It’s no secret, all terrain vehicles (ATVs) are great on farms, ranches and orchards; for use in forest and range management; and when hunting or ﬁshing.
But did you know that ATVs are also great for family fun outings?
It’s true, ATVs offer families an opportunity to just get out and enjoy the great outdoors. ATV riding is a great way to spend quality time together outdoors with family and friends. The Thunder Mountain Wheelers is Delta County’s premier, family oriented ATV club, organized for, and by, people who love the outdoors and have a sense of adventure. Not to be confused with “extreme” rides, TMW provides an opportunity for family group fun outings, while promoting ATV safety and environmental stewardship. Club members are invited to take part in two family oriented club rides every month during the summer.
“Not everyone wants to go out and race on a racetrack,” said Cedaredge club member Rick Bohl. “Most of the time we just want to take our families out for a recreational ride, observe wildlife, enjoy the scenery, or just plain go for a pleasant ride on a Sunday afternoon.”
And with so many wonderfully groomed and well maintained trails for use in and around Delta County, thanks to TMW, there is no shortage of things to see.
Club member Joyce Frey said the club is simply a great group of people who love to ride. “We enjoy the rides and the camping out. They’re just a great group of people who love the outdoors,” Frey said. She supports the club’s commitment to keep public lands open to the public and their dedication to responsible environmental stewardship.
According to club president Kim Kokesh, TMW members also advocate responsible use of off-highway vehicles and are members of Tread Lightly, a national nonproﬁt organization whose mission is to empower generations to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. According to Kokesh, “All the outings involve some work.”
Through the promotion of safe riding practices and environmental awareness, membership in TMW provides a “politically correct” opportunity for those who enjoy riding ATVs to join others who are equally passionate with the sport.
Kokesh said the once popular poker runs sponsored by TMW attracted huge crowds and because of that, they have been discontinued due to the negative environmental impact. With more than 400 registered members, with an average age of 60, TMW members give back to the community through charitable events, sponsoring cleanup days during group rides, and working with local and federal land management agencies in the construction of trails and trail maintenance through partnering with the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
TMW members have adopted more than 20 reservoirs and lakes on the Grand Mesa, and more than 100 miles of off-highway vehicle trails through the Forest Service’s Adopt a Trail and Adopt a Lake programs. Members pick up trash and litter from around the shores of the lakes and reservoirs and along the ATV trails, resulting in a more enjoyable experience for everyone visiting the Grand Mesa.
According to Kokesh, the club is more of an “active” environmental organization than many well known national environmental advocacy groups. Said Walt Blackburn, past club president, “We support other user groups. We don’t want anyone to be shut out from responsible use of our public lands.”
In addition, members partner with the State of Colorado, through the use of off-highway vehicle registration grant monies, to assist the Forest Service and the BLM in trail construction and maintenance of off-highway vehicle trails. With nearly $150,000 in grant monies from just the Colorado State Parks for signs, trail maintenance, construction and the production of up-to-date maps, TMW members have made a significant contribution to enhancing everyone’s enjoyment while visiting the GMUG National Forest and BLM managed lands. One of the club’s many service projects involved working with other local OHV clubs to help BLM’s Uncompahgre Field Ofﬁce in collecting over 300 tires which were illegally dumped on public lands.
TMW’s popularity can also be attributed to the hundreds of miles of maintained trails on federally managed lands in and around Delta County, many of which are Forest Service roads and old logging roads. Loren Paulson, recreation staff supervisor for the Grand Valley Ranger District, said of the club, “With more than 700 miles of roads and trails on the Grand Mesa to maintain, we wouldn’t be able to get much done without their help. They are a great group.”
For TMW members, some of the more popular group rides include the Green Mountain Trail, the Eureka Trail, Roubideau, Black Canyon Rim, Rabbit Valley, Minnesota Creek, Dominguez and Escalante Canyons, Monument and High Trail and the many trails in and around Silverton.