Overland ExPo – Through the Back Door

If you venture north beyond the bright lights of Phoenix and the sprawling cityscapes that occupy the once-tranquil Valley of the Sun, Arizona transitions from a sunbaked desert to a utopia of forested highlands. Each spring when Overland Expo sets up basecamp on Mormon Lake, near the 7,000-foot outskirts of Flagstaff, I ponder a new and interesting way to reach the event. Sure, I could hop on the interstate and be there in a jiffy, but that certainly would not check the “fun” box; nor would it be in the spirit of adventure.

2016 Ram-Expo 003

A few weeks before the venue I received a call from the guys at Ram Truck. It went something like this; “We’re doing an all-dirt four-wheel drive trek from Carefree to Overland Expo through the old mining camps of the Bradshaw Mountains…wanna go?” Carefree…hmm? Was this a place or an attitude? Either way, I liked it, and as you might have guessed, the answer was a no-brainer.

This wasn’t to be an “expedition,” or an epic assent of insurmountable obsticals. Rather, it was just a bunch of guys taking a day off to play on the way to another day off…to play. Big plus, in the Ram fleet were a half-dozen Power Wagons and Rebels. Yes, I do love my job!

2016 Ram-Expo 042

Rather than give you a blow-by-blow travelogue, I’ll just say that the route around Pleasant Lake up to the Wild West mining town of Crown King is one not to pass up. It winds its way through tall stands of saguaro cactus, along cottonwood-lined creeks, and up numerous switchbacks in the Bradshaws. If you have extra time, make sure to hit Whiskey Row in Prescott, previous capital of the Arizona Territory, and grab a burger in the mountainside town of Jerome.


2016 Ram-Expo 021

2016 Ram-Expo 0222016 Ram-Expo 026

2016 Ram-Expo 028 2016 Ram-Expo 035

2016 Ram-Expo 0332016 Ram-Expo 029

2016 Ram-Expo 032

2016 Ram-Expo 0312016 Ram-Expo 030

2016 Ram-Expo 041

2016 Ram-Expo 0442016 Ram-Expo 050

2016 Ram-Expo 020 2016 Ram-Expo 018 2016 Ram-Expo 017 2016 Ram-Expo 016

2016 Ram-Expo 0122016 Ram-Expo 004

2016 Ram-Expo 013 2016 Ram-Expo 014 2016 Ram-Expo 005 2016 Ram-Expo 008 2016 Ram-Expo 009

Recommended books for Overlanding

The Alchemist, 25th Anniversary: A Fable About Followi...
by Paulo Coelho
From $10.47
Motorcycle Messengers: Tales From The Road By Writers ...
by Lois Pryce, Mark Richardson, Carla King, Sam Manic...
From $9.99

Chris spent his formative years riding dirt bikes with his dad in the deserts of Southern California and Baja, Mexico, which led to a lifelong quest for adventure. He is handy behind a viewfinder and at the keyboard, and brings four decades of international travel experience to Overland Journal as Editor-in-Chief. His career, which includes work for National Geographic Adventure, Four Wheeler, Hot Rod, and Autoweek, has taken him through 50-plus countries and to every continent. He has also served as correspondent to magazines in a dozen countries and in as many languages. In 2013 he was part of the Expeditions7 team that crossed Antarctica and he has recently been inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame as a pioneering journalist. When not behind the camera Chris can be found on The Office (his sailboat), or undertaking meticulous “research” for upcoming articles in locales such as Tequila, Mexico.