NW and BC Overland Rallies Fun, Families, and 4x4s!

NW and BC Overland Rallies Fun, Families, and 4x4s!

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Photos by Mercedes Lilienthal

The The NW Overland Rally and BC Overland Rally have become a yearly tradition to many folks. Typically held either back-to-back or in the same month during the summer, adventure enthusiasts flock to Washington and British Columbia to take classes, check out the latest overlanding gear, win some cool stuff, and best of all—check out all the rigs.


2019 NW Overland Rally

Celebrating its 9th year, the NW Overland Rally (otherwise known as NWOR) boasts over 100 vendors showcasing their wares, tons of classes and workshops to teach you critical skills, has a free nightly bonfire and raffle to win awesome gear, as well as a multitude of adventure 4x4 vehicles on display.  

NWOR has blossomed from a small assembly of attendees to a mid-sized regional overland rally that hosted approximately 2,200 visitors and over 100 vendors this year. Vendors from not only the Pacific Northwest, but all over North America show up to share their latest products with show goers. Each booth typically showcases product, literature, company reps, as well as a vehicle to demonstrate how the products work (if vehicle-related). Other vendors host happy hours or cooking demonstrations, where attendees can take advantage of yummy eats or drinks.

.Anyone can attend NWOR—whether you’re living out of your Toyota Land Cruiser and are traversing the globe for a few years already or someone who is just interested in travel and vehicle-based traveling and wanted to learn more.

Along with vendor rigs, attendees also bring their vehicles—especially Toyotas. From Land Cruiser to Lexus, Tacomas to Tundras, you can spend the entire weekend ogling at all the customized builds that are there. The entire field, located in the tiny town of Plain, Washington, is brimming with built-up, adventure-ready Yotas. I witnessed dozens of Toyotas at NWOR: from a diesel-powered Land Cruiser Troopy from Maltec, which donned an 80 Series chassis to a customized 1980 FJ40 with a home-built camper box on the back. Also making appearances were a plethora of modified Tundras, Tacomas, and 4Runners to another FJ40 (this one was a 1978) with a Cummins R2.8 Turbo swap and completely re-done interior.

Every day is jam-packed with informative sessions and hands-on courses like vehicle recovery, cooking, knot tying, medical preparedness, how to drive your own 4x4, and even morning yoga. There is a ton to learn, courses to attend or sign up for, and oodles of other attendees to meet. “The overland rallies are like a family reunion, except that at this reunion you feel like your relatives are some of the top instructors and presenters in the world,” says Ray Hyland, the owner of both rallies. He and his wife, Marianne, continually ensure everyone is having a great time and are safe at both events. 

In addition to classroom-type sessions, there are hands-on trainings, too. How to winch properly, advanced vehicle recovery techniques, and courses on how to repair your tire or weld in the field are some that are offered. Trail rides are also available, and include a variety of runs: from seeing scenic surrounding areas, to a ladies-only group, as well as some tracks that could test your off-road expertise.

Many people’s favorite part of the rally is the free nightly raffle and bonfire. The crowd circles around an oversized fire pit when the sun starts setting. Participants can win anything from a hat and stickers or a rad flashlight, all the way up to a winch or tires for their adventure mobile! I don’t think anyone would be upset over walking away with cool, free gear from this event—and there’s a lot of it.

2019 BC Overland Rally

The BC Overland Rally (BCOR) is the NW Overland Rally’s smaller Canadian cousin, and is held in Canada’s picturesque countryside. BCOR hosted approximately 950 folks and approximately 75 vendors this year. Switching its location from Sasquatch Ski Resort in Hemlock Valley to the famed Whistler Olympic Park, where the 2010 Olympic Games were held, this rally just finished its third year in production. Although the skies were ominous and it rained nearly the entire time, show attendees wore their rain slickers, had fun, and shared many travel stories with each other.

Same as NWOR, seasoned instructors hosted many classes and workshops and vendors had their products on display. Many vendors, from both the US and Canada attended both shows. Off Grid Trek sells items like high-efficiency solar products and Chobe off-road trailers, Cascadia 4x4 offers up winch accessories like flip-up license plates, hawse fairleads, as well as Toyota-specific hood-mountable solar panels, and Overland Kitchen sells stainless steel kitchen systems for Toyotas (and other manufacturers). Other vendors offer suspension systems to outfit just about any Yota or recovery gear that would work for any adventure rig.

In addition to Toyotas being featured in vendor row, many of them were proudly set up in attendee camping areas. If you attend either show, make sure you tour through the designated camping zones. Attendees’ vehicles are some of the best and most unique! 

Four-wheel drive Toyotas showed up to BCOR in full force. Tacomas, Tundras and 4Runners were aplenty, but I did see a nice converted flat-bed Toyota truck as well as a 1983 Australian-market Hilux four-door diesel for sale. I chatted with the owner, Chris Steffan, a bit about it. Chris has this modified Hilux since 2011 and imported it into Canada in 2016. It has dual transfers, two air lockers, and many other upgrades. “This older Hilux has the typical spring mods that a lot of people do in many pick-up trucks in America,” he states. This is a 2.4 liter 2L series diesel that started life naturally aspirated in which he put a high-mount CT20 on. This well-used rig has driven Canada’s Whipsaw Trail among many other tracks. 

If you’re looking for laid-back, enjoyable, and informative overlanding events to go to, both NWOR and BCOR should be on your list. These regional rallies have tons to offer. From technical or entertaining classes, to hands-on courses, happy hours involving wine, beer, and whiskey or vendors selling heaps of items—both NW Overland Rally and BC Overland Rally are adventure events worth attending. Mercedes is a new addition of the Toyota Cruisers & Trucks team as a Feature Editor. You can follow Mercedes’ adventures on Facebook @crankshaftculture and @mercedeslilienthal and via and Instagram @crankshaftculture and @mercedes_lilienthal.

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