After my first real overlanding experience in 2015, I remember saying to Steve, “why don’t people do this in the US? Especially in the West? It’s the best way to travel.” We daydreamed a bit about how cool it would be to start a business renting out trucks so that people could experience the backroads and mountains we love. We were never serious about starting a business – but it turns out that other people were. Enter Wonderland Expeditions.
A while back, Gale Straub of the amazing She Explores connected me with a woman named Doré Mangan. Doré and her husband, Ryan, are fellow overlanders who have taken their love of the road and turned it into a reality. They founded Wonderland Expeditions to share their passion and experience with new overlanders and intrepid travelers to the Pacific Northwest.
Tell us a little bit about Wonderland Expeditions.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Wonderland Expeditions rents fully-outfitted 4×4 adventure rigs, complete with everything needed to explore the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We have a variety of adventure rig options including: 4Runner with CVT rooftop tent, Toyota Tundras with pop-up campers, an off-road ready teardrop trailer, and even an overlanding classic 1985 Toyota Land Cruiser (FJ60) with a rooftop tent. All of our rigs come with everything you need, so all you need to bring is your clothes and a sense of adventure, and we’ve got the rest covered.
How does Wonderland Expeditions help new overlanders get started?
Some people come in knowing exactly what they want in terms of a rig set up and itinerary. But most people are interested in exploring Oregon and its surrounding region and looking for advice on the best way to do that. So we help them out by recommending the best adventure rig for their trip (e.g. a full pop-up truck camper with a furnace for cold adventures or a small SUV with roof-top tent for more fuel efficient exploring), providing them with all the same camping gear that we’ve field tested on our adventures over the years, and even providing custom trip planning advice to make sure they get the most out of their trip. We offer tips for finding dispersed camping in the areas they are interested in, cool places to eat and drink along the way, recommended activities outside of overlanding, etc. We’re also working on our online resources for trip ideas, pro-tips, custom maps, etc. Our goal is to give people the resources, tools and confidence needed to take their adventure to the next level and see Oregon the way it’s meant to be seen.
What’s your favorite vehicle in the fleet?
One thing I love is that we offer a variety of options. Which means we can tailor the rig to the type of adventure or number of people/kids in your crew. But I have to say, Rocinante holds a special place in my heart. The combination of a Four Wheel Camper pop-up camper on a sturdy 4×4 truck makes adventuring possible and comfortable in just about any condition. It comes with a 12 gallon water tank, furnace, and 3-way fridge, making way off the grid adventures that much more comfortable. It was also our personal rig before starting the business, so I’ve got lots of memories and miles logged in that trusty steed.
What got you interested in overlanding?
I didn’t even know I was into overlanding, honestly. I just liked going on road trips and starting to push myself outside a ‘typical’ road trip and go off the beaten path.
My husband and I have a yearly tradition of road-tripping from Oregon to the Southwest and back and we pick a different route and side excursions every year. We both like the solitude and sense of accomplishment and self-reliance that overlanding gives us. Plus, it makes it easier to take our dog, Sula, with us since dogs aren’t allowed in National Parks. After the first year of overlanding in Rocinante, we realized too that National Parks really only scratched the surface. There were places just as beautiful, more fun to get to, and with fewer people around if you were just willing to take the time to explore.
What do you want people to know about overlanding?
It’s not as intimidating as you think. Sure, there are certain things you should know to be prepared and you should definitely do your research. But you can start small, build your confidence, and go from there. And that is what we are trying to do for people with Wonderland Expeditions. We do some of the preparations and research for them so they can have the confidence to get further out there!
Also, it’s really important to treat our public lands with respect and care. As more and more people are getting into overland and dispersed camping, the risk of degrading the places we are all out to enjoy grows. Protect what you love!
Why do you think overlanding is the best way to see the American West and Pacific Northwest?
There is so much more to see beyond the paved roads! With overlanding you get toplaces way fewer people have been, you get the solitude that makes you feel closer to nature, and the driving and exploring makes the ‘road trip’ way more fun!