Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => The Backroads => Topic started by: andrwtzel on March 02, 2017, 08:35:05 AM

Title: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: andrwtzel on March 02, 2017, 08:35:05 AM
Looking for some input on Black Gap road...As a background, I drive a 4x4 Nissan Frontier Pro4-x (off road edition). I have driven Old Ore road with no issues.

Specifically, I am planning on going to Mariscal Mine and camping at Elephant Tusk 1. Taking this approach (south to north), is this route possible? It seems that most travel north to south down Black Gap. Is that just preference, or is it not possible to travel Black Gap south to north?

Also – what is the general consensus on Black Gap? Harder than expected? Overstated?
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: The Scorpion on March 02, 2017, 08:59:49 AM
There are only a few tricky spots on black gap road. The biggest obstacle is what many call the "pinch". There is a short steep climb requiring 4x4, but you should be able to do this either way. Will be tougher going from north to south, starting at Glenn spring road, but as long as you get out and inspect the area before the climb you should be good. Can't really see the obstacle in this video, but this is the "pinch"

https://youtu.be/G9VI8JFVF1s

Sent from my Pixel XL using Big Bend Chat mobile app

Title: Re: Black Gap Road Inquiry...
Post by: andrwtzel on March 02, 2017, 11:24:15 AM
Thanks for the response and video.

So if I am mapping this out correctly in my head - "the pinch" is the same thing as "the step"...and if you travel north to south drop down "the pinch". And if you travel south to north - you step UP "the pinch"

Correct?
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: The Scorpion on March 02, 2017, 01:29:54 PM
Yes they are the same thing, if you go north to south you will have to climb up.  That is the only section where clearance might be an issue. There is one spot where one side of the vehicle will be up on a slope while the other is on the road, and just before or after that spot depending on which direction you go, there is a ridge you drive along, feels like only inches on either side of your tires, but it's easily passable, just feels weird. You might have to engage 4x4 in a few spots to climb out of a wash and that's only because of the gravel in the wash bed. As long as it's dry back there you should have no problems.

Only other spot for concern is right by Glenn spring #1 camp site, it's narrow and rutted, just go slow and easy with 4x4.
In this video I'm leaving Glenn spring #1 camp site, going south to north ( or west to east). It's a tight hairpin turn at the end of the video. I have a super crew long bed f150 4x4

https://youtu.be/DM40UcXzlK0

Sent from my Pixel XL using Big Bend Chat mobile app

Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: Jalco on March 02, 2017, 02:23:28 PM
The only issue my son and I experienced on Black Gap (north to south) was just after we left Glen Springs.  We weren't paying attention to the road, oohing and ahhing over the views, and we allowed our two front tires to slip into ruts, "turtling" our front end.  No biggy, just backed out and re-routed.  You can bet we paid attention after that.  The actual maneuvering of the "pinch" was underwhelming compared to the anticipation/dread/worry we had built up in our minds.  We were in a Trooper.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: rocketman on March 02, 2017, 05:57:24 PM
If you have any experience off-roading in TX, you will not come upon anything that should make you pucker (much). The pinch/step thingy is overrated IMO. Kudos to Mr. Scorpion for doing it in a giant truck with street tires!
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: VivaTerlingua on March 16, 2017, 10:19:31 AM
Just did that exact same route yesterday.  Drove to Solis and hiked the cross canyon trail, then drove to Elephant Tusk and camped.  Hiked part of Elephant Tusk trail in the morning and drove out via Black Gap road.  Did it in a Toyota Sequoia.  Saw a Suburban go past that way the night before when I was at camp.


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Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: Reece on March 21, 2017, 11:07:40 AM
The easiest way to get to EL1 is from the south -- Rio Grande Village Road - River Road East - Talley Road - Black Gap. Then you can explore Black Gap to the north (the rougher part) if you want.


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Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: Student4Life on March 12, 2018, 06:12:59 PM
Hello everyone!
Sorry to bump up an old thread BUT I am planning to drive Black Gap Road next weekend.  I was wondering if anyone has been on that road recently and how were the conditions?
Thanks in advance for the intel!
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: 01ACRViper on March 13, 2018, 12:25:37 PM
As long as it's dry you'll be OK
Title: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: JordanFiveOh on March 13, 2018, 01:38:42 PM
I was last on it in mid-December, but it was great. I went South to North that time and did it all in 2WD in an FJ Cruiser.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: mbender on March 13, 2018, 06:32:26 PM
I was there, North to South, two weeks ago. It looks pretty much the same as in the videos above. I don't believe it changes much.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: presidio on March 13, 2018, 10:53:40 PM
I went South to North that time and did it all in 2WD in an FJ Cruiser.

