Every now and then, Off Road Xtreme receives an invitation to go do something really cool. This past April, we were called to the hills of Northern Georgia for a Can-Am Off-Road Livin’ experience. The main purpose was for us to get some seat time and explore the capabilities of the 2022 Can-Am UTVs at Iron Mountain Resort.
Just last year, I had gotten the chance to test and review a Can-Am Commander out in the Big Bear backcountry and again providing thrill rides for a good cause in the deserts of Johnson Valley. This was a great experience, but I had never driven a Maverick or a Defender. Doing some real riding in the unfamiliar terrain of Georgia with unfamiliar vehicles would be an awesome test.
Arriving at the venue for the day, Can-Am had on display an impressive spread of their latest machinery. At the top of the list were all sorts of trim model Maverick X3 side by sides and various configurations of the Defender UTV.
Can-Am Had It All Planned Out!
The staff introduced themselves as well as two of their high-profile brand ambassadors indicating they would be leading us out on the trail. They continued on about the day’s schedule, had us sign the waivers, and then broke us into two separate groups.
Our host was super on point in all manners of planning this trip out in detail. Unfortunately, the weather forecast saw a severe springtime storm predicted for the area. The Can-Am folks did see this coming and provided fair warning so that we could pack for wet weather.
As soon as the briefing was over, they wasted no time in directing us towards the Can-Ams. My group was assigned to the Defenders. It had not started raining yet, so like an idiot, I walked past the machines with the windshields, the roofs, the six-wheeler, and of course the Lone Star special edition unit fully enclosed with heated leather seats too. Nope, I settled in with the barest machine of them all which looked like it would be the most fun to get squirrely with. I strapped in, put my helmet on, and waited for the convoy to start our parade.
Well, just like clockwork that was when the downpour started. This was crazy atmospheric river rain too. So basically, I was totally drenched from the get-go, but loving every minute of it.
2022 Defender: Can-Am UTVs At Iron Mountain
Some instructions were offered up on the basic machine controls and then we were off driving out to the trails. Having limited familiarity with the Can-Am Defender, I was satisfied with the ergonomics of my machine. But I could not help but ponder on what music everyone else was listening to and how the warmth of conversation must have felt like in the other units.
Quite some time down the road and now deep in the woods, we found a few interesting obstacles. Our guide waved us over to a mud hole, but everyone else declined. I circled back to take on the challenge and straddle the edge. At the point I thought I had made it through the mud, my Defender was sucked down into the muck until there was only one wheel making viable traction. My machine was firmly stuck. If I was hanging with my dudes, we probably would have just stood on the front bumper while rocking back and forth till we had freed the machine.
Feeling somewhat timid as a stranger in a borrowed vehicle and generally just waiting for the trail leader to do their thing, we winched up and were out of the mud hole in no time. The Can-Am liaison was very much amused as they were able to demonstrate a recovery with the optional winch that could be upfitted on any Defender from the factory at the time of purchase.
After the impromptu recovery lesson, some of the others had occupied themselves by traversing a somewhat awkward ravine. I found myself joining but it was time for the group soon to move on. Can-Am had us on a strict schedule and so we pressed towards the segment focal point which to my disappointment had nothing to do with off-roading.
Off-Road Livin’ With Dale Brisby
The designated Can-Am brand ambassador showcasing the Defender was none other than Bull Rider, Comedian, and notable social media personality Dale Brisby. With hundreds of thousands of followers, Dale might be most well known for his new Netflix reality series, How to Be a Cowboy. Out on the ranch, the Defender is an essential tool for Brisby, but today he was leading us out to a hilltop clearing to demonstrate how to lasso rope a bar stool.
This was all great fun and an unexpected twist for sure. I am certain that most everyone else was not totally delighted to be exposed to the constant on and off showers so the group headed back towards the Iron Mountain lodge. In hindsight, I believe if it had not been for the foul weather we probably would have explored more of the Defender’s capabilities.
Off-Road Livin’ At Iron Mountain Resort
Back at the lodge, everyone had returned and was attempting to dry out. For me, this consisted of shedding my gloves, ringing out my outerwear, hanging some gear, and posting up by the accommodating warmth of a fire. The two different groups traded stories and it seemed all were having a good time despite the conditions.
Once we were all thawed out, lunch was served to fuel us up. Meanwhile, the Can-Am machines were bathing in the rain and shaking off the mud waiting for the second round. This prolonged break gave me ample time to explore the centerpiece of Iron Mountain and its expanding footprint.
Plan Your Next Off-Road Adventure At Iron Mountain
Iron Mountain Resort is a private 4,300-acre outdoor recreation facility, off-road park, and campground located off of Highway 52 in Dahlonega, Georgia. Known as a premier off-road recreational venue in the southeast, the main attraction is the 150-miles of GPS mapped and marked one-way directional trails. North Georgia’s beautiful hill country provides a totally awesome and very scenic background. The trails are open every weekend from Friday-Monday with specific areas and trails for Jeeps and full-sized 4×4 vehicles, and single track for dirt bikes. The property is constantly being enhanced and further built out, such as a dedicated obstacle course area in March. Stay up to date with their calendar of events.
Besides the comprehensive ATV/Off-Road trail system, Iron Mountain Resort currently offers amenities such as full RV hookups, primitive camping sites, fire pits, picnic areas, showers, water hookups, a restaurant, and a retail ride shop for the last minute provisions and gear essentials. If you do not have your own off-road vehicle of choice, you can reserve and rent from several different Can-Am vehicles including the Maverick Max X3 Turbo!
