Ben Ruddell

Mapping Crew - Arizona
Trail Reviews: 7300 points
Questions Answered: 100 points
Off-Road Experience:
6+ years
Off-Road Style:
Dirt Roads/Backroads
My Garage:
  • (2.5" lift, 33" tires)
  • 2000 Jeep Cherokee (3.5" lift, 31" tires)
  • 2019 Jeep Wrangler (4 door) (Stock lift, 33" tires)
Ben is an Engineering PhD and Civil Engineer living in Flagstaff with a family of seven. He grew up car camping in Michigan, and later in Southern Illinois. By way of Utah, Southeast Alaska, Michigan, Illinois, and for eight years in Phoenix, He now lives in Flagstaff, AZ and spends summers in Durango, CO. His favorite weekends are spent exploring a new trail or route, usually with the intent of scoring a nice day hike or short overnight car camp with his kids. He frequently finds that his maps are out of date or that roads are impassable without specialized equipment, and wants to create better information for himself and other enthusiasts in his backyard, the 4 corners region of AZ, CO, NM, an UT.

My Garage (3)

Lift Size: 2.5"
Tire Size: 33"
2017 NV3500 12 passenger 4x4 conversion (Advanced 4x4 in Salt Lake City), rear winch receiver, custom 12V power system, HAM radio, Awning and tent gear, high-output alternator and solar panel.

2000 Jeep Cherokee

Lift Size: 3.5"
Tire Size: 31"
2000 Jeep Cherokee 2DR manual inline-six with factory skids and rear positrac (was a forest service fleet vehicle), adjustable short arm lift 3.5" full suspension and steering replacement, Napier flares, tube sliders, KevinsOffroad cherokee roof rack, KC LED lights, front and rear receivers and flex mount winch, custom 12V front/rear power system, HAM radio, set up for a flat towbar.

2019 Jeep Wrangler (4 door)

Lift Size: Stock
Tire Size: 33"
2019 Wrangler 4dr Rubicon, white, hard top, stock. In Flagstaff and Sedona, an open top Jeep is a beautiful thing!

My Trail Reviews (24)

(within last 6 months)
Cinder Hills OHV (08/30/2020)
The crowds have really thinned out compared with recent weeks.
Broken Arrow (08/29/2020)
Great weather. We started 7am and had no traffic Saturday morning.
Cinder Hills OHV (08/22/2020)
B U S Y like I have never seen it this weekend. The COVID camping boom is intense. Large groups every 100 yards on 777- yet still plenty of spots for more. But back in the hills off 777 and the lake, you only see others every hour or so. We camped on a hilltop in my nv3500, it was great. This place is a boondocking paradise.
Imogene Pass (07/19/2020)
Pretty sweet! I saw several lifted full size pickups up here, so under ideal conditions I guess that is not a problem. Busy, but we had no problem with lines. There is some camping along the creeks on the Ouray side. Difficulty rating is correct.
Last Dollar Road (07/18/2020)
As advertised, great views, easy wheeling, lots of camping. However, the camping is CROWDED right now. Hit the north end for less crowding.
Black Bear Pass (07/17/2020)
What a great trail! No obstacles on the way up to the pass, and a bit past it. Any 4x4 can make that part. Once you pass the “extreme road” sign and the one way starts into Telluride, well equipped experts only. I can confirm that there’s not established dispersed campsites on the pass, but there *are* a lot of good places to park and sleep. This might be a 6 based on off-camber shelf road slipperyness in the tough part above Telluride (rather than obstacles); tire placement is life or death critical in at least two places, and I was caught by surprise with an off camber sideslip above the shelf once. I did not find the steps to be the challenging part. It’s probably in the eye of the beholder; experts will say no big deal because there are no serious obstacles; passengers and first timers will feel their mortality. Whether it’s a 5,6, or 7, be advised on the pucker factor and possible risk. We used spotters on the tightest switchback, but not elsewhere. Just stay inside and away from that cliff. Do not bring a full sized truck or van down the telluride switchbacks! Short wheelbase only. A 4Runner or Unlimited/4dr wrangler will work fine. I have seen gladiator and full size vids. I would not want to drive a full size, no way. We ran this in a stock JL 4dr rubi, no sweat. The lifted JK’s in my group had a slightly harder time with the tight spots. Bridal Veil Falls is awesome.
Malpais Loop (06/28/2020)
Open, dry, busy with campers. A statewide fire ban is in effect.
Behind the Peaks (06/24/2020)
Open and dry. A statewide fire ban is in effect.
Hart Prairie (06/24/2020)
Open and dry. A statewide fire ban is in effect.
Back Road to Lockett Meadow (06/23/2020)
The gate at the top was uncharacteristically open this week. A statewide fire ban is in effect.
FR552 Lockett Meadow (06/23/2020)
Open and in excellent condition. The camping is full at the top. A statewide fire ban is in effect.
Schultz Pass (06/23/2020)
Opens and dry. A statewide fire ban is in effect.
Hart Prairie (06/01/2020)
@ Dave Kayser - a great spot, right? On the west side of the peaks :)
FR552 Lockett Meadow (05/17/2020)
Still closed, possibly opening Memorial Day (COVID allowing...)
Elden Springs Road (05/17/2020)
Open and dry, in good condition.
Back Road to Lockett Meadow (05/16/2020)
The gate is open- although probably not for long with memorial day coming up. The road is in dry condition, but rough. I tried and succeeded for the first time to bring my van up here. It was a tight squeeze and there is plenty of new trail rash on the van now. We found the conditions extremely windy on the east slope for camping- that may be typical for May.
Schultz Pass (05/15/2020)
Open and dry, lots of camping going on in the lower areas.
Old Walnut Canyon (05/02/2020)
This is an ordinary forest road, in mediocre condition- but it takes you to a few great hiking spots!
Woody Mountain Road (04/23/2020)
The road is freshly graded in places- near the Arboretum where it was very rutted. Smooth sailing for the most part, and dry.
East Pocket Road (04/22/2020)
The road's in good shape, with only a little standing water. The season is open! Beware however- AZ Governor banned all fires starting the day of this visit.
Elden Springs Road (04/19/2020)
Open and clear, a little washboard
Schultz Pass (04/17/2020)
In good condition, no changes, dry and open.
Cinder Hills OHV (03/24/2020)
Cinder Hills is empty midweek in spring. It’s a great time to come here.
Broken Arrow (03/22/2020)
The trail is in good condition, unchanged from previous years. It was fairly busy midmorning this Sunday, but NO PINK JEEPS thanks to the quarantines.