That just cannot be.  :wtf: :smiley_confused1:

Because.....

Per the OFFICIAL NPS decree

Quote
This road is not maintained, and 4-wheel drive is required at all times.

Plus, the NPS never talks about going south to north, because, OMG, you would have to climb
Quote
The Infamous Black Gap “Step”
rather than merely ease down over a few rocks in your path.

Clearly, the NPS never has tried this route, in either direction, otherwise they wouldn't post such drivel about "difficulty."
Title: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: JordanFiveOh on March 13, 2018, 11:14:40 PM
Yes, South to North has you going down the step.

My FJ isn’t an extreme offroad machine or anything, but I do have E range tires and some nice suspension with good ground clearance.

If you didn’t have those things and/or had a longer wheelbase vehicle it could be more interesting.

I haven’t tried going North to South in strictly 2WD yet, though I could likely do it as long as I am aired down to 15-20 psi or so and the road hasn’t received rain recently. Regardless, it’s still pretty easy to see why the NPS “requires” 4WD. Just because I can float over the non-obstacle parts at speed doesn’t mean everyone can!

(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180314/4f4f5fb7fba6d4f63827da5941db5753.jpg)
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: Casa Grande on March 14, 2018, 08:04:04 PM
Black gap is not that big of a deal. I've driven it several times in various Jeeps, 4x4s, and trucks.   All good.  The only issue would be a truck with a long wheel base.  Might make it difficult to traverse some of the washes. 

And,  Viper is right. If it's raining or going to rain don't even try, at least without 4x4.

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Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: Casa Grande on March 14, 2018, 08:09:10 PM
Wait....I do remember denting my catalytic converter on Black Gap once in my old Jeep Commander because I bottomed out on a deep rut in the road.   Caused lots of emissions issues.   (The computer didn't like the readings it was getting from the O sensor. I ended up getting a street illegal fix.)

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Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: BlindWilly on March 15, 2018, 02:22:15 PM

My FJ isn’t an extreme offroad machine or anything, but I do have E range tires and some nice suspension with good ground clearance.


(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180314/4f4f5fb7fba6d4f63827da5941db5753.jpg)
I'm sorry, but your FJ is an extreme off roader!  That's a 2013 TTE, my friend.
I should know, I have a 2013 Quicksand, E Rated tires and a Toytec Boss suspension.
You've got a nice rig!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObjX0-sLrXw&t=
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: JordanFiveOh on March 15, 2018, 02:34:06 PM

My FJ isn’t an extreme offroad machine or anything, but I do have E range tires and some nice suspension with good ground clearance.


(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180314/4f4f5fb7fba6d4f63827da5941db5753.jpg)
I'm sorry, but your FJ is an extreme off roader!  That's a 2013 TTE, my friend.
I should know, I have a 2013 Quicksand, E Rated tires and a Toytec Boss suspension.
You've got a nice rig!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObjX0-sLrXw&t=

So much for my modesty!

I have Icons on the front of mine with their rear springs and I do love it. Also, this was me on the cover of your FB group a few months ago, remember?

(https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20180315/338da7a00a169648ebc1dd2bcd21c0e6.jpg)
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: BlindWilly on March 16, 2018, 02:38:40 PM
I do remember now!  (Old age, you know.  lol)
I'm heading back to Big Bend at the end of December. I'm starting to put a rough itinerary together.  I've got at least one couple that has never been out that way, so I want to include Black Gap and Old Ore road.  My main focus is to finally make it to Casa Ramon in the State park.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: pakiheart on April 11, 2018, 04:59:17 PM
New here and new to off roading :)

I have a 2000 Land Cruiser with AT tires

I was planning on doing the ore road --> River Road East --> Black Gap --> Glen Springs....

I have 0 experience in off roading, should i attempt this?  Also is this doable in one day?

Thank You,
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: The Scorpion on April 11, 2018, 05:14:54 PM
New here and new to off roading :)

I have a 2000 Land Cruiser with AT tires

I was planning on doing the ore road --> River Road East --> Black Gap --> Glen Springs....

I have 0 experience in off roading, should i attempt this?  Also is this doable in one day?

Thank You,


You should be fine, just keep it slow and watch the tricky parts. for the most part there are just a few sections that would be considered hairy. Plan on a full day so start early and enjoy

James
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: Casa Grande on April 11, 2018, 05:49:10 PM
Bring a tire plug kit, a compressor and know how to use it.

