Based in South-Western Wisconsin, we are a group of off-roading enthusiasts in the “Driftless Area”. Our community spans over 24,000 sq miles and 4 states: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. Together, we’ll promote, encourage, and provide 4WD opportunities in the Driftless Area, provide education and training on safe 4WD practices and vehicle handling, promote responsible 4WD recreation in regards to land usage, preservation, and respect for natural areas and wildlife, we’ll wheel alongside other Wisconsin 4WD clubs and encourage out of state relationships, we’ll support and participate in activities to better our vast community, and share in the ever growing camaraderie that develops on and off the trail.
All licensed 4X4 vehicles are welcome to join us.
April 13, 2019 our President Morgan arrived at work to take delivery of her built to order JLU Sport. It was love at first sight sitting there in the parking lot shining and shimmering. 4 door, Mojito! green, 6spd standard transmission, heritage tan seats, stock wheels, basic interior – the only thing automatic were the locks and windows. She went basic for a purpose; she had every intention of building her “She-Hulk”. Less than six months later, she lifted her Jeep and set her on 35’s then came new bumpers, a winch, and slowly acquired recovery equipment.
The only problem was there were no local 4×4 clubs, no local places to wheel, and finding someone who wanted to head off-road was proving difficult. All the trails were hours away north. After 2 years of continuing to search for a club and someone to wheel with (rule number 1 is “Don’t wheel alone”) while adding more to “She-Hulk”, an opportunity arose to travel to Attica, IN and learn how to wheel at the Badlands Off-Road Park. That was October of 2021 with the “Jeep Adventure Academy”. After that first opportunity to finally use her Jeep like a Jeep, there was no shifting into reverse; she was in love. Where Morgan wanted to go there were no roads, only 4LO in 1st gear.
Faced with the same situation of no opportunities to wheel around her, she began to search for some local groups who were into 4×4’s in hopes of meeting people with the same passions. There were a few groups and rides around the area, through backroads along the Mississippi River; it was definitely enjoyable meeting other people into Jeeps and 4×4’s .
July of 2022, the “Northwoods Jeep Jamboree” arrived. The idea of Driftless Off-Road 4×4 was conceived. In those two days of wheeling many things happened. She managed to get on the hardest trail level she could with her setup, which is what she wanted to do. Along the way, the guides taught her more – wheeling in a manual with open differentials is definitely a calculated skill. She herself was amazed with what her Jeep could do and handle (including bouncing off of rocks and into trees). At dinner, she got to know some of the guides and found out that there were trail builds happening just over an hour away from where she lived. It’s known as Quarry Meadows. Finally! Somewhere close where she could wheel. It wouldn’t be a lie to say there were tears in her eyes as she drove back south after the weekend she had.
She was quick to become a member of the WC4WD in order to build trails, counting down the days to build days. After all, once a little hard work is put in sawing, cutting, and moving brush, someone has to test out the trails. As it turns out, there was a tornado that had passed through not long before the Jeep Jamboree and decimated much of what had previously been built. When she showed up at Quarry Meadows for the first time, all she wanted to do was build and wheel. It didn’t take long for the rest of the trail builders to realize just tell this Morgan girl what to move where and she’ll do it – also, sharing pistachios was a bonus. Even on trail build days, she was still learning how to wheel and getting advice from much more seasoned wheelers than her. She got to know these people very well, one in particular. He’d invite her to any off-road trip he knew of, realizing how much she wanted to wheel. GNTR came and went, where she got to know many of the Jeep Jamboree guides better – they recognized her as the “Lumberjack” from Northwoods. She-Hulk isn’t exactly the most conspicuous Jeep.
In less than a year from her first time off-roading, she was asked to be a tail gunner at the Cranberry Crawl at Quarry Meadows. Although they were washed out of the event due to torrential rain and mudslides, she wheeled in pretty much the worst conditions you can. By this point, she was already contacting people from various Wisconsin clubs who were well established – WC4WD, 4×4 Forever, Greater MKE 4×4. Everyone was willing to help her any way they could. South-Western Wisconsin was due for someone to step up and form an off-road club. Finally, what sealed the idea of Driftless Off-Road 4×4, was a trip to Tigerton OHV.
