Year in Review: A Look Back at 2017

And just like that, 2017 passed on by. It’s hard to believe that we’re standing at the forefront of a new year, a time that will be filled with endless possibilities, uncharted opportunities, and of course plenty of interesting adventures. As we prepare to begin the newest segment of our lives, we feel it’s best to look back at the places we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished in the previous chapter. It has certainly been one heck of a year. As you read through the following list, we hope you’ll take the time to reflect on your own experiences during the past 12 months and share them with us below. We look forward to continuing this journey with you in 2018. Happy New Year!
– The Expedition Portal and Overland Journal Team

Russia and Georgia – Chris Collard

In September, Chris Collard caught a flight to Moscow, Russia, where he picked up a UAZ Patriot and headed south to the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia for a 2-week adventure through one of the planets most historic and scenic regions. Look for this adventure in the Summer Issue of Overland Journal.

New Mexico Back Roads and AEV – Chris Cordes

If you ever get the opportunity to attend a camping trip with NMBR and American Expedition Vehicles, don’t hesitate, don’t ask questions, just say yes. You’ll be glad you did. I sure was after taking a trip with them to review the new RAM Recruit this past June. It was an experience not easily forgotten, packed with phenomenal vehicles, awesome photo opportunities, and even better people. The story is currently being queued to run in Overland Journal and will be available in the coming months.  

Exploring the American West – Chris Cordes

After attending Overland Expo this past year, we were itching for a little adventure. Who wouldn’t be, right? To scratch it, we set out with AT Overland, Equipt Expedition Outfitters, Exploring Elements, and Restop for a trip through Utah and southern Colorado. Among our stops were Valley of the Gods, the Rim Rocker trail, and Great Sand Dunes National Park. Look for that article to go live on Expedition Portal next week!  

Winter Fun Festival – Chris Collard

Overland Journal Editor-in-Chief Chris Collard kicked off 2017 playing in the snow at the Winter Fun Festival. The event, held near Grass Valley, California, is sponsored by the California 4Wheel Drive Association and offers 3 days of country-style meals, a dozen trail rides, and a massive raffle. This year’s Fun Fest is January 12-14. Check out last year’s video here.

OEX – Chris Cordes

Albert Einstein once said that “Once you stop learning, you start dying,” and when it comes to dealing with four-wheel drives, recovery gear, and driving techniques, that can be taken literally. That’s why this past summer I spent a week training with some of the best instructors around, Overland Experts. I’ll just say that the experience was enlightening, and let you read the full story here.

Ram Power Wagon Launch – Chris Collard

In addition to being our editor-in-chief, Chris Collard also provides commercial photography for a number of auto manufacturers and aftermarket companies. In January, he was near Logandale, Nevada, shooting the launch of the 2017 Ram 2500 Power Wagon and getting some seat time in this high jumping heavy hauler.

Washington to Vegas – Chris Cordes

Not every road trip can be on dirt. Occasionally, we just need to cross the country, and that’s the perfect time to break out a map and follow some back roads through small-town America. That’s exactly what we did last spring on a drive from Seattle to Las Vegas with Jeep Kitchen. Take a look at a few of the photos below.

King of the Hammers – Chris Collard

Few events in the off-road world have had the impact of King of the Hammers (KOH). Collard has covered KOH for a variety of magazines around the world since the first public event was held in Johnson Valley OHV area in 2009. It is one of the most challenging competitions on the planet and pairs high-speed desert racing with extreme rock crawling.

Jeep Compass – Chris Collard

Targeting the global compact SUV market, Jeep did an overhaul on the Compass. Chris Collard headed to San Antonio to take the Trailhawk Edition through the paces in the Texas Hill Country.  

Texploration – Chris Cordes

With a remote office based in Dallas, I found myself doing a bit of traveling in Texas this year. From the hills outside Austin and Fredericksburg to the shores of Matagorda and peaks of Big Bend, we experienced some of the best this state has to offer. Just take a look below!

Ice Road Rally – Chris Collard

The Ice Road to Tuktoyaktuk (Tuk) in Canada’s Northern Territory was made famous by hit show Ice Road Truckers. With news of an “all-weather” to Tuk reaching completion, Chris Collard borrowed a Mopar 2016 Edition Ram Rebel for a 3,500-mile blast to the Arctic Ocean. He picked up Overland Journal CTO Christian Pelletier in Whitehorse and the duo headed north for a last hurrah on the ice. Check out the video here.

Velar – Chris Cordes

We had the chance to attend a lot of cool vehicle launches this year, but the most luxurious was by far the Range Rover Velar. The minimalist design of this stunning vehicle is matched with impressive prowess on and off the pavement. Read all about it here.

Easter Jeep Safari – Chris Collard

The Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah, has become the annual spring gathering for thousands of four-wheel drive enthusiasts. During the last decade, Jeep and Mopar have utilized the Safari to present their newest crop of concept vehicles. Chris Collard is their hired gun for the event and in addition to photographing each of these beauties, he grabs a little “quality” time behind the wheel.

NORRA – Chris Collard

In 1967, a small group of friends created the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) to promote a new event, the Mexican 1000. This year’s 1000 departed Ensenada for a 5-day adventure down the Baja peninsula to San Jose del Cabo on the southern tip. Chris Collard joined the Go Westy “Westafari” team as their race logistics manager. After more than 1,200 miles through Baja’s challenging backcountry, the team’s VW Syncro crossed the finish line for a Class Win. Check out the video here. 

Chevrolet ZR2 – Chris Cordes

On the opposite end of the vehicle spectrum from the Velar, we reviewed the dirt jumping, dust slinging, desert racing Chevrolet ZR2 in May. Featuring front and rear lockers, skid plates and sliders, and an outstanding suspension system, this truck stole our hearts. Check it out here.

