The Rubicon Trail: When To Go and How Long Does It Take


The Rubicon Trail: When To Go and How Long Does It Take

The path known as the Rubicon Trail, part road and part trail, is a favorite destination for Jeep owners. In this article, we will give an overview of when you should go to the Rubicon Trail and how long it takes to drive the Rubicon Trail yourself.

This article will give you a better idea of what to expect when driving the Rubicon Trail. Jeep enthusiasts come from all over to test their off-roading capabilities on the Rubicon Trail. If you are looking for a more in-depth guide to the Rubicon Trail, keep reading.

What is the Rubicon Trail?

The Rubicon Trail was once, a long time ago, a footpath for Native Americans. Today it exists as an exciting path for off-roading vehicles to drive. The Rubicon Trail is in the Sierra Nevada part of the country and was once used by explorers looking for a way through. At one point this road was functional for cars until it fell into disrepair.

At some point this road became a popular destination for off-roaders, and it is now an iconic spot for Jeep owners to visit and put their Jeeps to the test.

The Rubicon Trail is 22 miles long and includes obstacles along the way.

If you are looking for an off-roading experience that is as beautiful as it is challenging, the Rubicon Trail is certainly that. It is the one of the most fun and most breath-takingly beautiful off-road drives for a Jeep that you can take.

The Rubicon Trail is located in the Tahoe National Forest and features stunning visuals of nature along the way. The Rubicon Trail has been dubbed by many as the most difficult off-roading trail in the US.

Parts of the Rubicon Trail:

  • Postpile
  • Cadillac Hill
  • Granite Slabs
  • Walker Hill
  • Soup Bowl
  • Big Sluice Box
  • Dollar Rock
  • Potato Patch
  • Turtle Rock
  • Observation Point

How long does it take to drive the Rubicon Trail?

Completing the entire route of the Rubicon Trail can take several days. Many of the tours that are offered last about five hours which is great for experiencing only the best parts of the trail.

There are touring companies that allow you to stay in a luxury hotel and then take a guided tour at sunrise or sunset that lasts about five hours and features some of the best obstacles of the trail.

For an adventure that includes driving the entire length of the Rubicon Trail you should be prepared to spend several days driving the entire 22 mile length of road, because much of it will be snail-crawling across rocky or difficult obstacles.

Going through the entire tour is too hectic for most beginners, which is why it is ideal to break up the drive into five hour intervals.

Spending one day at the Rubicon Trail will kind of miss the point because you will not be able to enjoy the drive as much as you would if you take your time.

Ideally, you should split the trip up into about three days. One day to arrive and sleep at the hotel, drive all day the next day, sleep at a hotel or camp again the next night, and then drive again all day the next day.

At that point, you can either head home or camp again for a third night before heading back.

So to sum to it all up:

  • The average tour lasts about five hours.
  • To drive the entire expanse of the Rubicon Trail takes several days.
The Rubicon Trail: When To Go and How Long Does It Take

When is the best time to go to the Rubicon Trail?

Going for a drive on the Rubicon Trail is best during moderate, clear weather. Driving the Rubicon Trail during the winter is an incredible challenge which is very fun for some people, but the Jeep needs to be heavily modified to be powerful enough to handle driving this terrain in the snow.

The best time of day to go on the Rubicon Trail may be either at sunrise or sunset.

In the morning at sunrise.

Most of the morning tours of the Rubicon Trail start at 9 am. The trail itself takes about 5 hours to complete, so a full day of adventure would be from 9 am until 2 pm. Driving the Rubicon Trail is an experience like no other. Most of the trail can be seen in about five hours.

The morning is a great time to set out on the Rubicon Trail if you want to get back by dark.

At sunrise you have the added benefit of having the entire day ahead of you, and the weather is usually cool and moderate at this time of day. If you are planning on driving the entire trail, the earlier you start out the better.

Pros:

  • The whole day is ahead of you.
  • It is cooler outside first thing in the morning.
  • You can see clearly in the daytime.