After 2 days of hard wheeling, and one bent bumper and smashed rear quarter panel later, the crew that remained Sunday night sat around the campfire near the river, watching the storm slowly moving in. They talked for hours. Morgan asked question after question about how to start up a club and everyone answered, even promised to send some information that next week. She also had a new trip to look forward to – traveling to Tukey Bay OHV in Kentucky that next spring. The night ended when the storm rolled in and she was nestled up in “Hotel She-Hulk”, reading a book while it rained outside.
Morgan returned home to the La Crosse area with the mission to get a club going in South-Western Wisconsin. Emails and messages went back and forth for weeks. Many long nights of research and note taking went into what was required by the state to become an incorporated club. One advantage that she has is her work. By trade, she is a Jeep tech who specializing in modification installation. She works with Jeeps for a living – could there be any better profession for her? Posters were put up all over her work and she let her customers know about a the formation of an off-road club.
Saturday, December 3rd rolled around. We had roughly a dozen people show up for our first meeting. Although a small number, our bare bones were formed and we agreed to call ourselves Driftless Off-Road (4×4 came later). Facebook groups were set up. We had an email established. Other Wisconsin clubs were spreading the word. Morgan made decals and cards to get the word out. We had an online meeting on January 26th where we decided more factors into our new club in progress. Other members from clubs attending who also explained the benefits of being an incorporated club. By the end of the meeting, we decided to go official incorporated Wisconsin off-road club.
Morgan Hampe was unanimously voted President. Jay Larson stepped forward as Vice President. Jeremy Hiles agreed to be Secretary. Erin Granger-Pickar decided to fill in as Treasurer. Nikki Marie became our Director. We had our Board of Directors.
On Monday, February 13, Driftless Off-Road 4×4 became an officially incorporated Wisconsin off-road club and later joined the WC4WD. Eight months before, we were simply an idea in the mind of a “crazy Jeep girl”. Now, we are becoming an established off-road club, ever growing, and ready to ride. Don’t take it from us, read what our President has to say:
“I’m Morgan, President and the crazy Jeep girl that started this. Driftless Off-Road 4×4 has been 4 years in the making. When I ordered my 2019 JLU Sport 4 years ago, I knew 2 things: 1) I wanted to build her up and use her like a Jeep 2) I knew where all the trails were, but no one who wanted to wheel.
Since I’m a Jeep tech, I‘ve had customers for years ask ”where do you go wheeling?” That was not the question for me, but it was a matter of driving 3+ hours to trails and hoping someone would let me join their group and be willing to show me how it’s done.
When I finally took She-Hulk off-road for the first time in October of 2021, I fell in love with it! I signed up for the 2022 Northwoods Jeep Jamboree. There, I met the most amazing people who have become some of my closest friends. I’ve been able to build trails in Tomah, wheel with them up north, attend their events, and now I just hang out with them for a long weekend.
For years, I searched for a local 4×4 club to join so I could do more off-road events. Little did I know it was not the off-roading that I wanted to the most – it was spending the days and nights with the friends I’ve gotten to know. I’ve learned a lot about myself while learning to take on challenges and obstacles off-road and have been able to take that mindset into my daily life, which has helped me grow as a person. My Jeep has done something for me that nothing else has – she’s helped me enjoy life more than I thought I ever though possible.
Enough was enough; South-Western Wisconsin needed a group to take people to where the trails are so they wouldn’t have the awkwardness and uncertainty that prevented me from traveling there, help learn them how to use their rigs off-road, give four-wheelers, not just Jeeps, in the area a place to meet others, and give us opportunities to gather together to enjoy life to it’s fullest.
I never expected how many people would help and are helping me get this done, nor did I imagine how many people in this area share the same passion for the crazy things we do to our 4x4s.
Thanks everyone, the adventures of Driftless Off-Road 4×4 are just beginning!
Morgan and She-Hulk“