CROSSING AMERICA OFF-ROAD
“This is going to be wild,” says Tom Collins (TC), Land Rover Driving Instructor and Team Leader of Land Rover Expedition America which kicks off in Asheville, North Carolina today. The challenge? To cross the United States off-road covering ten states and over 5,000 miles in 30 days using three stock 2013 Land Rover LR4 vehicles. Here, TC explains the plan.
Can you really drive across America mostly off-road?
We reckon so, and as far as we know, no truck or SUV has ever achieved it. Yes, plenty of off-road motor cycles and 4x4 UTVs have made the trip, but we’re pretty sure no production SUV has gone the whole way. It certainly makes for a great adventure, and adventures are what Land Rover is renowned for.
Which route are you taking?
We’re following the great Trans-America Trail created back in the late ‘80s by a passionate off-road motorcycle enthusiast named Sam Correro. Sam’s route starts in Tennessee but we’re kicking off from the Land Rover Experience School in Asheville, North Carolina. Sam has been trying for years to devise an off-road route that starts from the East Coast, but the paving machine has made it impossible. In the end, we may have to use short sections of paved road as connectors, but they’ll be as few as possible.
Where do you go from Asheville?
We will head west from Asheville and pick-up Sam’s route in Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Then, we will travel through the muddy backwoods of Mississippi, in to western Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains, through Oklahoma to New Mexico and on to Colorado. From there, we will head to Moab and the San Rafael Swell in south-central Utah, where it will really get interesting. Then it’s on to Nevada followed by Oregon. The plan is to end up on the beach at Port Orford, Oregon. Of course, we decided from the outset that we wouldn’t do any pre-scouting. We’re pretty much winging it in the truest sense of adventure.
So what are the real challenges with the trip?
There is a long list of challenges, with weather being the biggest unknown. If we get heavy rain in Mississippi and Arkansas, those backwoods trails will quickly turn to mud. Heavy rain will also turn the creeks into raging torrents, making crossing them a challenge. Then there’s Nevada with its dust, heat and total remoteness. Another major challenge, of course, is time. We need to cover 200 to 230 miles a day, but if you’re only averaging between 10mph to 20mph that could be difficult.
You have three Land Rover LR4 vehicles. Who will be
driving with you?
I will be in the lead vehicle and we have a couple of Land Rover experts in the other two vehicles. Warren Blevins, who is an instructor at the Land Rover Experience Driving School in Asheville, will be with us for the first part, and then we’ll bring in Land Rover Driving Instructor Jim West who competed in the Camel Trophy in ’92. He’s a trained paramedic and he’ll be with us for the second half of the journey. Then we’re bringing in some media, our own video crew, and a few Land Rover execs.
How have you prepared the LR4 vehicles for the
The LR4 vehicles we’re using are essentially straight off the showroom floor. They will however be equipped with the optional expedition roof rack and the heavy duty package, so they come with a locking rear differential. We’ve also added a winch to each one, plus an extra spare tire, extra fuel cans and a five-gallon container of water. This kind of adventure is truly what the hugely-capable LR4 was designed for.
What does this trip mean for you?
This trip has been on my “bucket list” for more than 20 years, ever since Sam Correro put together his Trans-America Trails route. It’s a pure adventure; crossing the USA off-road without really knowing what’s around the next bend. Yes, it is going to be wild, but I can’t wait.
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