Once upon a time, circa 1999, there was a man that loved jeeping in the western slope of Colorado.
He was a member of Grand Mesa Jeep Club for seven years by then and had a lot of foresight into the future of where Jeeping, and rock crawling was going. He realized the direction of motorized recreation was to go to a bigger tire and axle size, lower gears and a greater demand for harder trails. He had found a canyon off Little Park Road in Grand Junction that would be ideal for turning into a harder jeeping experience for enthusiasts to test their limits on, and pursued that with the BLM.
Originally the trail idea was turned down as the BLM as it was not in the resource management plan, but he joined the RMP committee to help shape the Grand Valley's motorized recreational opportunities as the BLM did not realize the user experience need for harder trails was growing. After ten years of meetings, pivoting to change the plan, finally forward progress was being made (yes, that is how long it take so make a trail on public land legally recognized).
Ten years to finally get a hint from the BLM that yes, the canyon can be made into a Level 8 trail. Ten years of meetings monthly to get approval to move forward with ONE trail.
Next was to find the funding to make the trail a reality. You cannot just walk a canyon and hope it passes all the checkboxes by the government. You have to do archeological, flora, and fauna studies by a third-party expert, then submit them to the BLM for review, and hope that they review them before the timeline runs out on the studies (yes that happens).
This is when I met this man, Roy Joseph, from Grand Mesa Jeep Club. At the time I was the Chairwoman of the Board for Stay the Trail, an educational OHV program to keep people's wheels where they belong. We were a non-profit and had the ability to apply for grants and assistance agreements to help fund projects such as creating Billings Canyon into a legal motorized trail. Roy became our point person for the Bangs Canyon projects and team lead on making Billings Canyon a reality. He managed every project from the cultural, flora and fauna studies, to the volunteer work parties, utilizing the "weekend workers" from the county jail to help build the trail system for motorized recreation in Bangs Canyon.
We would not have Billings Canyon Jeep Trail if Roy had not fought to make that trail a reality.
It's important to note that Billings Canyon Jeep Trail has gotten to the point where none of the Jeeps Roy owned could wheel it comfortably, but he would hike it or jump in an open seat when available. He built a trail for the rest of us to enjoy!
In his retirement Roy enjoyed geocaching. He's one of the few people I know that has over 20,000 geocaches and has traveled the country to get them!
Roy has been battling cancer for the past several years. He went into remission, but it inevitably came back. I was told last week he was in hospice in Grand Junction. Today I learned we lost him.
So next time you run Billings Canyon Jeep Trail, make sure you look up and tell Roy "Thank You". Thanks for making this trail and this experience for the rest of us to enjoy!
God Speed Roy.
February 15, 2022