It is hard to know where to begin describing the great experience we enjoyed in late September and early October of this year. John and Julie, owners of Tonto Trails, were extremely gracious and made us feel immediately at ease as we learned how to operate the Sportsmobile and select the route for our two week trip. Having never explored the canyon country of Utah, their advice and supporting maps helped us locate a number of spectacular campsites and scenic routes. The Sportsmobile is an ideal vehicle for this type of adventure. We never felt overmatched by the challenging terrain and found it to be a very comfortable way to camp. All systems worked perfectly, including the wonderful sound system, as we enjoyed our evening meals and sunsets. We are looking forward to our next trip in 2018. We can’t tell you how much we enjoyed this trip.
-Nancy and Mike Holloway
Frequently Asked Questions
What does self-drive mean?
You drive! Tonto Trails will provide the expedition-equipped vehicle of your choice. Clients have the choice of joining a guided trip or can travel independently. We will provide itinerary suggestions to help you make the most of your self-drive adventure!
What is included with the vehicle rental?
Every vehicle comes prepared with comfortable sleeping accommodations, cooking and kitchen equipment, water storage, maps, guide books, built-in refrigerator, dual-battery system (to power the fridge while at camp), solar shower, and much more! See the “Standard Equipment” page under Our Vehicles.
How many people can ride in each vehicle?
Vehicles can accommodate up to 5 passengers but depending on your planned activities and itineraries we may recommend different arrangements in each vehicle.
Why are you located in Durango instead of a major city?
We chose Durango due to its proximity to so many great backcountry areas. Within an hour’s drive our clients can access the San Juan mountains, historical Native American cliff dwellings, the high deserts of New Mexico, or the astounding geology of southern Utah. No major city can offer that kind of variety. Getting to Durango may require an extra flight connection, but you’ll spend your time exploring world-class terrain, not driving hours down an interstate highway! Some examples: Durango to Moab = 2.5hrs, Durango to Ceder Mesa, UT = 3hrs, Durango to Paige, UT = 4hrs, Durango to Zion NP = 6hrs with great adventure spots along the way!
Where will we camp?
The western United States, and especially the Four Corners area, is chock full of National Parks, National Forests, National Monuments, and BLM land. We developed Tonto Trails to give the adventurous traveler the means to camp and live comfortably in the backcountry. Instead of staying in campgrounds and hotels, we like to recommend that clients spend some of their nights in the spectacular backcountry of the National Forests. There you’ll be able to choose sites that have some combination of seclusion, views, hiking, fishing, and wildlife. We’ll steer you towards the good spots!
Where can we take our Tonto Trails expedition-equipped vehicle?
At this time it is necessary to stay within the lower 48 United States. Within that limitation, it becomes a question of how much time you have. When traveling the backroads and exploring the National Forests, we don’t recommend trying to do too many miles each day. The routes are fascinating and you will want to take pictures and explore on foot along the way. You will be amazed at how much quality terrain you can experience within a few hundred miles of Durango.
Can we take our Tonto Trails vehicle to offroad destinations?
We don’t tell you where you can and can’t take your vehicle (other than only in the lower 48 states). Ultimately, you are responsible for any and all damage to the vehicle. Our vehicles are designed to be rugged and are very capable, but every rig has its limitations. As those limits are approached it is your responsibility to take the necessary precautions to “protect the asset”. This may include, but is not limited to having a person “spot” the driver (confirming the undercarriage will clear an obstacle), pre-walking a section, determining the depth of water crossings, improving the road over obstacles (ex. stacking rocks to turn a ledge into a ramp), airing-down tires, choosing routes through obstacles, and in some cases deciding not to attempt a challenge.
What makes my Tonto Trails vehicle "expedition-equipped"?
The vehicles are STOUT and well built. Every vehicle has a heavy-duty suspension, all-terrain tires, 4wd, and comes with a built-in tire-inflation system.
What does "protect the asset" mean?
In this case, the “asset” is your Tonto Trails vehicle. The asset is your lifeline in many ways. It provides the transportation for your party, your gear, your food, and your shelter. “Protect the Asset” refers to making decisions which ensure your adventure is not compromised in any way. If you’re not sure the vehicle can safely move through an obstacle, is it worth trying? On an expedition that is a choice your group will have to make.
Where do we sleep?
The vehicles can accommodate 2 people up top, and another 1 – 2 people in the lower bunk. You have the choice of using a ground tent for larger parties which will create more separation for your group. Bring your own or rent one of ours.
What kind of food do we eat?
Whatever you like! Since you will have refrigeration capabilities eating fresh and healthy is easy to do. Grill your favorite meats, make pasta or quinoa dishes, salads, etc… You are only limited by your imagination.
Do I need 4WD driving experience?
No! Spectacular wilderness experiences are available throughout the 4-Corners area. Our vehicles are specially equipped to be extremely capable on the dirt. If you don’t have much experience driving off-road we’ll recommend routes that are scenic and adventurous, but friendly to first timers.
Do you offer driver training?
We do! See our schedule for dates. We also offer private lessons if you’d like to schedule a class at your convenience (just prior to your adventure?)
Will my cell phone work?
The short answer is “sometimes”. Many areas are very remote and won’t have cell coverage. If possible, enjoy getting away from it all for a few days!
What if we have an emergency?
Each vehicle is equipped with a satellite communication system that can be used for emergency contact. Remember, if it’s a medical emergency, chances are that you can extract yourself in your vehicle more quickly than help can get to you.
How long does vehicle orientation take?
Plan on 2 – 3hrs. We have a lot to cover about how to operate the vehicle, vehicle safety, your itinerary and other helpful information you will need to get the most out of your Tonto Trails adventure.
Can you arrange accommodations in Durango?
Of course! There are a variety of accommodation choices in Durango and we would be happy to recommend some and can also make your reservations for you.
Why are you called "Tonto Trails"?
Julie and John, as founders and owners chose the name. After many years of working and living in the Northeast they decided to make a change. They unwound their lives on the east coast and headed west in a Sportsmobile – with no return plans. The Sportsmobile earned the name “Tonto” for always doing the hard work of delivering them to the most remote spots in style and comfort. Along the way Julie started a blog called, of course, Tonto Trails. When they decided to become outfitters of the traveling lifestyle, they knew right away what to name their business!