October 27, 2023
Rendezvous in the Ozarks is an overlanding event held in the picturesque Ozarks region of Arkansas, initiated by Natural State Overland and fellow enthusiasts. Just four years after its founding, this gathering has gained remarkable traction, emerging as a highly anticipated event in the Southeastern region, attracting off-road enthusiasts from across the country. The event finds its home at Mulberry Mountain Lodge, a mountain resort that offers breathtaking vistas of the Ozark National Forest. Vendors eagerly set up booths to exhibit their vehicle builds, showcase products, and make on-site sales.
During the daytime, attendees can navigate their way through the vendor space, embark on thrilling off-road adventures with hosted trail rides, explore the diverse Ozarks landscape, attend enlightening educational seminars, or simply kick back at their campsites. As the sun sets, the event transforms into a vibrant community with meals, stories, and music by campfires.
The Ozark National Forest is renowned for its remarkable features, including stunning views and exceptional off-roading trails. Linked to the St. Francis National Forest, this vast system spans approximately 1.2 million acres of state land, rightfully earning Arkansas its moniker as the "Natural State." Due to its rich array of outdoor and off-road opportunities, it serves as a significant destination for those in the mid-south region. To learn more about this region, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/osfnf/.
Our expedition comprised two rigs: Rough Country team member Jason Birke’s 2022 Toyota Tundra and my own 2019 Toyota Tacoma. Both these vehicles are equipped with Rough Country products, boasting performance suspension, high-clearance bumpers, winches, off-road lighting, bed and roof racks, molle panels, rooftop tents, and more. Additionally, we made use of Rough Country gear such as our 1000w power station, 45L refrigerator/freezer, and portable fire pit to enhance our camping setup.
The weather during this year's event was a dynamic challenge that truly put both our rigs and gear to the test. The event began under warm, sunny skies on the first day but transitioned into a chilly night as a low-pressure system swept in, bringing cold temperatures and gusty winds ranging from 20-30mph. Day two witnessed heavy, dense fog and rain, clearing up only in the late evening, revealing the magical mountain scenery and a clear, starry night sky. By day three, the weather warmed up, accompanied by sunny skies. Such fluctuating conditions can significantly impact trail conditions, gear performance, and overall experiences, making it crucial to consider these factors when building and outfitting your rig and camping setup.
Before heading back to Tennessee, I had the chance to take my rig out on some standard trails on the western side of the Ozarks. Utilizing the OnX Offroad app, I conducted thorough recon before my journey, recording my route within the app for future reference during subsequent visits to the area.
Rendezvous in the Ozarks stands as a delightful, family-friendly environment that draws people of all ages to revel in the natural beauty and off-road resources of the Ozarks, while fostering connections within the community and the industry. If you missed it this year, mark your calendars for the upcoming year's event, as we hope to see you there! This gathering caters to both beginners looking to dip their toes into vehicle modification for off-road use and seasoned Overlanders seeking to forge connections with like-minded individuals and brands. In the coming year, we're keeping an eye on events such as the Overland Expo Series and Moore Expo. Feel free to drop your questions in the comments section. For more information, visit naturalstateoverland.org or join the Natural State Overland Facebook Group.