In its 10th year, the Overland Expo held in northern Arizona proved to be a place of pilgrimage for off-road trekkers
A decade ago, the Arizona high country played host to an upstart event that promised a
life of adventure. It was called Overland Expo. That inaugural gala, the brainchild of world travelers and conservation advocates Roseanne and Jonathan Hanson, was a small and casual get-together with less than 300 participants and few dozen vendors. However quiet that first expo was, it had obvious potential. There were workshops on vehicle recovery, technical driving, navigation, and outdoor living—all designed to sharpen these necessary skills.
The overlanding craze has since swept the country like a bush fire in the Kalahari, and during the past 10 years Overland Expo has experienced exponential growth and added a venue on the East Coast. In May of 2018, we joined about 15,000 overlanders in Flagstaff to enjoy what has become the spring gathering for those who long to pack up the Jeep and hit the road—with no return date.
We attended seminars with folks that had crossed the Americas, Africa, and Asia, and watched some Camel Trophy team members and trainers high-line a motorcycle across a deep chasm and recover a Land Rover from near death. Throughout the weekend, BFGoodrich let participants take their new KM3 Mud-Terrain for a spin on one of the off-road courses, and others could vet their talents with their own vehicles on another. Afternoons were spent walking miles of aisles through the vendor show. This year there were more than 400 manufacturers in attendance with goodies ranging from super-lightweight dinnerware to rooftop tents and teardrop trailers, and a surprisingly large number of items were directed at the overland Jeeper.
Need a good adventure yarn? Some of the world’s leading expedition authors were on hand to provide autographed copies of their latest books. When the sun went down we found ourselves at the Overland Film Festival, followed by an evening at the Tepui Tents booth sipping coldies and enjoying some live music. The “OG” Expo has come a long way since its early days, and the
East Coast Expo launched a few years ago is growing too. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the off-road trekking culture, there is no better place than Overland Expo. For more information, check out overlandexpo.com.