Off-Roading is fun for a lot of reasons
. On the surface it’s a blast because you get to take your truck out and put it through its paces, testing both your truck and your skill to maneuver it over the trail. Off-Roading is also about you getting to experience nature in a way that few others ever get a chance to. By heading deep into the woods or mountains, you get a VIP ticket to the best nature has to offer. This is why practicing responsibility when off-roading is so important. You want to experience nature and not destroy it so it’s there for you and everyone else to enjoy for years to come. Check out the tips below to see how you can be more respectful of nature and make your of-roading more responsible.
1. Follow Established Trails
If you follow no other tips in this list, make this the one you do. The best way to preserve nature when off-roading is to follow trails that are already established. While every trail starts with someone going against this rule, there are more than enough trails out there for you to enjoy without making a new one just for fun. If you come across an obstacle in the trail, either move it off to the side or go over it, but don’t go around it, as this widens the trail and erodes a little more nature. Remember, the more trail there is, the more erosion and damage to the environment will be noticeable.
2. Cross Water in Established Places
Who doesn’t love crossing water when you’re on the trail? It’s definitely fun to blast through a stream, sending water fanning to the left and right as you speed past. While this is fine, make sure you’re only crossing water in designated areas that are part of the trail you’re on. Even if it looks more fun to cross a little down or up stream, remember that you’re damaging that body of water by doing it in the first place, so keep the damage localized and cross only where others have before. This should also help protect you from unseen danger in unexplored territory.
3. Avoid Sensitive Areas
Areas like beaches, meadows, and wetlands are no place for off-roading. These areas have very sensitive ecosystems and can be damaged by even one rogue off-roader. If a trail looks to be overused, think about hitting another one for a little while as it heals itself, too. Remember that a good trail isn’t only good for you; it’s good for the environment too.
4. Follow Local Rules
This is an extremely important tip that can easily be ignored. There are a lot of rules out there that people impose on off-roaders. Many are to protect the landowner from legal issues, but quite a few rules and laws are in place to protect not only the environment, but the wildlife living in it. Take for example The Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. There are a few different types of endangered turtles that call this place home. When turtles breed they bury their eggs in the sand and when they hatch, the baby turtles crawl out and use the moon and starts to guide them to the water. This reliance on tiny light cues can be destroyed by headlights or flashlights at the wrong time. You might think the officials don’t like light on after a certain time, but by not following this local rule, you could dramatically hurt a critically endangered species. Follow local rules and talk to park rangers and other local officials to get the lowdown on why things are the way they are before you hit a new trail.
5. Respect the Rights of Others
Speaking of following local rules, you should take this a step further and use off-roading as a practice in respecting the rights of others. Remember, all land is owned by someone and more often than not, those people don’t like unannounced guests running up their trails. Even when you have the go-ahead to hit a trail, be mindful of the state you found things in and make sure they are that way when you leave. Closed gates need to be closed when you’re done, signs that get knocked over need replaced or reported to the landowner, and any damage or issues on the trail should be passed along, too. Past the landowner, you should be mindful of others you come across on the trail. Always try to give right-of-way to passing trucks, ATVs, and dirt bikes, and steer clear of any campsites you may know of to try and leave campers undisturbed as much as possible. Basically, think how you’d like to be treated and do your best to act in that manner.
6. Keep Up on Truck Maintenance
We all know that safe off-roading requires you to keep your truck in top shape, but how does that relate to respectable off-roading? First, leaky fuel and oil lines can pollute the environment and while you may think it’s only a small leak, all it takes is 3 or 4 people with a “small leak” to corrupt a water source or kill plant life for good. Worse yet, if your truck dies on the trail, it may be stuck there forever if you’re far enough into it. That means all the fluids in your truck will one day spill into those woods. Make sure you’re up on your maintenance and that you have extra parts and tools with you to fix as many issues as possible. This will cut down on pollution not only from your exhaust, but from spilled fluids as well.
7. Leave No Trace Behind
Finally, when you’re done for the day, make sure there’s no trace that you were ever there. The most respectful thing you can do when off-roading is to be a ghost, so to speak. Make sure you leave no garbage, damage, or other sign of life and you’ll have succeeded in the best off-roading tip possible
. We take things for granted all too often and believe that a single bottle won’t hurt anything, but as more and more people do this, it starts to add up. Be respectful of the world around you, especially when off-roading and not only will you have a good time, but off-roaders will get a better name and more people will allow trails to be driven on their land. It really is a win-win situation all around.