I've driven past the funky Offroad Rentals place for over 20 years. Their office is in an old, brightly painted railroad boxcar, right on Hwy. 111 as you come off the 10 freeway heading into Palm Springs – a remote area known as Windy Point. It always looked fun, seeing ATVs, quads and dune buggies running up and down the hills and sand dunes.
As payback to my 12-year-old son for helping me out with a weekend of cleaning out a desert-area storage unit, I surprised him with a stop at Offroad Rentals.
We chose the quads. Anyone over the age of ten can drive one. For $40, you get 30 minutes on a fairly new quad, up on the dunes or several courses with banked corners. They provide helmets and goggles, teach you how to shift gears, and you listen to a ten-minute recorded safety lesson. The guy who recorded the lesson was hilarious; his humor makes you want to pay attention. Once out on the hill, if you show you're a responsible rider, they give you an extra ten minutes in riding time.
Even with millions of miles of desert in California, in an ever increasing eco-restrictive world, Offroad Rentals seems out of place – riding fast, up and down hills, throwing sand everywhere, making tracks in the untracked dirt. The firm is very strict about not harming plants and animals. Yet environmental wackos, not wanting any motorized use of the desert, have previously been spotted trying to place endangered species onto the property.
"We have cameras everywhere,” said one employee. They also own the land, which keeps the government from trying to shut down people having fun.
Offroad Rentals is open 365 days a year, 10 a.m. to sundown.
My wife and I have a rule: We can't go out and shop for new “big boy” toys unless we actually use one at least three times within a year. Things like jet skis, kayaks, golf clubs or a boat.
After a visit to Palm Springs' Offroad Rentals, consider it a number-one priority on my way to becoming a desert rat. The clock is now ticking with only two more visits to go, and then I can start shopping for quads.