It’s official. I can’t be a member of Idaho Jeep Girls for two glaring reasons: I don’t own a Jeep and I’m not a girl. Despite my attempts at haggling and offering to trade in my Subaru for the famed four-wheel drive, nothing could convince members to let me join.
Alas, I’ll have to find another group that will take me. Maybe the Shriners are recruiting…
But for Idaho ladies who do own Jeeps, the club is a great way to forge lifetime friendships and learn in a comfortable, accepting environment.
Education Without Embarrassment
Jennifer Parks Kau started Idaho Jeep Girls in 2017. She wanted to create a welcoming group where women could empower and educate each other without any strings attached.
“The main reason I started with is so women could ask a question and not be worried about the intent of the answer,” she said. “The club is a safe place. You can ask any question and you’re not gonna be made fun of.”
Caption: Jennfier Parks Kau started Idaho Jeep Girls in 2017 so fellow women could share their love of the sport.
Leading the Pack
On a cold winter day in mid-December, I rode with Parks Kau as she led four of the club’s admins up snowy, pine-tree lined Harris Creek Road from Horseshoe Bend to Placerville. The entire ride, Parks Kau and the other women stayed in close communication via their walkie talkies warning each other about icy terrain and a rear-end accident where sheriff’s deputies and first responders were on the scene.
I joked around with Parks Kau’s two young kids who asked plenty of questions from their carseats in the back of their mother’s seafoam green wood-paneled 2014 Rubicon JK Unlimited. The big Jeep has had a laundry list of upgrades since she bought it from Maverick in June of 2016, including but not limited to 37 inch tires, a five inch lift, a large overhead rack with tools, a rollout awning and snorkel, two rear mounted gas tanks, and a J33PGRL license plate.
With her setup, Parks Kau might be able to take over a small country. And after spending 45 minutes in the passenger seat with her, I could tell how her mix of fierce independence and empathy makes her a natural leader.
Idaho Jeep Girls admins from left to right: Rose Martin, April Cameron, Jennifer Parks Kau, Shaun Carr, and Audriana Cole.
In fact, her nickname in the group is “Fearless Leader.”
Parks Kau, a Meridian native, drove her stepdad’s 1967 Jeep Wagoneer when she was 15-years-old.
“It was the only vehicle I had access to,” she said.
It wasn’t until years later when Parks Kau when she bought a 2007 JK Unlimited that she started to get into the Jeep lifestyle. Since then, she owned two other models excluding her current rig.
Jeeping is such a passion for Parks Kau, that her fiance recently proposed to her with a 1970 Wagoneer.
“It’s my engagement ring,” she joked.
A Club for Women
Up in Placerville, the girls and I took a much needed bathroom break and talked about what the club has meant to their lives. Audriana Cole, now one of six administrators for the club since joining in 2017. She inherited her 1999 Jeep Wrangler from her grandfather as a high school graduation present in 2011.
“I’ve driven it ever since,” she said.
Cole said she enjoys trail stewardship and being able to connect with Idaho’s natural beauty.
“Being a Jeep girl means getting out in nature and having the comradery anyone would expect from a group of friends,” she said.
Another club admin, Shaun Carr, drives a 2015 charcoal grey Rubicon and goes by the nickname “Den Mom” because she brings “lots of food” and “all of the extra stuff that nobody ever brings.”
Carr was the second member to join Idaho Jeep Girls. She said as a single mom of one son, she wants to be a strong role model and bought a Jeep to show her son that women can be “just as badass as men.”
How to Join
Joining Idaho Jeep Girls is pretty simple. You can request membership to the Facebook page by having a Jeep, female anatomy, and by pledging to be “drama free.” As of January 21, 2021, the group has 886 members.
“About 100 of those are active members and participate in trails runs and stuff like that,” Parks Kau said. “I never advertised the club. There are just plenty of women in Idaho who own Jeeps.”
Upon joining the club, members can get a trademarked window sticker designed by Parks Kau, and they are notified about upcoming events via the Facebook group page. But for now, like plenty of other things, COVID has put a damper on group activities.
“Once we can get together again, we’ll start hosting events and ladies who go out with us on the trail can earn their nicknames,” she said.