As the temperatures drop and the snows begin to fall, many off-road drivers pull their vehicles into the garage for the season. However, for those who have the skills, equipment, and sense of adventure, winter off-roading can be an exciting experience. There are many 4×4 trails in Colorado that are accessible in the winter, but it’s important to understand the risks of snow-wheeling before heading for the hills.
Winter off-road driving can be more dangerous, and the consequences of getting stuck or stranded become more dire. But if you keep these tips in mind, you can have a great time and get home safely:
- Equip your rig
Some 4×4 vehicles simply aren’t capable of handling extreme winter trail weather. Make sure that your rig is ready and able to take on large snowbanks, slippery terrain, and limited visibility. Special tires, extra lighting, lift kits, and safety equipment are a must. Ask your local 4×4 mechanic how to make your car snow-wheel ready.
- Go in a group
It’s never safe to go off-roading on your own, but particularly not in the winter. Gather a group of experienced drivers to tackle the snowy mountains with you, and make sure you stay within sight/communication of them at all times.
- Pack extra
As tempting as it might be, to simply throw your usual gear bag in the back and go, it’s not a wise move. Here in Colorado, the winters can be harsh, and the weather can change in an instant. Be prepared for everything with a fully loaded pack of extra clothing, food, water, and emergency gear.
- Research routes
When it’s sunny, dry, and warm in the summer, it’s easy to try out new routes without much pre-planning. However, in the winter, planning ahead can save your life. Do your research on the best winter routes and understand the potential obstacles of each trail, before picking a destination.
- Be ready for more work
Brand new off-road drivers or those from out of town may not be ready to handle the unique challenges of winter trail running. Navigating snow and ice takes skill, so make sure you feel confident and capable. Also, understand that winter driving may require more grunt work, from shoveling snow to de-icing parts of the trail.
For those who have the interest and the know-how, winter off-roading can be a blast. Keep these tips in mind this season, and ask your local off-road auto body shop for more advice, so you can stay safe and have a great time.