Rock CrawlingWithin every sport there are those competitors who take their craft to the next level. In the four wheel drive community, those individuals have cultivated and nurtured the sport of rock crawling. Most anyone who has spent time on the trails has encountered a full-on rock crawling rig, which are most notably identified by outlandish suspension systems and full roll cages.

Sure, rock crawlers look cool…But what’s the point? Rock crawling has two distinct sectors. On one end of the spectrum, four wheel drive enthusiasts have built a growing colony of rock crawling hobbyists. These individuals invest thousands of dollars to build rigs capable of taking on trail obstacles of epic proportions. Conversely, rock crawling also has a professional competitive sector. Competition crawling is complete with a points system, corporate sponsors and featured at events throughout the United States.

By all accounts, rock crawling is a sport that was derived from the basic competitive human nature. As Jeeps and other hearty four wheel drive vehicles became available in the automotive marketplace, and outdoor recreation recovered after World War II, it was only a matter of time before people took to the trails. As people began to take on obstacles, and their buddies were left behind, fabrication of custom parts and tougher rigs began to take hold.

Fast forward to current times, and it’s easy to see that the four wheel drive industry has exploded. Lift kits and large tires have taken the place of lackluster trucks. And, in the extreme four wheel drive community, rock crawling has taken off. In 1998, the first nationally recognized rock crawling competition was held with over 40 competitors showing off highly-modified specialty rigs. As competition crawling flourished, so did the hobby end of the sport.

Aftermarket manufacturers began to offer products that appealed to “crawlers.” From locking differentials to modified suspension components, many of today’s most extreme aftermarket accessories have been inspired by the rock crawling community.

In today’s world, rock crawling rigs run the gambit from Toyotas to Suzukis and full competition buggies that are mere mentions of their predecessors.  To see how far the sport has come, four wheel enthusiasts should take the time to check out a rock crawling competition in your area. Typically, competitions are held during the summer months. For current schedules, check out the World Extreme Rock Crawling Championship website at