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Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: rocketman on April 11, 2018, 06:44:18 PM
That is easily doable in a day. You can take a lunch break at Mariscal Mine and walk around to check out the ruins.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: jim2 on April 11, 2018, 06:54:45 PM
While you might be able to do all those roads in a day, you would have to push really hard, no matter what time you start. Much better to take two days, the Old Ore road with stops, and you should stop, takes all day.  Twenty six miles at 5 to 10 mph.
The other loop will also take most of the day, Mariscal Mine should be added, as long as your are close anyway.
Do the Old Ore Rd first, it'll give you a good feel for the off road mind set, go slow, creep along, it's easier on you and your vehicle. The OOR is an excellent trainer road, it'll build your confidence in yourself and your truck.
Black Gap as second day off road could be quite a leap, it's a much tougher road. That first drop down into the arroyo at the south end, gave me pause. I have 11.5 inches of ground clearance, I needed all of it in a couple of places. There are some scary looking spots on Black Gap, once you do them you realize, they are not so scary. Still Black Gap is not to be underestimated.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: rocketman on April 11, 2018, 07:44:24 PM
Jim is right. I missed that you were doing Old Ore Rd also. Take it slow over two days and get out to walk around often. There is more to see in the Bend from outside the truck.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: elhombre on April 11, 2018, 09:04:21 PM
Save yourself the trouble and unbolt those step boards, and leave them at home.

The best thing for a noobie is to have a spotter.  If it is your old lady, be very patient.  Make sure you both KNOW the hand signs and specific words.  Wheeling angry has been known to break up marriages or can even ruin the "together time".

Start with Glenn Springs.  From the north end.  Drive up to Pine Canyon.  There is one spot in the road right at Pine Canyon campsite #2 that will give you a nice starter hole dug out by lame ass 2 wheel drive cars that you can drive through.  Nothing your Cruiser will even pause at.  After Pine, drive all the way up to Juniper trail head and take a look around.  Want more?  Drive down to Glenn Springs but don't do Black Gap yet.  Save it for the last trail of the trip.  Continue down to River road, and head out to Rio Grande village for a long day of exploring. 

Next step in difficulty is Old Ore.  Lastly is Black Gap from Glenn Springs.  Not an efficient route to hit all three, but that is the order in difficulty.

Don't air down so much to make your sidewalls pooch out.  That is for slick rock in Utah.  If you air down on ranch roads like in BB, the sidewalls pooch too much and can be easily cut by sharp rocks.  Sidewalls are the thinnest part of the exposed tire.

Lastly, no need for LOW until you notice the car does not speed up immediately when you push on the accelerator.  Happy Trails and welcome to the money draining obsession of 4 wheeling.  And yes, you need a lift and bigger tires   :eusa_angel:
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: Casa Grande on April 11, 2018, 09:10:54 PM
Great advice,  Hombre.

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Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: pakiheart on April 11, 2018, 09:19:31 PM
thank you everyone for all the great advice
any ideas on tire pressure i should use?
Title: Re: Black Gap Road Inquiry...
Post by: fartymarty on April 11, 2018, 10:05:03 PM
So if I am mapping this out correctly in my head - "the pinch" is the same thing as "the step"...and if you travel north to south drop down "the pinch". And if you travel south to north - you step UP "the pinch"

Correct?

I think this was answered but just to be clear, ...

No, not correct, just the opposite. Going south to north is a drop in the pinch, and going north to south (as in the video on post reply#1 in this thread, going north to south) is a climb up the step.

I hope i'm not ...(http://rs59.pbsrc.com/albums/g311/Seleucus/flogging.gif~c200)
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: presidio on April 11, 2018, 10:46:47 PM
thank you everyone for all the great advice
any ideas on tire pressure i should use?

Your normal pressure is fine. None of these roads rank as difficult, despite what the NPS says. On a scale of 1 to 10 for 4WD roughness/challenge (compared to real 4WD country) the park roads rate less than zero. It is possible to get stuck, but you have to work real hard to do so.

You don't need to air down; you probably won't need 4LO (though it will make creeping over the "horrendous and tough", not!, Black Gap step/pinch easier. But, before you get too wild, try out your 4LO on a flat gravel road to get a feel for the extremely low gearing compared to high range. Don't over-rev your engine and don't expect much in the way of speed (read the owner's manual; it is possible to exceed red line if careless); 4LO=SLOW. I never cease to be amazed at 4WD operators who really don't understand how to use that range.

Since you say you are new to this, the two things to keep in mind:

a) Speed damages vehicles, so take your time. Driving at whatever slow speed is necessary for conditions is still way faster than walking out to find a tow truck.
b) Do not spin your tires. If you slip look at what you are doing and use 4WD. If you go north to south on both the Old Ore Rd and Glenn Springs/Black Gap, you are mostly going downhill, for which less skill is needed. Just don't get cocky and let your speed get up.

