Take a leap into off-roading

This content is sponsored by Fair Oaks Motors

2020 Jeep Gladiator

Photo Credit: Mike Parris
2020 Jeep Gladiator Photo Credit: Mike Parris (Photo Credit: Mike Parris)
2020 Jeep Gladiator Photo Credit: Mike Parris
2020 Jeep Gladiator Photo Credit: Mike Parris
Ram 1500 Photo Credit: Mike Parris  
Jeep Compass Trailhawk Photo Credit: Mike Parris
Jeep Compass Trailhawk Photo Credit: Mike Parris
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2020 Jeep Gladiator

Photo Credit: Mike Parris

Today’s SUVs and 4x4s are as capable as ever to explore the great outdoors and to continue on when the pavement runs out.  Most of us will need to shift gears in our thought process when deciding to try off-roading.

It’s where speed isn’t always best. Often, it’s slowing to a crawl or driving at angles that don’t seem possible that define off-road life. Today’s manufacturers are producing some rugged go-just-about-anywhere SUVs and trucks. Anymore, all you really need to do is gas up and go. AWD and 4×4 systems are easy to use. Simple enough that you can turn a knob to a picture of the conditions you are about to encounter and then like magic the vehicle is set up best for tackling different terrain. These systems can even make us look better than a novice should.  Going off-road isn’t about going fast; it’s more about the adventure of getting there. Crawling along, rolling over large rocks, being face-to-face with the sky as you climb the path or driving at angles you’re not used to, can be as exhilarating as driving at super speed on the race track. Going down steep hills was always a bit hairy. But with modern off-road management systems in some vehicles it now goes from looking scary to a slow foot off the pedals, controlled descent even if you seem to be pointed straight into the ground.

Unless you have a huge plot of land for your off-road adventure, you’ll need to find a place to go. A good place to start is, where else…the internet.

  • Look for local clubs. A state or local Jeep club should be easy to find for new Jeep owners. Clubs offer helpful tips and usually meets at an off-road park with help for first timers.
  • Check your state’s Department of Natural Resources website. Look for locations, rules and cost, if any.
  • Search National Parks sites for off-road trail information. Some require a permit so check before you go.

There are few off-road parks with an hour or two from the D.C. area, but the further you can go the more options open up. Heading to West Virginia or even Western Maryland offers almost endless possibilities for off-roaders ready to try some more serious terrain. Or head south for those of us who are looking for some ocean views without the paved roads. Drive your 4X4 on the sand.

Heading off-road can be fun, but remember you have to drive it back home. Be careful and follow the rules. It’s not a race and remember to look around and enjoy the setting. Take some extra gear when you hit the trails or sand just in case. A plug-in air compressor is handy to inflate tires back to normal pressures in case you need to lower it on sand. Tow straps or chains will help pull you or someone else who gets stuck. Remember, it’s better to travel with others so they can share in the fun and help push you out, if needed!

If you have a capable off-roader, it’s time to use it and get something other than pollen on that ride. It’s vacation time. Do a little research and plan to trek off the beaten path for an adventure and marvel at the capable off-road vehicle that lives in your daily driver.

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