Adventures Don't Always Go as Planned
We love going on family adventures and head out almost every weekend both in the summer and winter. Why do we do it? To spend time together and have new experiences. In the summer we went on a trip to an area new to us that allows off-roading and has free camping. We went with our friends that know the area well and own a very awesome customized Jeep. We had three kids under 5 and 2 dogs along for the ride. We left after work Friday thinking we’d make it to a known camping spot but of course things didn’t happen as plan - they rarely do! To some people not knowing where you are going to set up camp in the wilderness with young kids as it’s getting dark sounds stressful, to us this is just part of the adventure.
First nights camp
We met our friend’s house as they were just finishing packing their Jeep. It was already about 5pm when we hit the road. We often pre-pack dinner to feed the kids in the Land Rover so we don’t need to stop. We also love eating on the road because food is an amazing entertainer. The drive to the entrance of the off-road area was about 1.5 hours from our original destination and the camping location from there was estimated to be about another hour. Our kids, 2 and 4 years old are experienced road trippers, and our friend’s 1 year old was well into his training.
At the turn off from Highway to Off-Road we stopped to let the kids stretch, change diapers, nurse, let some air out of the tires and re-attach a wire to allow our rear breaks to work.
The start of the journey; deflating tires and diaper changes
The area we were traveling in is a Public Land Use Zone which allows off-road vehicles, quads and dirt bikes on various trails, all signed with the allowed vehicles. It is also an area for ranchers to graze their herds.
Two minutes down the road we meet this guy
When we arrived at the trail to take us to an amazing camping spot up a steep hill that has a view over the valley the trail sign did not have the off-road vehicle sign on the post! What?! The online map of the area had last been updated about 1 month before, which is considered recent so we were surprised. But the lack of off-road vehicle sign made us turn around (after running down to check the next sign which also didn’t have an off-road vehicle so that was it!). We could not make it to our planned camping destination. We found a treed area close by and decided to set up camp while we still had a little sunlight knowing we were going to explore the area more tomorrow and find a new camp.
Trail sign of which type of vehicles are allowed to pass
Found a lush green campsite for the first night
We woke up to the loud noises of cows. When I first awoke they were all around our campsite, when we retreated from our roof-rop tent they had moved to the green space across from us.
Check out all those cows in the background
The next morning we hiked the trail to the camping spot on the hill we could no longer access by vehicle. What a view!
Taking a break at the top
Where the kids and dogs can roam free
After the hike we hit the off-road trails with the goal of reaching a lake to set up camp. The views driving were amazing. The trail conditions varied from dry and wet to flat and steep. We couldn’t pass the shortest way to our destination due to thick mud so had to turn back.
We got stuck but our friends pulled us out in no time. We were very fortunate that a giant log that was in the mud just missed puncturing our gas tank, which we have since put a shield over.
The best type of friends
Shortly after being stuck we ran into a 4x4 community travelling the area for the day, had to stop and chat. Nothing beats the community bond when out adventuring.
We made it to the lake but the one camping spot was taken but that was okay the journey was amazing. Everyone was having a great time plus the wind off the lake was insane so it was time to find a new spot to set up camp. We drove back through the roads to more know camping spots. Even though this huge area of land we were exploring is all ‘free camping’ much of the terrain is not suitable do to mud, logs, dense trees, etc.
Even though the two campsites we had in mind to set up at hadn’t worked out we couldn’t have been happier, we literally found paradise. A perfect spot for two vehicles, next to a river with views of the mountains.
Everything I just described is exactly why we explore the wilderness in our Land Rover. The unexpected may happen but as long as you have a positive attitude and the right gear you are setting yourself up for an amazing experience.
View from campsite
Campsite view from other side
Enjoy the journey everyone.