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What We Think: Our Best Off-Road Trip Ever

Posted in Features on March 27, 2015
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There are good off-road trips and then there are even better off-road trips. Some are made great by the challenge, some by the scenery, and some by a right-between-the-eyes totally unexpected turn of events. Sometimes it’s a combination of all these things.

We asked the Four Wheeler Network editors to finish this statement; “The best off-road trip I ever had was…,” and their answers follow.

What’s the best off-road trip you’ve ever had?

Ken Brubaker, senior editor, Four Wheeler
“The best off-road trip I ever had was on the South Core Banks of North Carolina. We nosed our Tahoe onto a small one-car “ferry,” chugged three miles across the sound, threw down some planks and backed the rig onto the desolate island’s beach. The island was almost deserted as we explored it in the Tahoe. Miles of beach, a lighthouse, and World War II artifacts were some of the cool stuff. The wheeling wasn’t hard and with the tires aired down we easily went everywhere we wanted to go. The South Core banks remains one of my favorite destinations.”

Matt Emery, editor, Dirt Sports + Off Road
“The best off-road trip I ever had was, well, while I have been off-roading for many years, the majority of that time has been spent atop a motorcycle racing across the desert. I did have the great opportunity to recently join with the crew from King shocks when they ran their recent King Family Fun Run. And fun it was. The trip ran the Mojave Trail out of Laughlin and headed due west. Over the course of two days, the procession drove up rocky hills and down sand-washes to eventually wind up on the I-15 near Baker. It was two days of fun, frolic, camping and wheeling with like-minded (meaning dirt heads) people in the beautiful California high desert.”

Christian Hazel, editor, Four Wheeler
“The best off-road trip I ever had was the third 4-Wheel & Off-Road Ultimate Adventure. I had gone on the first two UA trips but this was the first time I was able to bring my own vehicle. Our first trail day was in Cedar City, Utah, followed by Upper Helldorado in Moab, Utah. I had the dubious honor of going ahead of the UA Super Duty and dragging it through the places it broke or got stuck. At the time somebody told me I was the first fullsize through that trail but I never cared to confirm. Fun ain't about bragging anyway. Calamity Canyon outside of Montrose, Colorado, followed and we wrapped up the whole trip in Canon City, Colorado, on Independence Trail. The trail days were awesome but so were the driving days that interspersed them. We traveled over abandoned railroad lines and through tunnels, down immensely tall switchbacks, and everything in between. And then there was that time Cole Quinnell and I got pulled over in the 14-Day Flattie with a bunch of gag pranks from Walmart including a huge summer sausage, glow sticks, and a 3-foot-long stuffed trout pillow. But that's a tale for another time.

Agustin Jimenez, staff editor, Four Wheeler Network
“The best off-road trip I ever had is without question, the very next one. Every single trip seems to get better and better. It really doesn’t matter whether I’m squeezing the company truck through a tight trail in the mountains, scooting over whoops at high speeds in my Bronco prerunner or bombing around the desert in my Baja Bug, I always seem to find an adventure. My favorite part is probably trailside repairs because I get to do things I normally wouldn’t do such as using particle board for axle caps in the full float assembly of our STD Super Duty after chipping some teeth on the ring gear. Believe it or not, it held up just fine for our 160 mile drive home in front wheel drive while flat towing our Baja Bug (which also lost all brakes that weekend).

Ali Mansour, technical editor, Jp
“The best off-road trip I ever had was, well, it's hard to point to one trip in particular. I've had so many great ones. I'm thinking my first trip to Uwharrie National Forest in a Jeep would have to be up there close to number one. I'd been to the Uwharrie previously with my dirt bike, which was a blast. This was my first time wheeling with a group of friends. None of us had very built Jeeps at the time, but we didn’t care. I remember it being extremely wet. I was in my Grand Cherokee, which had 33-inch Goodyear MT/Rs. Those tires, along with open differentials, meant I had to use every ounce of what the 318ci V-8 had to offer. We were only there for a couple days, but that trip really kick-started my love of traveling and wheeling. We weren't savvy enough to take photos on the first trip (at least none that I could find), but here's a pretty old one of my old ZJ in Uwharrie from around that same time period.”

Shaun Ochsner, associate editor, Dirt Sports + Off Road
“The best off-road trip I ever had was….well see, that’s a hard one. I have been covering off-road events for the better part of 15 years with over a decade of Baja experience. Every trip is unique and has its own set of challenges. The 2014 Baja 1000 sticks out in my mind as the most challenging and rewarding with the biggest highs and lows. The team I was with was poised to win the championship. All they had to do was finish the race. The race day started out normal but it was mile marker 100 that all the problems began. We begin getting reports driver Darren Skilton crashed the truck in the dust and had to be hospitalized. We are several hours away from the crash site and begin getting more reports the truck is destroyed. Our chase teams spring into action and find the truck, which is a miracle in itself, and somehow 40-something hours later I am there to celebrate with the team as it comes across the finish line for a season championship! Yes, the driver who crashed was okay.”

Verne Simons, tech editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
“The best off-road trip I ever had was a few years back when I drove my ’56 CJ-5 known as ‘Ground-Up’ from Phoenix, Arizona, up to, over, and then home from the famed Rubicon trail. I love the Rubicon. There are three other things that made this trip a trip of a lifetime. One was I got to take it with one of my best friends, Mike Tarvin in his awesome retro apple green ’75 CJ-5. Secondly we drove on a few backroads along the way taking our time and increasing the adventure. Thirdly, Ground-Up, my CJ-5 had been bolted together for about a week before I decided to drive it over 1,400 miles on road and over one of the U.S.’s most fabled trails. It made it!”

Pete Trasborg, editor, Jp
"The best off-road trip I ever had was also the worst at the time. New Year's Eve. Probably 1998. Brand new to me TJ. Took me over a year to get it because I wanted the Dana 44 rear. I refused delivery on two TJs before this one because they had the 35. The 30-inch tire and wheel package was the biggest ever offered stock on a Universal Jeep. I drove it (accidentally of course) into a frozen lake. Froze the doors shut it was so deep. To get it out of where I stuck it, I had my girlfriend climb up a 25 foot tall birch sapling to bend it over so I could squeak the Jeep past it. Looking back on it, maybe there is a reason I can't keep girlfriends. Launched her over the Jeep when I rubbed the Jeep against the tree. We still camped out there in the snow... all snuggled up and it turned into a great night. Even though she was bruised as hell from the aerial sapling assault. But man, that was a great night. Stupid, with no recovery gear, on our own, with no support, but looking back on it, it turned into a great night. I didn’t get any photos of that trip, but here’s one of the Jeep on a different trail.”

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