A new event will teach families how to get off the grid and enjoy the unmarked beauty of the Chattanooga area, instilling outdoors skills while demonstrating the basics of enjoying a weekend in the wilderness away from paved roads or marked campsites.
Chattanooga Overland Adventure, held at Sequatchie's Trials Training Center April 26-28, is designed for people with all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. It will have instructors teaching basic skills families can use — fire building, safe knife skills, basic off-road driving skills, hiking and more — while spending time in the region's most beautiful, remote areas.
"This is about teaching families how to get out and enjoy the outdoors without overthinking it," event organizer David Snyder said.
Snyder, a former local trail builder and outdoor enthusiast, faced a problem he found is common among parents: He wanted to spend time outside but had trouble getting his children out of the house.
A father of three teenagers, Snyder believed an overland adventure could peak his children's interest and get the family away from technology.
"There's been a cultural shift. We've gone to primarily inside instead of being primarily outside," he said. "We have to plan these things. If you don't plan and put it in the schedule it just doesn't happen."
A true overland adventure involves self-reliant adventure travel to remote destinations where the journey is the primary goal, according to the Overland Journal. They often last weeks and months, but Snyder believed smaller trips with the same concept could become popular in the area.
Many Chattanooga families drive vehicles that can be taken off-road but hardly use the vehicle's full capacities, according to the event's organizers. There are also ample remote areas with stunning wildlife families could drive to for short, weekend trips in their all-wheel or four-wheel-drive vehicles.
The goal for the event is to give families interested in such trips the introductory course they need to learn basic skills.
"The best views aren't by road, none of them are," Pandora's European Motorsports marketing manager David Mays said.
Mays is an overlander. He's taken long trips lasting weeks worldwide, and he believes the Chattanooga Pandora's store would be a good partner for the event.
The store sells dual-sport motorcycles made for on-road and off-road driving, but found many of its customers were only using the bikes on paved roads. Its employees wanted to help its customers and others in the area get introduced to the basic skills needed for off-road trips.
"For those who are already experts, we're telling them don't come expecting to learn, come expecting to help grow the community," Mays said. "For the newbies, come to learn and be open."
The cheapest package begins at $65. Pre-sale, which includes a survival bag with items that will be used during the weekend, costs $125 until the 17th. Registration and more information can be found here.
Registrants are required to have an all-wheel or four-wheel-drive vehicle. However, driving will be limited to basic off-roading instruction on some trails in the area of the training center. The event is sponsored by Kelly Subaru, which plans to outfit a Subaru Outback to take to the festival.
"Honestly, this event aligns perfectly with what Subaru is all about," said Lindsey Lowe, The Kelly Group's social media marketing coordinator. "[Chattanooga Overland Adventure] seeks to connect families to the outdoors while igniting in them a passion for nature, and we are all about that as a brand and as a company."
Updated April 10 at 3:10 p.m. with additional pricing information.