So, you’ve finally done it, you’ve bought the 4x4 of your dreams. Now, you want to travel beyond the pavement and experience adventures that weren’t ever a possibility before. Before you head out on your quest, you really should take the time to acquire the proper skills. Off-road driving is difficult and can be dangerous if you don’t know what to do. Luckily, there are plenty of schools out there that can teach you how to get the most out of your off-road machine and stay safe while doing so. Now go, young grasshopper, and find the off-road dojo that will turn you into a trail roving and rock-crawling master.
Land Rover Experience Driving School
Land Rover is a well-known name among off-road enthusiasts and the Land Rover Experience Driving School is just as revered in certain off-roading circles. It only makes sense that the company building some of the best adventure vehicles also has a school that can teach you how to use them properly. Through this school, you’ll learn how to better control your vehicle in difficult terrain, obstacle handling, assessing driving environments and navigating steep inclines as well as specialized gear shifting coaching. Durations of sessions can vary depending on what you choose.
With a number of different possible events and lessons, the Land Rover Experience Driving School probably has a session that fits what you’re looking for. There are 35 centers worldwide and four within North America, meaning no matter where you are, you could probably plan a trip to one of the school’s locations.
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
Headed by Tom Severin, an International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association certified professional trainer and wilderness first responder, Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc., is the perfect place to learn how to become an off-road badass. Providing training to the military and government as well as civilians, this school is great for beginners just starting out as well as seasoned veterans looking to expand their knowledge on everything from four-wheel driving safety and avoidance of vehicle damage to traversing several different types of terrain and what to do if you get stuck.
The school has a number of different sessions and guided tours to choose from, including one-on-one training. Typical programs last for a few hours at a time. The school's Southern California location allows for consistent classes to run year-round, so you can design your off-road training around your schedule.
Ford Performance Racing School – Raptor Assault
Looking for something a little more exciting than slow rock climbs and controlled hill descents? Look no further than Ford Performance Racing School’s Raptor Assault program. Participants get to drive a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor over a variety of terrains including a 22 acre high-speed off-road short course and a 900-acre desert racing course. There’s also some rock-crawling courses to help showcase all that Ford’s Raptor can handle as well as teach you the necessary skills to become the Chuck Norris of off-roading. You’ll learn how to speed through rough terrain and when a slower, more precise approach is needed over the course of the one-day training session.
Bill Burke’s 4-Wheeling America LLC
A permitted outfitter through the U.S. Forest Service Bureau of Land Management, Bill Burke, founder of Bill Burke’s 4-Wheeling America, teaches a number of expeditions and off-road trips to a wide audience, including recreationists, businesses and government agencies. There’s a variety of individual or group classes you can sign up for that will teach participants how to navigate trails and rocky terrain in a safe and controlled manner. This takes preparation and the right equipment to do it well and the school can teach you exactly how to find the right path. A minimum of four or five days is recommended to all participants seeking instruction. Based out of Western Colorado, the school has access to some of the most extreme terrain no matter what time of year you’re interested in.
Going strong for over 20 years Overland Experts is one of the best-known names in off-road driving instruction. Catering to a wide swath of off-roaders, OEX has training curriculums developed for specific types of drivers divided up into three main groups (recreational/4x4 travel, military/tactical and professional groups). For participants to get the most out of each session, its programs do little work in the classroom. Instead, instruction focuses on in-field learning. This hands-on approach is invaluable for NGO workers, humanitarian aid workers, disaster relief groups as well as recreational off-roading participants. Classes
While there are facilities in Connecticut and Virginia, you always have the option to travel with the school on an off-road trip. These trips take place around the world, with recent ones in Iceland, Kenya, Labrador, Mongolia, and Peru.
Whatever school you choose, whether it’s on this list or not, make sure you get some off-road training and experience before heading out on your own adventure.