Friday, February 23, 2018

USA's Backcountry Byways LLC expands 'roundabout' of wildland-travel routes

Heart of the West Adventure Route -- the popular solution to the risks of planning an overland trip -- is further refined for 2018 as a roundabout of interconnected wildland-travel loops and routes that extend from Canada to Mexico, from the Rocky Mountains to the Mojave Desert, and from the Pacific Ocean to the Continental Divide.

By itself, H.o.W. (shown in the banner photo, above) has always been an adaptable, GPS-guided 2,800-mile-plus odyssey along backcountry roads that loop through some of the American West's most iconic landscapes. But over the last few seasons we've developed new routing that today extends H.o.W.'s reach far beyond its original six states.

The result: For the 2018 season Heart of the West Adventure Route (in the photo above) debuts as a convenient "roundabout" that links its original network of loops 'n routes with:

  • new included routing, at no additional cost;
  • supplementary optional routing (at additional cost) to Northern and Southern California; and
  • connectors to the multistate Backcountry Discovery Routes.

Have a look ...

By taking a modular, looping approach to backcountry route development, we've made it easy to tailor a convenient route that accommodates your interests, logistics, time limitations and circumstances.

From California's deserts and coastal mountains to Utah's canyons and the ramparts of the Rocky Mountains ... Heart of the West's roundabout of loops and routes lets you pick and choose, mix and match ... and do it your way! (Details below.)

Heart of the West ADV Route (shown with optional routing).
Also available for 2018:

1. A 200-mile (322 km) Nevada extension, included free with H.o.W., that links the primary H.o.W. network  to the Idaho and Nevada Backcountry Discovery Routes.

An exhilarating wildland experience by itself, this connector ascends deep into the rugged and surprisingly verdant mountain ranges and canyons of the Silver State's northernmost reaches.

2. Our optional 575-mile (925km) Northern California connector that links the H.o.W. roundabout to our 825-mile trans-California route, Sierra to the Sea (a.k.a. S2S, available separately; see below). Backcountry travelers make their way to or from California, crossing the Great Basin between the Sierra, the H.o.W. roundabout, the southern terminus of the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route and the northern terminus of the Nevada BDR. (Priced separately: $129/1-2 vehicles; $199/3-4 vehs.)

H.o.W.'s Idaho BDR-Nevada BDR connector
What's more, connectors 1 & 2 can be linked with ...

H.o.W.'s Northern California connector

Southern California connector
3. Sierra to the Sea/Sea to Sierra Adventure Route, a.k.a. S2S ($199/1-2 vehs; $299/3-4 vehs.). This 825-mile (1,328 km), east-west trans-California route follows a mix of historic and remote unpaved and paved backcountry roads. A 114-mile optional wildland connector to/from Reno, Nevada, is included.

Typically an eight-day east-west journey that can be taken in either direction, S2S uses GPS-guided routing to immerse travelers in:
Sierra to the Sea/Sea to Sierra (S2S)
  • the northern Sierra's rugged and historic Mother Lode country;
  • the southern reaches of the Cascade Range;
  • the woodlands and grasslands of the Coast Ranges; and
  • the largest coastal wildland in the Lower 48.
4. Our optional 1,300-mile (2,092 km) Southern California connector from the Mojave Desert to H.o.W. that also links to the Utah and Arizona Backcountry Discovery Routes.

This option includes:
 (Priced separately: $129/1-2 vehicles; $199/3-4 vehs.)

Heart of the West Adventure Route has always intersected and shared some roads with the American Cycling Association's Mexico-to-Canada Great Divide Route. Recent changes to the famous Trans-America Trail (not one of our routes) make it easy to link H.o.W. with the TAT as well.

Woven together, these supplementary routes make it easy to assemble an extended overland journey tailored to your vision.

A North American odyssey

Heart of the West Adventure Route will continue to immerse adventure travelers in the backcountry of six states in the American West:
  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Utah, and
  • Wyoming.
In advance of each season, H.o.W.'s routes are revisited, and revised if necessary to reflect changes and improvements, all to help you have an efficient and successful trip.

Heart of the West today extends deeper into the wilds of the Great Basin, one of the most remote regions in the Lower 48.

Heart of the West Adventure Route
There are longer stretches of the historic Oregon Trail.

Lonely two-tracks reach deeper into multi-hued badlands. And stretches of state and county roads have been replaced with alluring wildland backways that highway travelers miss.

The licensed H.o.W. package includes:
  • our detailed, comprehensive plug-and-play GPX track file;
  • the H.o.W. e-booklet (printable and available 24/7);
  • individualized advice and consultations;
  • re-routing as you travel when conditions warrant; and ...
  • convenient links to the Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah Backcountry Discovery Routes!
Optional ($60; not available separately) is the Heart of the West Adventure Route Map Pack. The pack includes: a detailed, color, wall-mountable 36 in. x 43 in. (91.44 cm x 116.84 m) folded-paper map with each track numbered and highlighted to match the track file; H.o.W. stickers; and a weather-resistant roll-top pouch. The map is produced in partnership with Benchmark Maps, America's premier publisher of high-quality recreation-and-travel maps and atlases. Shipping is included, but only within the contiguous USA.

