Clearance was important to me as well so I mounted the break-away switch and electric connector on top of the bumper...
A 2012 Wrangler doesn't require a key for towing. The ESC OFF lamp doesn't disconnect your driveshaft... EVER!! It is a warning lamp to indicate that the electronic stability control is turned off. It comes on when you shift into 4 wheel drive.
The transfer case selector is the one I'm sure you are saying you are having trouble with. As you say, it needs to be in neutral, and may also cause the ESC Off lamp to come on if the key is in the run position.
Here is info directly from the 2013 owners manual which is effectively identical to the 2012...
1. Bring the vehicle to a complete stop.
2. Turn OFF the engine. Brian's note - notice you don't shift out of gear before turning off engine,
3. Press and hold the brake pedal.
4. Shift the automatic transmission into NEUTRAL or
depress the clutch pedal on a manual transmission.
5. Shift the transfer case lever into NEUTRAL (N).
6. Start the engine.
7. Shift the transmission into REVERSE.
8. Release the brake pedal (and clutch pedal on manual
transmissions) for five seconds and ensure that there is
no vehicle movement.
9. Repeat Steps 7 and 8 with automatic transmission in
DRIVE or manual transmission in first gear.
10. Turn OFF the engine.
11. Firmly apply the parking brake.
12. Shift the transmission into PARK or place manual
transmission in gear (NOT in Neutral).
Damage to the transmission may occur if the transmission
is shifted into PARK with the transfer case in
NEUTRAL (N) and the engine running. With the
transfer case in NEUTRAL (N) ensure that the engine
is OFF before shifting the transmission into PARK.
13. Attach the vehicle to the tow vehicle using a suitable
14. Release the parking brake
If it won't work the way the manual states, head on down to the dealer for warranty service.
I think you will find the district office has no clue about boondocking locations. The local ranger district office is the place to get information from our experience. We have been directed some outstanding boondocking locations just by asking.
A popular area close to 2 hours from the Springs is east of Jefferson...Boondocking Near Jefferson, CO
I use those exact WP brackets on my Adventa II tow bar and they work. If you can wait a short time to purchase, Blue Ox has come out with these and should be readily available in the next month or so...
Our '13 JKUR is modified with an aftermarket recovery type steel bumper that requires no base plate to hook up our Blue Ox Adventa II tow bar. A good base plate is available from Currie for your JKUR that reduces loss of ground clearance if that is important to you.
For our supplemental brake system, I chose US Gear's Unified Tow Brake. Got a smokin' deal ($500 new) on ebay and did the self install. You will hear lots of opinions on brake systems, this was my choice after towing our '97 Wrangler over 85K miles.
Lastly, for a really simple lighting solution, I chose Cooltech's wiring harness. Not the cheapest way to go as you could wire separate bulbs or use magnetic lights, but sure a clean install using the Jeep's lights powered by the tow vehicle.
My thoughts after towing our '97 Wrangler over 85K miles...
If you plan on using your Jeep seriously off road, I recommend staying away from a base plate and going with a good aftermarket steel bumper designed for vehicle recovery. The reason is reduced ground clearance and exposure to trail damage. That said, few folks really hit the tough trails, so just about any base plate works fine for them.
If you think you will be unhitching and hitching your toad often, and especially if you are without a spotter to assist you, I'd consider an adjustable arm type tow bar. Though I towed all those 85K miles with my spotter and a fixed arm towbar working just fine, I can just about guarantee there will be times you will be unwilling to unhitch to see some attraction or drive a short length vehicle restriction National Park/Forest Service road because hooking back up is just a pain in the butt.
There is a simple solution for your wiring from http://www.cooltechllc.com/jeep/tj_tow_harness_kit.shtml. Other less expensive options exist such as separately wired bulbs in the tail light housing, or magnetic lights.
With our '13 Wrangler Unlimited that replaced the '97, we use a Blue Ox Adventa II towbar with a US Gear Unified Tow Brake. People seem to swear by their ReadyBrake or whatever other systems they have.
