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Beginner here - help appreciated


New Member
Hi there,

As mentioned in my introduction above, my family of 6 would like to begin exploring through camping and eventually overlanding. We are located on the front range in Loveland, CO and basically looking for advice and suggestions on where to start. We would love to partner up with someone that is also into doing this sort of thing and is willing and able to help us along, maybe even go on some expeditions together. We are not exactly looking to go extreme off-roading and bouldering, but more just getting out there exploring the road less traveled. I'm not a big fan of highway campgrounds and would really much rather go somewhere that gives the kids an experience to last a lifetime and maybe make some lifelong friends within the community. With that in mind....

I have not done any sort of overlanding or really any off-roading before. So let's take a look at what I do have as far as a vehicle and you tell me if this is a good idea or not. I have a 2004 Chevy Suburban 2500 LT with the 8.1l engine. It is primarily used for hauling stuff for my work. It is 100% stock and I know not exactly the ideal off-road vehicle due to it's size, weight, and fuel economy. But it is what I got for now and it has enough space for all of us. What should we do to make sure the vehicle is off-road worthy and ready to go? What type of equipment is a must have regardless of vehicle?

Eventually I would like a jeep or tacoma type vehicle, but that is not for a while.
I am really intrigued by the "overlanding" camping trailers with RTT's. In the long run I think that would be a great solution for storing and hauling what we would need for our family of 6. But until that happens, we would use traditional equipment and tents.

The next thing would be, where can we find out about different routes and excursions that would be ideal for novices such as us to get our feet wet and some experience before tackling more adventurous routes?

Thanks in advance for any advice and help in getting us started on our journey!



Well-Known Member
A family of 6 in anything but a Suburban or Excursion sounds darn near impossible. Trailer or not. Kids have a funny way of not getting any smaller as they get older.

I run an Expedition. While not nearly as big as your 3/4 ton bus, it's pretty wide. But there are plenty of trails/areas that are still accessible to you. A small lift and some good all terrain tires (probably a size or 2 larger than stock) will be plenty. Your 3/4 ton steering/drivetrain/cooling system are oversized and should serve you well as long as they are in good shape.

As far as trails, check out this link:
Don't let the "ride" thing scare you off. Yes, this site was built by guys riding dual sport bikes, but all of the roads they use are 4wheel drive capable. The parts of the COBDR that I've run were pretty mild.


I cannot help with specifics in your area but here are some resources that should help in general:
--Book: Guide To Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails by Charles Wells & Matt Peterson
--Book: Colorado Trails Central Region by Peter Massey (I recall that Massey drove a Suburban?)
--Maps: DeLorme Atlas and Gazeteer - Colorado
--Website: https://www.trailsoffroad.com/
Be advised that published trail guide info as to difficulty (1) is subjective to start with, and (2) may not reflect actual current conditions. Condition of trails can change literally overnight. If you get out of your comfort zone just turn around.
Much of our exploration consists of using the DeLorme Atlas to find a nearby Forest Service or BLM trail. Just pack water and a lunch, head out and see where it leads. The FS and BLM roads/trails range from suitable to a 2WD car to washed out, muddy or just poorly maintained. A call regarding conditions to the relevant FS or BLM office can be worthwhile. There are many FS and BLM campgrounds if you want to overnight.
The TrailsOffroad website is free but you must sign up. It is new and well is done. Some of the older trail info websites like TrailDamage are in my opinion showing their age.
You will traverse shelf roads. Before you hit the trails learn to tell from the drivers seat where you right side tires are relative to the edge of the trail. This can be safely be done practicing relative to a curb or edge of a driveway...etc.
If heading out alone give someone the details of your route and time of return.
Have fun.

Morris Yarnell

Well-Known Member
I would second Jim on this book. It is available from Amazon and is worth the time and money.
--Book: Guide To Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails by Charles Wells & Matt Peterson They are graded as to easy to difficult, pick easy and eventually go with someone (as you mentioned, that is starting like you are) and learn from each other. I have been doing this stuff for 30+ years and I also enjoy a simple drive to a place I don't know just for the day.
Pick something simple and easy to begin. Even a short trip to a local campground would be a start. The idea that you are attempting to enter unfamiliar territory as far as camping and driving on roads you do not know can be daunting a slow start and easy drives are best.
Right now, as it enters into a relatively cold season, day trips are probably going to strengthen your confidence and be more enjoyable till summer hits.
Happy trails


Staff member
Winter wheeling can be treacherous, also call the local ranger station to check if trails are open and if they have any trail conditions.

Morris Yarnell

Well-Known Member
There was some discussion on what items a beginning Overlander might need. Although it was for another reason there may be some discussion of needs at the next M&G.