As noted elsewhere, you need a good spare (and a jack and lug wrench...don't be like some who get stranded in the desert because they didn't have all the parts needed to change a tire). A quality tire plug kit and pump/compressor are highly recommended. If you take your time and drive carefully, those items just will be taking up space rather than being needed. Be sure to carry adequate food/water/supplies that will get you through at least a day and night.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: elhombre on April 12, 2018, 09:14:31 AM

Your normal pressure is fine.


Agreed.  I never air down in Big Bend.  Just run whatever psi is stated on the sticker inside the driver's door jam.

Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: pakiheart on April 12, 2018, 09:19:59 AM
thank you everyone for all the great advice
any ideas on tire pressure i should use?

Your normal pressure is fine. None of these roads rank as difficult, despite what the NPS says. On a scale of 1 to 10 for 4WD roughness/challenge (compared to real 4WD country) the park roads rate less than zero. It is possible to get stuck, but you have to work real hard to do so.

You don't need to air down; you probably won't need 4LO (though it will make creeping over the "horrendous and tough", not!, Black Gap step/pinch easier. But, before you get too wild, try out your 4LO on a flat gravel road to get a feel for the extremely low gearing compared to high range. Don't over-rev your engine and don't expect much in the way of speed (read the owner's manual; it is possible to exceed red line if careless); 4LO=SLOW. I never cease to be amazed at 4WD operators who really don't understand how to use that range.

Since you say you are new to this, the two things to keep in mind:

a) Speed damages vehicles, so take your time. Driving at whatever slow speed is necessary for conditions is still way faster than walking out to find a tow truck.
b) Do not spin your tires. If you slip look at what you are doing and use 4WD. If you go north to south on both the Old Ore Rd and Glenn Springs/Black Gap, you are mostly going downhill, for which less skill is needed. Just don't get cocky and let your speed get up.

As noted elsewhere, you need a good spare (and a jack and lug wrench...don't be like some who get stranded in the desert because they didn't have all the parts needed to change a tire). A quality tire plug kit and pump/compressor are highly recommended. If you take your time and drive carefully, those items just will be taking up space rather than being needed. Be sure to carry adequate food/water/supplies that will get you through at least a day and night.



Thank you sir
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: presidio on April 12, 2018, 09:45:01 AM

Thank you sir

You're welcome.

Enjoy.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: BlindWilly on April 12, 2018, 02:21:02 PM
New here and new to off roading :)

I have a 2000 Land Cruiser with AT tires

I was planning on doing the ore road --> River Road East --> Black Gap --> Glen Springs....

I have 0 experience in off roading, should i attempt this?  Also is this doable in one day?

Thank You,
Where abouts are you located?  I'm in the DFW area myself.
I'd be happy to get together with you and wheel. I've taken a few beginer groups out to Bridgeport (Northwest OHV Park) and to Gilmer, Tx. (Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area)
Also, in about 3 weeks is the Lonestar Toyota Jamboree in Gilmer.
It's the biggest Toyota Offroad even in the country, at the moment.  It is tons of fun for beginners and old timers, alike.
https://www.lonestartoyotajamboree.com/

Reach out to me if I can help out.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: BlindWilly on April 12, 2018, 02:26:56 PM
thank you everyone for all the great advice
any ideas on tire pressure i should use?
You don't "have" to air down, but your back, neck and kidneys might be happier if you do.
While I was driving on Glenn Springs to Black Gap, our leader had a bit of a lead foot and I finally made her stop so I could air down.
It is much better that way, no matter how fast you go.  Your suspension is designed to work in conjunction with your aired down tires, to provide a great ride.

So to answer your question, I went down to 18psi from 38psi.  I had Nitto Trail Grapplers which were "E" rated M/T tires.
Your A/T tires should be fine if they are "C" rated and above.  Don't get cocky though, drive carefully to minimize punctures and have a spare and plug kit. 
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: BlindWilly on April 12, 2018, 02:29:00 PM
thank you everyone for all the great advice
any ideas on tire pressure i should use?

Your normal pressure is fine. None of these roads rank as difficult, despite what the NPS says. On a scale of 1 to 10 for 4WD roughness/challenge (compared to real 4WD country) the park roads rate less than zero. It is possible to get stuck, but you have to work real hard to do so.

