Home Off-Roadeo Our Thrilling 2-Day Ford Bronco Off-Roadeo Experience
Our Thrilling 2-Day Ford Bronco Off-Roadeo Experience
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Our Thrilling 2-Day Ford Bronco Off-Roadeo Experience

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By Lauren Shipman

Content originally posted at www.mynestlist.com/ford-bronco-off-roadeo.

After a 25 year hiatus, Ford has once again started producing the Bronco in 2021. Not only is the new Bronco extremely off-road capable with many awesome features coming standard, but fans of the old models are also happy with the style combination of modern with a retro look. Suffice to say, the anticipation surrounding these new Broncos is high.

But wait! There’s more! Along with a Bronco order, Ford is also offering an experience they are calling the Bronco Off-Roadeo – a two-day adventure designed to show off their new toys. Current and future Bronco owners can learn the basics of off-roading with experts, and learn how to use the amazing off-road features the new Broncos offer. Guests can choose from four different locations to test out loaner Broncos (no, not your own): Austin, Moab, New Hampshire, and Las Vegas.

Josh (Bronco Nation member @jshipman) and I put our order in for a Badlands edition a few months ago (after pre-ordering on the second day they started taking reservations), so we were eligible to attend the Bronco Off-Roadeo. Our recent experience at the site near Austin, Texas was phenomenal. And despite the frustration we’ve had with production delay after delay these last few months, we are eagerly anticipating delivery of our own Bronco now more than ever.

Our Quick Trip to Austin

Our trip to the Austin area was very short. We arrived late Friday evening, and flew back out Monday afternoon. Sunday and Monday were dedicated to the main reason for our visit to Austin – Bronco Off-Roadeo. That basically left Saturday to cram in all we could that Austin has to offer. We did some research before our trip to figure out some of the most popular places to visit. We knew for sure we had to make a trip to Franklin BBQ because Josh had been wanting to eat there for YEARS.

It was a jampacked Saturday in the Texas August heat! But we really felt like we made the best of our time in and around Austin, a city that offered a few pleasant surprises that we weren’t expecting. We found that this area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, and would’ve loved to spend more time in the area. If you get the opportunity to visit “weird” Austin and Texas Hill Country – do it!

One of the top things to do in Austin (according to Trip Advisor) is visit the Texas Capitol. Normally a state government building wouldn’t be one of my top things to see on vacation, but since it obviously came very highly recommended we decided to check it out on our first morning.

Before heading to the Capitol we ate breakfast downtown at Phoebe’s Diner, which I would highly recommend. Josh had the fried chicken biscuit and I had their chile relleno. Both meals were really, really good, and more upscale than standard diner food (but still very reasonably priced).

Upon arriving at the Capitol, one of the first things we noticed were how many armed guards there were! We weren’t used to that back in Indiana, but they were EVERYWHERE! Very nice and helpful during our visit, though!

We also very quickly realized why the visit comes so highly recommended. Texans, like they do in most areas, take great pride in their Capitol. It was evident in the beautiful grounds and ornate features of the buildings. This ain’t your standard bland government building.

Guided tours weren’t available the day we were there, but they make self-guided tour brochures available at the entrances. One brochure covered the rooms inside the building (that open air rotunda – wow!), and another brochure is specific to the grounds and all of their monuments. We spent an hour or two touring the building and grounds.

Immediately after leaving the Capitol, we sat out to find the popular “Greetings from Austin” sign. We were surprised to find it on the side of a nondescript art studio building in a residential neighborhood. We took turns taking photos with another tourist couple that showed up at the same time, and were quickly on our way to the next stop.

And the next stop was one Josh had been looking forward to for YEARS. When he started getting into smoking meat a few years back, Aaron Franklin’s book “Franklin BBQ: A Meat Manifesto” was one of his first purchases. He’d been reading and hearing about their famous brisket for years and was anxious to try it after recently getting over his mammal meat allergy (a whole other story involving ticks which I’ll save to blog about for another day).