Depicting highways, surface waters, paved and unpaved backroads, public lands, national and state parks, campgrounds and a great deal more, these maps are important companions to GPS-guided travel, providing a "big-picture" perspective and exceptional detail. It even includes H.o.W.'s convenient connectors to the Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Nevada Backcountry Discovery Routes.

Perhaps best of all: Heart of the West includes rewarding, field-tested options to shorten, modify and adapt the full, ~2,800-mile (4,500 km) loop to accommodate time-limited or changed itineraries.

So whether you have a long weekend, a week or two full weeks, Heart of the West ADV Route can easily be tailored to fit your needs.

Start planning for H.o.W. now! Contact us using this site's contact form, and we'll help you get on your way.

'Trip of a lifetime!'

Time and again, those who've traveled Heart of the West find one phrase to describe the experience: "Trip of a lifetime!" And you don't need to be an enduro champion or veteran four-wheeler to enjoy it. You just need a good adventure motorcycle, 4x4 truck or sport-utility vehicle, the skills to travel in the backcountry safely, the ability to follow the GPS track we provide -- and a yearning to venture well off the beaten track.

We do the work. You live the dream!

Sure, you could spend a small fortune acquiring maps (USD$10 to $15 ea.), atlases (USD$25 ea.) and guidebooks (USD$20 ea.) ... lose hours mining the Internet for dubious information ... consume endless cell-phone time ... struggle for weeks to build a GPS track across an unfamiliar region ... and risk blowing your and your companions' precious vacation!

Or you could spend thousands of dollars to eat the dust of 20 other riders on one of those tours that follow the same treadworn routes as everyone else. (Does the image of a string of toddlers on a walk around the block come to mind?) We say ... Do it your way!

In just minutes, the benefits of our years spent researching the backcountry byways of the American West will be yours -- for as little as USD$199**! (Fee typically is divided among a group.)

Compare that to a $99 one-day lift ticket at Sun Valley ... $229 for one night's lodging in Yellowstone National Park ... $89 for a child's one-day ticket to Disney World ...

The H.o.W. personal-use license fees

The fee schedule for personal use of the proprietary, non-transferable H.o.W. track file alone is:

$199 USD for 1-2 vehicles
$319 USD for 3-4 vehicles
$415 USD for 5-7 vehicles

A second license is required according to the same fee schedule thereafter. PayPal users, please add 3 percent to help defray the fees PayPal imposes. PayPal is the most commonly used method of payment, but other forms may be accepted. Contact us for details.

The total fee for the complete package (detailed track file, map pack, e-booklet, consultations; plus a 3 percent PayPal surcharge) for 1-2 vehicles: $267.00 USD.

The Best of the Wild West

Focusing on the western USA's unpaved backroads, Heart of the West Adventure Route takes overland travelers through some of America's last-remaining, least-populated and most spectacular wildlands that remain motor-vehicle accessible.

Whether on four wheels or two, you will be immersed in the:

Travelers find themselves on some of America's most historic backways as well. Among them:



Easy access

Other backcountry routes run east-west or north-south, and thus must omit a great deal. More important, they pose logistical difficulties, e.g., getting to the beginning and returning from the end. They require arranging a shuttle or return bike shipment; or enduring massive "slab" time on backtracking.

Heart of the West Adventure Route is efficient and convenient.

That's because it's comprised of a main, grand loop with optional interconnected loops. Begin and end anywhere that works for you. If you can't break free for the 15 or so days the full loop typically requires, travel it in segments, over time, at a pace that's right for you.

The loop is intersected by two interstate U.S. highways: north-south I-15 and east-west I-80. Connecting to I-70 -- a major access route to Utah's canyon country -- is convenient as well. So travelers from every point on the compass are saving precious vacation days with fast and direct access.

Major airlines serve cities at logical entry/exit points, e.g., Denver, Colorado; Salt Lake City, Utah; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; even Idaho Falls, Idaho! Connections are available as well to Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; Moab, Utah; and Grand Junction, Colorado.

Vehicle storage is often available at local airports and motels.

You can camp, stay in motels, or pause for a relaxing evening at a mountain lodge.

What adventure-motoring enthusiasts say

"... the greatest western U.S. adventure of all." member

"In my opinion should go down as one of the great Overland Adventures in North America." Tragic Overlander

"Tony's constant attention to detail, updates, emails, and obvious true desire to insure the client has the experience of a lifetime is just tremendous." Sir Dave

"... the best route we've ever ridden, period. And we've ridden a few." Dockingpilot


"For people who have one shot at it, this service is great." Pantah

"Any part of the route is fantastic. You will love it." johnpitts01

"I am very happy with the depth and quality of the resources as well as excellent input and customer service from byways, it will be hard to go back to my usual personal planning from scratch in the future." -- Somber

Send us a note today!

