Jul 15, 2022 - News

How to off-road like a pro in Colorado

John's 4Runner, affectionately named "Lucille," feeling the tip on a training run. Photo courtesy of Matt Balazs

The pandemic push to get outdoors led to a surge in off-road driving and overlanding in Colorado.

Be smart: I recommend taking a class from OnTrail Training with 4x4 certified instructor Matt Balazs about trail driving or recovery when you get in trouble.

  • My wife and I learned the limits of our 1998 Toyota 4Runner β€” lovingly named "Lucille" β€” on the Slaughterhouse Gulch trail outside Bailey.

Of note: The classes get booked fast. "Folks are catching up with the idea that actually learning something about this stuff is a good thing," Balazs says.

What to know: The most important element of off-road driving, he adds, is knowing your limitations β€” and the limitations of your vehicle.

  • "I guided Jeep and Hummer tours around Vail for 13 years … and ran into a lot of folks that were really struggling to get through a pretty basic obstacle, where if they just knew a little bit about wheel placement and momentum," then they wouldn't get stuck, he says.

The intrigue: Balazs even coaches people who like to drive their Subarus and other all-wheel drive cars off-road. "It's a little different technique, and a little less extreme terrain, but still the same rules apply," he said.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more