Destinations, Off-Road

Our Favorite Off-Road Destinations in US

Our Favorite Off-Road Destinations in USBecause of its great size, the United States sports driving conditions of all kinds within its borders, which makes the country an excellent stop for people who love driving off-road. There are mountainous trails, sandy deserts that are perfect for dune bashing, frozen ground layered in ice and made treacherous because of it, and much more. While it was difficult to nail down a set of specific courses and tracks, we were able to come up with this list of our favorite off-road destinations in the United States. It’s short, but sweet, so keep reading if you’re looking for your next off-road thrill.

The White Rim Trail in Utah is pretty much what people picture in their heads when they’re thinking about off-road driving in the hills and mountains. There are many sheer drops into beds of rocks below, along with narrow ridges hugging the sides of mountains that make for dangerous driving conditions at best. You can find this trail in Canyonlands National Park, and it’s right in the middle of the country too, which is convenient.

If the thought of taking a header off the edge of a cliff gives you cause to pause, then you might like this next track a lot better than the first. El Camino del Diablo, or The Devil’s Highway in Arizona, is a mostly flat path that extends some 250 miles. There are many famous landmarks along the trail, including the Tule Mountains and the abandoned Fortuna Mine near the trail’s end. Instead of big mountains and drops you get a lot of dirt and sand here, so make sure you lock those differentials to improve traction.

Though it’s impossible to recommend the place during the hot summer months, Death Valley National Park in Nevada features some of the best off-road driving in the state. With a good grip and decent shouldering, your vehicle should stay upright and moving forward through all the trails the park has to offer. It’s hard to nail down any specific, single track, but fortunately the lot of them is easily traversed, even if you’re not using a specialized off-road 4×4 machine.

Now we like to drive off-road, but that doesn’t mean we just ignore great trails that were meant for smaller vehicles, like dirt bikes. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail in West Virginia really seems to be suited to bikes, but it does feature a stretch of 70 miles or so where a 4WD vehicle can get in there and really tear it up. This trail will give you mud, dirt, sand and other terrains to conquer, all in the same track.

Last but not least, Truckhaven (or Ocotillo Wells) in southern California is one of the most popular off-road courses in the United States, attracting new and experienced drivers, young and old. Because it has such a wide variety of terrain with hills, drops, mud holes and other hazards dotted throughout, Truckhaven makes an excellent place for fresh off-road drivers to get their bearings, as well as a nice training spot for more experience drivers who want to perfect their skills.

Adventure, Off-Road

How to Prepare for Off-Road Adventure

How to Prepare for Off-Road AdventureWhether you’re going across the country to take in a vacation near the ocean or you’re just going to the middle of nowhere to do some off-road driving, the most important part of every trip comes before the actual trip, when you’re packing items and making preparations for that trip. This is especially true in off-road driving, where tires pop and need to be changed, or people get lost and have to signal for help, or vehicles run out of gas while being dozens of miles from the nearest concentration of people. To keep these desperate situations from turning into something worse, planning ahead is a necessity.

Before you take your vehicle out for a ride, you first need to make sure your car, truck or jeep of choice can actually handle the terrain you plan to pit it against. I always give my ride a tune-up before going on any lengthy off-road drives, and I wholeheartedly recommend the same to any readers out there that are planning on a driving trip. Check your plugs, connections, cords, oil and fluids like for your brakes, wipers and transmission. Breaking down in the middle of nowhere with nobody around to help you is a lot worse than breaking down while being within a couple miles of home, trust me.

Don’t forget to check your tire pressure and make sure you’ve got a spare packed away in your trunk as well – all the little things you would normally do before going on a trip apply to taking your vehicle into an off-road driving situation too. You need to gird your vehicle with the right accessories and equipment to help it survive the strain and stress of driving off-road as well. That means investing in a decent shock absorber to round out your suspension, not just getting a cheap lift kit to raise the body a few inches like I’ve seen so many inexperienced people do in the past.

If you bend an axle or snap a spring because your vehicle is bouncing around too violently, that will stop you in your tracks and leave you stranded. That’s why, rather than just driving and hoping for the best, you need to prepare for the conditions you can expect to face before you set out on your adventure; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and all that. The right equipment can pull you out of a bad situation and salvage your trip when you would otherwise be stuck and helpless without that same gear. When I think about gear like this, a winch is the first thing that comes to mind.

Not only can you attach your winch line to a tree or some other stable, rooted object to pull your truck out of a ditch or mud hole, but you can also hook it up to other vehicles and help other people who get stranded. It’s one of the best preventive measures for off-road drivers, and a good winch is an affordable one-time investment compared to all the cash you could be out if you need one and don’t have it when you break down.

A quality LED light bar attached to your vehicle can increase your range of vision at night while making you more visible to other drivers as well, which can help prevent accidents. I prefer pieces from Black Oak Led since they seem to hold out pretty well for me, but whatever brand you’re familiar with and trust will probably do the job for you just fine. As long as its bright and made well you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

I prefer to use this light bar myself, mostly because it has a good combination of quality and affordability, and I’m always looking to crimp and save whenever I can. There are more practical preparations you could still make to improve your chances of having a great off-road adventure. A fire extinguisher that utilizes chemical foam or powder can put out a vehicle fire without making things worse, like a plain water extinguisher would. Gasoline is an oil derivative and so, it burns an awful lot like gasoline, which means water will just make the fire spread rather than putting it out.

That’s an important thing to keep in mind and a fact that many drivers seem to misunderstand or just totally not get at all. Another great tip that amateurs often overlook is deflating your tires to a degree, or “Airing Down” as I and other enthusiasts like to call it. You let some of the air out to improve your traction against uneven surfaces and allow your tire to grip at the rocks, sand, ice and other surfaces you plan to drive over with a much stronger bond. The ideal pressure is around 25 PSI, or pounds per square inch, though a little less pressure might be even better depending on where you’re driving.

To revisit an earlier point, I cannot stress enough how important it is to be sure your vehicle can actually handle the conditions you are going to put it into. That means studying your trail or course of choice ahead of time, so you know what kind of weather conditions to expect. Mud, sand and snow can all stop your ride if you hit them the wrong way, and deep or moving water can bring you to a halt even if you do approach it at the correct angle and speed to ford the gap. By understanding your trail, you will know what you can and can’t do with your off-road vehicle.

And I believe that’s good for now. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but all the steps and tips outlined here can help you to improve your off-road driving time and lead you to an experience which is more enjoyable overall. But before I go, there’s just one more thing I want to mention. Since you’ll be spending time away from the main roads that most people use, a quality map that outlines your environment can be priceless when it helps you to navigate back towards civilization, once you’ve gotten in your fill of kicking up mud and rocks that is.