I will never forget my first ATV ride. I was visiting relatives who had access to hundreds of miles of trails. Their love of the sport and stories of faraway trails and adventures made such an impact on me, that I went out and bought my own ATV the next day. I had nearly 500 acres of my own land to explore, and within a year, I rode over 2500 miles on my small plot of land. I checked the deer stand, went fishing at the pond, built a tree house in farthest corner, looked for the dog, and escaped when the in-laws came to visit. This was enough to satisfy me for a while, but then I started thinking about riding some real trails, and I made arrangements to revisit the place where it all began for me. I met more people who shared my love of adventure and filled my head with spectacular campfire tales of wandering trails, dramatic scenery, and the thrill of discovering uncharted territory. I was hooked all over again. I questioned whether my back yard oasis would be enough any more. I knew I had to find these places I had heard about and experience the terrain first-hand. I made phone calls, wrote letters, and even explored the Internet to plan my next adventure. Thus began my career as an adventure tour guide.
That was 14 years ago. I started by taking family and friends–then strangers who became friends. The next thing I knew, people were calling to book adventure tours with me, and they were even willing to pay! They started sending me thank-you cards and booking trips for the next year. I seemed to be on to something. I was taking people to locations in five different states and showing them the adventure of a lifetime. I couldn’t keep up with the demand, and eventually began producing off-road adventure DVD’s for people who are interested in exploring America’s beauty. Showing people where they can ride their ATV’s or off-road vehicles is not as personal as taking them, but the logistical nightmare of planning trips such as these have been solved. I can now give more attention to each rider’s individual needs.
Many people that live in the Midwest, East Coast, and even the West Coast have never seen the Rocky Mountains, and have no idea of the beauty that awaits them. The mountains are every bit as majestic as the songs describe them. The awe you feel as you crest a ridge is indescribable. It is amazing how quickly you become captivated while watching wildlife grazing in meadows of wildflowers or while crossing the various bubbling creeks that are created by the many waterfalls…then to realize that you are only a few miles from your tow rig. As you continue to explore, you may find the remains of old mines and mining equipmen,t or former homesteads of our pioneering forefathers. You may even discover the railroads that once carried ore and precious metals through the Continental Divide during the gold rush. These are just a few of the many backdrops to your adventure.
Maybe traveling at 13,000 feet isn’t how you want to start. You may want to experience the changing season at a slightly lower elevation. When the fall colors are changing, and red and gold leaves are in full contrast to the blue skies, the sunset below 10,000 feet just as breathtaking, and you can still see waterfalls, old mines, living ghost towns, wildlife and post card landscape, but you will also see petroglyphs, saguaros, Indian ruins, and a thousand miles of trails that take you to the wild and remote land of the southwest.
Perhaps you’re a beginner, or you are looking for easy-going and family-orientated trails that allow you to discover the thrill of traveling were Native Americans or hopeful prospectors once roamed. Maybe the navigation of a more challenging route is the only way you can get your buddy or brother in-law to realize who is really the better rider or has the better ATV. Either way, you’re bound to have the time of your life.
Planning your next off-road trip or vacation is a lot harder than purchasing a couple maps and making reservations. There are many factors to consider in your adventure planning equation. How about the skill level of everyone in your group or actual difficulty level of the trails? Is your ATV up for the challenge? Did you purchase the right maps and what about points of interest along the way? Will the place you’re staying be able to accommodate your rig? Will you have to park far away? Do you know the state and local laws for the area you’re going to? Do you need registration and/or special use permits? How about a place to get repairs? You don’t want your fun ruined on the first or second day. What about a place to eat? I’m not talking fast food, I’m talking about great local grub where the proprietors welcome you with open arms.. These are the questions that you must answer to ensure the best experience possible.
Who says that ATV’s or off-road vehicles need to be limited to back yard or empty lot recreation? I say when you limit yourself, that’s when riding becomes dull and boring. Riding ATV’s or off-road vehicles in our great outdoors has its rewards and responsibilities; I hope you gain both on your next adventure. I’ll see you on the trail!
|Ranger Dave’s Where To Ride Guide|