Off-Highway Adventures: Discover the Best Trails for Your OHV near Arizona State Parks
October 23, 2023
If you’re a seasoned Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) rider, you likely have your favorite trails to ride–the ones you know the best, the ones with the most spacious staging areas for you and all your pals, or even the ones that few people know about so there is less traffic.
If you’re a new OHV rider, you may be struggling to figure out where to start your off-road adventures. With more than 40,000 miles of off-highway trails in Arizona, it’s no wonder picking a starting point can be overwhelming.
Whether you’ve got years or just hours from behind the five-point harness of your side-by-side or the handlebars of your ATV, we have the information you need to make your experience fun, safe, and responsible.
Check out the great destinations below to pair your off highway vehicle adventure with a camping trip. Hot coffee in the morning, a long day of exploring the trails underneath blue skies, and then a nice shower to rinse the dust off followed by great grub around the campfire… does it get any better than that?
Hit Destinations for Riding and Camping
In north-central Arizona lies the quaint camp at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Electric sites give you plenty of space for your rig and gorgeous views of the Verde Valley. This park provides easy access to Mingus Mountain trails. Breathe in the pine-fresh air as you breeze down the mountainside. If you want to add a little variation in your trip, spend some hours hiking along the Verde River, which runs adjacent to the park, or cast a line in one of the park’s three lagoons, which are seasonally stocked with rainbow trout.
For a new adventure, look no further than the expansive BLM trails just outside the campground at Alamo Lake State Park. This remote lake is known to be a fisherman’s paradise, but our hot tip is that it’s also for dirt road dreamers! Your campsite or cabin can serve as your own private staging area. Craggy slot canyons and the open sandy trails that span the flat between Arrastra and the Rawhide Mountains will quickly unleash your inner desert rat.
You can also connect with the Arizona Peace Trail from the park–the largest OHV loop trail in the country, at 675+ miles long. If you travel past Quartzite to/from the park, do yourself a favor and check out the new Arizona State Parks and Trails grant-funded Peace Trail staging area, complete with 26 pull-through parking spots, a restroom, picnic area, and security lighting.
Just because it’s near the city doesn’t mean these adventures are any more tame. Call Lost Dutchman State Park at the base of the Superstition Mountains your temporary home and head into the Tonto National Forest (Tonto Motorized Vehicle Use Permit required). Your destination is Bulldog Canyon: 34,000 acres hold approximately 20 miles of open routes. These routes are all full-size vehicle width and provide access to the beautiful Sonoran desert and Goldfield Mountains.
The need for speed is tempting, but remember to respect the trails and others who are recreating. Designated roads, trails, or areas will be marked with a route/trail number and appear on a map available from the land managers. Travel on other than designated routes, trails, or areas is illegal and fines may be assessed.
Apart from the law, practice common sense and ride in designated areas. It’s the right thing to do and preserves this recreation resource for years to come. The desert may seem as tough as nails, but the landscape is delicate and can take decades to recover from OHV damage. Tearing up public lands off-trail may result in the closure of these areas due to the erosion of land or disruption to wildlife habitat as a result of riding recklessly.
Lastly, remember that safety starts with you. Check your equipment and pack all the survival gear you’ll need if your ride ever goes sideways, including extra water and food, tools, a spare tire, and extra clothes. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and consider bringing a personal locator beacon or at the very least, a fully-charged cell phone. Practice the buddy system and ride in pairs. Check the weather and download all your maps before you hit the dirt road.
Ready to ride?
We hope these great itineraries have sparked excitement and ideas for your next off-highway adventure. Build new outdoor experiences with Arizona State Parks’ maps of designated OHV riding areas, available at AZStateParks.com/where-to-ride. These maps are broken down into six regions of the state, so you can find the corner of Arizona you want for your next adventure, then find a designated trail and go.
Managing and conserving Arizona's natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our parks and through our partners.
For information about Arizona State Parks and the many recreational, historical and cultural programs, call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com.
PRESS CONTACT: Michelle Thompson at (480) 589-8877 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org