1. Azusa Canyon
Dirty facts: Azusa Canyon is Southern California's only state-owned and -operated mud mecca. Located east of the city of Azusa, the park enjoys a steady flow of traffic on weekends and holidays. The bogging area is situated at the mouth of a large sedimentation basin near the entrance to Azusa reservoir. The bogs are deep and sticky, fed by the seasonal San Gabriel River, which transports a considerable amount of silt from the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains and making for an ever-changing plethora of gooey madness.
Hot setup: Street-legal rigs only. A snorkel-fed big-block and 54-inch Boggers will net you a crowd of enthusiastic onlookers. Underpowered rigs with small tires are usually confined to tacky fingers of sediment that divide soupy and sometimes bottomless pits.
When stuck, call: Randy's Off-Road Shop, 626/334-1676
2. Hollister Hills S.V.R.A.
Info: 831/637-8186, www.ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1179
Dirty facts: Hollister Hills is ground zero to our own Top Truck Challenge event, held each summer. Centrally located in the mountains dividing the city of Hollister from the agriculturally rich Salinas Valley, the park maintains 24 miles of trails that twist around century-old oak trees. During the rainy season, parkgoers are challenged by slippery clay and ultra-fine sediment in low-lying catch basins. A man-made obstacle course features a mud bog that always seems to attract crowds on the weekends. In mid-March, an organized event called Mud-N-Yer-Eye kicks off the 'wheeling season.
Hot setup: Hollister's gritty goop always seems to find its way into every nook and cranny of a rig. Plan on spending a considerable amount of time with a pressure washer after a day of fun. Deep bogs typically require big power and aggressive, self-cleaning treads. A winch is advisable but not required as long as you stick to the main routes. Four-wheel steering comes in very handy for some of the narrow off-camber canyons. Many routes are said to be impassable when wet, always a worthwhile challenge. A stout exocage will aid dent-free passage through canyons such as the Tank Trap and Bonanza Gulch.
When stuck, call: Jesse Bishop 4x4 Extraction Service, 831/638-9278
3. The Mounds OHV Area
Mt. Morris, Michigan
Info: 810/736-7100, www.geneseecountyparks.org/mounds.htm
Dirty facts: The Mounds, located just outside Flint, was originally an old sand and gravel pit area; as such, the terrain consists of soft, sandy soil. A large complex of three-dimensional berms gives the 1/2-mile-square park its name. Surrounded by woods and many small-to-medium-sized ponds scattered throughout, the park attracts everyone from OE manufacturers testing prototypes, to weekend warriors with purpose-built mud machines.
Hot setup: High horsepower is not required to have fun in The Mounds. A simple rig with 33-inch mud tires and waterproofed electronics will suffice. Be sure to bring a tow strap or winch.
When stuck, call: Genesee County Park Rangers, 810/736-7100
4. Twin Buttes Reservoir
San Angelo, Texas
West of San Angelo in Tom Green County, on the Middle and South Concho Rivers
Dirty facts: The Twin Buttes Reservoir features a plethora of muddy mayhem, thanks in part to the reservoir's ever-fluctuant waterline. The area is open year-round to 4x4s, ATVs and dirt bikes. Red-clay mud and silt sediment make for challenging bogs, even during summer months. Crowds typically form on weekends and camping is available nearby.
Hot setup: To do the bogs at Twin Buttes, we recommend 35-inch-or-taller tires, at least one locker and no less than two vehicles. Waterproofed electronics and solid extraction points are also advisable.
When stuck, call: Matt at West Texas Off-Road, 877/833-7464
5. Shiloh Ridge
Info: 800/432-3965, www.shilohridge.com
Dirty facts: The trails consist mostly of red dirt hill climbs and off-camber trails. Shiloh Ridge is located just North of Alto, Texas, about 30 miles north of Lufkin. The park offers plenty of room for RVs, pop-ups and travel trailers.
Hot setup: Cut Boggers, 1-ton axles and plenty of throttle application should get you through just about any of Shiloh's thick clay mud bogs.