Walker Evans takes on Rangely rock

RANGELY — Of course, Willie Wills knew of Walker Evans, one of the best-known off-road drivers of all time. He’d even crossed paths with him a few times at four-wheeling events.
But Wills, from Rangely, and his wife, Chris, had the chance to spend time with the famous racer, now retired, during his visit to the rock crawling park here.
And he turned out to be a regular guy.
“He wasn’t uppity,” said Wills, who is a member of the Rangely Rock Crawling Club. “He was down to earth.”
Evans spent a few days here, during Septemberfest weekend, traveling with some other couples. They stayed at the Buck ‘n’ Bull RV Park and Campgrounds, just outside of Rangely, owned by Henry and Betty Hames.
“I didn’t know who he was until he was ready to leave,” Henry Hames said. “I just saw him check in and check out. They were towing their trailers with their rock crawlers. I was hoping to catch him after I found out who he was. He was friendly. When they left, I just waved goodbye.”
How did Evans end up visiting Rangely and the rock crawling park?
“They were on a four-wheeling trip or vacation, and they had heard about it,” Wills said of the local rock crawling park. “So they decided to see what it looked like and see how tough it was.”
Evans and his traveling party came to Rangely from Montrose, where they did some rock crawling.
“There’s some fairly tough trails in the Montrose, Delta area,” Wills said.
During his first visit here, Evans was impressed with the Rangely rock crawling park. And he found it to be pretty tough going.
“They liked it, because it was technical four-wheeling,” Wills said. “He found out you have to go slow and do it right, or you aren’t going to make it.”
And Evans was a good sport.
“They were game for trying some of the toughest we had,” Wills said.
Well, most of the toughest, anyway.
“There were a couple of obstacles they didn’t want to try,” Wills said.
In his day, Evans was known as the best off-road driver around. Now, he just does it for fun.
“He’s been retired for quite a few years,” Wills said Evans. “He just goes out and plays now.”
Before he left, Evans sounded as if he’d like to return to Rangely again.
“He said they would like to come back and see the other trails we had,” Wills said.