The great American escape on four-wheelers

Dianne and Steve Colibaba, 60, spend their winters ATVing in the southern U.S. and their summers in B.C.


A man and woman standing by their modified toy hauler with ATVs.

How’s this for a toy hauler? Steve and Dianne Colibaba had a truck custom-built to carry their Yamaha Grizzly 550s. — photo courtesy Steve Colibaba

It’s the middle of January and temperatures are hovering around 15 C as Steve and Dianne Colibaba prepare for another ATV adventure in the Sonoran Desert.

Retired Canadians who spend their winters down south, the Colibabas have been on the road since 2010.  With two quads on board and a fifth wheel in tow, they’ve spent the last five-and-a-half years exploring the backlands of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington. They’ve also spent time in Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas.

“The first year we were on the road we tried to do it all . . . ” said Steve. “Since then, we’ve just been sticking to Arizona, Utah and California.

Lately, they’ve taken up residence in Quartzsite, Arizona, where having an ATV is like owning a second vehicle.

ATVs parked beside an old Aztec structure.

In 2015, Steve and Dianne rode from their campsite in Quartzsite, Arizona, to an old ghost town known as Cinnabar Mine. — photo courtesy Steve Colibaba

“There are unlimited miles of trails with views, old mines and geocaching here,” said Steve.

Modern-day gypsies

By the end of March, Steve and Dianne will be headed back to Canada where they will spend a month in Fort Langley, B.C.—which isn’t far from where their kids live in North Saanich and Burnaby. 

They aren’t the type to stay in one place, though. Before long, the gypsy in their soul will be taking them to other parts of the country. The Colibabas stick mostly to B.C., but over the years, they’ve also explored Alberta, Ontario, Yukon and Alaska. 

“We’ve ridden with the Quad Squad South Cariboo ATV Club, the Prince George ATV Club and the Elkford ATV Club in B.C., and the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad in Alberta and the Elliot Lake ATV Club in Ontario.”

ATV going up a mountain trail.

Riding with members of the Crowsnest Pass Quad Squad in Alberta. — photo courtesy Steve Colibaba

Elkford is one of Steve’s favourite rides in B.C., but his most memorable experience was at the 2010 Hatfield-McCoy National TrailFest in Gilbert, West Virginia.

“It was something I had seen on TV and that was one for the bucket list we always wanted to do,” he said. “When we found out it was their 10th anniversary, we had to do it.”

As one of the largest OHV trail systems in the world, the Hatfield-McCoy Trail has hundreds of miles of interconnecting routes through six counties. The trail connects several communities along the way, and it’s open 365 days a year.

ATVers riding down streets in Gilbert.

The 10th Anniversary of the Hatfield-McCoy TrailFest in 2010 was Steve Colibaba’s most memorable ATV experience. — photo courtesy Steve Colibaba

For other Canadians thinking of heading south with their ATV, the Paiute Trail in Central Utah also comes highly recommended by Steve.

A dream come true

Living in an RV on the road isn’t for everyone, but for Steve and Dianne, there has been no looking back.

“For about 27 years, we kind of planned this,” said Steve. “We’ve always been campers, so we just thought let’s give this a try and it’s been no looking back. We’ve met more people and seen more things than most people will in a lifetime of vacations.”

ATVing in Valley of the Gods.

With the quads, they can discover hidden backcountry gems, such as the Valley of the Gods in southeastern Utah. — photo courtesy Steve Colibaba

Steve and Dianne travel in a custom designed flatbed truck and fifth-wheel trailer that altogether is 66 feet long. So if it weren’t for their Yamaha Grizzly 550 quads, the Colibabas would be limited to staying on the beaten path, and that’s not their style.

“We occasionally go into an RV park but being awning to awning is not my cup of tea,” said Steve. “I’d rather be out in the wilderness.”

To learn more about their adventures, you can follow Dianne’s blog

Steve and Dianne Colibaba enjoy geocaching, and the most unique item they’ve found was a travel bug from Portugal. — photo courtesy Steve Colibaba

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