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Photo by Seth K. Hughes

Beginner Trails: Roosevelt National Forest

If you want to experience the thrill of OHV use without actually having to drive, an Estes Park outfitter will give you a lift.

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For most off-roading hobbyists, getting behind the wheel is the entire point. If they’re not steering over rocks or giving it enough gas to get some air over the bumps, then they’re not having any fun. Four-wheeling virgins, however, might consider going for a test drive in the passenger seat before taking that shiny new Range Rover—still flying those temporary plates—across a river. Estes Park–based Wildside 4×4 Tours offers three trips, rated medium to wild, that give OHV rookies a carefree, jaunty introduction to the pastime. The outfitter employs highly modified, safari-style trucks that can bump up 1860s-era wagon trails, tackle rough boulder fields, and get enough speed that passengers sometimes feel themselves lifting off their seats (safely, of course). Tour drivers, who know exactly how to provide riders with just the right amount of bump-induced exhilaration, also know that slowing down to take in the beauty of Roosevelt National Forest can be just as invigorating. Passengers are given plenty of time to jump out of the multipassenger OHVs to walk off the turbulence, snap photos, and take in the vistas—especially from the outfitter’s private panoramic viewing tower.

Choose Your Own Adventure: The medium-rated Panoramic Peak Tour and the Rock’n Roller Coaster, rated wild, both last three hours ($85 for adults, $65 for kids ages three to 12). The Not So Mellow Marshmallow & Hot Dog Roast (rated medium to wild; $95 for adults, $75 for kids) lasts four hours and concludes with a campfire experience complete with adult beverages. Tours typically run from May 16 through October 16, but COVID-19 has forced the outfitter to alter its schedule.

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