• If you currently own, previously owned or want to own an Avalanche, we welcome you to become a member today. Membership is FREE, register now!

You Wished You Were In Your Av When . .


Charter Member
SM 2004
SM 2003
Full Member
Jan 15, 2002
Philly area
I wished I was in my Av during a recent vacation.

We went to Nevada in the fall, rented a Trailblazer, and were doing some exploring in some desert national parks. In one wilderness area, there were a fair amount of warning signs informing people they needed 4WD to proceed. This area was fairly remote. In the deepest areas, you were over a hundred miles from any kind of civilization. The closest thing was the Tribal Police station.

We felt the Trailblazer would fill the bill, so we proceeded. The Trailblazer, in its own right, is a very capable vehicle, which we would come to find out. Things were going just fine as we were able to navigate just about any kind of condition on the unmaintained trail. Then we crested a hill and proceeded into a dry lake bed.

The trail immediately deteriorated into a talcum powder silt consistency. There was no stopping or turning back without running the risk of sinking about a foot and a half. What was the trail before were now foot deep tread ruts. If we would have gotten locked in to those, that pretty much would have been the end of that trek. I decided to bag the trail and look for other traction. I aimed for scrub brush, knowing that there was at least some root-base to grab onto underneath the plants. Then the terrain just vanished into a dry wash. Again, no stopping. You're hosed either way if you stop or proceed. At least, staying moving gave us a chance to get out of there.

We hit the botton of the wash. The nose plows into the silt and we're hit with a silt tsunami. The windshield is solid silt until I get the wipers running. I thought for sure we'd done some serious damage to the Trailblazer at that point and wondered if it was going to hold up.
It was hanging in there just fine. We hit several other cross trail wash ruts that we actually bottomed out on. I though for sure the driveshaft was going to drop on one of those hard hits we took. But the little Trailblazer surprised us and held up just fine.

We exited the far side of the wilderness preserve, about an 80 mile offroad run, caked with about 30 pounds of silt. The red Trailblazer was now tan. Once we got to a main road, I let my wife take over driving. We dusted off the vehicle a bit, but even so, we left a significant dust cloud for the first 5 miles back on paved road.

Looking back on this, I would say that the park service probably needed to be a bit more informative on the size of 4WD needed to safely and reliably navigate the terrain. They should also have had explicit warnings of the deteriorated dry lakebed conditions. They did however state that the trails were unmanaged and unpatrolled and, basically, you were on your own. I have a fair amount of 4WD experience, so I wasn't too worried. There are enough ways to get out a bind. However, for casual tourist or inexperienced 4WDers, disaster is waiting to happen. The National Park Service should be a bit more explicit regarding trail conditions, hazards, and the type of 4WD required to effectively navigate this terrain.

Although the Trailblazer held up for us, it was woefully undersized to meet the task at hand. We were in a very remote area with no cell coverage and our 2-way radios lacked the range to contact anyone in case of trouble.

But all things considered. . . . THE TRIP WAS A BLAST!

Well you've smoked me out - and a great story! You see this is my only pet project website. :eek: I also run http://www.outdoorplaces.com, which is a website dedicated to outdoor adventure.

Sadly the National Park Service doesn't do the best job of describing trails, whether that be for hikers, paddlers, mountain bikers, backpackers, or off road driving. I will give you the standard line provided by the National Forest Service, which is roads for off-road use are maintained and designed for vehicles with a short wheelbase. Read, the venerable Jeep Wrangler.

You did bring up the most critical issue in off road driving, especially across very soft surfaces - DON'T STOP! Anyone raised in the snowbelt knows this is the golden rule in deep snow, and it applies to sand, mud, silt, or what ever you may drive across.

I'd be careful going, "off trail," especially in a desert region. The Park Service is very sensitive about this and people have been fined thousands of dollars for what they call in Park language, "a resource violation."

The problem in desert areas is that very soil can be alive. The crypto-biotic soil is think brownish, greenish, blackish crust over the top soil that helps hold everything in place. These crusts can take decades to repair if they are driven on, or in sensitive areas like Petrified Forest National Park, even walked on.

I'm not lecturing - it's a great read and I for one have bought my Avalanche with full intention of taking it off road. I'd love to drive down to Texas when my youngest is a little older and explore the nooks and crannies of Big Bend National Park. :cool:

Thanks for sharing the story!
That was a great story. For me... anytime I get stuck in a meeting, or am riding the light rail train to work, I wish I was in my AV. It even makes 1/2 a mile an hour rush hour better.
I agree, that was a great read.....often is the case that when me and the mrs. head out for the weekend we almost always take the Av....so I really can't say we've ever been in a situation where we wish we were in it.... :B: