If you enjoy the great outdoors, exploration, and discovery – overlanding could be your next adventure!
Overlanding is fun because it offers travelers the freedom to explore remote, untouched places at their own pace, disconnect from the busy world, strengthen their survival skills, and meet others who share the same passion for adventure.
In this article we will explore the world of overlanding. I will share with you what makes overlanding fun, popular overlanding clubs and events, as well as some of the best overlanding routes in the United States.
The top 5 reasons why you should start overlanding:
1. Freedom to Explore
One of the biggest draws to overlanding is the absolute freedom that comes along with it. Plan your trip, hop in your rig and go – there is no rigid timeline! An overlanding trip can last weeks, months, or even years.
Be sure to bring a map because this trip is all about the journey! An overlander seeks to discover nature’s unknown parts. Did you find an unexpected wonder that you want to explore more? Your itinerary is entirely your own, and you can choose to change it up whenever and however you like!
Overlanding offers the adventurer incredible views, challenging experiences, and mind-blowing wonders. Because you are traveling remote locations on backroads, many of the sights you see will be completely yours to appreciate and marvel at. Beautiful mountain landscapes, desert roads, tropical jungles, woodland hills, and more await!
While you do have the freedom to explore how you please, it is always a good idea to leave a rough itinerary behind with family or a friend that you trust; just in case of an emergency.
2. Escape the Daily Grind
The hustle and bustle of the civilized world is enough to make anyone daydream about getting away from it all. Overlanding gives you the chance to do just that.
It has been proven that excessive amounts of stress can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. Getting on the road (or off the road!) gives you a chance to breathe in the fresh air, unplug from your devices, and let go of the stress that comes with the daily grind.
3. Become Self Reliant
One of the pillars of overlanding is being completely self-reliant. In order to be successful in this type of adventure travel, you have to be fully prepared for all conditions.
Chances are, at some point on your trip, you are going to have an issue or two with your vehicle’s mechanics, the weather, your gear, or all of the above. Being prepared to resolve these situations and having the proper supplies to execute those solutions is essential for a successful trip.
Being self-reliant means that you can rely entirely on your own efforts and abilities. Overlanding forces you to build your survival skills. These skills will give you peace of mind along the journey, knowing you can handle whatever comes your way.
4. Share Adventure with Others
Many overlanders share that one of their favorite parts of traveling in this way is the relationships they have built with like-minded adventurers. There are even overlanding clubs and national events where you can meet new people and bond over your shared love of overlanding.
Overlanding Clubs and Events
Are you ready to start building a community with fellow overlanding enthusiasts? To connect with other adventurers, check out some of these communities, clubs, and events!
- Overland Bound – This is an online community full of great resources for travelers new to overlanding. Chock-full of gear recommendations, how-tos, and more. There is even an app to keep you connected when on the go!
- Northwest Overland Society – This club supports overlanders on their journeys throughout the pacific northwest. Check them out to attend a meet-up or join other members on their next adventure!
- OverlandingAssociation.org – This website is another excellent online resource for connecting with people worldwide. It includes the contact information for local clubs throughout the world, making it a great resource for planning trips and connecting with other clubs along the way.
- American Adventurist – This is a fantastic source for staying in the know with news and upcoming events in the world of overlanding. American Adventurist hosts many rendezvous throughout the year and even sponsors some of the more prominent expos!
- E3 Overland Association – E3 Overland Association empowers, educates, and entertains through its membership experience. They offer online courses for both newbies and experts, as well as member-only events!
- Overland Expo – Perhaps the largest overlanding event in the US, the Overland Expo offers classes, motivational speakers, demonstrations, and even their own film festival!
- Keweenaw Overland Adventure Retreat (KOAR) – KOAR is a weekend full of clinics, demonstrations, and community in the scenic Copper Harbor, MI.
Events like these are a great way to connect with others, build your skills, and make memories in the overlanding community.
5. Abundance of Overlanding Routes
Now that you’ve got a good case of the travel bug and are ready to hit the road, the only thing left to decide is what direction you will go!
Here are a few of the best overlanding routes in the United States:
- Smokey Mountain Road in Utah is a remote, incredibly beautiful venture; full of scenic views, rock art, and natural wonders. This road is best visited during dry seasons, as snow and rain make it trackless.
- The Rubicon Trail in California is one of the oldest and most well-known trails for overlanding adventures. This route is just 22 miles (32 km), passing through the breathtaking Sierra Nevadas.
- Dalton Highway in Alaska is a challenging route most suited for highly experienced overlanders. With little to no cell service, poor road conditions, and limited visibility, you must be well-prepared for this one. If you are up for the challenge, you’re in for some of the most beautiful sights in the country!
- The Pan American Highway will take you 19,000 miles (30,577 km) from Alaska to South America! Challenge-seekers have been known to tackle this route in anywhere from 9 months to 2 years.
- The Trans-America Trail spans 5,000 miles (8,046 km), taking you almost completely off-road across the United States. Imagine winding through national park after national park, soaking in all of the natural beauty of our great country!
Before choosing which overland route to tackle next, be sure to consider your experience, how long you want to be gone, and your survival skill set. It is vital to do enough research to be fully prepared.
So, what exactly is the point of overlanding?
Overlanding is not for the faint of heart. It is a rugged, adventure-filled endeavor that will push you out of your comfort zone and force you to be self-reliant while facing the elements of the natural world.
It is also one of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of nature and the rich history, art, and wonders hidden in untouched, remote parts of the world.
An overlanding adventure is the ultimate way to experience our world from a new perspective. From icy tundras to tropical forests, the overland adventurer travels for the journey, not for the destination.
The point of overlanding is to gain knowledge and experience from the natural world around us. Overlanding is the newest trend for explorers and adventurers alike, spreading like wildfire as the hot new way to travel. These off-grid, daring journeys take travelers across the globe on the path less traveled.
For the adventurer-at-heart, the point of overlanding is to explore parts of the world untouched by tourists and commercialism. Instead of focusing on a final destination, overlanding is all about the journey.
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David is an accomplished mountain endurance athlete who has completed over 25 ultra marathon races (follow on Strava). He is most proud of his finish at The Drift 100 – a high elevation, 100 mile winter foot race that zigzags along the Continental Divide in Wyoming. In the future he hopes to compete in the ITI 350 and ultimately the full 1,000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational that follows the same path as the historic dog sled race.