Best Off-Road Tips for the Desert
Heading to the desert for the first time can be intimidating and, while there aren’t many “official” rules for off-roading in the desert, there are definitely some unwritten rules that you should learn.
Picking up on what the seasoned off-road veterans know by heart can be challenging, so we’ve put together a few tips to help you prepare for what’s ahead.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Reaction times can vary from one driver to the next, but behind the wheel it’s always important to act fast if you want to avoid colliding with another vehicle. Always stay alert and assume the worst case scenario – that there may be another driver over the next hill that may seemingly come out of nowhere.
There are major differences between driving on the road and riding in the sand, so it’s a good idea to pace yourself and get to know your vehicle first.
Until you feel absolutely comfortable, it’s a good idea to practice riding along the ridges while getting a feel for your vehicle’s speed, brakes, and turning.
Ride With A Group
If you are a first-time driver rider, we recommend you ride in riding with a group with and a leader who knows what they are doing in the desert.
You‘ll learn a lot from them and you‘ll be much safer.
Just don‘t be that guy who tries to keep up with the leader to the point of putting their safety at risk. At every fork in the road, wait for the rider behind you to confirm that they’re following the group.
There is safety in numbers and it’s worse to lose one car in the desert than to lose two.
Communicate With Other Riders
Let other riders know how many people are in your group while passing so that they know how many additional riders to expect. Sometimes two-way trails are tight with blind corners and only wide enough for one car at a time, so it can be sketchy if you’re both trying to get through the same trail at the same time.
Slowdown in the Desert Campgrounds
No one likes the guy who rips through the campsite without giving a damn about anyone else. If you want to pin it, ride away from the camp into the open desert.
Use an Off-Road Spotter
Always use a spotter while climbing blind hills. Jumping a hill without knowing what’s on the other side could easily result in a collision with someone coming the other way or parked over the crest.
Make sure you get the green light from your spotter for safe passage to help you avoid a crash.
Help Other Riders
When you see someone who you think might need assistance on the trail, help them. Taking the time to check for a thumbs up or down when passing by another rider can make a big difference in someone’s experience.
It could be a dangerous to find yourself stuck in the desert alone so taking a minute to make sure that a fellow rider isn’t broken down could be potentially life saving.
Just be sure to not compromise your own safety while doing so.
Pull Over Out of the Way
If you’re stopping for a break with a group, make sure you’re parked well off the trail to prevent crashes/injuries.
It’s easy to forget that you might be blocking the path of other riders while you’re hanging out with your buddies and you shouldn’t rely on other riders using spotters.
Be Considerate of Other Riders
Allow those approaching from behind to pass if you driving slower. If you must pass traffic, be respectful and do not dust them out.
Always Carry A Recovery Tow Strap
Although most people are willing to help, they may not always have the right equipment to do so.
Always have a tow strap and extra tools with you so that you don’t have to rely on other riders’ equipment in your time of need.
Understand the Right of Way
Don’t start up a steep hill until the car in front makes it over. It is unlikely they will notice you charging up behind them if they don’t make it over and have to backup down the hill.
Uphill traffic always has the right of way.
Respect the Desert’s Locals
Don’t disrespect the towns and riding destinations. Be aware of speed limits and keep your noise to a minimum.
Before leaving, make sure to pick up all of your trash. Your goal should be to leave these towns “off-road friendly” and looking better than before you got there.
Be Prepared for Anything
Keep water and snacks with you while riding. You never know when you or someone in your group will break down and it’s always possible that you might be spending hours sitting in the desert.
It’s always a good idea to have snacks and water on hand in case of emergency!
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED By The Desert
After your first trip into the desert, it’s likely to be the place that you’ll always want to come back to. Compared to the linear setup of traditional off-road trails, the desert offers an extremely open riding environment that’s always has more to offer.
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