What’s in a BackRoadsWest.com Virtual Tour Guide?
Our Virtual Tour Guides look and function much like this website. We use the power of technology to make it easy for you to navigate through our information-packed Guides with just the click of a mouse.
All of our Guides include several types of maps that are used to give you the most accurate information for the locations of the dirt roads and hiking trails we describe. We also use those maps to show you where the many pictures included in each Guide were taken. These pictures are the very best from our own personal library of thousands.
In addition to sharing our detailed knowledge of the roads and hiking trails of a region, our Guides include the history, flora and fauna and geology of that region. We also provide you with other valuable information like road conditions (including pictures whenever possible), area accommodations, travel tips, visitor information and much more.
Our unique “photo tours”. Click on an image and it displays full-screen.
Each of our tours includes a detailed map that shows the journey.
Our unique “interactive view maps” will reveal what it looks like in the direction the arrow is pointing.
Our guides include chapters on great hikes and what there is to see.
We rate each hike so that you’ll know what you are getting into.
Each of our road trips are also rated by difficulty depending on your type of vehicle.
Our road trips cover easy pavement to rough and challenging 4WD routes.
How the Guides are Organized
Each Virtual Tour Guide is of a particular region (like Death Valley). We organize that region into individual chapters (like a Road Trip or Hike) that are about a specific location and then each chapter is broken down even further into separate topics (like a Photo Tour or Map) relating to that chapter. By breaking-down the information in this way, you can easily locate the exact information you’re looking for. We have also created chapters that are for more general information like history or geology.
Below are some of the components you’ll find in every Virtual Tour Guide: Click each item to expand
One of our specialties! Come with us in both pictures and descriptions as we explore the Southwest. Click here to see a small sample.
One of our most unique features! We use both Topo USA and USGS Topo Maps. Each chapter in our guide comes with 2-4 individual maps. This include:
- Area Map that shows the extent of a road trip, hike or place of interest
- Interactive View Map used for seeing what it looks like at a given place
- Overview Map shows where the chapter covers in relation to the entire region
Area Map Interactive View Map
Let us take you on a hike! Let our pictures and descriptions “virtually” take you with us as we hike the canyons and trails of the Southwest.
Each chapter involving a hike includes:
- Level of Difficulty – we include our own hiking difficulty chart so you’ll know what you’re getting into
- Length – how long the hike is in round trip miles
- Elevation Gain – how much of a climb the hike will be
- Attractions – the main attraction(s) that you’ll see along the hike
Let’s go off-roading! This section gives you descriptions and pictures of the 4WD and lesser-known roads within each Guide region.
Each chapter involving a hike includes:
- Level of Difficulty – we cover trip difficulties from real easy (paved road) to very difficult, the kind you want to leave to the 4WD experts
- Trip Distance – total trip mileage, also in kilometers
Each road trip is given one of the above difficulty ratings. Below, you’ll see that each road trip is rated for individual vehicle classes (A-D).
How did the landscape get like that? Our guides include a comprehensive overview of the geology that was responsible for creating the landscape you see in the region a guide covers.
Some of the topics covered:
- Rocks – we’ll explain the types of rocks you’ll encounter when exploring a region
- Faulting – much of the landscape you’ll see was created because of earthquake faults
- Mining – many people are fascinated with the mining that has occurred in the past which has strong ties to geology
Examples of some diagrams found in our guides:
What is the name of that flower? We include pictures and descriptions of the local flora and fauna of the region. For plants, our guide explains where they are found, when they flower and other details. Handy tools are included, such as listing flowers by color.
Here is an example of what you’ll encounter in a guide’s Plants & Animals section:
There’s so much in this guide, where can I find what I’m looking for? Even after more than 15 years of back roads exploring, we are always learning new words and terminology. As part of our effort to share our knowledge with you, we include a glossary of terms in every Guide.
An example glossary from our Mojave National Preserve guide: