Jeeping in Guam
Photography by Harry Wagner
Guam is known for a lot of things. It is a strategic military location for the United States and a booming tourist location for Asians looking to enjoy the pristine sand beaches and clear blue water. You probably don’t think of Guam as a wheeling destination though. The island is only 210 square miles, less than half as big as the Hawaiian island of Oahu and the tallest peak is only 1,334 feet above sea level. What it lacks in size though, Guam makes up for in miles of off-road trails.
Guam has a very active wheeling scene, with the Guhan Jeepers being the largest club on the island. Their members include families, military servicemen, and talented fabricators and mechanics. They had over 50 people show up to pick up trash at the Tank Farm, the most popular wheeling spot on the island.
If there is one feature that defines the Jeeps we saw on Guam it is Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires! These are the most aggressive DOT-approved tire on the market, and nothing quite matches how they work in sticky mud. They also look awesome, and if you live on an island with a short commute, why not run an aggressive tire?
Want to get your rig out to Guam? Expect to spend about $2,000 one way and it can take over a month to arrive. Off-roaders in Guam suffer from the same issues when ordering parts for their vehicles. There is no 4Wheel Parts on Guam, everything takes a long time and costs twice as much as it does stateside, but that doesn’t stop them from modifying their vehicles. The car culture is strong in Guam, and we were shocked by how many Jeeps we saw with one ton axle swap and 40-inch tall tires.
Have you ever wanted to flex your Jeep out on a tank? Well, you might have to come to Guam in order to do it. The area is named for two Sherman M4A3(75)W tanks found there. They were placed in their current position after WW2 to be used as targets.
The Tank Farm consists of roads and trails criss crossing the hills in the area. Some of the paths are more challenging than others, but the area can be enjoyed by basically anyone from a new wheeler to a seasoned veteran.
Last spring, we met up with the Guahan Jeepers to take part in a trail cleanup at the Tank Farm, the most popular wheeling destination on Guam. Located in the mountains in the middle of the island, this area is criss-crossed with trails and even has nearby waterfalls that you can hike to. Being so popular, the area suffers from trash left by people who haven’t been educated on outdoor ethics. The Guahan Jeepers keep the area clean though, with few wheeling spots on the island they stand to lose the most if the area is shut down.
There aren’t many rock outcrops on Guam, most of the wheeling on the island consists of mud pits. We visited Guam in March during the dry season. The rainy season is from July to December and many of these trails are impassible during that time. The intense sun found on the equator dries out the dirt quickly during the dry season though.
This mud is sticky! We weren’t even visiting during the rainy season but it was easy to see why the Guahan Jeepers run such aggressive tires. Mud boots were also useful, although it was hot and humid so many wheelers just wore flip flops and dealt with the mud.
After cleaning up the trails, members of the Guahan Jeepers and the Guerilla Battalion showed us around the area. We have been fortune enough to wheel all over the world, and we have never met people as friendly and generous as those on Guam. In addition to taking us out to play on the trail they also treated us to a feast that included kelaguen, a traditional Chamoru dish made with fish served in lemon juice. The food was as good as the company, and the weather. It was easy to see why so many service men and women who are stationed on Guam make it their permanent home. Good food, friendly people, and great wheeling. What more could you ask for?
Like many accessible wheeling spots in the continental United States, kids come and party at the Tank Farm. While most off-roaders are respectful of the area where they recreate, people just looking to party typically aren’t as responsible. The Guaham Jeepers filled numerous trash bags with cans and bottles found along the trail.
The Tank Farm isn’t flat, there are numerous notches and hills to climb along the way. If you have ever been to the Tierra del Sol Desert Safari in Southern California picture the same sort of terrain but with red dirt.
There is a huge car culture in Guam, and they have a lot of vehicles that we never see stateside, like this Mitsubishi Pajero. It is right hand drive and has a turbocharged 660cc engine with a five-speed manual transmission. We saw Nissan Skylines and other JDM vehicles all over the island as well.
There are still signs of the battles of World War II all over Guam. This bunker at Asan Point was one that the Japanese used to try maintain control of the island. Defensive pillboxes, bunkers, and gun emplacements were clustered within these outcroppings and became strongholds for the Japanese defense.
Agana Bay is arguably the most famous of Guam’s stunning beaches. It’s lined by a palm tree-fringed promenade full of beach resorts and hotels. A string of upmarket restaurants and bars line Marine Corps Drive, offering everything from local microbrews to Japanese cuisine.
There are plenty of reasonable priced places to stay in Hagatna, near the Guam International Airport. The nice thing about being on a relatively small island means that you can go wheeling during the day and be back at the Hilton in the evening to take in the sunset.