If, while driving through the Jim Thorpe traffic intersection, you saw a military vehicle parked in front of Pocono Whitewater's Adventure Central, you saw a Pinzgauer all-terrain transport vehicle—a rugged magic carpet ready to take you to and through the rough and tumble backwaters, chasms and abandoned strip mines of Carbon and Schuylkill counties.
"I was looking to get into a business that was fun," said Scott Dietrich, owner of All-Terrain Pinzgauer Tours. "The important thing was to excite people about the Jim Thorpe outdoors. I'd like to provide people with an adventure, a great experience, something they will remember for many years.
"People don't often have the opportunity of getting out into the more primitive areas to see the natural beauty of this area," he said. "This tour is one way to do it.
"Creating All-Terrain Pinzgauer Tours accomplished a number of things," he continued. "It gave me a business opportunity that I enjoy and the ability to share these fantastic outdoors with our guests."
A little over two years ago, Scott Dietrich had the idea to offer rustic tours out of Jim Thorpe. "I was looking for a Pinzgauer. I had this idea to develop a business based on this vehicle because of its off-road capabilities."
Dietrich used Craigslist to locate a Pinzgauer in New Hampshire—a four-wheel drive 1979 model that had been used as a troop transport by the Swiss Army. "Military-type vehicles can't be imported into the United States unless they are at least 25 years old," Scott explained.
Dietrich's four-wheel Pinzgauer has a four-cylinder, air-cooled 90-horsepower engine with dual carburetors. It has ten forward speeds and two speeds in reverse. The vehicle can handle a side slope of 43°, and climbing or descending a straight-on slope is limited only by the traction of the tires.
After buying the Pinzgauer, Dietrich had to drive it home—and he didn't know what to expect. "I didn't know if it was road capable," he said. "I had an eight-hour drive and I was as nervous as I could be. It turned out they are super on the highway. They can reach speeds of 68 miles per hour and get about 15 miles per gallon."
Once home in Pennsylvania, Dietrich tested the Pinzgauer on steep slopes and rocky, wet terrain. "It proved to be a great tour vehicle."
Dietrich now has two Pinzgauers: a four-wheeler and a six-wheeler. The four-wheeler can carry eight passengers in the carriage plus the driver and a front passenger. The six-wheeler can carry 12 passengers plus the driver and a front passenger. Together, they can carry 22 people on a tour.
All-Terrain Pinzgauer Tours offers a variety of excursions. The most popular tour is an adventure outing to a 600-acre reclaimed former strip mine of the Reading Anthracite Company near Tamaqua. It is called Hades Hollow.
For off-roading, Hades Hollow has it all: open areas with deep puddles; narrow, nearly impassible twisting forested roads; a steep boulder-laden terrain; a blue-hued lake, and a western-style canyon where you can search for three-million-year-old fossils.