Hit the Trail after 55

Death Valley Photo by Denis Snow
(Click picture for a larger image.)

Four wheeling is often looked at as a young man’s game. The perception is that you use a 4WD for hard core rock crawling, heart pumping, sweaty palm adrenaline charged terrain.

The fact is that there are hundreds and thousands of scenic sites, great camp grounds, old mines, and ghost towns to visit that require a 4 wheel drive. The difficulty rating is mostly 4 or less (out of 10). While many regular drivers are in their 20s and 30s, we are seeing a lot more folks in their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s.

A 4WD vehicle, and four-wheeling in general, offers a number of
advantages over other motorized activities for older folks.

Top Reasons

Here, in no particular order, are my top reasons why four wheeling could / should be a part of your life at age 55 and beyond.
  1. Easier on the body. Hiking, mountain biking, riding motorcycles and ATVs/UTVs off road can be tough on an older body. You end up with too many aches and pains. A 4WD vehicle offers a much more comfortable and less-strenuous ride.

  2. You have the resources. Generally at this age people can afford an off-road vehicle—the kids are gone and the mortgage is paid off. You can now indulge in that hobby you’ve been fantasizing about for years.

  3. Companionship. 4WD vehicles allow you to share the ride and experience with one or more companions. True, other vehicles can transport at least one buddy, but it’s not the same. With a 4WD vehicle you toodle along in the outback, enjoying the scenery and conversation. And it doesn't stop with just the people riding with you. There is safety in numbers so you will be traveling with and meeting like-minded people. Many who are foot-loose and fancy-free just like you. Great comradely develops among 4-wheelers on the trail and around the camp fire.

  4. Interior comfort and protection from the environment. The enclosed cabins offer heat and air conditioning. The windows keep out the bugs, dust, brush and noise.

  5. Get more out of your RVing experience. Towing a 4WD vehicle adds a new dimension to your RV trips. Now you can go off-road as well.

  6. You have more time & flexible schedule. You have more time to visit old ghost towns, mines and scenic areas that you can only get to with a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Maybe there are a whole bunch of things you’d like to see. A 4WD vehicle will get you there.

  7. More room. A 4WD vehicle has more room to carry the kind and amount of gear you’d need while in those remote areas. Indulge your passion for camping, hunting, fishing, photography, astronomy; whatever you like to do while outdoors. Plus, you have the room to take along creature comforts like an air mattress, mini-fridge and extra clothing. Perhaps you currently may not be involved in a particular activity simply because you can’t get to those remote spots. Well, now you can. Your “retirement” years become that much more fun and memorable.
  8. Safer ride. Airbags, sturdy frames, independent four-wheel suspension and durable glass give 4WD vehicles an edge in safety.

  9. Versatile vehicle. 4WD vehicles are street legal, so you can use them on the roads as well as on the trails. No need to trailer them from one location to another, like you do with dirt bikes and some ATVs. Plus, 4WD vehicles are permitted in all national parks.

  10. Grandkids. A four wheel drive vehicle allows you to take them along and introduce them to the great outdoors, camping and your favorite sports. You have enough room needed to carry extra clothes and food.

  11. Longer drives possible. The longer range of 4WD vehicles, due to large gas tanks and spare gas can on board, give you many more options for going off road. You can plan longer and potentially more exciting expeditions.

  12. Cheaper than an RV and more versatile. As I mentioned above, you can take a 4WD vehicle on the roads or on the trails. An RV is driven somewhere and then parked. Plus, you need a place with utilities. A 4WD vehicle goes where you want to go.

  13. Four wheeling gives you a chance to needle your neighbors: “This ol’ geezer ain’t spending his days in a rocking chair!”
You’ll note that many of these concepts apply regardless of the driver’s age. They are, after all, some of the general advantages of off-road driving. However, if you are 55 or older, I hope you can see how this exciting hobby can be a part of your life.

Odds are you have the time, money and ambition. Why wait any longer? Grab a 4WD vehicle, pick up some instruction (I can help you there Click here), and then start enjoying the great outdoors as you’ve never done before.

# # # #

On the way to Titus Canyon
Death Valley National Park
(Click picture for a larger image.)

Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures

Did you miss the previous articles?

Some Upcoming Events

(click on the link for details)

Saline Valley
Saline Valley is part of Death Valley National Park
(Click picture for a larger image.)

March is just packed full of training. We are offering everything from basic driving to rocks, sand, winching, and tire repair plus a trip to Death Valley.

