The Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club is arguably the friendliest bunch of off-road enthusiasts I haven’t even met!
This year in 2019 (our sixth year of fulltime travel), we’re doing a massive loop around the USA. We’ve already been deep into the interior of Mexico this year, and we’ll be heading into Ontario, Canada, later this year. But right now, we’re in Seattle, preparing to head east.
I’ve always wanted to visit Missoula, Montana. Knowing we’d be passing through this year, I started researching Jeep and 4×4 clubs in and around Missoula. I really lucked out in finding Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club on Facebook.
When I sent a “join” request to the Facebook group, not only was I accepted, but within moments I was welcomed to the group as if I were already part of the family.
Not kidding. Within 30 minutes of joining Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club’s Facebook group, I’d been invited to go wheeling. But not only that; I’d received two generous and open invites to camp at members’ homes on our journey across the great state of Montana. (Shout out to Jeanne and Maurice!)
Seriously, these amazing people were offering us their driveways and front lawns to camp on, having never met us. Super kind!
This group was so nice to us that I asked Natasha, one of the members I’d been conversing with, if they’d be willing to complete an interview for a Jeepsies article. Natasha connected me with Cathy, who I emailed. Cathy sent off my email to Mike, and then Mike got back to me for the interview. This all happened very fast!
After as many off-road clubs as we’ve connected with in our travels, it was refreshing to see Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club was not only open and welcoming, but also well-organized.
Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club: How to Find Them
There are three primary ways to get connected with Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club: their website, Facebook group, and Instagram.
The Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club Website
The website has gallery of images and even a blog about recent adventures, available for you to explore. But if you just want to get down to it and get a hold of them, you’ll find the contact page under the “More” link. Or you can just click here to contact them (I’ve linked it for you).
The Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club Facebook Group
This is where I initially connected with them. Simply make sure you’re logged into Facebook and then click on this link. You’ll be directed to the group where you’ll have an opportunity to join. As of this writing, the group has 799 members.
The Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club Instagram
If you want to see what Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club has been up to recently, the best way to see it in images is their Instagram account. You can find them @Montanabackroads4x4club.
Bottom line is that if you are anywhere in the great state of Montana, or even just passing through, get in touch with these folks. You’ll be glad you did.
So what are they all about? What does Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club actually do?
Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club: The History
In my interview with current president of Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club, Mike Jannell, he explained that the club was founded by Willie Worthy in 1994 around the simple concept of “Let’s go wheeling!”
For those who struggle with math, that’s 25 years and counting that Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club has been around.
The story, as Mike tells it, is that Willie just wanted to get together with likeminded 4-wheelers. That caused Willie, along with friend Mark Pickles, to start the club. The original group consisted of just eight members.
Even though two of the members didn’t want to incorporate the club, a vote was cast. In 1996 the club was incorporated, and it has been growing ever since.
It should be noted that Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club is not a Jeep club specifically. It is open to (gasp) anyone with a 4×4 vehicle who wants to participate in the camaraderie and goodness of this family-friendly club.
Yes, that means that ANY 4×4 vehicles including Nissan, Suzuki, Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and Jeep (of course) are welcome to join.
The club runs a variety of trails from mild to wild, and has every type of vehicle in the ranks, from bone stock rigs to heavily built crawlers.
After 25 years, “Let’s go wheeling” still resonates at the core of the club. It is simple, welcoming, and direct.
Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club: Charitable Causes
Over the past 25 years, the club has worked with many charitable organizations. When I asked Mike if there were any he’d like to mention, he said there are so many they’ve worked with that he’d just pick the most recent one.
Most recently, Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club has been working with Montana Food Bank Network.
Montana Food Bank Network is the only statewide food bank in Montana. They believe every person has a basic human right to access nutritious, high-quality food that nourishes the mind, body, and soul.
The organization’s mission is to end hunger in Montana through food acquisition and distribution, and education and advocacy.
Mike didn’t give me any specifics on how the club specifically engages with Montana Food Bank Network. But from what little I’ve learned of the club, I’m sure they are doing great things together.
Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club also participates in a charity ride every year for the Jeep “Go Topless” event in May, which in Montana is often snow wheeling!
These folks are doing it right. Having fun and giving back. I loved learning this about them.
Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club: Membership
Unlike most of the other clubs and groups I’ve written about, there are membership dues required to become a voting member of Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club. Guests are always welcome on trail rides, so don’t let the membership clause be a stopping point for you.
But if you like what you see and what they are all about, and you want to become a voting member, there is a process.
Just because you’re willing to pay dues, doesn’t mean you are “in” the club. These folks want to get to know you a little first.
Each prospective member is required to attend at least two club meetings and two club events prior to being considered for membership. Membership is then voted on by the existing members.
Montana Back Roads Jeep Club works diligently to protect the club, reputation, and family-friendly atmosphere. So be prepared to have them get to know you a bit before being accepted as a voting member!
Even though we won’t be around Montana long enough to become members ourselves, something tells me that joining this club is worth the process.
As far as the naughty-list, what can get you booted from the club?
President Mike Jannell reemphasized in the interview that Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club is family-friendly, and any behavior not in line with this could be cause for removal. Two automatic ways of getting the boot are drinking and driving, and the use of drugs during club activities.
If you find this club through our article and end up joining, then comment and let us know. We’d love to know what you think of the process and becoming a member!
Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club: Summary
This club has been around a minute. There is a lot to like about Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club. They are extremely active. President Jannell told me that 95% of the membership is active at their meetings, and 85% of the club is active on their trail rides. Those are huge numbers for anyone who has ever been part of a club.
In addition, the membership is knowledgeable and kind. Consider that the founder of the club from 25 years ago, Willie Worthy, is still a member and also happens to be the former Contributing Editor for 4Wheeler Magazine and author of three guidebooks to Montana 4×4 trails.
In closing, I’m simply going to quote President Mike Jannell, who best described what Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club is all about:
“Countless stories of getting lost, trail fixes, beautiful views, cool mines, ghost towns, new faces, old faces, getting stuck, getting unstuck, getting stuck again…Our group represents getting out there and experiencing all of it. Hundreds of trail-rides, thousands of pictures, and millions of memories are who we are as an organization.”
Thanks to Montana Back Roads 4×4 Club for the warm welcome to your state. I hope this article helps share the goodness that is your club with a broader audience. If you are already a member of the club, I’d love it if you’d drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts.
Until next time, keep it dirty and wheels side down.
~ Eric, Brittany, and #LittleNomad