These monthly articles naturally focus on various aspects of four-wheeling and outdoors life. For this article, I lift the hood and give you an inside look at part of my business. Namely, how I structure my class/training schedule, and how the various programs benefit newbies and experienced four-wheelers alike.
I view Badlands Off-Road Adventures as a four-wheel drive training school and guide service. Classes, which span one to three days, provide the training needed to confidently handle many of the issues a driver is likely to face off road.
Multi-day excursions give drivers practical experience in the concepts they studied. But there’s a bonus: Those trips offer a chance to explore historically or geographically significant areas. They truly are learning experiences. We provide the guidance and training in a unique learning environment, the great outdoors. (For a complete listing of my clinics and trips, go here.
Entry-level classes valuable to all drivers
The Getting Started series is designed primarily for beginners (though all are welcome). The series is comprised of three one-day courses.
Held partly in the classroom, Day 1 clinic is designed to meet the needs of novice off-highway drivers or someone with a bit of experience who is looking for a more complete understanding. The largest part of the class covers driving techniques needed to get you through a variety of terrain. We also provide an overview of options for getting unstuck, safety and spotting commands, post-trip maintenance, trail etiquette, and Tread Lightly!.
Day 2 clinic takes place entirely outdoors. We focus on tire placement, wheel cheat, picking lines, and handling obstacles. Students gain experience dealing with different types of terrain and challenges.
Students may take the classes on separate weekends, though they enjoy a discount for taking both on the same weekend.
Also, there is no charge for kids to attend. Pets are allowed as long as they are well-behaved.
During the Day 3 clinic, students are exposed to a variety of scenarios encountered during Day 2 but also new terrain and challenges. We encourage students to tackle the challenges first without help, but a trainer is available should coaching and spotting be necessary.
Drivers of all skill levels can benefit from the Day 1 and Day 2 clinics. The training ensures everyone is on the same page.
Advanced classes prepare for major trips
Advanced classes train people for taking more difficult trips. I run a beginning rock crawling class in the first part of the year for those considering the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.
I offer it again in June and July timed primarily for people planning on driving the Rubicon. (Although everyone is welcome to attend.) Some people are comfortable after taking the course one time. Others take it two times (June, then July) to fine tune their skills and test modifications to their rig.
The Sand classes are held during the winter months. It’s just too hot in the desert during the summer.
We offer roughly 15 trips a year. Most are of moderate difficulty but offer fairly high historical content and great scenery. People are generally not looking for hardcore trips every time. But they do want some four-wheel drive challenge every day.
For the multi-day trips, we prefer camping to staying in hotels or motels. This keeps the group together and builds camaraderie. Plus, it’s just darn fun sitting around a campfire at night.
Wherever possible, a trip incorporates a Wow! factor at the end. Examples include the north rim of the Grand Canyon and the Striped Butte in Butte Valley, part of the Death Valley National Park.
Proper four-wheeling encourages self-sufficiency
Although four-wheeling is often done in groups, it’s important that all participants be as self-sufficient as possible. Each vehicle should be equipped with the basics for the occupants. Such items include shelter and sleeping needs, food and cooking gear, hygiene products, and such.
Four-wheeling naturally occurs in areas that are distant from stores and gas stations. Plus, each group of drivers includes a diverse range of interests and tastes. This is particularly so as regards to food.
Keep it simple. Everyone brings their own food and basic supplies.
This principle helps keep my trips affordable. If I had to factor in food for the event, my rates would be higher.
Now that pandemic-related restrictions have eased, there’s been a huge interest in outdoor activity. Americans are tired of being couped up and are rediscovering the nation’s parks in record numbers.
Sales of outdoor equipment and four-wheel drive vehicles are on the rise. In June, Jeep sales in the U.S. were up about 6 percent over the same period in 2020, according to CareSalesBase.com. Vehicle sales often translate to new drivers going off road. Some are interested in leisurely drives. Others will go exploring, with camping and other activities a part of the experience.
That’s what so cool about four-wheeling. There’s more to the hobby than just driving.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look at Badlands Off-Road Adventures. It’s been a pleasure training and guiding countless thousands of four-wheeling enthusiasts the past 20 years. Hopefully, I’ll keep at it for several more years. It is so much fun enjoying the great outdoors with like-minded people. As I like to say, “I’ll see you on the trails!”
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.