This year for my birthday I wanted to try something new so when the publicists for Polaris Adventures reached out, it seemed fate had stepped in.
Polaris Adventures you ask? It’s is a network of ride and drive experiences, taking you off the beaten path all over the U.S. (including Hawaii.) Never mind that I’ve never driven an off-road vehicle or their ‘Slingshot’ — half motorcycle, half car — Polaris designs adventures for everyone.
Since we call L.A. home, we choose Ocotillio Wells in Borrego Springs, an easy three-hour drive (about another hour past Palm Springs.) Ironwoods Off-road Rentals, which contracts with Polaris, was a great operation, from the gleaming vehicles to the Outfitters who customize adventures for novices, families, to experienced off-roaders.
After watching a safety video, our ‘outfitter’ set us up with all the gear which included a specially designed helmet and gloves, then set our GPS. We opted to try the Slingshot first, which speeds along on the road (NO off-roading in this vehicle.) For this adventure, they recommended the quaint town of Julian just 30 minutes away. Since it’s manual, my husband drove while I enjoyed the scenery and the puzzled and admiring looks from everyone we passed.
Located in the Cuyamaca mountains, Julian was established by miners in the 1870’s and it’s like stepping back in time. By all means, stop for lunch in one of the quaint cafes. Zipping back along the twisty mountain road, I began to wish we’d decided to do the whole day in the Slingshot.
Once again, our friendly Outfitter set us up with helmets (different for the ATV RZR ), showed us how to sync our phones so we could have music along the ride, and explained the finer points of off-roading. Using the GPS, we set out this time with me at the wheel.
There’s a myriad of trails in the desert, some marked easy and ‘difficult ‘ trails marked in red (think steep dunes and driving through tight gullies.) There are over 85,000 acres of open riding to explore, so you’ll depend on your GPS to get you back home.
Once I got the hang of it, I was literally yelling with excitement.
Traversing the beautiful desert, marveling at the ‘pumpkin patch’ a gathering of rocks shaped by the wind to look like the orange vegetable, and the quick, tiny lizards the color of sand, it was the best way to see the natural beauty.
Since we were new to off-roading, we picked the half-day experience which was plenty. From half-day, full-day or custom rides, Polaris Adventures allows everyone the freedom to explore. ($399 and up.)
It was everything we hoped for — and more!