The holidays are a time to gather and spend time with family and friends. And while most people are content with hanging out at someone’s home, there are others that would much rather doing something a bit more exciting.
Instead of renting an Airbnb at a picturesque location or booking a fancy hotel, why not try going on an off-road excursion with your family and friends?
Plenty of people bought and/or modified their SUVs to handle the rigors of nature, so it’s only appropriate to get those beefy tires and lifted suspension a workout.
Here’s a list of some destinations that we think would make for a great time with your family and friends this holiday.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
What’s better than spending your holidays in the high desert of Southern California?
Sure, you’re not going to have a snowy, white Christmas (it has happened before), but trust when we say that it gets plenty cold when the sun goes down in Joshua Tree National Park.
If you’re looking for an easy trail to meander on, try going on dirt roads in Covington Flat. It’s about a 7-mile drive and relatively flat. The road gets steeper the closer you get to Eureka Peak, but the view is simply amazing.
If you want something more challenging, check out the Pinkham Canyon-Thermal Canyon Roads. This 20-mile trail requires you to have 4-wheel-drive, high clearance and emergency supplies as there are long stretches of sand and rock piles that can be more than some can handle.
It would be foolish of us not to mention Moab, the mecca of off-roading. While many people choose to trek out to Moab in the spring and fall, going during the winter offseason can still be a great adventure.
A great route to check out during the winter is the Sevenmile Rim Trail. It was a trail originally used by uranium miners. Now the trail leads you to Uranium Arch, the Merrimac and Monitor Buttes and Determination Towers.
Just imagine being in a 4x4 on a snow-covered path with little-to-no traffic. Moab is great, but it’s even better when you’ve got the trail all to yourself.
Texas Hill Country, Texas
If you’re looking for an overlanding holiday getaway, then maybe a trip to Texas Hill Country might be right for you.
Located west of Austin, the Texas Hill Country route is 145 miles of non-technical overlanding that will send you through the natural wonders that Texas has to offer. You might even see a longhorn or two if you’re lucky.
Along the route you will find examples of various settlements from Spanish and German settlers from decades ago.
If you’re planning to go overlanding on the route, be sure to book a stay at a campsite. The trail passes through private land and dispersed camping is illegal without permission from the property owner.
Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming
Imagine this, but with snow.
For those that are seasoned off-roading veterans, a great but challenging destination is the Bighorn National Forest.
The Bighorn Mountains are home to more than 1,200 trails and dozens of campsites. Add snow into that mix and you’ll be exploring the park for weeks, if you have that kind of time.
This excursion is not for the faint of heart, especially during the winter. So if you’re going to be heading out there, make sure to have all your permits in order and bring emergency gear.
Death Valley National Park, California
If you thought about going to Joshua Tree and said to yourself, “I need more desert,” then look no further than Death Valley National Park. Now we’re talking about serious overlanding.
Depending on the trails you’ll be trekking, you’re going to need some decent ground clearance, plenty of fuel and definitely a spare tire. You should also plan to go in a group of at least two vehicles, especially if you plan on camping on the trail for several days.
Along the trails you’ll find remnants of California’s mining days. There is also the famous Teakettle Junction, where you can find teakettles hung from sign. Why is that a thing? No one really knows, but it looks cool.
While Death Valley is known for holding the record for the hottest place on the planet, winter temperatures are mild but can occasionally reach freezing.