Stuart A. Bourdon
The annual Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari (mostly known as TDS) is the highlight of the year for many people. Held at Ocotillo Wells SVRA in Southern California, the desert to the west of the Salton Sea has just about every type of terrain to offer, and that was especially true this for the 2017 event. Heavy winter storms left mud pits and mud soaked trails scattered around the park.
The Tierra Del Sol Four Wheel Drive Club out of San Diego has been hosting the event for decades. Now on its 55th year, TDS brings in thousands of people and dozens of vendors from all over the country. They flock to the sandy region to display their products, show off project vehicles, and have a good time along with fellow 4x4 enthusiasts.
The event returned to its previous headquarters in the Truckhaven Hills and the 4x4 Training Center of the OWSVRA after a brief stint on private property in 2016 due to BLM permit complications. The club has always worked closely with the BLM to produce an amazing event, and for 2017, the club also partnered with the Torres-Martinez Native American Tribe to create a new trail that began adjacent to the Red Earth Casino. Many off-roaders found the new trail challenging, and one participant referred to it as a “mini-Rubicon.”
The club is a not-for-profit organization and puts every dollar from registration fees into helping fight land closures, maintaining trails, and helping other charities along the way. Registration in the 2017 event got you a ticket for the famous TDS Saturday night raffle and a chance to win some of the $150,000 worth of gear. Additionally, there were several bucket raffles for which attendees could buy as many tickets as they wanted. Up for raffle were goodies such as an Advance Adapters Rubi Crawler, Polaris RZR, tires from BFGoodrich and Maxxis, Warn winches, and so much more. The Saturday night raffle brought in a massive crowd, concluded with a huge fireworks show, and was a good time for all even if you didn’t win anything.
Mark your calendar for the first weekend of March in 2018. This is a must-do event for Jeepers. For more information, check out tds4x4.com.
A more recent addition to the TDS tradition is the Saturday night fireworks. The explosive show rivals any 4th of July fireworks display and always has an amazing finish.
Vendors from all over the country came to display at TDS. For Heimaster Metal Works of Lakeside, California, Ocotillo Wells SVRA was practically in their backyard.
Rock Hard 4x4 has been making the 1,500-mile trek from Nebraska to this spot in the southwest for years. They always bring a handful of Jeeps loaded up with the company’s cages, bumpers, skidplates, and other parts and accessories.
Off-road trailers are gaining huge popularity. The vendor area had at least four set up for display.
The Wrangler may have been the most popular Jeep at the event, but old-school CJs like this one are still easy to find out on the trails.
Extremely challenging trails and obstacles are everywhere you go around Ocotillo Wells SVRA. Thankfully, the occupants of this CJ-7 walked away with just a few bumps and bruises to their person and pride.
The Ocotillo Wells 4x4 Training Center becomes a hotbed of off-roaders and their vehicles tackling man-made and natural obstacles with a big crowd to watch.
Reading may not be your first thought when you think of the desert, but at events like this, it can be a great time to get a new subscription or try to catch a conversation with one of the Four Wheeler Network staff.
The vendors don’t just sit around in booths all day either. Like many others, Fabtech made sure to carve out a little wheeling time to enjoy the event to the fullest extent and show off what their rigs can do.
To show off products in the desert, sometimes you need to get creative. CU Off Road built this cool cart display to showcase their compressed air and mount systems
Deaver Suspension is staple of TDS. Every year it’s out here to talk leaf springs and help get rigs riding and performing better.
Premier Power Welder had one of its Jeeps all hooked up and ready to weld. They were also displaying the world-renowned Pull Pal.
Registration for the event gets you extra goodies, access to trails, and the coveted red raffle ticket.
TDS has always been a family event. To provide even more fun for the kids and maybe give the parents a little break, the club set up a huge inflatable bounce house system complete with games and a two-story slide.
The event is open to any off-road vehicle, including decommissioned military trucks with a hankering for mud.
The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. The club keeps the vendor area lit until around 10 p.m. Enthusiasts and vendors mingle and party well into the night.
Black Plate Special
Custom license plates always grab our attention. We love seeing the creativity that goes into words or phrases in the short alphanumeric confines of a license plate. What have you got? Send a photo of your Jeep’s custom license plate to firstname.lastname@example.org
and write “License Plate” in the subject line of your email.