You don't need to air down; you probably won't need 4LO (though it will make creeping over the "horrendous and tough", not!, Black Gap step/pinch easier. But, before you get too wild, try out your 4LO on a flat gravel road to get a feel for the extremely low gearing compared to high range. Don't over-rev your engine and don't expect much in the way of speed (read the owner's manual; it is possible to exceed red line if careless); 4LO=SLOW. I never cease to be amazed at 4WD operators who really don't understand how to use that range.

Since you say you are new to this, the two things to keep in mind:

a) Speed damages vehicles, so take your time. Driving at whatever slow speed is necessary for conditions is still way faster than walking out to find a tow truck.
b) Do not spin your tires. If you slip look at what you are doing and use 4WD. If you go north to south on both the Old Ore Rd and Glenn Springs/Black Gap, you are mostly going downhill, for which less skill is needed. Just don't get cocky and let your speed get up.

As noted elsewhere, you need a good spare (and a jack and lug wrench...don't be like some who get stranded in the desert because they didn't have all the parts needed to change a tire). A quality tire plug kit and pump/compressor are highly recommended. If you take your time and drive carefully, those items just will be taking up space rather than being needed. Be sure to carry adequate food/water/supplies that will get you through at least a day and night.

^^^^^^^^
What he said.   :afro:
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: JordanFiveOh on April 12, 2018, 02:43:29 PM
thank you everyone for all the great advice
any ideas on tire pressure i should use?
You don't "have" to air down, but your back, neck and kidneys might be happier if you do.
While I was driving on Glenn Springs to Black Gap, our leader had a bit of a lead foot and I finally made her stop so I could air down.
It is much better that way, no matter how fast you go.  Your suspension is designed to work in conjunction with your aired down tires, to provide a great ride.

So to answer your question, I went down to 18psi from 38psi.  I had Nitto Trail Grapplers which were "E" rated M/T tires.
Your A/T tires should be fine if they are "C" rated and above.  Don't get cocky though, drive carefully to minimize punctures and have a spare and plug kit.

Absolutely this. Airing down makes the ride fantastic, especially at quicker speeds.

I have the suspension to handle quicker speeds, and airing down makes the bumps just about disappear.
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: pakiheart on April 13, 2018, 09:50:49 AM
New here and new to off roading :)

I have a 2000 Land Cruiser with AT tires

I was planning on doing the ore road --> River Road East --> Black Gap --> Glen Springs....

I have 0 experience in off roading, should i attempt this?  Also is this doable in one day?

Thank You,
Where abouts are you located?  I'm in the DFW area myself.
I'd be happy to get together with you and wheel. I've taken a few beginer groups out to Bridgeport (Northwest OHV Park) and to Gilmer, Tx. (Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area)
Also, in about 3 weeks is the Lonestar Toyota Jamboree in Gilmer.
It's the biggest Toyota Offroad even in the country, at the moment.  It is tons of fun for beginners and old timers, alike.
https://www.lonestartoyotajamboree.com/

Reach out to me if I can help out.

Thank you for the advice, i am located in Austin
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: pakiheart on April 13, 2018, 09:51:17 AM
thank you everyone for all the great advice
any ideas on tire pressure i should use?
You don't "have" to air down, but your back, neck and kidneys might be happier if you do.
While I was driving on Glenn Springs to Black Gap, our leader had a bit of a lead foot and I finally made her stop so I could air down.
It is much better that way, no matter how fast you go.  Your suspension is designed to work in conjunction with your aired down tires, to provide a great ride.

So to answer your question, I went down to 18psi from 38psi.  I had Nitto Trail Grapplers which were "E" rated M/T tires.
Your A/T tires should be fine if they are "C" rated and above.  Don't get cocky though, drive carefully to minimize punctures and have a spare and plug kit.

Thanks for the help
Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: fullmetaljacket6793 on June 13, 2018, 07:03:49 AM
I did it in a 1994 chevy k2500 suburban with a 2 inch suspension lift with no problems. I did have a Detroit locker in the rear and a ARB locker in the front. I do think you will be fine since i didnt bottom out or even engage my front locker. So if you have a rear locker or even a good limited slip you should be fine. Just let someone know what your doing and where you will be and take a ton of water.


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Title: Re: Black Gap Roadd Inquiry...
Post by: BlindWilly on June 20, 2018, 03:55:56 PM

Thank you for the advice, i am located in Austin

If you are on facebook, there are groups you can join on there.
Texas Overland is a GREAT group on facebook, do a search for Austin Land Cruisers.

You have a great Offroad park near you called Hidden Falls Offroad Park, there are groups going there all the time.
Most folks are happy to show you the ropes about off roading, if they aren't, they aren't worth wheeling with anyway.
Next year is the Lone Star Toyota Jamboree in May, consider coming to that event. It is WELL worth it.  :)