Choose Your Own Adventure: Become an Explorer One BDR Butler Map at a Time

Words by Kyra Sacdalan
Photos by Ely Woody

More and more young professionals, retirees and the youth alike are making experiences a priority. Investing much more time, energy and finances into enriching activities rather than burying themselves under a pile of stuff. They often want their hard-earned dollars to offer them wisdom, lasting memories and new relationships by way of adventure. Even better if said activity fits effortlessly within a jam-packed schedule. A lot of passions can mean little free time.

Backcountry Discovery Routes is the answer to a motorbiking outdoor enthusiast’s quest for fun riding, epic sceneries and a deafening quiet unlike anything you’d find in the city. They are a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation rooted in Seattle, WA and conquering the current paradigms of travel one North American territory at a time. Established by a group of off-road aficionados nearly ten years ago, with support from ADV outfitter, Touratech-USA, and specialty cartographers, Butler Maps, the BDR (as they’re known in the community) unifies established trails and roadways into one long, comprehensive route. Their hard work results in a detailed map and documentary-style film which guides each rider through an experience unveiling the treasures – monuments, restaurants, extraordinary landscapes, et al – hidden beyond the Interstates.

Butler Maps helps put these crusades on paper, even adding their signature “golden’ flair. A yellow line marks the best pathways possible, and in the BDR’s case, their state to state promenade through the countryside. Like the yellow brick road laid out for Dorothy, it’ll lead travelers to various obstacles and through lands of enchantment. But instead of facing witches and monkeys with wings, the few folks they’ll encounter along the way are kind, generous and happy to see new faces and strike up a conversation.

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It’s for those wanting an exotic getaway, but don’t have the time to fly across the world. Or to test their wits and skills in the open air without the risking it all. Just outside the back steps are several fulfilling journeys accessible to those with a busy schedule, minimal resources and a thirst for adventure. The latest edition explores Southern California’s backcountry starting at the Arizona border town of Yuma, then crossing the Chocolate Mountains, following the Colorado River for a spell. Further north, travelers lose their breath over the sights of the Mojave National Preserve, choose to challenge the strenuous climb at Colosseum Mine, veer off the path in Death Valley and literally watch rocks roll across the desert floor.

What the Backcountry Discovery Routes offers to their devotees is freedom. By providing endless amounts of information about a region, riders, drivers, bicyclists or backpackers can follow some simple tracks without the stress of the unknown – liberating them further voyage beyond the edges of the map. By unveiling mysterious landmarks, BDR gives the trip substance and adds fodder to any jobsite storytelling when it’s all said and done.

They make memories. And how they do that is by pioneering the Outdoor market, giving way to motorcyclists (and beyond) who want to see more than Starbucks and become familiar with America’s boundless beauty. Ventured alone, with friends or as part of a tour, the highways are less-traveled, the two-track is fun and fast, the expert sections are formidable and the roadside motels, diners and attractions are not to be missed. All of which benefit from the frequency of weary travelers popping in and out and patroning their otherwise sleepy towns.

It’s not about leaving town. Or going for a ride. It’s about being amazed. Pushing yourself to the limit without the fear of going too far – unless you want to. The Backcountry Discovery Routes isn’t just the average experience. It’s existential. Because a trip down one of their yellow-colored avenues could change your life.

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