Bronco Off-Roadeo Texas Review and 8 Key Takeaways from Ben Peacock of Bad Bronco
Before I go into the details of Off-Roadeo day-by-day, I want to say a few things about the experience as a whole.
Bronco Off-Roadeo is easily one of the best consumer experiences I’ve ever had. If I were someone on the fence about the Bronco or off-roading, Off-Roadeo would have convinced me 10 times over. It actually did fully convince my wife! The experience feels expertly assembled with the perfect mix of off-road fun, learning and on-brand details in every moment. It’s so good, it reminded me of the cohesiveness of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney in several ways. Yes, it’s on that level!
Why the glowing review? Because for the last 10+ years, I’ve been a marketing professional with a focus on user and customer experiences. And I strongly dislike most events and experiences because too many are just focused on ticket sales and herding people through the doors. They too often skimp on the details that could make it amazing for each participant. But Off-roadeo isn’t like that at all. Care was taken at every level to make it something truly incredible for every. single. person.
Now, for a play-by-play overview of Bronco Off-Roadeo Texas and Horseshoe Bay Resort. If you just want the high points, feel free to hit up the “Key Takeaways” at the end of this article. Otherwise, enjoy the journey!
In July 2021, I registered for Off-Roadeo at broncooffroadeo.com. If you have a Bronco on order, just go to the site to sign-up. It’s free for the order holder and you can bring up to 3 guests for a few hundred bucks each (worth it to share the experience).
The Waiting Place
As the date approached, I received a few emails to remind and prepare me. Definitely be sure to read these, as they provide info like the times you need to be at each place, things to bring, etc. They recommended wearing pants, but we wore shorts and were fine aside from a few cactus pricks. NBD. They also provide coordinates to the Off-Roadeo location. Which is cool for two reasons: one, it’s at exclusive, private property that’s not searchable on maps. Two, it feels like a more authentic off-road experience to enter coordinates. A nice detail if you ask me.
Travel and Location
My wife and I live in north Dallas which is about 4.5 hours away, so we decided to take an extra day off work to turn the trip into a mini vacation. We spent the first day of our trip at Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, one of the largest water parks in the U.S. An easy add-on to the Texas Off-Roadeo experience if you want to get a little more bang for your buck.
Afterward, we grabbed some amazing cheeseburgers from P. Terry’s Burger Stand, then drove (yes, in our soggy swimsuits) to the Horseshoe Bay Resort (HSB Resort), about an hour an a half from New Braunfels. That short drive was beautiful.
Bronco Off-Roadeo Texas and the partnering Horseshoe Bay Resort are located in the heart of Texas Lake and Hill Country, about an hour west of Austin, near Marble Falls. It’s nestled in a sprawling, seemingly master planned resort/community/ranch//lake/city called Horseshoe Bay. Honestly, the Horseshoe Bay area is the perfect spot for an experience like Off-Roadeo. As you drive into the area, you’ll encounter Texas nature through rolling hills, sprawling ranches and vineyards. The buildings are few and far between, but all feel like they were designed with a cohesive style that feels at home in the natural surroundings.
After arriving at Horseshoe Bay Resort, we hit up the lighted Tower Pool and Hot Tub, then crashed for the night.
Note: We went to the “2-Day” Off-Roadeo. It changed to a 1-Day experience in mid-August 2021. I’m not sure which will be better, but I think a 1-Day experience will be more convenient for some people.
Day One – First Half (Resort)
For breakfast the next day, we tried the gourmet tex-mex buffet breakfast from J’s Restaurant at the resort, and went straight to the insta-worthy Yacht Club Pool and Beach. If you stay at the resort, this pool is a must, but you have to reserve a spot a week in advance. Don’t miss it!
Day One – Second Half (Off-Roadeo)
After that, we grabbed a light lunch from the HSB Market in the lobby, and drove over to the Bronco Off-Roadeo Basecamp coordinates. They have a complimentary shuttle bus with Off-Roadeo branding to take you to Basecamp, but we misread the departure time, so we drove instead. Thankfully, Basecamp is only 10 minutes away, so we still made it in plenty of time to complete our on-site registration and get our welcome bag with Off-Roadeo branded stickers and an 18 oz. Yeti Rambler for both of us. A nice surprise!
