in Overlanding / by
One of our favorite excuses for packing up and hitting the road in our rigs is heading off to one of the many overlanding expos, conventions, and rallies that happen all over the country each year.
We get to do some networking, show off our Roofnests, drool over other overlanding setups and UTVs. We also get to squeeze in some off-roading, and call it all a tax write-off (that last part might not work for you, by the way).
There’s no better time than the beginning of the year to study up on all the overlanding events going down in 2020, and to make your travel plans accordingly.
But hey, the Roofnest team is one step ahead of you. We’ve done the hard work of compiling all of this year’s must-attend overlanding events into one convenient place, so now all you have to do is decide which ones you’re gonna hit up.
M.O.O.R.E — Midwest Overlanding & Off-Road Expo
Where: Springfield, MO
When: February 15-16, 2020
First up in a jam-packed year of off-roading events is the Midwest Overlanding & Off-Road Expo — also known by its acronym M.O.O.R.E.
2 days of camping, courses, seminars, and over 150 vendors are all going down at Ozark Empire Fairgrounds in Springfield, Missouri.
Want even MOORE? You got it. This expo is host to an epic 3-hour off-roading caravan through southern Missouri and the gorgeous Mark Twain National Forest. The route includes lots of mud, lots of dirt, and of course, some water crossings to put your rig to the test.
Adventure Travel Expo Southwest
Where: Albuquerque, NM
When: April 18-19, 2020
April is prime kick-off season for most of the country’s overlanding expos, and New Mexico starts it off in style with the Adventure Travel Expo Southwest in Albuquerque.
Hosted by the Desert Valley Overlanders, this 2-day event is open to all who want to learn more about UTVs and off-roading, have a beast of their own to show off, or just like to party in the desert.
This event is only going into its third year, but it’s already become a huge hit in the region, attracting over 1500 attendees a year. This is a great chance to meet other outdoor enthusiasts and pick up some new accessories for your off-highway vehicle (OHV).
But maybe the best thing about this expo is that it’s in New Mexico, one of our favorite states to go off-roading in. The city of Albuquerque rests on the edge of the Cibola National Forest, where you’ll find the Cedro Peak OHV Trail.
Other overland routes in the area include the accessible La Madera Road just northeast of Albuquerque, and the slightly more difficult Rio Puerco, North Puerco, and South Puerto OHV Loops a bit northwest of the city.
Smoky Mountain Overland Rally
Where: Cosby, TN
When: April 24-26, 2020
Lovingly known as SMORally, this gathering takes place in the The Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee.
There are vendors, classes, and live music. But the two things that make this event a total rock star are the off-roading trails and the programming dedicated entirely to living the #vanlife.
The main point of any rally is to do some off-roading. Luckily for all of the attendees at SMORally, the event goes down in an off-road park.
Dark Holler Off-Road Park is described on its website as “a place to get muddy, climb hills, and race obstacle courses.” All in your OHV, of course.
Just watch this video and try to pretend like you’re not stoked to get down and dirty asap.
Overland Expo West
Where: Flagstaff, AZ
When: May 15-17, 2020
The month of May in overlanding brings us back to the Southwest, but this time to Flagstaff, Arizona for Overland Expo West.
You may have read about Overland Expo East here on our blog before — this event is hosted by the same folks, and is very similar except for the fact that it’s in the gorgeous Arizona desert.
Overland Expo West is 3 full days dedicated to getting you outfitted, connected, trained, and inspired. The event hosts close to 400 vendors, thousands of OHVs, UTVs, and overland rigs to check out, along with over 175 courses, and even a film festival.
Overland Expo claims theirs is the premier overlanding gathering in the world, and we can’t really argue with them. Don’t miss it.
NW Overland Rally
Where: Leavenworth, WA
When: June 18-21
The NW Overland Rally is the first in our calendar to take place in America’s northwest, in this case the great state of Washington.
Whether your rig is a big OHV, a low-profile UTV, a van, a truck, an SUV, or even a station wagon, as long as you’ve got a hunger for adventure and the guts to abandon the pavement, you’re welcome at this rally.
They’ve got a ton of classes and prize giveaways, along with some top-notch trail rides. And there’s even a Bloody Mary party…count us in.
BC Overland Rally
Where: Whistler, BC, Canada
When: June 25-28, 2020
The lone event that doesn’t take place in the USA, BC Overland Rally earns its place on our list for being extraordinarily awesome.
It’s put on by the same people who organize the NW Overland Rally, so you know it’s good. Plus, it’s a heck of good excuse to go to Canada.
4 days of classes, vendors, parties, and guided 4WD rides in the hills surrounding the event grounds in Whistler, British Columbia will have you wanting to sign up for the Mounties, or at the very least dress up like a lumberjack.
We love this event because it’s family-friendly and accessible to everyone, regardless of whether you’re a seasoned off-road vet or just taking up an interest in overlanding. Plus, there’s morning yoga, so you can stretch your mind and body before you stretch your skills on the trail.
