Real adventure begins where the pavement ends

An avid off-roader and car camper shares two special places that are difficult to access but totally worth the drive

All photos by Don Renyer

Merriam-Webster defines adventure as “an exciting or remarkable experience.” While your personal definition may vary, for my family,  it’s finding—and driving to—some of the most beautiful and remote places in the U.S. More often than not, these incredible places are tucked away, requiring some serious driving to access—and with that, the need for the correct tires and equipment.

Before I bought my first off-roading vehicle and began going on these grand adventures, I never gave my tire selection much consideration. But that quickly changed when I found myself pushing the limits more and more. I needed something rugged and dependable that would deliver high performance on pavement, dirt, rock, and sand. That’s how I came across Toyo Tires and their Open Country R/T (rugged terrain) line of tires. This hybrid tire is smoother on highways than an M/T (mud terrain) tire and more capable on trails than an A/T (all terrain) tire.

Front wheel of a Jeep with a desert and mountain landscape in the background
Pausing to take in the epic views of the La Sal Mountains.
Jeep on a desert trail
Preparing to tackle the Tower Arch Trail in the heart of Arches National Park.

My current set of tires have traveled more than 30,000 miles, conquering slick rock in Utah, overgrown mountain trails in North Carolina, sandy beaches in Texas, and miles and miles of highways in between. And while each of these adventures has been memorable— and had its own unique challenges and rewards—there are a few that stand out more than others.

Tower Arch Trail

Leaving Florida on a warm, summer day, my family and I set out on a 2,000-mile drive to reach Arches National Park in Utah. Choosing to forego Delicate Arch Trail, Fiery Furnace, and some of the other more popular spots, our first stop was Tower Arch Trail. When we first arrived at the trailhead, I scoffed at the sign that called for four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles only. What could be so challenging inside this park when the infamous off-road trails of Moab were mere minutes away? I was about to find out.

Jeep parked at the top of a rocky desert section
Slick rock ledges frequent the trail through Arches National Park and the surrounding area in Moab, Utah.

What started out as a leisurely drive down an unmaintained dirt road quickly turned technical, requiring my wife to walk the trail and act as our spotter, guiding me down the proper line. Failure to hold the line meant possibly blowing a tire or dragging the rear of the vehicle over steep drops. For more than 16 miles, we traversed deep sand and slick rock as we wound our way through the heart of Arches National Park. For more than 5 hours, we chased the setting sun and got to experience some of the most incredible and unique views of the park. And my Toyo tires never faltered once.

Rock Springs

On another cross-country trip, we were headed to the mountains near Rock Springs, Wyoming, in search of wild horses. After spending a few days with no sightings, we decided to take our search off-road. With our rugged terrain tires aired down, we shifted into four-wheel drive and off we went.

Traversing a mountain ridge line in the Wyoming backcountry in the search of wild horses.

While we ultimately spotted wild horses across a canyon, it was the canyon itself that commanded our attention. This stunning landscape was calling to us, and we quickly picked a trail to take us to the bottom. But the maps and GPS failed to inform us of the horrendous condition of the trail. There was no turning around on such a narrow trail with an earthen wall to our left and a drop to our right. A knee-deep rut ran down the middle of the trail, in addition to a forward pitch ranging from 15 to 20 degrees and a roll on the passenger side (conveniently down into the canyon) of about 17 degrees. This was exactly the heart-pounding adventure we sought.

With the aggressive tread of our Toyo tires digging into the sandy decline, my wife once again acted as a spotter while I slowly inched the vehicle down into the canyon. I had to trust my off-road abilities, my tires, and my wife to navigate this precarious maneuver. As we leveled out at the bottom and our adrenaline subsided, we marveled at the features around us. There was nothing geographically or historically significant about this spot, but there we were, living our adventure in a canyon bed in the backcountry of Wyoming.

A man with his back against the camera stands near a jeep on an empty trail
Surveying a branch off the main trail leading into the mountains.

Adventures require preparation

Preparation is key to any successful adventure, so before embarking on our search for the country’s hidden gems, we had to ensure we had the proper setup. This meant our vehicle had to be equipped to cover countless miles of both smooth highway pavement and rugged dirt roads. Combining our Toyo Open Country R/T tires with various upgrades, such as higher suspension, a heavy-duty winch, a portable air compressor, traction boards, and an assortment of recovery straps, we felt safe and ready to take on heart-pumping, adrenaline-inducing drives.

Equipped with 37” Toyo tires, our vehicle is prepared to tackle any terrain.
The tread provides a smooth on-road drive with excellent off-road traction.

Where the pavement ends

My family and I have traveled more than 15,000 miles this year, both on and off the asphalt, chasing adventure across more than 22 states. We have marveled at Mount Rushmore, had our breaths taken away by the beauty of Zion National Park, and stood among giant saguaros in Arizona. And the stories we continue to tell around the campfire are always of those adventures that began where the pavement ends.