[Funny side story – the Meat Manifesto book includes their recipe for pinto beans, which references a separate recipe for the seasoning that goes in them. The first two or three times Josh made the beans, I kept telling him they were good but really, really salty. I went to do a little investigation thinking this can’t be the way Texans eat beans, and made sure to tell him the seasoning recipe made enough for many multiple batches of beans. He was using the whole recipe on ONE batch of beans. After he fixed that honest mistake, we’ve enjoyed them several times since.]

Unfortunately, because, well…COVID, Frankin BBQ is currently only doing curbside pickup. That meant he didn’t get the full experience of standing in line from the wee hours of the morning to wait for the world famous BBQ joint to open (I guess it’s sort of an experience in itself). Knowing this, we got our order in for Franklin a few weeks in advance, as their brisket sells out quickly. Only problem was the pre-orders require 3 lbs of meat minimum – and for two people that’s a LOT of food.

We asked for some plates for a picnic, but got butcher paper instead (how cool is that?). All the food was really good as expected, but wowsa – that brisket! We both sat in awe at how someone could make it taste that good. Definitely lived up to all the hype.

With uncomfortably full bellies, we needed a way to work off our lunch. Hiking part of Austin’s Greenbelt was the perfect solution. We used the less-trafficked Gus Fruh trailhead, and hiked 3-4 miles of the 12-mile Greenbelt.

I was so surprised about the scenery right smack dab in the middle of Austin. You get back in there and it’s very wooded and outdoorsy – not something you’d typically expect to find in a city.

It was an easy hike, but also very hot. We were prepared with full bottles of water, but realized we were quickly going through our supply. Hiking in Indiana and hiking in Texas (in August, no less) proved to be slightly different. Hmm…who’d a thought?

We were able to cool off a bit by taking off our shoes and wading through Gus Fruh’s swimming hole – one of the Greenbelt’s many swimming spots.

After our hike we put the top down on our rental Jeep Wrangler and found some back highways toward Texas Hill Country. It was a beautiful drive, and really opened my eyes to the diverse landscapes of Texas. The Hill Country’s lush and rolling scenery just wasn’t what I thought of when I thought “Texas” prior to this visit.

Our last stop of the day was Pedernales State Park, known for its falls over limestone slabs in the Pedernales River. We took a couple short hikes and enjoyed touring this park that was a great representation of this beautiful area of Texas. We ended our day at our hotel in Marble Falls, looking forward to Bronco Off-Roadeo experience that started the next day!

Our Bronco Off-Roadeo Trip

After our whirlwind tour of Austin, we were anxious to get to the main reason we traveled to Texas. On Sunday afternoon we excitedly pulled into Grey Wolf Ranch, 360 acres of privately-owned off-road playground specifically designed by the Bronco Off-Roadeo team.

We entered “basecamp” and checked in for our day and a half experience. We were pleasantly surprised to receive a pair of really nice Bronco-themed Yeti travel thermoses at check-in.

We had a few minutes to spare, so we visited the gift shop area to scope out the Bronco merchandise. We also explored a few minutes outside the basecamp, where they had a lot of different Bronco styles on display outfitted with many of the optional add-ons available.

At 1 p.m., our adventure started with meeting our instructors and brief introductions from the other two couples in our group. (We were extremely lucky to have a very small group of only 3 families, which gave us more time playing on the trails.)

By the way – these instructors they’ve found have some serious off-roading credentials! They all had Texas off-roading experience from a young age, and one instructor was a retired Marine who had taught off-roading skills in the military. He had also laid out the entire off-roading course on the property. We were in good hands with our teachers, who were so willing to help and added to the excitement of our experience.

We first had a few minutes of “ground school” where the instructors taught us the basic concepts of off-roading such as approach, breakover, and departure angles. We also went over some of the features available on the Broncos. This was just a short introductory session, and we quickly moved onto their ORX training course, which was small off-roading stations set up to demonstrate various obstacles on a trail drive.

They taught us basics such as appropriate positioning and mirror angles, and quickly moved into slightly more advanced off-roading lessons for things like forging water, traversing ditches, climbing up and down steep hills, left-foot breaking, crossing boulders, and how to select a route when you come to obstacles. The guests took turns practicing these maneuvers, and they also taught us how to spot other drivers on a trail with hand signals.