The clinic schedule for March:
  1. February 28 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road Clinic- San Diego:

  2. March 01 TDS Tierra Del Sol 52nd Annual Desert Safari
  3. March 02 Winch Clinic - Borrego
  4. March 08 Getting Started Off-Road - LA:
  5. March 09 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road Clinic- Mojave:
  6. March 10 Winch Clinic - Mojave
  7. March 15 Getting Started Off-Road - San Diego:
  8. March 16 Starting Rock Crawling Clinic:
  9. March 21 Death Valley National Park Expedition:
  10. March 29 Off-Road Driving Sand and Dunes:
  11. March 30 Tire Repair & Hi-Lift Mini Clinic - Pismo


Rocks Clinic March 16

Rocks Clinic Example

The Class will be in Johnson Valley. This is an introduction to Rock crawling but it is not on "baby" rocks. We take our time and stress careful wheel placement. We use spotters for difficult sections. You learn by inspecting the obstacle and predicting the line; by watching others try their line; by experiencing it yourself; and by the coaching. We recommend you repeat the training several times. You will be much more relaxed the second time over the same obstacles and you will pick up on little details missed the first time. More Details...

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rocks


Death Valley March 21-24

Death Valley

This is a 4 day trip on the back roads in Death Valley. We will drive the Panamint Mountains, drive past Badwater Basin (lowest spot in North America), visit Chloride Ghost town, Titus Canyon, check out Ubehebe Crater, Teakettle junction, The Race Track & Lippencott Mine Road, camp at the Warm Springs and leave via Steal Pass up to the high meadows, then take Dedeckera Canyon down to the Eureka Sand Dunes. All four days will see some light to moderate 4-wheeling. Much of the trip is quite remote with random or no cell service. We don't plan to stop at tourist sights you can get to in a passenger car.
Check out the details and sign up on the website: http://www.4x4training.com/Adventures/Deathvalley.html
August 2013 Off-Road Adventures Magazine: Death Valley Excursion by Denis Snow

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Deathvalley

Winch Clinic March 2nd or March 10th, 2014

Winch Class Example

You have an opportunity to attend Tierra Del Sol 52nd Annual Desert Safari on Saturday and then stay in the area Sunday March 2nd for this one day clinic. Or take the Getting Started Clinic and Day 2 Clinic then stay over in the Mojave CA area for the Winch Clinic.

It starts with the basics and builds into complex riggings. If you are considering installing a powered winch on your vehicle, or have one already but need training to learn how to get the best from it and do it safely, you need to take this class. The one day course covers: safety related issues, basic operation of the winch, simple and complex riggings, stuck assessment, winch capability, and minimizing environmental impact. This is a hands on class. By the end of the day you will be safely rigging some complex recoveries. More Details...

You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Winch


Sand Clinic March 29, 2014

Sand Clinic
If you have been waiting for the next Sand Driving Clinic, put it on your calendar for March 29th and sign up now. This day-long clinic will expose you to a variety of driving conditions and levels of difficulty. Driving on sand is challenging and different than dirt, so we’ll progress slowly as you learn the proper techniques. As your confidence grows, you will master increasingly more challenging dunes. Along the way you will be exposed to the beauty of SVRA and the thrill of the windswept dunes. This is a rare opportunity to cruise the only beach in California open to vehicles.
More details...

Register for the Sand Clinic using this link.


Tire Repair & Hi-Lift Mini Clinic March 30, 2014

Plug a tire?

The March 30th clinic will be held near Pismo, CA. This 3 hour clinic will provide you with the knowledge and skills to repair the most common tire problems and to use a Hi-lift jack safely to aid you in the process. To drive confidently off-road learn how to:
  • Fix a bead
  • Plug a puncture
  • Break a bead
  • Replace a valve stem

You can find out more details on line at Tire Repair & Hi-Lift Mini Clinic:.

And register on line at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#TireRepair.

Winch Recovery Bandana & Winching DVD

Winching Recover Bandana
Click for higher resolution image
We have our new stock with many new colors (Red, Orange, Green, and Blue) on hand. The Bandana is packed full of useful information and is a quick reference in the field when no DVD player is available."

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready!

Pick up or order the Winching DVD too! There is no substitute for hands on training. If you can, sign up for one of Badlands Off-Road Adventure’s Winching Clinics.

Warning – the Bandana and DVD are not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment that is used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in both the Winching Recovery Bandana and the "Basic to Advanced Winching and Recovery DVD" at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.

Winch Recovery Bandana Order Button

Order a Basic to Advanced Winching & Recovery DVD too!

Winch DVD
(Click picture for more details)

I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2014, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

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