LIGHT-VENTURES: Customer Highlight, Black Bear Pass & More

March 25, 2021

“Not all classrooms have four walls.”​

- Unknown





Vehicle: 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road in Super White

Instagram Handle: @TeeganAndBoone

Rig Nickname: My Tacoma's name is Teegan. I've named my vehicles using alliteration with the make. For example, my previous Jeep's name was Juliet.

Merritt catching some views atop his rig

How'd You Get Into Overlanding? My father took me off-roading about the same time I was learning to drive and taught me a lot of the basics. I continued to learn by off-roading throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains with my friends in high school. A few years ago, my wife and I started overlanding more and taking cross-country trips in my Jeep Wrangler. We realized we needed more room and a more dependable vehicle, especially traveling with my dog (Boone of @TeeganAndBoone) . So right before we moved to Salt Lake City I bought a Tacoma so I could begin building out a more spacious overlanding rig.

Current Cali Raised LED Products:  I have a few light switches that control my 3 front bumper LED strips (not pictured - this was a recent upgrade). I'm wanting to try out a pair of Ditch Lights and add some MOLLE panels to the cab soon. 

Favorite Trip: Black Bear Pass in Telluride, Colorado. This was a trail I've wanted to run in my own vehicle for almost a decade. I knew I had to plan a trip as soon as I moved to Salt Lake City last summer. Within a month of doing so, one of my high school friends from Tennessee drove his two-door wrangler over 1,600 miles and 26 hours to meet me in Ouray, Colorado.

Black Bear Pass sign
We tackled Imogene Pass as a warmup on the first day and camped overnight. The next morning we headed towards Black Bear. I was slightly nervous about taking my Tacoma down Black Bear. This trail is notoriously unforgiving (check out the dashcam and aftermath of the Jeep that rolled this Fall) and has a reputation as one of the most dangerous in the US. I was still getting familiar with Teegan's off-road capabilities and hadn't read much online about others taking Tacomas on Black Bear. In fact, on the ascent we kept passing people giving me kudos for "Daring to take a Tacoma down the switchbacks." Turns out, everything leading up to the switchbacks is relatively tame if you take it slow and spot where needed. A stock Jeep or Tacoma would have no issues with an experienced driver.

@TeegandBoone on Imogene Pass
When we got to the switchbacks, we continued to take it slow and embraced the stunning views, terrain and waterfalls. The back half of Black Bear Pass is truly a sight to behold and it's absolutely insane that a road runs down the side of it.I had no issues whatsoever on the switchbacks. It often took a few more points to turn than the Jeeps ahead and behind me, but I was surprised how much room I actually had. We made it down safely and stopped at Bridal Veil Falls before coasting back into Telluride.

I learned that Black Bear Pass deserves a high amount of respect but you shouldn't fear running it if you stay calm, take your time, utilize your experience, and have a good spotter

Bucket List Trips:  I'd love to overland up to Alaska in the next few years. With my job going remote this past year, this seems more and more like a possibility once the US and Canada begins to reopen. 

@TeeganandBoone's campsite


Location: 65 miles outside of Telluride, CO

Terrain: Forest, water, altitude

Difficulty: Difficult - Severe

Black Bear Pass was originally constructed in the late 1800's to service the Black Bear Mine and subsequently re-opened for recreational travel in 1959. Few trails in the United States have attained the legendary status of Black Bear Pass. The ascent from US 550 begins near the summit of Red Mountain Pass, historically known as the "Million Dollar Highway." The initial climb is easy and scenic, with wildflowers dotting the high mountain meadows. Waterfalls cascade from alpine snow melt as you climb to the 12,840 foot summit.

View from Black Bear Pass
The descent into Telluride is vastly different, with narrow shelf roads and steep drop-offs. The descent is highlighted by the stunning Bridal Veil Falls topped by the Smuggler-Union Hydroelectric Power Plant, better known as the Bridal Veil Powerhouse. The trail descends adjacent to Bridal Veil Falls, with some of the tightest switchbacks a vehicle can travel through. Black Bear Pass is one of the most dangerous trails out there.

@TeeganandBoone and friends on the trail


To help navigate your way around Black Bear Pass check out Gaia GPS, the best outdoor GPS app for off-roading, overlanding and camping. The app has a free and paid version, both offering maps from around the world to help plan your next trip. If you use our link below to purchase a premium paid membership you can receive 20% to 50% off.

Use code BLACKBEARPASS at check-out to get this deal. 



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