The course not only served as training for beginners (like us!), but was also designed to highlight the features of the new Bronco including things like Trail Turn Assist, Trail Control, front/rear lockers, and their G.O.A.T. modes (rock crawling, sand driving, etc.). Many times we would first attempt the station without added features and then a second time with the specific feature we needed employed. It was an amazing showcase of what these Broncos offer and how capable they are.

As we were working through the ORX course on Day 1, a heavy rain pushed us all back inside so we didn’t get to finish the whole training course. After the rain tapered off we were all anxious to get out on the trails and test out the Broncos and some of our newfound knowledge.

Before we set off on the trails, we got our pick of any of the Broncos parked outside. All were either Badlands or Wild Trak models. Since we had ordered a Badlands, on the first day we chose a manual transmission Badlands.

Side note: There are LOTS of different models, trim levels, and add-on options in the “Bronco Family” depending on what you intend to do with your Bronco. The options and features each model offers is designed around the specific type of adventure it is made for.

We were excited to take the trails, but I had no idea what was ahead of us. I was nervous going into it since I’d never been off-roading, but quickly became even MORE nervous when I realized this was no joke! The trails were legit off-roading, whereas I guess I was expecting something a little milder. It was never really a fear for my safety, but more a fear of tearing something up!

There were some pretty serious rock climbs, forging water, and steep rocky hills. There was also very slippery terrain (remember, it had rained HARD just a few minutes before we left). All that, along with imagining myself fumbling around with a stick shift on my first time off-roading in new terrain…no way was I getting in that driver’s seat! (Spoiler Alert: I did eventually get in the driver’s seat on Day 2.)

We got off the trails between five and six o’clock and they had a nice dinner waiting for us back at basecamp. We had a great time talking to the instructors and other guests about their lives and previous off-road experience. The instructors told us to be back the next morning around 7 a.m. for more fun.

The next morning we finished up a couple stations on the ORX course we had missed the day before due to the rain. For our second day, we chose an automatic Badlands Sasquatch for the trail drive.

The second day’s trail drive proved even more difficult terrain than the day before. We did a lot of rock crawling that day, and also lots of maneuvering in tight spots on dirt and rock.

Along the trail there was a stop where they went over the basics of recovery so we knew what to do when (not if) we eventually get ourselves into a situation the Bronco can’t get out of on its own.

Unfortunately due to all the rain we were unable to do the speed course, but that did mean we got to spend more time exploring all the trails on the property.

The Last Word About Off-Roadeo

We ended our Off-Roadeo with a great lunch with new friends before setting off toward the airport. But before we left, we made sure to exchange phone numbers and emails with the other two couples in our group. We’ve been exchanging photos and videos taken during our day and a half.

And so that’s another great thing about the Bronco Off-Roadeo. They truly try to make it a tight-knit community atmosphere, and heavily stress continuing that as we take delivery of our own Broncos and hit the trails. The instructors shared many stories of times they have helped other off-roaders and when others have helped them (yes, even Jeep owners!).

So we are now looking more forward than ever to get our own Bronco and get on paths less-traveled in our neck of the woods and beyond.

Find more Off-Roadeo adventures in the forums, and talk about this one.

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Comment(1)

  1. Looks great and looking forward to my Off-Roadeo this weekend in Las Vegas, planning on camping out over night after the event, anyone know any details about local camping near there other than going into the desert and plopping down somewhere? Which is really my default plan, just to pull up somewhere legal and sleep under the stars, no tent… I’m buying a Bronco for that very reason, so why not now, except I can only go where a Mazda3 should go.

    P.S. anyone planning on going to the event in the Vegas area in the future, really take a good look at the offer through the site at Red Rock, it was $175, do it if you can get it, man prices in Vegas are no where near where they used to be; I’ve never paid as much for a room at a ski resort during the winter as they are getting now. Called to see if any cancellations, since that’s how I probably got in so late for the Off-Rodeo, but the allotment of rooms for the Ford event were gone, but they would rent me a room for the night for only$800 and some!!!

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