Ram Drive to Overland Expo – Chris Collard

Overland Expo, held in Flagstaff, Arizona, has become the largest overland gathering in the Americas. However, getting to the event can be half the fun. Chris Collard joined the Ram Truck guys for a “dirt run” to the venue through the Southwest backcountry.

Baja Sur – Chris Collard

Having grown up tooling around Baja’s backroads on a dirt bike with his dad, Chris Collard returns to this land of sun, sand, and cacti numerous times each year. The month of May found Chris and his wife, Suzanne, making a slow traverse of Baja Sur’s remote back roads, camping on isolated beaches, and enjoying the bounty of the Sea of Cortez. All this “work” was the pursuit of an overland Destinations story for the Journal. You can find it in the 2017 Winter Issue.

Jeepers Jamboree – Chris Collard

With the Rubicon Trail in Chris Collard’s backyard, he is a regular at the Jeepers Jamboree. This year’s 4-day Jamboree marked the 65thbannual traverse from Georgetown, California, to the tranquil waters of Rubicon Springs.

50th Annual Sierra Trek – Chris Collard

A sister route to the Rubicon, the Fordyce Trail in Tahoe National Forest is home to Cal4Wheel’s annual Sierra Trek. While the challenging terrain of Fordyce gets most of the glory, the event offers 4 days of ranch-style meals, a vendor show, kid’s games, a huge raffle, and trail rides ranging from SUV trips to narrated historic runs through California’s Gold Country. Overland Journal editor Chris Collard has volunteered at this fundraiser for 30 years, was the event’s Trail Coordinator for a decade, and currently leads the Thursday Fordyce run.

Rubicon with Jeep Jamboree USA – Chris Collard

In addition to offering dozens of trips around the US, Jeep Jamboree USA also hosts corporate groups on the Rubicon Trail. In August, Chris Collard joined JJUSA to document Shell/Pennzoil’s global marketing team traversing this iconic route.

BFGoodrich KM3 – Chris Collard

When tire companies are in the development stages for a new tire, they reach out to industry experts for input on everything from tread block design to sidewall aesthetics and off-road performance. During the past 3 years Overland Journal’s Chris Collard joined BFGoodrich in various parts of the US to test prototype versions of the new KM3 Mud-Terrain, including a day of Baja-style racing in Colorado. Check it out in detail here. 

South America – Chris Collard

With just 2 days at home after the Russia/Georgia trip, Collard boarded a plane bound for South America. He and Overland Journal’s CTO Christian Pelletier bought a Toyota 4Runner in Chile, and Chris and his wife, Suzanne, were to drive it over the Andes from Peru to Argentina and eventually store the vehicle in Uruguay. Unfortunately, Chris’ appendix ruptured while in the Andes. Suzanne grabbed the wheel and rushed him to a hospital in Argentina that could perform emergency surgery. Sometime in the near future we are expecting a yarn on his near-death experience.

Baja 1000 – Chris Collard

November found Collard back in Baja for the 50th running of the SCORE Baja 1000. During the last few years he was the team manager and navigator for racing legend Rod Hall in his ’69 Ford Bronco. This year, Chris was wielding a video camera and assisting in the filming of an upcoming documentary on Hall, the winningest off-road racer in America. At 80 years of age, it was Hall’s 50th Baja 1000. He is the only racer to compete in every Baja 1000 since 1967, and this year he helped his son Chad (and team) take another Class win.

Jeep Wrangler JL – Chris Collard

When news is happening in the four-wheel drive world, we make sure we are on hand to bring you the skinny. December found Chris Collard in Arizona behind the wheel of the long-awaited Jeep Wrangler JL. Read the full report here. 

Iceland and Greenland – Brian Mcvickers

Following in the travels of Eric The Red, Brian spent time exploring the remote roads of Iceland across tectonic rifts and glaciers. He then set to sea for a 600-mile crossing of the North Atlantic to Greenland. Exploring fjords, dodging icebergs, looking for whales, and keeping eager watch for polar bears was all part of the package, along with experiencing some impressive remoteness.


Sportsmobile and SilencerCo in Utah – Brian Mcvickers

And so much more!

There were just too many small camping trips and mini-excursions this year to mention them all, but we’ve included a little taste below.
Michigan/Wisconsin – Photos by Chris Cordes
Clarkdale and Sedona – Photos and Text Below by Sarah Ramm
In January, we started the year off right by scouting for campsites between Clarkdale and Sedona, Arizona.

Red Creek – Photos and Text Below by Sarah Ramm
In March we ran the Red Creek trail. This technical trail runs through a slow-moving creek in Central Arizona. Parts of the trail run through a narrow slot between tree roots; the bottom is lined with wet boulders and flowing water.
Williams and Flagstaff Photos and Text Below by Sarah Ramm
To escape the heat and relax after Overland Expo West in May, we headed toward the forest outside of Williams.
A borrowed Jeep Compass must be tested. In August, we took this pretty blue one up by Flagstaff.

Ouray, CO – Photos and Text Below by Sarah Ramm
Just a week after we bought our new Cherokee, a friend was getting married in Colorado in late September. You didn’t really expect us to not test it on Imogene Pass, do you?
Prescott – Photos and Text Below by Sarah Ramm
In October, the little BJ74 needed to go on a photo shoot. We took it up to the mountains outside of Prescott, Arizona.
Southeast Utah  – Photos and Text Below by Sarah Ramm
November called for us to explore southeast Utah and check out that sand mode button in the Cherokee.

Europe and Abenteuer Allrad Show – Photos by Brian McVickers

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Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Senior Editor while living full-time on the road.