Five Adventurous American Overlanding Destinations

Overlanding Adventures are becoming very popular, especially in hard to reach, exotic locales. During our recent time of mandated social isolation, Overlanding was discovered by many as a great option to spend some time away from society, out on your own, living off the grid and traveling this great country. While there are tremendous overland adventures to be had overseas, like in Africa and Australia, you don’t have to leave the country to have an incredible overland journey. Here are five great locations that you can easily get to right in the United States.

5. The Alpine Loop Scenic Byway

Starting in Silverton, Colorado, the Alpine Loop winds its way across 63 miles of scenic highway right into the heart of the San Juan Mountains. Burrowed in between State Road 149 and Highway 550, you will find this route closed during the winter due to the need of having a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle thanks to the high alpine environments of Cinnamon and Engineer Passes, which are both over 12,000 feet. Otherwise, the entire route is paved and open from late May to late October.

Taking between 4 and 6 days, the entire loop gives you several great opportunities for camping and hiking, and you will also pass 7 abandoned mining towns. If you are interested in a more challenging route in the area, check out the Black Bear Pass Road route. Otherwise, those that appreciate a mid-length overland route with be thrilled with the spectacular mountain views in the Rockies on the Alpine Loop.

The Alpine Loop also gives you incredible views of glacier-carved peaks like Mount Timpanogos as you wind through the rugged alpine canyons of the Wasatch Range. You will also discover Robert Redford’s Sundance and the Timpanogos Cave National Monument along this route. And, if you have time, you can take a brief detour to Cascade Springs, that features a ¼ mile boardwalk the criss-crosses the springs taking you over cascading terraces and clear natural ponds.

4. The Grand Arizona Traverse Trail

An incredible biological and geologically diverse area, the Grand Arizona Traverse Trail combines western and indigenous history in a trail that is pretty much a playground for any traveler that loves adventure. Created by an online community, Expedition Portal, the long and challenging Grand Arizona Traverse Trail takes almost 2 weeks to finish. If you are adventurous enough to hit this trail, you will need a 4WD vehicle with high-clearance with an experienced driver and good tires. Make sure it’s also equipped with a locking differential and a winch.

Adventurers should start at the US and Mexico border and then follow the route to the old El Camino del Diablo trail, and then turn north to head into the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. You then want to continue to Wickenburg and the Harquahala mountains before you head into a bad stretch when you enter Crown King and the Bradshaws. The trail then goes north past some pretty famous western towns including Williams, Jerome, and Prescott before it ends at a remote campsite at the Grand Canyon on the southern rim.

3. Moab, Utah

If you love unique and diverse scenery, Moab boasts a variety of trails that make it an incredible place to visit. Experienced overlanders will be challenged by its rocky terrain, but newbies will appreciate the many well-beaten paths. Since it has many different trails that lead you to it, getting to Moab can be part of the fun.

If you take the route from Mexico and pass through the Valley of the Gods, and then cross over onto Cottonwood Canyon Rd, the trail will increase in elevation and ultimately reach more than 3,000 meters before you descend into Beef Basin and finally reach Elephant Hill. You need a vehicle with ground clearance and good tires to make this trek, as well as a locking differential to make the journey easier on the vehicle and the driver.

2. The Mojave Road

During the Industrial Revolution in 1925, there was a building boom and the cities were starting to change. Out west, the Wild West could still be found in the Mojave Desert. During this time, there was a fight between sheepherders and cattle ranchers during a drought that was strangling the land. With very few productive wells, tempers were short at Government Holes and many homesteaders chose to leave.

After the end of the feud between the cattle ranchers and sheepherders, the violent history of the Mojave history closed. Now all that is left is a 160-mile trail that follows the Mojave Road that is a lot more peaceful. Hardy travelers will enjoy the environment and history of the Mojave Desert as they head onto the trail that starts at Barstow. Travelers then head all the way to the Colorado River along one of the longest continuous trails found in the West. You need at least three days to traverse the trail which will see Pinyon Pines and lake beds that are dry to nearly 6,000 feet and Pinyon Pines. You will also experience some excellent remote camping opportunities.

1. TransAmerica Trail

One of the ultimate Overlanding Adventures found in the U.S. is the TransAmerica Trail. Running from Tennessee to Oregon, the Trans-American Trail is almost 5,000 miles long and includes gravel and off-road terrain. Originally, it was created as an off-road path that ran from coast to coast.

Traversing the entire trail is a big task, but you are rewarded with beautiful views the entire way from the East to West Coasts. If you enjoy motorcycle trips, this is one of the best in the country. It includes everything you want in a big adventure including difficult navigation and rarely visited stops. Just keep in mind that over 90% of the trail is dirt roads, and it can be difficult to purchase supplies and fuel.

Philip Van der Vossen

Philip Van der Vossen founded and hosts the Trail Trek Tour, a traveling series of off-road events for automotive media. In 2020 he launched the off-road travel site,, as the content focused side of TrailTrekTour LLC. Philip has been an online publisher since 2008, and has covered the automotive industry since 2010. Prior to founding Trail Trek Tour, he served for three years as the Rally Director for the Washington Automotive Press Association.

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