Where: Missoula, MT
When: July 10-12, 2020
Big Sky Country is home to the second annual RecCon Montana in Missoula, billed as the expo where outdoor recreation meets conservation. This 3-day event is a one-stop shop for everyone from overlanders and mountain bikers to fly fishers and hikers to connect with other enthusiasts, vendors, environmental nonprofits, and even governmental agencies over a shared love of the land.
The goal is to have fun and learn how to enjoy outdoor recreation while preserving the land for future generations. There are several learning labs to get you familiar with exploring Montana’s backcountry in your overlander.
Rocky Mountain Overland Rally
Where: Gunnison, CO
When: July 29-August 2, 2020
Finally, an event in our home state of Colorado! Head to the Western Slope for the Rocky Mountain Overland Rally to explore the Rocky Mountains the way God intended: in an overlander.
On-site technical courses and world-class instruction on a variety of off-roading related topics, along with the opportunity to rock the Rockies in your rig make this rally a must. There are guided 4WD rides, advanced classes for you pros, and even a course on how to do repairs out on the trail.
Here’s an in-depth look at last year’s rally to get you pumped:
Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival
Where: Huntingdon, PA
When: August 13-16, 2020
As the summer comes to an end, Pennsylvania is just getting ramped up for some autumnal overlanding with their Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival (MAOF).
MAOF 2020 will be at Henwood Farm in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and will feature vendors, classes, trail rides, and nightly campfires where you can swap tales, tall or otherwise.
Overland Expo Mountain West
Where: Loveland, CO
When: August 28-30, 2020
This is a whole lot like Overland Expo West, but this one’s the mountain version. Loveland, Colorado is the perfect spot for an overland expo in our opinion.
For starters, Loveland is within spitting distance of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, all must-ride places for overlanders.
On top of that, it’s not far from our home in Boulder, Colorado, which means we don’t have to drive far to attend.
In all seriousness, though, Boulder rocks. So plan a little extra time into your schedule to come stroll the Pearl Street Mall for some good food, drinks, and shopping, and don’t forget to hike or climb the hills nearby before you say goodbye.
K.O.A.R — Keweenaw Overland Adventure Retreat
Where: Copper Harbor, MI
When: September 17-20, 2020
Come September, our Midwestern overlanders are going to need a little more love — it’ll have been over half a year since the region’s last expo in Missouri (see M.O.O.R.E., the first entry in this calendar).
The good news for them is that Copper Harbor, Michigan is ready to satisfy their off-road craving with the Keweenaw Overland Adventure Retreat (K.O.A.R.).
Styled as a basecamp overland event, K.O.A.R. is your jumping off point for trail riding, hiking, biking, paddling, and more in the surrounding region.
Doubtful that Michigan’s got the goods? Watch this:
Texas Fall Outdoor Expo
Where: Llano, TX
When: October 2-4, 2020
Everything’s bigger in Texas — even the outdoor expos! The town of Llano may be small, but it doesn’t disappoint come October.
A quick 90 minute jaunt northwest of Austin, the Texas Fall Outdoor Expo is the only overlanding rally in the state. So if you’re in the area and want to meet with other like-minded trail blazers and learn about new off-road routes, this is the place to do it.
Overland Expo East
Where: Arrington, VA
When: October 9-11, 2020
This is the East Coast’s take on the Overland Expo. You may think the Southwest desert or the Rockies take the cake when it comes to overlanding, but don’t underestimate Appalachia.
That’s where Overland Expo East takes place, and we love it for the sheer scale of its offerings (hundreds of classes and vendors, thousands of rigs) and its proximity to The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in the Appalachian Mountains, home to some decidedly choice OHV trails.
Then check out the recap from last year’s event:
Rendezvous in the Ozarks Overland Rally
Where: Ozark National Forest, AR
When: October 16-18, 2020
When you think of the middle of the country, you probably don’t think mountains. But you’re wrong. The Ozark National Forest is home to the Ozark Mountains, a gorgeous region full of rivers, waterfalls, forests, and, of course, mountains.
Now granted, these aren’t the kind of mountains we’ve got here in Colorado, but they no doubt make for some seriously fun off-roading nonetheless.
The Rendezvous in the Ozarks Overland Rally gives overlanding fans a great chance to check out the region, with 3 days of classes, exhibits, and trail riding.
Your Roofnest Will Take You There
Not sure which events you should attend this year? How about all of them? With a Roofnest, you can rock your rig from Maine to California, and always have a place to stay at the end of the day.
That’s because a Roofnest turns your overlander (or any vehicle) into a functional RV — a collapsible bedroom on top of your vehicle means you can take the road less traveled without worrying about finding a hotel along the way.
And when you’re doing your weekend warrior duty at overlanding events, you won’t have to sweat setting up a tent — you’ve got a super fancy one sitting on top of your ride.
With a few tips, you can always find the best place to park your overlander and pop open your Roofnest for the night. Read our blog on tips for finding the best spots to sleep in your Roofnest, whether you’re in the middle of a new adventure or finding your way back home »
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