How to plan an Overland Route!

It’s a question I get asked over and over, how do you find places to go on trips?  It is a question you inevitably get to as you venture out on your own into the world of overlanding and adventure travel.  But okay, I get it, how do I get started planning a trip?



I started out in the overland community as many, following along with others and sticking like glue to the group events, never venturing off to far for fear of just not knowing.  Eventually you get bored of the same places and same trails as many people do with big group rides!


Eventually you “graduate” to the point of wanting to plan your own trip. 


Once you approach this intersection you need to ask yourself some very serious questions about who you are and what you want to do.

-how difficult of a trails do you want to run?

-how far out away from civilization do you want to be?

-how long do you want to go for?

-What do you want to see?



Once the questions have been answered we can begin the planning.  For me that begins with a general search of places to go and things to see in that area.  For this example I will reference my recent planning, mapping and running of the beautiful Utah Traverse.


This started with a simple goal in mind, I wanted to explore Utah.  Now that being said, there is a lot to see in Utah and it’s a tall order.  My initial search turned up several places I wanted to see, Grand Staircase, Zion, the Henry Mountains, Canyonland National Park, Capital Reef and Bears Ear. 


Once the locations of interest have been defined, I dove into the local forums to see if anything exists already and if so are their tracks (GPS route’s) for the locations you want to go.



It’s almost a given that a forum somewhere exists that will address the question you asked, the internet is awesome like that.  For me, I ran into the Expedition Utah forum and a post on the Utah Traverse.  This was a fantastic resource, documenting a group of friends journey from St. George, Utah to Cortez, Colorado, covering the same places that I wanted to explore.


Within this post they detailed their daily travel, what conditions were like where to camp ect…but somehow left out a GPS or KML file of the route they took. 


Sometimes that is the case, sometimes people have lost the tracks, sometimes they just wing it, and sometimes they are just unwilling to share.  In this case the friend that had the tracks, his computer had crashed rendering the tracks lost.


Now this is where it can get tricky, what do you do when you have a location in mind, but not defined route through the area to the places you want to, now so desperately, see.  You get creative and make one yourself.



With this in mind I only needed a few things, a southern Utah Benchmark Map (to the right), a map showing the BLM, national park and national monument land accessibility, Good Old Google Earth, and time.


Using these tools I was able to create a route that went through all of the areas that I wanted to see, knew I would not run into any legality issues in going through the area (for the most part), and relatively, what condition and types of road I would be traveling on.


I have used these techniques and resources to great success over the years, knowing where you are going and what the conditions will be like is part of being safe on the trail and in the back country, knowing not only your limits but your trucks limits on and off the trail are key parts in successfully planning a route.  I hope you are able to take the tools above and use them in 2018 to have your best year on the trail to date!