Women Who Off-Road: From Opera Singer to Rock Crawler

Editorial and Photos: Jason Stilgebouer
Video: Bryan (Bam) MccarthyBrant Page

onX Offroad joined Hollie Fowler and her custom-built Jeep Wrangler JKU known as “Mischief Maker” to hear about her unexpected journey from life as an opera singer in Scotland to a full-time trail dweller. Check out photographer and media director, Jason Stilgebouer’s, account of what it was like to follow Hollie around Moab during the Easter Jeep Safari and find out how she aims to inspire more women to join the off-road community. Be sure to watch the video to see Hollie and Mischief Maker take on the red rock terrain of Utah.

The off-road community is full of incredible people whose stories feel larger than life. We got to hear a lot of these stories at this year’s Easter Jeep Safari, but one stood out from the rest. Meet Hollie Fowler and her Jeep JK rock crawler named Mischief Maker.

Hollie’s story starts a little different than most off-road enthusiasts. Originally from Scotland, she had a very successful career as an opera singer, leading her to live and work in many different countries. On a break from a residency in Italy, she met her husband while on vacation in New York. The trip led Hollie to leave her life of travel, settle down with her husband Walter in the US, and trade her career as a singer for one in real estate. Soon after, she bought a Jeep Wrangler JKU that she was considering modifying—which eventually became the giant on 43s she has today.

During her research, Hollie saw the potential of what her Jeep Wrangler could become. Her modifications started with a Metal Cloak lift with 35s and a 3-inch lift, and she felt ready to test her vehicle out on some terrain. The first time Hollie went off-roading, she went with a group of all men. It was her first time on the trail, and they told her, “if you can’t keep up, here is a map.” She thought to herself, “you know what, that’s fine, but I am going to do more than you and I’ll show you.” She went up an obstacle that no one else could make, and, instantly, there was that respect. From then on, it became her addiction.

In 2018, her vision for her Jeep Wrangler grew bigger, so she started pitching companies on being her build partners. From there, the modifications ramped up. Every Jeep 4×4 has a personality, and Hollie wanted her vehicle built to match hers. Now, it does. Her monstrous Jeep JKU is built on 1-ton axles, 43s, a custom roll cage, and many other modifications—including King bypass shocks, coilovers, and long-arm suspension. Hollie admits the Jeep JKU is overbuilt, but it can take on just about any trail so it fits her personality perfectly. 

Once her brand collaborations started, Hollie saw the opportunity to turn this lifestyle into a business. Since she faced the challenges and intimidation of joining a male-dominated industry, Hollie recognized the need for inclusivity in the off-road community. Her goal was to encourage women to get behind the wheel of a Jeep 4×4, so she developed an all-women off-roading group called Women Wheelers. The group now has over 6,000 members and serves as a source of support, information, and inspiration for other women who off road or want to hit the trail.

This year was Hollie’s second time adventuring in Moab with her peers at EJS, but this time her explorations went further. Before using onX Offroad, Hollie found herself running the same trails repeatedly. With the App, Hollie can confidently branch out and try new terrain, knowing Mischief Maker is up to the task. But, let’s be serious, there is hardly a trail that her wild Jeep Wrangler can’t handle (or that Hollie can’t, for that matter).

The App’s Explore feature lets Hollie see all of Moab’s trails along with their difficulty level, technical rating, duration, and photos. She navigated around Cliffhanger and found new lines and connecting trails on familiar Hell’s Revenge that she didn’t even know were there. onX Offroad was the perfect tool for everyone at Easter Jeep Safari to get out of their comfort zone and return home safely.

So, what does it mean to be larger than life? Well, we think Hollie is a perfect example of what that means. Everything she accomplishes in her career in this industry she does through pure dedication and selfless acts, not in pursuit of money or fame. Her success is driven by a desire to boost others up and show women that it’s possible to knock down gender barriers. Hollie is an incredible person, and it was an honor spending time with her on the trail with her awesome Jeep JKU. Whatever she chooses to do next, we know this: it is sure to be larger than life.

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Kate Weber

New England born and raised, Kate traded the Appalachian foothills for the Colorado Rockies before heading north again for western Montana. Once an avid snowboarder, Kate discovered backcountry snowmobiling when she settled in MT, and she’s since added a dirt bike to her fleet of engines. She can also be found pack-rafting on wild rivers, creating in her metalsmith studio, or eating street food in some far-off corner of the world.