Off-road driving is fun until you get stuck with no help, roll your vehicle or hurt yourself.

Knowing the area and having the proper equipment could mean the difference between a few hours of fun or a day of frustration. It could also mean the difference between life and death.

Knowing what to do and having the equipment you need, including mods for your vehicle and equipment to help you out of a bind.

And knowing where the best trails are to ensure that you have a good time.




This article is mainly about:

Do's and Don’ts of Off-Roading
Off-Road Essential Modifications
Top 10 Off-Road Driving Trails in the U.S.

Do’s and Don’ts of Off-Roading



Before you head out on your first off-road adventure, scope out the trails, be sure to bring the tools you may need with you. Keep below advice in mind while you're off-roading.


Do’s of Off-Roading

1. Always make sure you have an off-road tool kit with you.




This should include a jack, tow strap, first aid kit and plenty of water. It’s also a good idea to have a tarp, waterproof matches, high-energy non-perishable food, an extra blanket and a dry change of clothes appropriate for the season.

The first aid kit should be an extensive kit. One of the smaller kits you normally find doesn’t have enough supplies, nor does it have the right type of supplies for injuries that are more than minor yet are still able to be taken care of in the woods.


2. Always take a buddy with you.




Your buddy will be able to help you out of a bind, whether it’s because you got stuck or your vehicle broke down. If you are both riding in the same vehicle, be sure to bring a winch along with a tow strap. A tow strap needs a second or a come-along to work.

And, if you do get hurt, it’s easier to have someone help bandage you up – or call the emergency response team in the event that you can’t do it yourself.

At least one of you should have a phone with reception or a CV radio.


3. Know how to handle certain types of terrain and what your vehicle is capable of handling.




When going up or down steep hills, approach them head on and never diagonally.

Always check out puddles and streams before you go through them. A puddle may look like nothing from the driver’s seat, but it could be deeper than you think, be filled with silt or have a huge rock under that water.

If you are going off-roading in a park and have never been there, go slowly and always get out of the vehicle to look at the obstacles in the trails.


Don’ts of Off-Roading

1. Don’t go without a plan, especially if you are going to a place you’ve never been before.




Having a plan means knowing about how long you’ll be on the trails, what you’ll do if you get stuck or have an emergency, suffer minor injuries or end up staying on the trails longer than planned due to an accident or because you got stuck.

Make sure someone knows where you and your friends are going to be going. If you do end up getting stuck and aren’t able to call out, someone who knows what time you’ll be back and who knows the area will be able to find you.


2. Don’t get cocky and show off.




Just because you’ve driven a hill before doesn’t mean that you can speed up the hill. Keeping your speed slow and steady prevents you from getting stuck, rolling over or otherwise injuring yourself or others.

Know how to navigate all of the obstacles on the trail. If you are unsure, watch how others navigate the obstacles if possible.

If not, get out of your vehicle and analyze the situation. Whether it’s going up or down a steep hill, crossing a creek, rock climbing or going through a mud pit, know what you can’t see and know how your vehicle reacts to the obstacles.


3. Don’t spin the tires.




Going at a slow steady speed keeps you safer and often keeps you from getting stuck. Going fast or even spinning the tires is going to get you stuck.

And, if you try to spin the tires to get unstuck, you’re just going to make it worse. Get out of the vehicle and analyze the situation, then come up with a game plan.


Off-Road Essential Modifications

While you could take a stock vehicle off-roading, that’s not always the best course of action on many of the trails. Accessories such as winches, bumpers, off-road lights and running boards keep you safe, protect your vehicle and make your off-road adventure more fun.


1. Bumper

bumper

Replace the stock bumper with an aftermarket bumper that is better for off-roading. These bumpers are made from steel and may cover most of the front and rear of your vehicle, out to the tires or past the tires and around the side of tires. The full bumper is better than the partial bumpers, but if your tires are oversized, the full bumper probably will not fit around the tires.

Try out one of the best aftermarket bumpers from OEDRO which come with 3 styles: Full-width, mid-width and stubby. They are winch-ready and feature D-rings. They also have two extra lights above the bumper and a rust-proof layer between the steel and the paint so you won’t have to worry about your investment rusting away.


2. Running Boards

running boards

Running boards help immensely when you are off-roading. Not only do they protect the sides of your vehicle, but a tube design that the OEDRO running boards have made them more durable. They can hold up to 350 pounds. They feature three base plates which are better than two, especially out in the woods or if you are going to be rock climbing.

The extra plate gives the running boards more firmness and they’ll stay on your vehicle better. These running boards have a rust-proof layer between the steel and paint so they won’t rust.


3. LED Off-Road Lights

LED lights

Off-road lights come in handy on cloudy days or if you end up being on the trails longer than expected.

OEDRO LED off-road lights provide over 50,000 hours of light and they have better heat distribution thanks to the die-cast aluminum alloy heat sinks. The lights are made to be waterproof, dustproof and rust proof.

The lights come in handy for more than just safety reasons. Light up the area if you are meeting after dark or before dawn.


4. Winch



A winch is a must-have for off-roading. Not only will a winch pull you out of a bind, but it could also move fallen trees that you can’t get over or around.

If you prop your bumper against a tree, your winch could pull your buddy out of a mud hole. When you add a winch, be sure to buy one that will pull the weight of your vehicle.

You may also want an electric winch with a remote button. You’ll be able to work the winch from inside the cab once you get it hooked up.


5. Tires





The stock tires on your vehicle are probably not enough for serious off-roading. However, if you go cheap and opt for something just a little better than the stock all-season tires, you’re probably wasting your money.

