The Journey: Overland EXPO 2016
Editor: Eric Bewley
FLAGSTAFF, AZ – For years we’ve been wanting to attend one of the largest overlanding events in North America. We were fortunate enough to be able to attend this year’s event held at Mormon Lake, Arizona. Arriving mid-event and were received by an extremely helpful and courteous staff. The vendors were really relaxed and we were lucky enough to see some new and interesting offerings.
Having covered, participated in, and produced several 4×4 and off-road events, we were amazed at how well this one is ran but must also confess as to confusion on this whole gathering. Expecting trail rides, after-hours parties, passionate declarations of solidarity and generally more in-car or on-bike action, we were a bit baffled by the academic nature of the whole shindig. For the balance of every day, people gather in small, well organized, classes and cover all the topics that possibly could be associated with driving and camping in the outdoors.
There were some riding and driving activities and of note was the Land Rover off-road course. As a Suzuki driver, focusing on simplicity, affordability, and getting it done, I’ve always been amused at how well Land Rover drivers can make mountains out of mole hills.
Two standouts in the vendor show were the excellent examples of lancets demonstrated by Bench Made and Warn Industries new gear. As a person who has lived and worked in the knife capitol of the world (Portland Oregon), I’ve always admired and coveted Bench Made’s offerings. With what seemed like several hundred knives on display, there was something for everyone. After drooling for what seemed like an eternity, I had to walk away before purchasing… and am now regretting that. Warn Industries was also showing new and excellent accessories, their new blocks, hooks, and tree-savers are head and shoulders above the competition.
This event is excellent for someone that has decided they want to get into overland adventuring and that might not have a local club or group of friends to lean on for information. Knowledge sharing abounds here and everyone is extremely friendly and courteous. This is a great place to get started.
Another reason to go is to see all the unique vehicles, there were grey market, black market, and “what the heck?” all over the place. Weird Toyota, Land Rover, and Mercedes 4×4’s were strewn about like dots on a Dalmatian.
For us, the journey to and from the EXPO was as or maybe even more interesting and I think, that is how it should be. We made a loop through the great American West and was able to see incredibly interesting sights in California along HWY 395 such as Bodie, a well-preserved state ran ghost town experience, Nevada’s Pioche mining area, Arizona’s Grand Canyon, Utah’s Zion. We were also able to connect with a long-time wheeling buddy in St. George and were introduced to some excellent rock-crawling trails that are begging us to drive on them.
Here’s a gallery of what we saw:
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