There are a lot of places to ride in Texas. Can-Am Ultimate Mudder John Ferranti has been to most of them. But for location, cost and quality, nothing beats Down South Offroad Park. The 700-acre slice of Texas paradise featuring slip n’ slides, alligators, mudding and trail riding.
Although it’s been open less than a year, Down South instantly gained popularity among locals and celebrities. The main beach area is crowded with families and friends each weekend, and NFL players like Mario Williams and J.J. Watt have even made appearances.
With a Can-Am® video crew in tow, John draws attention at Down South, including owner Kendyl Clamon and her husband Jim. The duo volunteers to show John the prime mudding spots among the twisting and turning trails.
“You can stay high and dry or get muddy,” Kendyl says. “A lot of mudders like coming here because the elevation is off in our pits. Some have hard rocks, some have sand; you can’t predict the bottom.”
Kendyl and Jim are the two hardest-working people inside Down South, making their offer to guide John and the Can-Am crew even more generous. While driving, Kendyl is closing a deal with an ATV rental company and Jim answers customer calls every 10 minutes. “Doown South” he says at the start of every call, usually followed by a “No problem! C’mon down y’all!” Down South is a friendly place to ride.
“This is hands down the best park within a couple hundred miles,” John says. “You can’t touch the mud and trails out here.”
John didn’t bring his Can-Am racing rig to Down South because the engine still needs tuning before Mud Nationals. Instead, he rides the 2007 Can-Am Outlander ™ 650 he usually reserves for trails. Still there’s only one thing on his mind – finding mud.
The first stop is at the bottom of a valley, where a lazy alligator pokes his head up from time to time in one of the pits. John paves his own way, first tackling the flying sand, then the water and then the muddy bottom. He finishes riding up on the hillside and comes back down, eager for more. He easily navigates the trails and swamps, moving quickly in an oval like an off-road NASCAR driver.
“You use your body English to find the bottom,” John says. “If you have to lean it all the way on its side, where your snorkel’s near underwater, you have to do whatever it takes to get your tires to bite.”
On the hunt for more challenging conditions, he passes a stretch of trail where two riders are stuck in the mud. After lending them a helping hand, John proceeds to put his Can-Am in two-wheel drive and plow through the same area. The tires take hold and easily propel him through.
For his final act, he finds the thickest mud in the park and carves it like an electric knife through butter. By this time, a crowd 15 strong watches every move. But John remains alone in the mud. Nobody’s going in there. Not with that much mud.
Afterwards, John sits on his ride and reflects on a day of fun at Down South.
“It’s good to refresh yourself on mudding techniques,” John says. “You could sit on the couch all off season eating potato chips and watching SportsCenter and not getting faster. You come out here, get a little practice, a little time in the saddle, it helps significantly.”
John knows he’ll need all the practice he can get if he expects to compete with the world’s best at Highlifter Mud Nationals in only a few days.
Down South Offroad Park
Address: 903 Hwy. 90 Crosby, Texas
Hours: 3 p.m Friday- 6 p.m. Sunday
Phone: 713-OFF-ROAD (633-7623)
Pricing: $10 per day/$25 for the weekend per person.$10 per day/$25 for the weekend per ATV.