These are the best states for people who love to go off-roading.
If you are into off-road vehicles, you'll find out soon enough that not all states are created equal.
Whether you like motorcycles, ATVs, Jeep Wranglers, or just testing your favorite pickup off the beaten path, some states have more to offer than others. Plus, different states offer different off-road experiences. Some states offer better rock crawling opportunities while others have hundreds of miles of dirt trails better suited for a side-by-side UTV than a lifted pickup.
Some have nice backcountry campsites where you can get away from it all. Others are closer to established towns and are great off-roading destinations for people who want to make memories with their families and friends.
Whatever you're looking for in your next off-road adventure, one of these states is likely to provide it. There's just something special about that moment your tires leave the paved roads and hit a dirt, sand, or muddy surface that makes us keep coming back for more.
Here's a quick look at some of the best states for off-road enthusiasts. We'll also let you know about some of the better off-road parks and trails you can expect to find in these locations. We also want to fill you in on some of the other activities you can incorporate into your next adventure off the beaten path in these locations.
We just had to put the Lone Star State on this list, because a state as seeped in outdoor tradition as Texas is going to be bursting with opportunities to put your vehicle into four wheel drive and have a ton of fun.
There's a little something here for everyone whether you like mudding, rock crawling, or simply speeding down a winding trail system. You'll find everything from hilly forests to dry, desert environments, depending on what types of scenery you prefer. Plus, the state is loaded with off-road parks designated specifically for testing your vehicle in a dedicated environment. Many of these parks are close to major cities, which makes access easier. Hidden Falls Adventure Park is outside of Austin, and Northwest OHV Park is outside of Fort Worth.
Much like Texas, California is brimming with off-road opportunities, mainly because of the state's massive size and diverse landscape. In the south you've got flatter desert opportunities while the north offers a chance to ride through mountainous green forests.
There are several popular State Vehicular Recreation Areas that give off-road enthusiasts the chance to tackle differing terrains. For instance, Oceano Dunes presents some incredible dune and sand riding, while Ocotillo Wells offers some of the best desert riding in the state. Most of these areas have nearby campgrounds to serve as a home base while you explore the area. There's usually a State Park or National Forest nearby to experience some breathtaking natural beauty, too.
Big Sky Country is the perfect place to set off in your pickup, Jeep Rubicon, UTV, or four-wheeler. The farther north you go in the state, the wilder and more untamed it gets. There you'll find areas like the Blacktail Wild Bill ORV Trails (owned and maintained by the USDA), the Fresno OHV Trail, and Glendive OHV areas which are both managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Most of the areas in Montana are BLM lands. The Pipestone Off-Highway Vehicle area outside of Butte is another great option, especially if you also like camping, hiking, and hunting. It's approximately 30,000 acres of wilderness and 75 miles of trails to explore it.
This state is loaded with off-road trails, specific Jeep trails, and staging areas where off-roaders can get their fix of dust and dirt. Many people associate Arizona with the desert, and it's true. Most of the off-road areas are set in a dry, dusty environment. The great thing is, many of these places are close to cities and offer easy access. There are literally dozens of ATV staging areas outside of Phoenix and Tucson.
Most off-road areas are open to multiple types of traffic too. Consider places like Seven Springs OHV area, Sycamore Creek, and Wildcat Pass just to name a few. Arizona also has many places that offer rentals of ATVs and UTVs for people looking to try it before making a big purchase on a new off-road vehicle.
It's easy to make the case that the Beehive State is the most popular place in the continental U.S. for off-roading adventures. The Moab area alone receives a ton of off-road traffic from people who want to experience the beautiful red stone and sand of the desert landscapes that are common there. As if that wasn't enough, Moab is also close to the beautifully scenic Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.
Check out Potato Salad Hill for some of the most serious rock crawling action in the state. There's usually a crowd on hand to add a unique element! If the desert and crowds aren't for you, there are tons of hidden areas like the Arapeen ATV/OHV trail that offer a more relaxing and less pressured experience.
They don't call it the "Last Frontier" for nothing. It's tough to find a more off-road friendly state than Alaska. Heck, in many parts of the state a 4x4 is required equipment just to commute to work in the morning!