When pulling into Basecamp, it feels like you’re arriving at a luxury ranch or west Texas wedding venue. It’s well-maintained and beautifully landscaped to blend into the natural environment with rocks, trees, cacti and everything BRONCO!
Once you’ve checked in, you’ll meet up with the group you’ll be with for the entirety, including your guides. Our main guide was the legendary Mike Clouds (aka The Hammer and Lone Star Mike), who oversees the whole site, is president of the Lone Star Early Bronco Club, and is a true Bronco enthusiast. Our other guide was Kasey Hall, who is an expert off-roader raised in early Broncos. As well as Nadi Ardalan, a Moab off-road instructor who literally showed us the ropes of vehicle recovery. Our guides took a few minutes to introduce themselves and allow us to get to know the rest of the group. This is where the community started to develop.
After that, our guides took us out to a Bronco, talked safety and handling, then let us tackle a handful of terrains and scenarios. This was a one person try it, while we all watch and learn format. This set us up really well for the rest of the day. After about an hour or so of the prerequisites, we all got to choose our own Bronco for the rest of the day! They had about 10 available for us to choose from, ranging from Base to Wildtrak, nearly every color and both hard and soft tops. All of the available Broncos had the Sasquatch package.
For day one, we chose a 4-door Badlands with the MIC hard top. That is the Bronco we originally ordered, so we wanted to try it out first. Once we were all in the Broncos, Mike guided us through each obstacle via hand radios. For the bigger ones, he or one of the other guides would stand to the side, coach us on how to approach, what settings to use and would spot us as we picked a line and went for it.
This part was the most helpful to me. I grew up riding ATVs and dirt bikes, but had never off-roaded in a full-size vehicle. I had only read about front- and rear-locking differentials, stabilizer bar disconnects, articulation, approach and departure angles and picking a line. That said, the Bronco is the catalyst for me wanting to incorporate off-roading and overlanding it into my family’s lifestyle. I’d say 90% of the people in our group were in the same boat. What we learned in this part of the program was game-changing, and I feel 100 times more confident going off-roading with my brand new Bronco now that I know the basics. Knowing what I know now, I’d say to anyone wanting to off-road, please take a course or go to Off-Roadeo beforehand. What you will learn is invaluable and will keep you, your vehicle, passengers and environment safe while maximizing the fun.
For the rest of day one, we tackled increasingly difficult challenges, then headed back to Basecamp for a true Texan dinner with our crew: Texas pulled pork sandwiches, a campfire, and live music. My wife concluded that the whole day felt like a Day Date from ABCs The Bachelor. Except I didn’t think to bring a dang rose. Please someone, bring a rose and give it to ya S/O at the end of the event and let me know how it goes!
Day Two – Second Half
The day began early (for us night owls) as we had to be at Basecamp around 8 a.m. We hit up J’s restaurant buffet breakfast again (they open around 6:30 a.m.), and drove over to Basecamp. This time, we got a quick talk from Mike about how the day would go, and went to pick out our Bronco.
For day two, we chose a 4-door Base with the soft top. We’ve been considering switching to a lower trim with soft top in hopes of getting our Bronco sooner, so we wanted to see if we’d miss the extra features from the Badlands. Spoiler alert: we didn’t miss them at all. The Basesquatch Bronco is a beast. From an off-road perspective, the Sasquatch package IS the primary differentiator between the trims, giving you the crucial pieces for a good off-road rig: 35-inch mud tires, better suspension, front and rear lockers and 4.7 drive ratio. The sta-bar disconnect (available on Badlands and First Edition) is nice to have, but in no way crucial for most beginner-intermediate crawling endeavors. Unless you’re a hardcore off-roader, you don’t need it in my opinion. More on that and G.O.A.T. Modes in a bit.
After picking our Bronco, we spent the next 4-5 hours offroading, rock crawling, using trail turn assist, turning lockers on and off, and trying some higher speed hairpin turns in loose dirt. Mike, Kasey and Nadi provided super helpful coaching at each obstacle throughout the day, and made it an unforgettable experience. My wife drove for the first 30-40 minutes and 2-3 obstacles, then I wheeled the rest. The whole day was EPIC, and probably the most fun my wife and I have had in years! We kept the top pulled back for most of the day and loved every minute.