The easy way to do all this is dig deep into your wallet and pay somebody else to do it. If you are handy, any of these systems is a DIY project, but none are that easy if you ask me. Crawling around under the dash isn't as much fun for me as it was 40 years ago, but I still DIY, just much slower than the guy that gets paid at the shop down the road, but I also know that it's done the way I want it.
Still searching. Quadratec doesn't have them, and I can't find anybody else that does either. I'm playing email tag with Blue Ox and they state these have been released to vendors as an order item, but I haven't found a vendor to order with yet.
There are so many definitions of boondocking, it's hard to know what you are actually looking for. If places like casino and WalMart parking lots, Cracker Barrel restaurants and the like are what you are looking for, you might try freecampgrounds.com or one of the other sites mentioned already.
If you want to dispersed camp, that is, camp on public lands outside a developed campground, then you will have to learn the rules and they are different everywhere.
If the latter is what you are looking for, you might try reading this article about how to find boondocking locations. RV-Camping and Boondocking
We tow a lot, use the US Gear UTB, and love it! Once installed, there is no system easier to hitch up and go. HOWEVER you mentioned moving it from once vehicle to another which would be a lot of work. For a DYI guy, I found the UTB pretty easy to install, but it took all day including the wiring harness and though it could be moved I suppose, I wouldn't want to.
If you don't tow often, want the ability to easily transfer the brake system to another vehicle, and don't mind having to setup a system every time you want to tow, then you might consider something like the Blue Ox Patriot, Brake Buddy, or RVi Brake systems. These units set on the floor of the towed vehicle, attach to the brake pedal, and rely on an internal sensors to apply the brakes based on deceleration force. There are a lot of these units in use, and the only big drawback I know of is the size of the box that sits on the floor, and the need to attach it to the brake pedal every time.
As far as a tow bar, we use a Blue Ox telescoping type. I'd stay away from fixed arm tow bars unless you have someone to ALWAYS help you get hitched. You have to be precise when using the fixed arm bars, but you can just be pretty close and still get hooked up with the telescoping bars.
I think you are very wise getting a supplemental braking system for your toad. As reinforcement for your decision, here is an article about the physics of towed vehicles... Towed Vehicle Physics
Dispersed Camping - Common term used by most federal and state public land agencies to describe any camping activity outside an approved campground. It can include designated camping areas such as LTVAs (Long Term Visitor Areas) managed by BLM -Bureau of Land Management.
As mentioned, each forest has it's own set of rules, and for the Gila, the forest doesn't have an approved travel management plan as near as I can tell. Dispersed camping is changing in the forests. Camping is generally allowed unless posted, "No Camping". In the "olden days", the rule was pretty standard, at least across the west, that you could camp with an RV within 300 ft of a road, more than a hundred feet from and watersource, not making a new pathway, and attempting to reuse previously used campsites. Additionally, the USFS and BLM require minimum impact camping techniques, and if you have a campfire, you often require a bucket, shovel and ax or saw.
Depending on which forest you are in now-a-days, some eastern forests don't allow dispersed camping for RVs at all, but out west you should have little problem.
As someone noted above, ask the folks in the local ranger station, not the district rangers office, what the rules are, and if they might have a recommendation where to go. We've had GREAT LUCK asking for a good spot and have only been given a clunker once in many inquires.
I'm pleased with our Blue Ox Alpha towbar. It has been easy to connect/disconnect in every situation we've encountered so far.
For brakes we are using a US Gear Unified Tow Brake... Perfect for winter mountain towing as I affirmed yesterday in heavy snow on I-70 between Denver and Green River, Utah. The toad brakes can be applied, adjusted, or both, from inside the motorhome. It energizes the toads brake vacuum system for efficient braking, charges the toads battery while driving, and alarms if the breakaway switch is activated, or the brakes in the toad are applied without input from the motorhome. Once installed, nothing is easier to hitch up and go.
BTW - Blue Ox is selling a surge brake hitch mount system to compete with NSAs Readybrake.