One of the cool things about Alaska is that the state just started allowing the use of four wheelers on public roads with speed limits of 45 mph or less, which makes accessing the hundreds of miles of ATV trails in the state that much easier. The only downside is that the harsh winters do result in a shorter off-roading season for most of the state. Still, this is the state to be if you like off-roading, hunting, fishing, and taking full advantage of outdoor fun and adventure.
Most of the states we've been highlighting on this list are in the western part of the country. However, there are some great off-roading opportunities in the eastern part, too.
West Virginia is a gorgeous state where it's easy to get lost on the backroads or ATV trails during a day of riding. It's one of those states where your next destination may only be a mile away as the crow flies, but it's about four or five times that on the winding trails because of the mountain passes and switchbacks. It makes for some genuinely beautiful riding.
There are many off-road parks for vehicles, but the Hatfield-MCoy Trails are arguably the most popular in the state. They cover well over 1,000 miles and are great for history buffs. That's because the trails are in the same area as most of the storied history of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud took place from 1863 to 1891.
The Centennial State is a destination spot for off-road enthusiasts, especially the diehard Jeep owners. It is easy to see why once you start exploring the many beautiful trails across the state. Many take you through the heart of the Rocky Mountains and have the kind of terrain that ATVs and UTVs were made for.
You could argue that traversing off-road trails is a better way to see wildlife and scenic vistas compared to what most tourists experience on the highways and in the National Parks. Some of these trails, like Imogene Pass, will test both the machines and the humans operating them as they climb up to elevations of 12,000 feet or more. There are both dedicated private ORV parks and public BLM-managed areas like Sheep Springs OHV Area. You'll find more in the central part of the state near Denver and Colorado Springs, and both cities offer great access to food and lodging after a day on the trails.
Outside of areas like Las Vegas and Reno, there aren't a lot of people in Nevada. All those open spaces mean lots of chances to go off-roading in a mostly high desert landscape, and the Silver State wants you to come and ride their trails.
Nevada has a website entirely dedicated to registering your off-road vehicle and helping you to find an area to ride. Just about every corner of the state has multiple spots to take your new four-wheeler or UTV and get it dirty in a hurry. The ORV areas in Nevada are a nice mixture of private parks, BLM, and other federally-owned lands. Some can get quite busy on the weekends, but fortunately there are thousands of miles of trails to choose from to avoid congestion from other riders.
This state flies a bit under the off-road radar. Most people don't automatically associate the Keystone State with off-roading. However, once you get away from the cities and into the country, you'll find it's a lot like neighboring West Virginia. The mountains make the trails wind and twist with plenty of places to get away from it all.
There are not as many ORV parks and public areas open to off-road here as in some other states, but most areas don't get that much traffic to begin with. Check out the Allegheny National Forest; it offers a great double dose of trail riding and camping in a picturesque setting that most people don't know about.
The Sunshine State is another place that many people don't think about as an off-road destination. That's surprising considering how much off-roading actually happens there.
There are plenty of ATV parks and trails scattered throughout the state. Florida is great for those looking for mud and swamps, but not so great for those looking for a mountainous experience. In any case, it's a fun place to go riding. Consider the Cirtrus Wildlife Management Area, because it offers a little of everything from off-roading to hunting to fishing, camping, and hiking.
I may be a little biased including my home state on this list, but there's no denying we've got off-roading opportunities. I'll admit those opportunities are lacking in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula, but once you head north, everything changes. Cities and development thin out, and two tracks and ATV trails become more common. You can get lost for days on the thousands of trails that crisscross the Upper Peninsula.
Head all the way up to the Keeweenaw Peninsula if you want to lose your cell signal and ride uninterrupted in the majesty of nature. In the Lower Peninsula, consider something like the St. Helen ORV Trail. I tested a Polaris Sportsman there last year and loved it. Don't forget Silver Lake State Park's Off-Road Vehicle Area for some incredibly fun riding on the sand dunes on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan.
For more outdoor content from Travis Smola, be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his Geocaching and Outdoors with Travis YouTube channels.
NEXT: 3 WOMEN CHANGING OFF-ROAD VEHICLES FOR EVERYONE
Enjoy the outdoors?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.