2022 Maverick: Can-Am UTVs At Iron Mountain
Speaking of the Maverick. After lunch, I finally got the chance to get back out on the trail, and this time in a very agile UTV purpose-built for off-roading. I was actually surprised that Can-Am was even featuring the Maverick out here as I perceive this machine as ideal for the wide-open desert and not so much the hills of Georgia. But then again, the flagship Maverick is a wild beast that can muscle through most anything.
Anxiously anticipating the call to action to pick and select our rides, this time I already had my helmet in hand and knew exactly which Maverick I had desired. I landed in an all blacked out X3 X RS TURBO RR 72. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this would have been my top pick out of the 2022 Maverick lineup, due to its desert-tuned performance package. Equipped with 32-inch tires, FOX 2.5-inch PODIUM RC2 Piggyback coilover shocks in the front and FOX 3.0 PODIUM RC2 Piggyback coilover shocks with bypass in the rear. Settling in and strapping up, my 6-foot, 4-inch frame was secured with plenty of headroom and this time under a roof.
Off-Road Livin’ With Dustin “Battle Axe” Jones
At this point, I was super stoked to be back in a UTV and ready to hit the trails. But to my surprise, not anywhere near as stoked as our new trail guide and Can-Am brand ambassador, Dustin “Battle Axe” Jones. Having never met the professional off-road racer in person, I was well aware of the 3x winner of the Mint 400 accolades. Dustin most recently won the Mint 400 in 2021 and again in 2022. The dude is a fire-cracker cranked up to loud level 100 at all times. I could not have hoped for a better guide to go rip some Can-Am Mavericks around.
We started off pushing these UTVs down a short hill. Then we throttled them up out to the top on the other side. Since we had been getting rain pretty much all day, the steep trails were collecting all of the water. These sections were turning into fast-flowing creeks and rivers. Every hope and aspiration for more off-roading opportunities were completely fulfilled in this second portion of the day. It was a blast turned up to the max. Despite being fully soaked to the bone, I was loving it.
The Maverick XRS Eats Up The Mud!
We picked our way through the designated trail system the Jones and Can-Am had pre-planned. There was a good mix of tight and twisty technical trails. More than a few high-speed sections with ledges that we were flying off of were featured. There were plenty of off-camber ditches to maneuver through. It was all muddy and with a lot of pooled water or even full-on rivers flowing.
For certain obstacles the off-road experts considered difficult, or they wanted us to engage a certain vehicle feature such as the four-wheel-drive low function, we would stop the group and push through one at a time. For example this steep rutted out hill climb allowed Dustin to spot and coach us up the hill. Naturally, these Mavericks did all the heavy lifting and there was not a single issue holding us up. Well actually, someone did find themselves buried waist-deep in a mud hole and had to get winched out. It was not me this time.
One Final Thrill Ride: A Hot Lap With Dustin Jones
I thought the day was winding down and it looked like the trail run was coming to an end. Jones asked if we wanted to cut to the lodge or extend the route back. I was quick to nod for the long way home, so we jetted off scooting around the Mavericks. From here on out we were enjoying the machines at high speed allowing everyone to mash the throttle without inhibition.
When we arrived back at the resort, I was parked and bolted over to his car when he got out. Jones eventually noticed and then got the idea of what I was hoping for. His only words were “Well lets go!” I strapped myself into the 6-point harness and waited for him to clean out his goggles.
On this go around the burned-in track, Dustin was flying at his comfortable pace. Which felt like 5-times faster than what I had just completed. It probably was because what took nearly an hour before, we zipped through in only 10-minutes. Those downhill ledges I mentioned before, we literally flew over them only touching down once in the middle.
It was epic for sure and a nice way to end the trail time. We were both wearing pounds of that famous iron-rich Georgia clay. I know I had that certain $#!& eating grin on my face. Jones stayed out even longer offering more hot laps to anyone that wanted one. I was super grateful to have gotten the seat time with Dustin Jones. Running that accelerated pace reminded me of riding shotgun during my old desert racing days.
Off-Road Livin’ With Can-Am UTVs At Iron Mountain
You would think that would have been the end of the day. Can-Am had a nice way for us to wind it down planned out. A local restaurant was catering a BBQ dinner later that evening. It turned out that we had enough time to go back to the hotel and change into some warmer clothes. I opted at the chance to put on some dry shoes. I was also aiming to get a head start on cleaning the red clay out of my hair. Back at the hotel, I literally showered with my clothes on attempting to wash some of Georgia off my gear.
Once presentable, and with a fresh change of clothes, we went back to Iron Mountain Resort. Dinner was delicious. I feel bad about not recalling where it came from. I always look for some good old BBQ where my travels take me. Some cold libations were enjoyed along with a few games of corn hole. To top it off, live music had been arranged and everyone was fully kicking back.
Off Road Xtreme would like to thank Can-Am for including us on this adventure and letting us rip around with the Can-Am UTVs At Iron Mountain Resort. What a first class destination that I hope to explore more of! I cannot think of a better way to get around at Iron Mountain than in some of these marvelous machines. My favorite highlight was ripping the Maverick for sure! Perhaps later this fall we might get one out to the sand dunes and deserts out west.