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A Hummer Adventure

While SUVs are certainly popular, most drivers don't venture any further off-road than a roadside market.

CBS News Gretchen Carlson, however, recently visited an off-road driving course designed to put the popular Hummer through its paces.

The Hummer is touted as the most capable SUV money can buy - and buying one can cost plenty. But CBS News found a place where you don't have to own a Hummer to enjoy the benefits of one. In just two hours of driving time, Carlson found out exactly what the Hummer is capable of doing.

Television ads for the Hummer H2 promote access to adventures no ordinary vehicle would dare to tread.

The Hummer is, after all, a descendant of the Humvee, the multi-terrain tested vehicle of choice for the U.S. military.

A rugged reputation makes the Hummer a hit at auto shows, but beyond the budget of most consumers with the H2 model priced over $70,000.

So if taking a Hummer home is not an option, now taking one off the road is thanks to off-road driving courses, like the one at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa near Pittsburgh, Pa., the Hummer is the latest thrill ride.

"It impresses people, it's infectious. They really love it," says resort owner Joe Hardy. He built an SUV playground where for $275, you can spend a couple of hours behind the wheel of a Hummer.

"It's not a speed thing or anything," Hardy says. "You go about 3 to 5 mph. It's challenging. That's the word. It is challenging."

Ready to challenge herself, Carlson decided to get behind the wheel with instructor Tom Smith by her side.

Smith, who is director of activities at the resort, tells Carson, "The first tip is to get a feel for that drivetrain. Feel how in-control it is. And speed is the key."

Carlson began on the practice course and cleared some obstacles like rocks, a downed tree and a 22-inch vertical step.

For the 22-inch vertical step, Smith advised, "One foot on the brake, one foot on the gas. Break-throttle modulation. Nice and easy, constant."

Then it was time to test the Hummer's grip by ascending a hill at 60 degrees, followed by a descend into a 40 percent side slope with only three tires touching the ground.

Carlson completed the practice course by submerging the Hummer in 30 inches of water.

"Whoa, It looks like the entire hood is under water. This is so awesome," Carlson exclaimed. To get out, Smith asked her to accelerate up till she got to the very top.

Feeling in control of the vehicle, Carlson joined a group of Hummers on the open course.

And since this driving course shares real estate with a spa, you can go from a muddy crater to a mud facial.

The spa treatment will cost you extra. Ironically, seems more women are getting a kick out of trying the Hummer course than men. And Carlson does have to say, after getting over the initial jitters, you do build a sense of confidence.

Two hour Off-Road Driving Academy $275/vehicle
Half-hour Ride-Along Session $25 /person

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