Getting Outside My Comfort Zone and Back to Adventure by Off-Roading in a Toyota (or Six)

2019 Toyota Sequoia Trd Pro Off-Roading

There’s nothing like finding exhilaration with 9 of your friends.

That’s just what happened when 9 women from all walks of life and different parts of the country came together to go off-roading in the Ozarks recently.

Having never met each other before, and having only one thing in common, a love for adventure, we joined Toyota for a grand adventure off-roading in the Ozark mountains.

Women Off-Roading

We did it!! Photo: First Light Productions. Used with permission.

A Sportswomen Adventure with Courtney Sweetser, Toyota, and Bass Pro Shops

I love the outdoors and I’ve participated in several activities on the proposed itinerary, but I’d been out of that world for a long time. So when the opportunity came up, I moved my entire schedule around. I wanted to get outdoors with other women. I wanted to meet people who enjoyed these things as much as I did. And, I hoped I’d learn a few new things along the way.

And boy was I in for a treat.

See, Courtney did her research. The women she chose were all fun, adventurous, independent types, but most of the nine women invited had not experienced these activities the way I had as a teen. But every single one of them was excited to try, and that’s what made this event such a success. Well, that and all the planning our hosts put into it. 🙂

Think a Lady Can’t Go Off-Roading? Think Again.

Off-Roading with Toyota at Dogwood Canyon

Besides fishing with the pros, learning about firearm safety on the gun range, camping in cute little cabins, and eating way too much amazing local food, we got to go off-roading. Y’all know that’s one of my favorite activities so I was totally pumped to get out into the wilderness in some of my favorite off-road cars from Toyota.

Toyota brought its entire lineup of 2019 TRD Pro and off-road equipped vehicles to the event. We’re talking Tundra, Tacoma, 4Runner, Sequoia, Land Cruiser, and a RAV4 Adventure. Each of these cars has it’s own unique capabilities, size, seating configuration, and everyday purpose, but what they all have in common is the ability to leave the pavement and take you just about anywhere your heart desires. Even a beginner can feel confident in one of these vehicles thanks to the powerful engines, 4-wheel drive, and high ground clearance.

So, where did we go?

Bass Pro’s Dogwood Canyon adventure park has some amazing off-road trails, which are normally reserved for horseback riding, or their popular wildlife tram tours. They shut these things down for the day and let us ladies had the whole course to ourselves. We’re talking creek bottoms, steep climbs, mud, gravel, and beautiful views. For our sportswomen adventure experience, this was an incredible opportunity.

Off-roading: An Empowering Experience for Women

I still remember the first time I winched a huge truck up the side of a mountain, then turned around to do it again, because it just felt so amazing. Up to that point, I had no idea *I* could do that. And so it is when you leave the pavement in a capable car and learn how to navigate different terrains and use a car’s features to your advantage.

Before we hit the trail, a guide explained the terrain we’d experience. There would be loose gravel, steep grassy areas which can be slick, even if they’re dry, and low water crossing areas where we’d ford small streams. We were shown how to put our cars into 4-wheel drive, and how to switch them to 4-wheel drive low if needed. We were encouraged not to stop in gravel, in the water, or on a steep incline and to leave room for the driver ahead of us to makes it through one of these challenges before we entered. Then we hopped into cars for a guided tour of the loop before being left to try it on our own, in whichever cars we’d like.

During that first round, a new friend stopped in a creek bottom, and when she tried to get out, discovered she’d dug her back tires in pretty deep. I was just in front of her, so I backed up, parked, and offered to help. Having crossed a few creeks in my time, and being familiar with the 4Runner she was driving, I was able to talk her through putting the car into 4-wheel drive, then easing it out of the creek bottom. The look on her face was totally worth standing in the creek in my Converse and having wet shoes for the rest of the day. Liz was empowered and you would have thought she’d just summited Mt. Kilimanjaro!

Overcoming Your Fears Feels Amazing

Later in the day, I got to ride along with another new friend who had barely driven at all since a very scary car accident a few months before. And yet here she was, climbing hills and fording streams in a vehicle bigger than anything she’d ever driven before. And she too felt amazing.

Of course, I was having fun too! This was a new course for me, and I got to drive some of my favorite cars fast, through a shallow stream. I even stayed later to help the event photographers get some of these amazing photos. But I think the best part of that day was watching these women conquer off-roading for the first time, and seeing them cheer for one another all day long. A perfect example of women supporting women 🙂

Related: Off-roading IS for the Girls! Life Lessons from Rebelle Rally Founder, Emily Miller

Getting to Know Toyota’s Off-Road Cars and Trucks

A huge perk of this event was the opportunity to drive all of Toyota’s off-road capable cars, back to back on the same course. While I was familiar with most of our little fleet, it was really neat to see how each one performed in these conditions.

The Land Cruiser is definitely King. The first large SUV Toyota brought to the USA, the Land Cruiser remains the benchmark for all of Toyota’s off-road capable cars. It is strong, enormous, and luxurious with room for everyone and their gear. It was a favorite among the ladies who are fashion bloggers because it doesn’t look or feel like a truck… it’s a beast totally disguised as a beauty.

My Pick of the Litter

My personal favorite was the Tundra TRD Pro. I like big, beastly trucks that make lots of noise. But mostly I like the huge ground clearance, the peace of mind that the skid plates and extra-large wheels give me, and being up high enough to see where I’m going. While it’s great for outdoor adventures like off-roading, camping, fishing, and boating, this truck is also a great work truck for those who need to haul heavy loads. It’s also great for families because the back seat is ginormous.

Small but Fierce!

The one that most surprised me was the RAV4 Adventure. I’ve driven this little SUV before and I totally fell in love, but I hadn’t experienced it in these conditions! Talk about the little engine that could! This small SUV went everywhere the trucks did and didn’t hesitate once. I was reminded once again why I recommend this car over and over again when my friends are shopping for something this size. It’s great for singles, couples, small families and people with pets or lots of outdoor gear.

Show Stoppers

And of course, the Tacoma and 4Runner TRD Pro’s shone big time on this course. They are just the right size for all the narrow little mountain climbs, plenty agile enough for creek crossings and deep mud ruts, and they look amazing everywhere they go. I love both of these options for any serious outdoor enthusiast. You’ve got all the capability you need, room for gear, and friends too!

Last up is the Sequoia. It’s like a cousin of the Land Cruiser. A little more affordable, a little more rugged in appearance and you can get it equipped with the TRD Pro package like the one we drove for this event. But it’s basically the same full-size SUV… perfect for larger families who need something capable of leaving the pavement.

Maybe Off-Roading Doesn’t Sound Like Your Cup of Tea? Go Anyway.

And here’s why. Whether you’ve got a fear as simple as driving something larger than a sedan to conquer or you just think the outdoor sports are only for guys, you owe it to yourself to try off-roading at least once. Maybe you won’t love it so much you want to go again and again. And that’s OK. But you won’t know unless you try, and life gets pretty boring when we stop trying new things just because they are outside of our comfort zone. So, who’s ready for some off-roading fun?

Disclosure: I was  guest of Toyota for this adventure and travel and accommodations were provided, but all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you also Bass Pro, and Courtney Sweester for such a great time in the outdoors and the opportunity to meet new friends and learn new things!

A Girls Guide To Cars | Getting Outside My Comfort Zone And Back To Adventure By Off-Roading In A Toyota (Or Six) - Toyota

A web developer, digital marketing consultant, auto journalist, truck expert, photographer and lover of gadgets, Erica is a textbook... More about Erica Mueller