Cons:

  • It may get hot quickly in the day during the summer.

In the evening at sunset.

Going on the Rubicon Trail to go off-roading at sunset is an unforgettable experience.

Some trail tours begin right before sunset and allow you to experience the incredible off-roading experience while seeing some of the most beautiful natural scenery of the Sierras. The sunset is also a cool time of day in the summer.

Driving the trail at sunset is perhaps the most beautiful time of day to do it. One of the reasons why this road is such a popular path for off-roaders is because it is such a scenic path.

You will love to see how the views look from the trail at sunset. It is an incredible experience that will be loved by the whole family.

Pros:

  • It is cooler outside at sunset.
  • You get to see the beautiful colors of the sun setting.
  • It is a unique experience for you and your family. 

Cons:

  • It may get dark fast.
  • In the fall or spring it could be cold when it gets dark.

In the winter time.

Driving the Rubicon Trail is an experience like no other in the winter. In the Sierra Nevada region, you can expect to see heavy snowfall during the winter months.

For this reason, you should only attempt to drive the Rubicon Trail during the winter if you have a high-capacity Jeep that has been modified to handle off-roading in the snow during intense conditions.

For regular Jeeps driving the Rubicon Trail in the snow is too much and should be avoided.

Pros:

  • You get to see the beautiful scenery of the snowy Sierras.
  • It is a unique challenge for your jeep.
  • It is fun to drive in the snow.

Cons:

  • Only powerful rigs can make it through the Rubicon Trail in the snow.
  • It is more dangerous in many ways.

During a paid event. 

The Rubicon Trail is an iconic location for Jeep enthusiasts to go to test their Jeeps.

That is why there are several iconic events that are also held at this location each year. You can visit during one of these events and have a great time with food, music, and vendors.

It does cost to get into the events, but going to the Rubicon Trail for a drive is free on most other days. There are several annual events that are held at the Rubicon Trail. Joining in on these events can be an amazing experience for Jeep enthusiasts.

It costs a fee to join in on these Jeep events and that fee is to pay the staff for the event and for supplies. Jeep Jamboree is the most popular event at the Rubicon Trail.

Pros:

  • There are lots of people.
  • There is food and vendors.
  • There are competitions.
  • There are fun activities.
  • It may be safer in groups.

Cons:

  • You have to pay to get it.
  • There may be crowds of people.

Memorial Day Weekend or Labor Day Weekend.

These sunny holidays are a great time for many people to come to the Rubicon Trail for a challenging off-road adventure. A lot of people have off work during these weekends so memorial day weekend or labor day weekends are a great time to try driving the Rubicon Trail.

The weather is perfect on these weekends for driving. There is an event usually on labor day weekend as well which makes it even more fun.  

Pros:

  • It is great weather for going off-roading.
  • Many people have off of work and school these weekends.

Cons:

  • There may be a lot of people on the trail on these popular weekends.

What do you need to drive the Rubicon Trail?

If you are planning on driving the entire Rubicon Trail over the course of several days you will need to bring some supplies with you.

You will want to bring a spare tire as well as the necessary tools to do basic car repairs if it breaks down on the trail. You will also want to bring plenty of food and water with you so that you stay energized and well-hydrated during your journey.

Just in case you get lost you may want to include some emergency supplies in with your preparation such as a GPS, flares, and a first aid kit. You will want to pack supplies to bring with you, and if you want the full experience, be prepared to camp out along the way.

If you do not want to camp, you may want to invest in one of the luxury Rubicon Trail tours that are available that include the hotel stay in the price.

Supplies to Bring for the Rubicon Trail:

  • Snacks
  • Food
  • Water
  • Spare parts
  • Spare tire
  • Car tools
  • Gps
  • Emergency supplies
  • First aid kit
The Rubicon Trail: When To Go and How Long Does It Take

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are wondering if the Rubicon Trail is free, if it is safe, and how long it takes, this next section is for you. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Rubicon Trail.

Is the Rubicon Trail free to drive?

