Americans love off-roading. This is perfectly understandable considering the phenomenal landscapes that make up the United States of America. You will find exciting off-roading locations across the entire country but if you had to choose one state to head off to on an off-road adventure of a lifetime, which would it be?
This is a really difficult question to answer because the US is such an environmentally rich and diverse country. If you look at the range of trails in each state as well as the overall reviews of the trails, you’ll be able to narrow your choices down a bit. This is exactly what we’ve done and we have identified the top four states you should have on your bucket list of you’re crazy about off-roading.
1. West Virginia
West Virginia’s terrain encompasses everything from plateaus to mountains, from low-land farming valleys surrounded by forests to high-land ridge flats with thick forestlands and rocky ridges and peaks. This makes it the perfect landscape for off-road lovers no matter what type of ride they enjoy.
As a result of the environment being so conducive to off-roading, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to locations and off-roading parks. Although there are off-roading locations throughout West Virginia, there is a large concentration of trails in the Hatfield-McCoy region. This is an area in southern West Virginia where the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud took place in the 1800s. The 700-mile Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is said to offer some of the best off-road trail riding in the world.
West Virginia is like a natural amusement park for off-roaders and the selection of trails is like a box of chocolates.
West Virginia Off-Road Trails to Try
- If you want to test your skills or push your vehicle to the limit head for the hills at Chaos Park and try the teeter-totter.
- If you don’t own a vehicle but would like to learn how to, The Greenbrier will provide you with a vehicle and a guide.
- If getting muddy is your favourite off-road activity you can go and play in King Knob Motorsports Park.
- The Buffalo Mountain, Bearwallow, Devil Anse, and Rockhouse Trails that form part of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System are off-road trails that you must put on your bucket list.
California’s incredibly varied geography includes golden beaches, majestic mountains, lush river valleys, volcanic lava beds and remarkable desert landscapes. It is home to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the US outside of Alaska, and just 85 miles away the lowest point, Badwater Basin in Death Valley.
In Northern California off-roaders can enjoy magnificent views of the Sierra mountains riding along dirt tracks surrounded by unusual rock formations and phenomenal flora and fauna, through creeks and over huge slabs of granite. Central California offers off-road trails that take you through thick forests, along rivers and up and down and around hillsides. Southern California off-road trails naturally include a lot of sand as you follow trails through open desert areas, sandy trails, hill climbs and huge dry lakes.
The weather in California also adds to its appeal as one of the best states to off-road in because you can go on an outdoor adventure almost all year round.
California Off-Road Trails to Try
- If you want to soak up the stunning scenery of a state park whilst off-roading the Hollister Hills SRVA has over 6,800 acres of trails for different levels for you to explore.
- If you’re a newbie the 60 miles of trails at Miami Motorcycle Trails take you through beautiful scenery and are manageable yet challenging enough for the off-road bug to bite you if it hasn’t already.
- The open dry lake at El Mirage is a fantastic place for off-roading play.
- Off-road trails to put on your bucket for California are the Big Pine Flat trail, the Sheep Creek Truck trail and the Hollister Hills SRVA trails.
Arizona is an off-roaders heaven. The terrain is made up of the flat Colorado Plateau, a high-elevation desert peppered with canyons; the Basin and Range area where linear mountain ranges alternate with vast desert plains; and the Transition Zone which is essentially a dramatic escarpment intersecting the two. This is the area where you’ll find most of the off-roading locations in Arizona because the landscape has characteristics of both the plateau and the basin. Off-roaders can enjoy rugged mountainsides, steep rocks, pine forests and expansive deserts.
You can enjoy a relaxed drive through Ponderosa pines along forest service ways. Wind through desert hills along trails with sand washes that take you past old corrals and windmills. Experience one of the most photogenic trails in Arizona at Schnelby Hill Road where you’ll find yourself surrounded by towering red rock buttes, a deep-green forest and a clear blue sky.
Arizona Off-Road Trails to Try
- If you want a memorable adventure for the whole family the Bloody Basin Trail north of Phoenix is ideal. It’s an easy trail that passes through the Agua Fria National Monument, has interesting side-trips to archaeological sites along the way as well as hot springs and the most expansive views.
- If you’re an off-road aficionado and want to test your skills and the limits of your vehicle Black Hills Box Canyon is where you should be headed. The ‘untamed’ trails will put you through your paces on almost every type of terrain possible from desert single track to steep rocky climbs and deep water crossings.
- Try your luck on the “Hundred Dollar Hill” at Cinders Hills if you’re brave and experienced enough.
- Off-road trails to put on your bucket for Arizona are the Greasy Spoon, the Apache Trail and Smiley Rock.
Alaska has to be on this list of the most popular off-roading states in the US seeing as it has even had its own off-road television show – ‘Alaska Off-Road Warriors’. Alaska has a harsher environment and you get everything from tundra landscapes to large braided rivers to glaciers and mountain passes to test your mettle on.
There are family friendly guided off-road tours that you can take the whole family on – even your 80-year old grandmother! You can sit back and relax and enjoy the picturesque Alaskan wilderness. You’ll see waterfalls, beautiful streams, glaciers and even some wildlife like moose, bears, lynx, foxes and eagles.
Seasoned off-roaders can head off on the treacherous Dalton Highway which leads to a town called Deadhorse. This must be the ultimate off-road challenge as it is basically the loneliest, longest unserviced road on the planet. Not only will you have to deal with fog, potholes, gravel and snow, you may come across a grizzly bear have your windscreen shatter from the ice or have to pass one of those 18-wheelers you see in “Ice Truckers” zooming past you. This is truly a trip of endurance and only to be contemplated by experienced off-road drivers.
Alaska Off-Road Trails to Try
- If you want an off-road adventure your family will never forget then the Rainforest Nature Tour is an absolute must. You’ll see the start of the Boreal or snow forest that stretches all the way to Siberia, as well as a multitude of sights and sounds that are only to be found in a rainforest.
- Call Ken Schaurt of Alaska Off-Road Adventures. He has a reputation for being a guide of note (as well as entertaining) and will custom-design an off-road trail to suit your skill level.
- Four-wheel drives should try the Bald Mountain, Eureka, Hatch Pass and Coal Mine Road trails.
- If you’re a serious off-roader then Alaska should be top of your off-road adventure bucket list.
Although these are what we think the four most popular off-roading states in the US are, know that it was really difficult to pick the top 4 because there are so many excellent off-roading adventures to be had across the depth and breadth of the United States of America.