View Full Version : 4x4 Adventure tours and getting paid to wheel

03-21-2008, 12:07 AM
I put this out to the Toyota community because I know many of you and there are many great minds in the Rising Sun Group. As many of you know we have bought the property in Estes Park and one of the topics is tours and driving instruction. I want to create an amazing experience for individuals and groups where they could come to our property and choose a mild to wild 4x4 adventure. Every time I go wheeling I am an instructor. Carnage canyon with my 15 year nephew with 5 minutes of experience in his whole life of driving a stick made me a believer that you can coach anyone to do it if they have the desire. I did the coaching, he did the driving and I guided him over most of the toughest obstacles we could find. Truly memorable. He was amazed and amazing to watch.

I want to set up a similar experience for folks on our land and get permission to tour in the National Forest. My questions. What are your best ideas on what to offer? What to do? What not to do?What packages to offer? best marketing ideas? How long should the experience last? How much it should cost? Who will insure this? And lastly Who would like to be the considered as a potential instructor and as the program develops interviewed for either part time or full time employment in the summer if I generate the interest I think could be generated? OK let's hear what you have to say! I appreciate your input.
Neil O'Malley

03-21-2008, 10:12 AM
Its an intriguing idea. Here are some of my opinions, worth absolutely nothing, but this is what I see:

One thing that I would throw out there - we all know we're facing difficult times as internal combustion powered recreationists, so a tread lightly type "wise use" message throughout your program would be a smart direction to take. It's something I'm trying to integrate into our little shop - at the risk of getting to "touchy feely" I think the message can get across in a lot of non-overt and even non-verbal ways if that basic concept is part of your "core beliefs". It will guide everything else.

For instructors, I think RS has many choices of well qualified people. You'll want someone who is patient (years as a ski instructor taught me that patience is more important than physical skills) and well grounded. No matter what you're trying to teach, some people are just not going to get it. When you're trying to teach something that's near and dear to your heart, that can be hard to take. Not the first time, but the 30th or 40th time that somebody just can't do it or just hates it, it can be disheartening. We've all had the experience where an Inn keeper or ski instructor or some other person living what from the outside looks to be an ideal life is just surly and mean. People choose jobs like this, yet they often end up mean and dispirited, I personally believe that comes from the constant let down when other people just don't get it.

I would imagine that for a lot of your customers just being on main street in Estes Park is going to be a "wilderness" experience, so the idea of taking a vehicle off of a paved surface may be a major shift in their frame of reference. Your "easy" level course will probably resemble Nakman's new driveway. Its all about the customers frame of reference.

Not trying to throw a damper on the plan, I think it sounds like fun - but the general public will let you down every time, so you have to plac accordingly.

I wouldn't know where to begin to look for insurance or permits to travel national forest land. I have been reading about some ATV backlash in Allens Park recently, the people on the "pro ATV" side may know where to start.

If it was me, I would try to offer both full and half day tours. The half day would start with about 30 minutes of basic instruction in technique and trail etiquette, followed by a 1.5 - 2 hour trail ride with lunch at the end.

The full day would have the same morning, but lunch on the trail, a bit more involved instruction after lunch and another 1.5 - 2hour trail back to base.

One good idea might be to go to Moab and sign up for a Jeep tour, and see what you like and hate about the process. Obviously you'll find the challenge to be non-existant to boring, but you would be more interested in the overall operation.

Its an intriguing idea - good luck with it!

03-21-2008, 10:29 AM
Sounds like a great idea. More power to ya!
I might be interested in something part time. I can always use the side money (time permitting), and I really enjoy mentoring.
Regards the ATV stuff in Allenspark, I have some awareness of where they went wrong. Ensuring that your parking does not depend on private land, that you are aware of easements, that your impact is minimal (this can be negated by engaging the USFS/USPS in user education so that right from the beginning they see you as an asset), will go a loooong way toward mitigating any backlash.

Be sure to include local merchants in promotional consideration - it will be a win/win for the community, and you will be seen as an asset all around. Except to the idealist/purists of course, but they are past winning over.

03-22-2008, 09:53 PM
Offer scenic rides, learn to drive"off road" in a rental or own vehical, organized tour 1/2 or full day, weekend adventure. Definate do some women's only sessions. Maybe, apeal to local shop classes to promote responsible "Jeeping" to teen's. You have to appeal to the novice, they will pay to spend time in the "wilderness." People with experience will go on their own vs. paying someone to teach them. I've got a couple friend that drive Jeeps for NOVA and Timberline tours here in Eagle co. I'll pass on your contact info to them if you'd like to speak to them. You will have to have a good buisness plan and training/certification for your staff to get any type of permit for use on U.S. Forest land. Plan on meeting with the forest service at least 4 times a year to apply for and renew permits. I work for 2 hiking/ snowshoeing guide services and permits are always up for renewal and review. We submit user days for each trail head 2 times per year and lose or gain access based on that data. Good luck and be patient.

Jenny Cruiser
03-23-2008, 08:20 PM
The weekend adventure sounds cool. Everybody loves a campfire and a guitar.:)

03-30-2008, 05:05 PM
I will be in touch with you guys and really appreciate the feedback.