Trail Tips: Escape to an Remote Off-Road Location

Jan. 14, 2014 By Tom Severin

When we four-wheelers decide to get away, we often think, “Boy, it would be nice to go someplace remote.” That is, get away from it all, escape the rat race, and all that. But, what does “remote” really mean? Is there just one definition? Or, might it mean something different for each person?

At the risk of sounding too philosophical – I think it’s worthy of some discussion. What is “remote,” and what does it mean for you as you consider traveling to such a location?

During a recent class, I surveyed the group about what they valued in the outdoors. The number one quality was solitude: Enjoying the peace and quiet found in the open spaces. Spending quality time with friends and family was also high on the list.

How far do you need to go? Some folks are content to be just outside a developed area. Someplace where they can get away from the noise but yet be a short drive to civilization. Others prefer to drive several hours or more from the nearest services. Some people are content to bring along the creature comforts of home (think heaters, refrigerators, CD/DVD players). Others prefer to have nothing come between them and Mother Nature.

Paul May, owner of Equipt Expedition Outfitters in Salt Lake City, says “remote to me is to travel where others seldom do, whether that is by distance or difficulty."

He considers these to be among some of the remote locations:
- NPS262 – The Bench Road
Hole in the Rock Road
- Hole in the Rock Trail

Those are good suggestions. When I think of remote places, I imagine the Rubicon Trail, the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and many areas of Death Valley National Park (aka Saline Valley). (Yes, all these places are in the Lower 48. I understand that vast chunks of Alaska and Canada are really remote. Just haven’t been there.)

While getting away from it all may sound attractive, remember that such places are inherently hazardous. Chief among these is that help could be hours away. You not only are a long distance from a major city, but you could be out of communication range, as well. A fellow driver may need to travel a great distance just to make a call.

Weather is often an issue. It can be too hot or too cold at times. A blizzard or storm can roll in unexpectedly. You also need to watch out for bugs and critters. In the desert, the cacti can be surprisingly nasty. See “Prickly Things In The Desert Can Put A Hole In Your Plans.”

Should you avoid remote areas? Of course not. Just plan accordingly. Pack your vehicle properly. Make sure you have first aid supplies – take a first responder’s course, if possible – and make sure you have sufficient supplies – in both quantity and type.

Take along extra communication gear. This can include a satellite phone and ham radio gear, in addition to your cell phone. Always – and I mean ALWAYS – travel with others. Never travel to a remote area alone. Having that extra vehicle, and the other riders, can literally be a life saver.

How do you define remote? It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you and your friends enjoy your trip and return with only good memories.

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Badlands Off-Road Adventure
Off-road trainer Tom Severin shares insight and tips on a variety of topics related to preparing you for that next off-road adventure. With over 40 years of off-road experience, Severin operates under his business Badlands Off-Road Adventures. He is a certified professional 4WD Trainer by the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He is a member of the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC), United Four Wheel Drive Associations and the BlueRibbon Coalition. He also is a certified UFWDA and a CA4WDC 4WD instructor.

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