Get some good mud and snow off-road tires. Keeping an air compressor that runs off the battery is a good idea, too. You may need to let some of the air out for better traction, but you don’t want to drive on the street with low tires. Keeping a portable air compressor in your vehicle allows you to decrease and increase air pressure as needed.


Top 10 Off-Road Driving Trails in the U.S.

1. Washington Backcountry Discovery Route, Washington



The Washington Backcountry Discovery Route is an easier 4x4 trail, though it is long. Don’t skip over this one because you think “easy” equates with boring.

The trail has steep grades. And guardrails? You can forget about those things. It takes five to six days to do the whole trail, but it does have hotels and campsites along the way for those who prefer not to rough it. The trail goes through all types of terrain from desert to rainforest.


2. Death Valley National Park, California



This trail is better if you go in the spring or winter. Death Valley National Park gets quite hot in the summer. With over 1,000 miles of dirt and paved roads, you definitely won’t run out of fun anytime soon. The trails are only a portion of the 3.4 million acres. The rest of the park is protected and doesn’t have roads.

Test your skills in canyons and more. Try the Lookout City trail that goes up into the Argus mountains if you are looking for rock piles and killer views. Visit the Charcoal Kilns in Wildrose Canyon, the Manson Ranch and Modoc Mine.


3. Dalton Highway, Alaska



The Haul Road (Dalton Highway) is an all-gravel road that takes truckers from the Yukon River to Prudhoe Bay. Truckers aren’t the only thing you’ll see on this trail: Watch for potholes and grizzly bears, too, among other wildlife. Fairbanks is the closest community and that is 70 miles away.

Be sure you’re completely stocked with extra food, supplies, tires and fuel since you won’t find services along the road. The truckers use CB radio channel 19, so bring a CB radio and tune to that channel. And, make sure your headlights are working – they are required.


4. Upper Peninsula, Michigan



Head to the Upper Peninsula past the Mackinaw Bridge for some great off-roading. Explore forests full of cedar and pine, abandoned railroad tracks, trestles and deserted beaches on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Be sure to make your way to the second largest waterfall that you’ll find east of the Mississippi: Tahquamenon Falls. You’ll find tons of trails, though one you shouldn’t miss is Drummond Island, which is Lake Huron. The Drummond Island Trail is 60 miles of steep grades and rough terrain.


5. Magruder Road Corridor, Idaho/Montana



If you are looking for steep and winding and aren’t afraid of a little snow, head to Magruder Road Corridor. This 117-mile one lane road starts just outside of Elk City, Idaho and goes to Darby, Montana. Speeds average about 12 to 15 mph, so this trek will take you a couple days.

Enjoy rushing rivers, stunning views and lush valleys along the way. Be sure to bring winter weather wear, even in the summer, as it could snow at any time.


6. Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota



The Black Hills in western South Dakota feature over 600 miles of trails. Explore heavily wooded trails, grassy plains and rock climbs. Of the 600-plus miles, about 500 miles of the roads are “open to all vehicles.” You’ll pass through 13,000 acres of wilderness and will be able to explore 1,300 streams and 11 reservoirs.

The area has plenty of campgrounds that have access to the trails, fishing, swimming, biking, horseback riding and wildlife watching. You may get lucky enough to see pronghorn antelope, buffalo, mountain goats, elk, mule deer, wild burros and whitetail deer.


7. White Rim Trail, Utah



The White Rim Trail in Utah is in Canyonlands National Park on the edge of Island in the Sky Mesa. You’ll need about two days to run the 100-mile trail. Some of the sights you’ll see include buttes, towers, Indian ruins, sandstone arches and views of the Green and Colorado Rivers.

If you want to camp out, plan your trip well ahead of time as the campsites along the trail are booked early. You will also need at least a gallon of water per person per day.


8. Bald Eagle State Forest, Pennsylvania



If you’re on the east coast, head over to the Bald Eagle State Forest in Pennsylvania. The state forest covers parts of Mifflin, Centre, Snyder and Clinton Counties and is over 200,000 acres.

Enjoy many miles of trails and take in the sights of mountain streams and old-growth forest. It takes days to explore the trails. Bring your fly fishing rod while you’re at it – you are close to Penns Creek and White Deer Creek.


9. Windrock Park, Tennessee



Head over to Oliver Springs, Tennessee to visit Windrock Park. The park features 300 miles of off-road trails over 72,000 acres. In addition to trails for vehicles, you’ll find 550 miles of mountain bike trails.

The Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm is nearby and you’ll get a great view of the 18 windmills that are 256 feet tall in addition to mountain and valley views.


10. El Camino Del Diablo, Arizona



El Camino Del Diablo – The Devil’s Highway – was first traveled in the 16th century. The trail starts just outside of Ajo, Arizona and runs along the border with Mexico. You’ll need high-riding vehicles here, so Jeeps and trucks are better. If you’re off-roading in a Subaru Outback, you’re not going to get far.

The area is remote, so you’ll need emergency equipment and plenty of water for everyone. Sights include the Pnacate Volcanic Field, Pinta Sand Dunes, Tule Mountains and the Fortuna Mine, now abandoned. The trail ends at Fortuna Foothills in Arizona.


Conclusion

No matter where you go off-roading, whether it’s on private property or at a sanctioned riding area, you’ll want to have the best accessories that will help keep you safe and keep you from getting stuck. Visit OEDRO to learn more about off-roading and to browse through off-roading accessories.

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About Oedro

OEDRO

OEDRO is one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of auto parts. We strive to offer off-road enthusiasts the best driving experience and professional knowledge. Learn more about OEDRO.


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