Around 1-2 p.m., we headed back to Basecamp for another Texan feast: fajitas. Then we just hung out with our group, built relationships and bought some swag from the shop.
And that was it! An incredible two-day off-road experience in a Bronco. Now, I’ve got to figure out a way to make it to the other Off-Roadeo locations. The cool thing about Off-Roadeo is that if you ordered a Bronco, you get to go one time for free (extra for a guest). Just register, get there and you’re in. I’m stoked that it’s included in your Bronco purchase. There’s no reason not to do it. The resort cost and travel there can be a little pricey, but 100% worth it to get the full experience in my opinion. We were blessed to have our travel and lodging expenses covered by our local dealership, Stanley Ford of Pilot Point, Texas (north DFW area). They were really awesome to do that, and we’re thankful!
Now that we’ve covered the experience at every touchpoint, I wanted to drop a few key takeaways. Check them out below.
Key Takeaways from Off-Roadeo, HSB Resort and the Broncos
- Horseshoe Bay Resort is a key part of the experience. I’ve stayed in a nearby Marble Falls hotel before. I promise you it can’t compete with this resort. HSB the epitome of Texas luxury, and they offer an exclusive rate for Off-Roadeo guests. Don’t try to make it cheaper. Just save up and go there.
- Plan to stay an extra night/day so you can experience more fun in this part of Texas. There’s a really cool putting course at the resort, you can rent jet skis, go golfing, rent boats, go to a water park (Schlitterbahn), and so much more.
- Go to the Yacht Club Pool and Beach at HSB Resort. You’ll have to claim your spot a week in advance, but it’s worth it for the insta-worthy hot tub and pool.
- G.O.A.T. Modes are nice to have. They make it easy to adjust the Bronco settings for upcoming terrain. However, once you know what you’re doing, you’ll realize you don’t need all of them. Switch it into 4L, engage front and rear lockers, disconnect sta-bar (Badlands/FE), and now you’re basically in Rock Crawl mode. Put it in 4A, and now you’re essentially in Sport mode. And on and on. Supposedly, there’s more going on behind the scenes with the electronic settings when you choose a G.O.A.T. mode, but no one seems to know for sure what that entails. Hey Bronco Nation, is there an article about that? 😉
- Basesquatch is the best bang for your buck by far. Badlands isn’t necessary for most people, even a lot of off-roaders. But the Sasquatch Package is crucial for anything off-road. Add Sasquatch, then just get whatever creature comforts you want and don’t worry about the rest. After Off-Roadeo, we switched our order from a Badlands to a 4 Door, Outer Banks, Sasquatch, 2.7L engine with soft top.
- The tops. We actually preferred the convenience of the soft top to be able to push it back whenever we want. It’s literally something you could do at a stoplight (not that you should, you reckless individual). The hard tops are delayed until 2022MY anyway, so just make the switch and save up a couple thousand to buy one later if you want. I’m planning to run the Bestop fastback soft top, then the Advanced Fiberglass hardtop as soon as they’re available.
- Mike Clouds is the MAN! My wife and I kept talking about how his friendly, dynamic personality and Texan demeanor made the experience fun and authentic. He seriously could have his own TV show, be the Mike Rowe of the off-road or Bronco world. Don’t take our idea, Bronco Nation! Or maybe you should.
- Become a Bronco Nation member before you go. They’re part of the group that made Off-Roadeo so amazing. Being a part of the Bronco community (Nation if you will), has been one of the most enriching parts of my life this last year. A little over a year ago, I wasn’t even aware the Bronco was coming back. And now, it’s become a massive part of my lifestyle and where most of my current friendships have formed. You don’t have to be a member to have that experience, but it does make it more fun and something to share in.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed reading about our experience. If you went to Off-Roadeo, what did we miss? And if you’re planning to go, which one will you go to first?
Is Bronco Off-Roadeo for you?
If you like Broncos and want to have a good time off-road, yes! It will likely be the best time you’ll have all year.