Off-Roading
by Dave

Couple on an Off-Road Date
Are you ready to tear it up on the back of a supercharged quad? Of course you are! Or maybe you just want to ride along with your date, exploring beautiful, rugged areas that are inaccessible any other way. That's fine too. Whatever you decide, expect to have a blast getting dirty while you race around the great outdoors together!

An ATV off-road adventure can be handled in two ways; either rent the ATVs and go where you want, or take a guided tour. Tours are obviously easier because a guide takes you along a predetermined route, which means it should be at least fairly interesting, and someone is right there to offer advice or take care of any equipment malfunctions that may occur. Tours do make things easier, but the downside is that you have to follow a guide and can’t just stop whenever you want. Plus, you'll be on the tour with others, and let's face it, if there's an annoying person off-roading that day, he'll be in your group. And he'll want to talk. The entire trip. But like I said, a tour will highlight neat things you would probably miss on your own, and should be designed to go through terrain that inexperienced riders can really enjoy. Also, between the noise of the machines and talking with your date, you won't interact with the rest of the group all that much anyway. Tours are generally either half-day(4-5 hours), full day, or even overnight. Riding can be more tiring than you’d expect, first-timers may want to start off with a half-day ride.

With rentals, the shop will either have a piece of land where customers ride, or you can pick up the ATVs (trailers are available) and drive them out to a particular spot or the company will deliver them for you. Rentals are a little cheaper than tours, and offer the flexibility and freedom that many people like. Also, there are plenty of areas with nothing really to see, like sand dunes or the desert, but are perfect for racing around trails, a track, or just having fun together. For first-timers I would only recommend the rental route if the company is on-site to help you out and answer questions.

For the best places to go, find an off-road forum online or talk to a few shops for recommendations. Explain your level of experience and what you'd like to see or do. Your options may be limited by location, but the right riding spot can be worth an hour's drive or more. It really does make a difference.

For those who don't know about ATVs, they're 4-wheeled All Terrain Vehicles that are designed to be ridden just about anywhere. They usually seat just one person, but there are models built for two. ATVs are great starting vehicles because there's no balance involved, you just hop on and go. The only dangerous part is when inexperienced drivers try to take corners fast without leaning and roll the vehicle. Start slow and listen to your instructor. A standard rental ATV will generally max out at 40-50mph and your state may have training requirements prior to riding, which can usually be handled quickly before the ride or online. Also, you should always wear a helmet when riding and goggles, boots, long-sleeved shirt, and pants are recommended.

Riding is hard work, make sure to bring along plenty of water (a few bottles each) and food. Tours may have some kind of a lunch set up, but throw a few candy bars in your pack anyway. Because this is a dirty, outdoor experience, I always recommend bringing along a few washcloths to clean-up before lunch and before getting back in the car. Use a little water to dampen the washcloths and wipe down your face, neck, and arms. You will be amazed at how much better you'll feel after this one little thing. Bring another set for the car and some Ziploc bag to store the used ones.

If you want to try other off-road experiences, think about renting dirt bikes, or dune buggies and Rhinos if you want to share the same car.

Questions to Ask when Calling

  • Do you offer refunds or credits if the weather cancels or shortens the riding day?
  • If one vehicle becomes disabled, do they credit both riders' time or only the one on the broken ATV? Will there be plenty of spare vehicles on-hand?
  • What are the age requirements? (prob need to be 18+ to go alone)

A video that shows what you might experience on an ATV tour:



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You'll Need

Plenty of water, sunblock, sunglasses, older temperature-appropriate clothing, and snack food. Don't forget a first aid kit and trail map if you're going out on your own!

Cost

Rentals $75+ per person (1/2 day)
Tours $175+ per person

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