Visit to read the growing list of ride reports and reviews from Heart of the West Adventure Route. Then contact us.

We'll provide payment details (we are traveler-direct service providers). And you'll receive the advantages of the 25 years we've spent chronicling the wildland roads of the American West for guidebooks, magazines, automotive manufacturers, web publishers ... and busy people like you.

How to get H.o.W.

Acquiring a H.o.W. license and navigational data typically follows this process:

1. Connecting with us via the contact form on this blogsite's front page.

2. A telephone visit. This provides a chance to acquaint you with the H.o.W. experience further, and answer your questions.

3. We provide payment details.

4. Delivery via email of the H.o.W. track file.

5. Delivery, via USPS Priority Mail, of the optional map pack, if you choose to purchase it.

6. Adding you to the list of H.o.W. travelers who will receive exclusive news alerts or revised data that we sometimes send out during the travel season for which your license is acquired. These emailed alerts can involve updates on road conditions, closures, wildfires, new routing and more. If warranted, they also may include a revised or supplementary track that can be downloaded to your GPS device and added to the route.

There's more!

Many wildland travelers can require post-purchase assistance. So our personal service doesn't end with providing the track file.

Supplementary services include:

  • prompt and authoritative responses to your questions
  • tailoring the route to your specific interests and needs*
  • identifying and routing to the best start/end points*, and
  • arranging accommodations and other logistical support.*

* Additional fee and at least 90 days advance notice required.

We are available for consultations, fee-based custom routing ($750 minimum) and supplementary logistical support. Just ask! Our goal, after all, is to help you have that "trip of a lifetime."

Still have questions? Send us a note using the "Contact" form in the sidebar.

Happy Trails!














Anonymous said...

Hello Tony! Just found your site. When do you recommend doing Heart of the West? Trying to stay away from snow and tick season in the sagebrush.

Tony Huegel said...

Hello, back! Snow I know about. But I've never experienced ticks along HoW. September, especially the middle or latter part of the month, has consistently provided HoW travelers with the best conditions. Temps are cooler, the weather is more stable, and the quaking aspens and cottonwoods are turning color. June, July and August are typically hot and wet. Some road segments remain closed by regulation until July 1. In September, however, campers will find nights getting cold, especially in mountain valleys. But the mosquitoes are gone! So the ideal time to travel HoW is coming up fast. Are you ready?

DavidC said...

Tony, about how much of the route is unpaved?

Tony Huegel said...

A good question, DavidC!

Approximately 15 percent involves one form of paved road or another.

That's an improvement, for our explorations during the 2013 season replaced many miles of paved roads (previously used to make important connections) with long segments of fun, even historic wildland two-track trails.

We've identified many more miles of remote two-track roads for on-the-ground verification (as conditions permit) and likely inclusion in 2014. So stay tuned ...��

Travis said...

Hello, Is the route doable with a URAL Patrol? I am only worried about steep climbs. The URAL is under powered and I had to turn back when the wife and I took it to CO last year.

Tony Huegel said...

I'm sure the primary route would be doable, perhaps with omitting one or two steep and rocky segments and choosing the provided bypasses. But for an a segment or two, the primary route doesn't have much steep terrain. In any case, once you're on board, I'll be happy to work with H.o.W. clients to go over the details and work through the options. This route is, by design, very adaptable.

Mike said...

Is there a recommended max width and height for the vehicle? I'm interested in doing this with a custom camper built on a Mitsubishi Fuso 4x4?

Tony Huegel said...

Mike, there are narrow two-track segments, readily bypassed if that truck seems too large. One optional spur on the Continental Divide would likely be inadvisable in that rig. But have a look at the photos in the H.o.W. online album, which accurately depicts the roads and the route, and see what you think. The link is in the blog post.

Kyle C. said...

Hi Tony,

I've read a number of trip reports on the ADV site. Are you aware of anyone who has completed all or part of the Heart of the West route in a 4wd vehicle and published a report about it?


Tony Huegel said...

Thanks for the question, Kyle!

A number of forum members have driven Heart of the West Adventure Route, at least in part. I know of one fellow who completed it in a Toyota Tacoma; and two in Land Cruisers who terminated early due to breakdowns. I've driven it in 4Runners and Land Cruisers with no greater mishaps than ruined tires (carry two spares ...).

I am unaware of any four-wheeled trip reports, but you might post a query on and see what feedback you receive.

Members of the adventure-motorcycling forum are the most prolific when it comes to trip reports.

If you have further questions, Kyle, just send me a note at: backcountry byways at gee mail dot com.