While there is no entrance fee to the Rubicon Trail, you will want to account for some fees along the way for your trip. There is usually about a $10 parking fee near the entrance to the Rubicon Trail so you will want to think about that if you are bringing additional vehicles to the one being used for off-roading.

Of course if you are traveling to get to the Rubicon Trail you will need to factor in the costs of gas money, plane tickets, or hotel rooms.

There are tours available for purchase of the Rubicon Trail that cost around $1,000 and include a fully upgraded Jeep Wrangler to drive as well as a tour guide, etc.

The trip can be as expensive or as inexpensive as you make it. One option to save money while driving the Rubicon Trail is to camp along the Rubicon Trail.

There are designated areas for campers along the trail and deputies do patrol to make sure that visitors camp in the right areas.

If you want to go to the Rubicon Trail on weekends when they are having the Jamboree events you should be prepared to shell out money for the entrance fee.

The paid Jeep events at the Rubicon Trail are worth the ticket price and are fun for the whole family.

Is the Rubicon Trail safe?

Yes, the Rubicon Trail is safe to drive. The Rubicon Trail features some dangerous obstacles, but the area is patrolled by deputies who ensure that adventure seekers stay on the path and don’t get hurt going over obstacles. However, there are still lots of hazards when driving the Rubicon Trail.

The obstacles are challenging, and a vehicle is only as safe as the person driving it. Know your rig and know that it will be pushed to its limits on this off-roading trail. Here are some of our safety tips for the Rubicon Trail.

Safety Tips For Driving the Rubicon Trail

  • Bring extra supplies – In the case of an accident or if you get lost you do not want to be stranded without supplies. Supplies that you may want to consider bringing are things like food and water, camping supplies, and tools for repairing the vehicle if something goes wrong. Extra car parts and extra tires are good ideas as well.
  • Check the weather – The weather can change in the blink of an eye. Just because it is clear in the morning does not mean that a storm is coming and it may be dangerous to get stranded on the Rubicon Trail during adverse weather conditions such as a tornado or other bad storm.
  • Stay connected – One of the risks of going off-roading is that you could become lost, or if you crashed and nobody knows where you are it could take a long time, possibly too long, for someone to find you. For this reason it is very important to let people know where you are going before you go on the Rubicon Trail. You also may want to invest in some emergency security technology that will keep you connected via a GPS or that will provide you with some cell signal or radio signal on the trail so that you do not get stranded.

How long does the Rubicon Trail take?

There is not one clear answer to how long it takes to drive the Rubicon Trail. It can technically be done in one day, but that is not the best way to get the full experience.

For the full experience of driving the Rubicon Trail and experiencing the different obstacles it is recommended that several days be set aside for the experience.

The tours that are available usually last about five hours at a time which is a good amount of off-roading time for most people.

Staying in a hotel is one option, but there are not hotels along the Rubicon Trail, which means that camping along the way may be necessary. What an adventure! There are designated spots to camp along the Rubicon Trail.

  • The Rubicon Trail takes several days to drive in its entirety, experiencing all of the attractions.
  • A tour of the Rubicon Trail from a touring company usually lasts five hours, and there are several different tours available.

Conclusion

You can expect to spend several days on your journey to drive the Rubicon Trail if you are looking for the full experience. You can drive the trail in one day, but that is not the same as really taking your time and testing the power of your rig on this iconic obstacle course.

Whether you come on memorial day weekend or during the Jeep Jamboree, or another big event, the Rubicon Trail is undoubtedly one of the most iconic trails for Jeep enthusiasts to drive their Wranglers off-road.

A standard Jeep Wrangler has been driven on the Rubicon Trail, but it is recommended that 35” tires with more tread be added, as well as a few other modifications to make the Jeep safer and more powerful for off-roading during this excursion.

Whether you book a luxury tour and stay at a hotel, or you pack up a cooler with your favorite snacks and camp out along the way, the Rubicon Trail is an incredible weekend adventure for Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts and off-roaders that is fun for the whole family.

The Rubicon Trail: When To Go and How Long Does It Take

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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