I’ve been doing auto reviews as part of my freelance work for a couple of years now. I focus mainly on the four-wheel-drives, but once in a while, I test a vehicle that isn’t exactly built for off-road travel.
The four-wheel-drives are excellent for getting around in the rougher parts of Wyoming, but if you don’t have one, don’t sweat it. One of the things I’ve learned from driving all those different vehicles is that they’ll all get you to plenty of great places off the beaten path.
Granted, the lower the clearance, the more beaten that path needs to be. But these days, there aren’t as many of those legendary forest roads that used to chew vehicles up and swallow ‘em, even on nice, sunny days. There are still some real nasty roads out there, but a lot of the more rugged ones have been closed, and the rest of ‘em get regular attention from Forest Service road maintenance crews.
That’s not to say they won’t get ugly if the weather turns bad. If you’re in a two-wheel-drive vehicle, you don’t want to be back in the toolies when a storm rolls in. Even in a four-wheel-drive, some of those roads can get awful gnarly when they get wet and muddy. But on nice days, you can take the family fishing in a Chrysler Pacifica. You could arrive at your grouse hunting destination in style in a Lexus LS 500 sedan. Or you could stuff your rods, reels and tackle box into a Toyota Prius and get there without using hardly any gas at all.
If you want to head for the hills when it’s not as nice out, you might still need a four-wheel-drive. But if you do more town driving than backwoods roving, you have a few more options. You might have to be more choosy about the days you venture out, but if the conditions are right, any old car can get you to most places you want to be. The important thing is to just go.