The Internet is overflowing with bucket lists: things people want to do before they die. For this year's roundup of where to go wheeling, we decided to compile a list of 20 places all true four-wheelers should go before they kick the bucket. Not all are 5-plus pucker-factor thrill rides; some made the list based on scenery, history, and geology.
We also include events worth burning vacation days to attend, if you don't mind occasional off-road traffic jams.
And so everyone gets more than their money's worth here, we recap our Ultimate Adventure destinations and compile a list of private ORV parks, limiting ourselves to places that were still publicly accessible at press time. Land closures are an unfortunate reality, so always "call before you haul." Also, a few of the private parks are primarily competition tracks, just so you know before you go.
Late-breaking trail information and reports can be found in the 4x4 Trail Forum on our website, 4wheeloffroad.com. The Drivelines column in each issue contains a calendar of events. We also encourage everyone to browse our website for additional information on the areas listed here.
As an extra double bonus, we tossed in contacts for the various competition organizations and four-wheel-drive associations. Good luck crossing these destinations off your list.
Top 20 Trails & Areas
•Area BFE and surroundings: To head off potential land closures at the pass, a group of wheelers bought the area that includes Upper Helldorado. "Public" Moab still includes Pritchett Canyon among its challenging trails, although signatures runs such as Lion's Back are no longer open. (Moab, UT; www.areabfe.com)
•Badlands Off-Road Park: One of the first private off-road parks is still one of the most challenging. The Badlands has hosted many "extreme" 4x4 competitions over the years. (Attica, IN; www.badlandsoffroad.com)
•Barnwell Mountain Recreational Area: Katemcy Rocks was a staff favorite in its initial Mason location. At press time the park was preparing to reopen in a new Mason County location, so Barnwell Mountain gets our nod as a Lone Star must-do for the time being. (Gilmer, TX; www.barnwellmountainra.com)
•Bitch Trail: Great Lakes wheelers like Canada's Batchawana Bay and Sault St. Marie for off-pavement challenges. Judging by our Ultimate Adventure experience, The Bitch is our pick of must-visit places north of the 49th parallel. (Vancouver, BC, Canada; www.can4x4.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
•Black Hills Nat'l Forest: Harley riders have Bike Week in Sturgis; four-wheelers have the Black Hills around Rapid City. Bikini and T-Back are two of the area's more notorious trails. (Rapid City, SD; Black Hills Four Wheelers, www.bh4wheelers.com)
•Chokecherry Canyon: Farmington has some of the most challenging trails in the Four Corners region. Chokecherry Canyon is one of the most popular destinations for hardcore crawlers. (Farmington, NM; Cliffhangers 4WD Club, email@example.com)
•Dusy-Ershim OHV Route: Many longtime Sierra Nevada wheelers prefer this trail to the Rubicon. (Shaver Lake, CA; www.fs.fed.us/r5/sierra/publications/pdfs/rogs/dusytrail.pdf)
•Flat Nasty Offroad Park: Missouri's finest, this park exceeds its name. Git R Done is one of the park's nastiest trails. (Jadwin, MO; www.flatnasty.net)
•Globe/Florence Junction, AZ: Outside of Phoenix, the greater Globe region harbors some of the state's toughest: Ajax and Upper Woodpecker to name two. (Arizona Roughriders, www.arizonaroughriders.org)
•Gray Rock ORV Park: Considered by many the most challenging private park in the Southeast. It isn't always open, so call ahead. (Mt. Olive, AL; www.grayrockorv.com)
•The Hammers: This area is probably the current Mt. Everest of rockcrawling. Pick your poison: Jackhammer, Sledgehammer, Clawhammer. (Johnson Valley, CA; www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/barstow/johnson.html )