Shake, Rattle, and Roll on a Las Vegas
Sunbuggy Off Road Adventures sand dunes scramble.
Jetsetters Magazine photographer, Paul McCormick, was ecstatic about rumbling through the Las Vegas Dunes Recreation Lands in North Las Vegas so he set up a one hour Chase Sunbuggy road race through the adventure center’s reservation line. Other tour time lengths are available, but I recommend at least an hour, but everyone must set up a reservation first. The Sunbuggy operation is open 365 days a year, 24/7.
Paul is geared up for adventure.
We arrived early at the Sunbuggy adventure center just as a group rushed and gushed in with glee with the conversation revolving around, “When can we do that again?” We signed the applicable disclaimer waivers and picked out colorful acrylic painted helmets that looked like something out of a Marvel comic book – make mine Captain America. When the helmets are returned after a tour they are sanitized by the staff, or you can purchase a new helmet for about $20, but you must return it afterwards.
Ready for the Chase.
We toured the maintenance shop where workmen welded, hammered, repaired ,and maintained hundreds of Sunbuggys. The company has been in the business for about 30 years and found it had to build their own buggies from the bottom up because no other manufacturer could create a sturdy machine that held up on the rugged terrain of the Las Vegas Dunes Recreation Lands.
Because of the rugged sand dune terrain Sunbuggy had to reinvent the dune buggy with wider tires, more roll bars another features.
The buggies resembled something between a hyperactive go-cart and a Big Daddy afterburner. The machines had roll bars that were more like cages, and the over-sized tires could turn on about a 90 degree axis. We knew we were in store for a wild Sunbuggy off-road adventure.
Sunbuggy can provide free shuttle service to/from their adventure center from Las Vegas hotels, it is a short ride; the center is near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We were shuttled out to the staging area out in the desert a few miles from the center; there was plenty of bottled water onboard and at the jump-off point. We heard nothing except the rumble of the buggies and military jets overhead from nearby Nellis Air Force Base. The buggies are trailered out each morning and returned in the evening on huge low boy tractor trailers.
The gathering of Sunbuggys at the jump off point.
Las Vegas Dunes Recreation Lands – Sunbuggy Off Road Adventures operates exclusively on these dunes located near Nellis Air Force Base. The 15,000 acres of fun off-road desert public lands is a destination just outside Las Vegas. The dedicated off-roading area is comprised of sand dunes and dirt/rock trails throughout. This land is great for Sunbuggy customized vehicles. Sand dunes are vast and dirt trails are plentiful. Some trails lead to hill tops with great views of Las Vegas or Lake Mead. You can occasionally spot Air Force planes taking off from nearby Nellis AFB. Come prepared if you want to venture out far. Bring your camera.
15,000 acres of desert dunes fun.
Every tour must have a tour guide (except the Explore tour) because they not only know the trails of the 15,000 acres of public sand dunes, but can navigate and maneuver the arroyos or, gullies, curlicues, loop de loops, spinouts, aerial jumps, and bush buzzes. Did I miss anything? Oh, yeah, they know where the steep drop-offs are to avoid a problem.
Texas guided through the terrain with ease.
Texas is all thumbs up.
Our assigned guide was a Yul Brenner look alike nicknamed Texas. He was a retired over-the-road truck driver with over two million miles under his belt so we were in good hands. Before a tour the guides go over safety features. “This is not your mother’s Cadillac,” stated Texas. “Don’t put your hands inside the steering wheel, you could get your fingers pinched and it would hurt more than a second divorce.” He also ran through the routine of the seat buckles, which were more like a thick two clasp belt harness about 3 inches wide. The buggies have 4-wheel drive and automatic transmission; anyone can drive them. The gas pedal is on the rightand the brake pedal is on the left. Each machine has a different colored flag attached to a whip saw wire so they can be detected in the bush. The buggies can accommodate one driver or two, so I rode dual with Texas so I could take photos of this wild and fun madness. The cubby space around the padded seat was very comfortable. I think there is only one gear – GO. We were off on a one hour Chase Tour.
Sunbuggy provides many prepackaged off road tours but they can also accommodate any size of group from ten to 1000 people and they have hosted many corporate events. They can customize tours to any time length. I was surprised to learn that the company also provides ATVs and UTVs and their unique Desert Racers that can seat up to six passengers.
The popular Chase tour.
The prepackaged tours include:
The Chase, probably the most popular tour because you basically follow the guide in a pursuit mode around the territory. Drive like your hair is on fire in this mini Baja chase.
The Tour, a beautiful guided drive into the vast Valley of Fire State Park NE of Vegas with the Sunbuggys trailered to the majestic landscapes of Nevada’s first state park. This is a great family outing.
Explore, is a free roaming adventure on the dunes on your own, with no guide, but they give you an intensive orientation lesson before hand.
Special Group Events, with its large fleet of vehicles group events can be planned for just about any size of group. Book this well in advance.
The Night Chase, is an even wilder ride; the Sunbuggys have their own headlights. How about a moonlight drive through the spectral landscape?
Adventure through rugged and beautiful landscapes.
The saying goes, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Sunbuggy is the most fun we had on four wheels, so I say, “What happens on a Sunbuggy should be shared about Vegas.”
A vista of the Sheep Range Mountains.
Sunbuggys can also fuel your adrenaline rush on the powdery beaches of Pismo, California and The Oregon Coast. Set up your own wild ride with Sunbuggy Off-Road Adventures at 702-786-0143. Logon to www.Sunbuggy.com
Plenty of dunes to roam.
Feature and photos by Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine, and driving by Texas and Paul McCormick.