The Overland Expo is an annual gathering off all things off-road and adventure travel. Think ComicCon but with khaki shirts and Merrells instead of Batman blouses and Starfleet uniforms. So yeah, I went last year and had the Best Time Ever.
This year's event is taking place this weekend: May 16 to 18 in a big patch of dirt known as "Mormon Lake," a short ride outside Flagstaff, Arizona. The area is spectacular, and affords plenty of off-road opportunities nearby from dusty fire-roads to technical crawling for when you to beat the shit out of your rental car on the ride home.
Alright, so the trailer's a little goofy. But there's just no other place to see such a high concentration of amazing off-road machines, cool camping gadgets, and take classes on thinks like "how to use a winch properly;" where the instructor is a medaled racing veteran and the "demo truck" competed in the Camel Trophy.
You don't have to be one of those guys who buys out EMS to take his family on a trail hike to enjoy the Overland Expo, but... no, I'm just kiddin' it's way cooler than that. Cut your way through the palpable air of pomposity among attendees playing Jimmy Buffett who "gave up the corporate life" (retired from thirty years in finance) to "live free and easy" in a half-million dollar Unimog camping rig/one-man-war-machine. It's worth it, I promise.
Land Rover throws down a demo course for anybody who wants to see how steep the new Green Ovals can climb. Professional guides lead presentations on how to use the awesome equipment we adorn our trucks and adventure bikes with. In 2013 there was even a session called something like "Off-Roading For Couples" in which husbands and wives would switch off spotting and driving through absurd obstacles— Educational for them, entertaining as hell for onlookers.
Plus, plenty of cool rigs to look at from beat VW buses to the afore-mentioned trail-crushing portable hotels. All in the surrounding beauty of the Arizona desert.
Here's my photogallery from the 2013 Overland Expo, during which I lived in a rented Passat. Yeah... I'd forgotten how cold Arizona gets at night.
If anyone's going, let us know what you see and learn! For everybody else, I'll try and find some great photos after it wraps up. Organizers of the Overland Expo are throwing an "East" edition in October, in Asheville, North Carolina... if you can't make that either, get your truck finished for next year already!