Off Roading In Virginia - You Gotta Try This!!

Dare I say most women would shriek at the idea of rock crawling in a Jeep? The idea of mud, foul-mouthed day companions, hair-raising moments of terror, and lots, I mean lots of bumping around like a human ping pong ball. What?! My sista-hood would decline and opt for a day at the spa. But then...I’m not most women!

Man and woman inside Jeep


The big question I’ll answer for you today is, “How do I go off-roading if I don’t own expensive off-roading equipment?” Well, you’re in luck. I guarantee this story will inspire you; plus, I’m including some great ways for you non “motorheads” to enjoy a day trip that’ll have you exaggerating around the holiday table for years to come. I am excited to empower you to reach for your Mad Max goggles, get some dirt in your teeth, and shuffle your innards around a bit. I hear it’s good for digestion. HA! But first…

What Is Off-Roading-Defined

Just think of anything that will speed, cruise (or crawl) along deserts, forests, mountains, or beaches. Off-roading can be enjoyed on 2, 3, or 4-wheel, specialized vehicles, dune buggies, dirt bikes, or perhaps a Burning Man art car. Come now, you’ve seen people whizzing around open land and said to yourself, “Dang, that looks like fun. I would love to do that. But how?” 

Green Jeep in the woods

John Denver’s Blue Ridge Mountains

When Jeff invited me to go “rock crawling” I jumped at the opportunity. Late fall found us humming along the highway on 33” tires in his 1995 Jeep YJ toward the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.  With the heater and classic rock blasting, enough spare tools to build a city, an ice chest with homemade cookies for everyone (of course), and my cute little overnight bag, we were ready to conquer Mama Nature. I swear I could hear John Denver singing about country roads and the Blue Ridge Mountains. You get the picture. 

Woman standing behind a Jeep


We spent the night in Winchester, Virginia — strolling through the historic downtown, sweating our way through spicy Jamaican cuisine, exploring our nation's history and yes, I seem to recall ice cream somewhere in the mix. 


Located in the Appalachian Mountain range, this area is rich with Civil War markers — something you just don’t see out west. Here, you can expect incredible fall colors, natural caverns, heavily wooded hills, and cousins who are married. 

Map of Cove Campground Virginia USAThe next morning, full of caffeine, Jeff’s testosterone and my naivete, we ventured out for a full day of off-roading. We arrived at  The Cove Campground, 3,000 acres of high-octane possibilities, juxtaposed with gentle ponds (lakes to all y’all east coasters 😂), a kaleidoscope of fall colors, and trickles of campfire smoke. Here, we met our tribe. With Jeeps gathered in a circle, much like early settlers in covered wagons, introductions were made, and of course, the ever-present “Jeep Talk” started up like a Chevy 454 big block. Get any group of guys together, and there’s going to be a lotta Jibba Jabba comparing mechanical equipment, old football injuries, and for today, off-roading tales that include “major-flex-around-that-boulder-dude.” I and another sacrificial woman along for the ride listened with nominal interest, complimentary smiles, and supportive comments. We ladies “get it” when it comes to the male ego. Can I get an amen?!
5 Jeeps parked in a row


With tires deflated (you want to c-r-a-w-l over large boulders, not bounce😁), we aimed for the hills and trees. Like soldiers in a slow march, we followed the lead Jeep. The day found us sliding on forest floors heavily laden with damp leaves, crawling over elephant-sized boulders — navigating down steep hillsides. In a game of Twister with Mother Nature, our trusty steed would creak and groan under the strain of frame-bending maneuvers.

Off road vehicle in the woods


At one point (and raising some eyebrows) I requested to take the wheel. Not ‘Jesus take the wheel’— but this little oyster herself! With Jeff’s guidance, I navigated the trail and successfully crawled the Jeep over boulders and down a sketchy hillside — unscathed. I felt proud of myself for traversing part of the route, especially when the leader found out “little Sandi drove that last section.” HA — I was overdue for a good heart-pounding experience anyway. With a break for lunch, cookies, and more tall tales about yesteryears, we returned to an afternoon of towing a participant out of a deep rut, witnessing an “off camber crawl” (that means only 1 tire on the ground), spinning and sliding out of control — all speckled with enough laughter to intimidate Jerry Seinfeld himself. 

Blue Jeep in the woods


By day’s end, we knew something was amiss with our trusty steed (VIDEO). Just a broken front axle, a minor detail. RUT ROH!!! Under a setting sun and taking inventory of what tools and parts were available, the decision was made (thank God) to trailer our Jeep back to town where we secured a hotel for the night. The next morning, with our brains and joints unscrambled, found Jeff trudging back and forth through an open field adjacent to the hotel (hello ticks and disease-carrying vermin) to an auto parts store. Literally, with no front brakes, we gingerly drove our crippled Jeep for 1 hour to a trusted mechanic. This time there was silence, an absence of rock-n-roll — just focus. Jeff’s gracious mother drove up to retrieve us and our gear, delivering us back to our 418 sq. ft floating home, the Carpe Diem. A week later and ‘mucho dinero’ in repairs, Jeepy came home, ready for the next actionventure. I swear it was wagging its tailpipe like an anxious puppy — wetting itself. Chalk up another adventure, I say.

Off-Road Sports Without Owning All The Expensive Crap

Have you ever gone off-roading? Well, this is your opportunity to do something new and fun this year. And, all the hard work is done for you. Whether you want to cruise along tropical dunes, whip around open deserts, or see the fall colors from a new perspective, these tried-n-true companies will hook you up so you can get your thrill on. I vote for a girl's day out — complete with wine, whiskey, and chocolate. How about an adventure your grandkids will be talking about long after their latest electronic device breathes its last gigabyte? Another boring corporate lunch? An off-road trip is sure to jazz up any top-sales award ceremony.

Man and woman standing behind a Jeep

As our dog days of summer turn to fall, there’s still time to clock some adventure. Go ahead, book your trip! Like, right now — before you forget. Then, share your escapades in the comments. I hope our little shenanigan rock crawling trip inspires you to book a tour below.  You’ll make new memories and help support a small business, mine. Bragging rights around the holiday table — priceless!

                           EXPEDIA TOURS            VIATOR 

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1 comment

Awesome trip, Sandi! You had me at Virginia and John Denver…lol!

I’m not sure how long you’ve had this blog, but it is fun. I just found this in a different folder of my gmail that I didn’t know existed. Happy travels! :-)

Gina Lijoi

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