJ Summit" college scholarships to deserving local high school students.
This is not your average mountain climb.
But what keeps people coming back year after year—and makes the event literally sell out in less than a minute—is ditching the pavement for mountain dirt and one-of-a-kind views.
"I think it gives people an opportunity to see places the vast majority of places people don't," Seth shares. "It gives you the chance to experience natural resources that you wouldn't otherwise be able to experience."
First-timers are often surprised at how much time they spend above tree level. Most of the trails at the FJ Summit take you over 11,000 feet up, with one that goes over 13,000 feet. "Unless you live in the Pacific Northwest or within the Rocky Mountains, you're never going to be able to get that high unless you go hiking or rock climbing."
From tricked-out dirt climbers to stock trucks, all kinds of Toyotas show up for FJ Summit—and they rarely have a mechanical problem. "We never have engines blown, we never have transmissions blown," Seth recalls. "In over 12 years of this, 99.9% of the vehicles make it through this event without an issue."
"I personally put 6,000 miles on my truck in 12 days. I don't think there's a lot of companies out there that can put that much faith in a vehicle. It's one of the things we love so much about our vehicles—we don't have to worry about them breaking down."
So, mark your calendar for next year's FJ Summit—and be ready to book quickly. Those tickets are gone before you know it.
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