Location: Accessible from Leadville or Alma, Colorado
Length: 13.6 miles
Time: 2-3 hours
Experience level: Moderate
Points of interest: This is the highest pass road in Colorado open to vehicular travel, so that alone makes it worth the trip. At the 13,185-foot summit there are incredible views. There are legal side roads but they can be challenging. Old mines dot the area and snow tends to stay in the shaded areas late into the year.
What you need: High clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle with a good spare tire or two. Bring extra water and survival supplies as conditions at this altitude can change rapidly.
Location: Near Ouray, Colorado
Length: 4.1 miles
Time: 1 hour if you're lucky
Experience level: Difficult
Points of interest: Accessed by following the Alpine Loop and Engineer Pass trails, there will eventually be a sign for Poughkeepsie Gulch. A long shale rock climb is the first obstacle, and it has been known to shred tires. Shortly after, a rock stair step looms and there is a potential for vehicle damage on this obstacle. There is a by-pass around this obstacle. A short drive further up the mountain will offer spectacular views of Lake Como. You'll eventually top out on Hurricane Pass and you can either reverse course or take Corkscrew Gulch towards Ouray.
What you need: High clearance four-wheel-drive, a spare tire or two, extra water. This trail is not as heavily traveled as some of the other Colorado trails.
Red Cone Pass, Webster, Colorado.
Location: Red Cone is a one way road and loop trail. Follow county road 60 off of US 285 at Webster (N 39deg 27.402' W 105deg 43.293' ), follow CR 60 past Hall Valley Campground turn right at (N 39deg 29.008' W 105deg 48.240' ) and follow signs to the top of Red Cone Pass. Red Cone ends at the top of Webster Pass (N 39deg 31.883' W 105deg 49.961' ). From Webster Pass return to US 285 by turning left.
Length: Approximately 20 miles, with other off-shoot trails to be investigated, as well.
Time required: Plan on the entire day to allow for rest breaks and sightseeing.
Experience level: You need to have experience at navigating technical 4WD trails and confidence in yourself and your vehicle to be successful and enjoy this noted trail, with extreme exposure for 3/4 of a mile at the top of the pass.
Points of interest: This is an exciting and difficult technical trail, with sheer and heart-arresting drops above tree line and as you crest Red Cone Peak, at an elevation of 12, 801 ft. The views are spectacular.
What you need: You will need a 4WD vehicle with high ground clearance, skid plates, lockers will help, aggressive tires and a recovery kit. The beginning of the trail is narrow with rocky climbs and switchbacks. Be prepared for snow and ice at the top, as well as in the shaded glades.
Information: Get maps of the area before exploring, and make sure the pass is clear of snow. Information and maps available at www.trails.com and www.cosports.com, as well as BLM.
Seven Mile Rim, Moab, Utah
Location: This picturesque trail starts approximately 12 miles north of Moab, off of Highway 191. Turn left 1/2 mile past Highway 313. Head north on Cotter Mine Road, and bear left one mile onto trail, climbing up steep hill. One mile further is a 7-Mile Rim sign at the start of the trail. When exiting the trail, take a right on Mill Canyon Road; 1/10 of a mile into the Tusher Wash, exit right to continue on Mill Canyon for approximately 2 1/2 miles east to Highway 191. (N38 42.01'W109 42.60' to N38 43.16'W109 45.75')
Length: This 12.5 mile-long loop is marked by painted white dashes on the rock trail that guide you to over the best track. Brown sign posts also mark the trail. Some of the most difficult places on the trail have a bypass track.
Time required: Best done as a half-day trip, allow three to four hours, but plan on longer to take photos and short side trips to interesting features along the trail.
Experience level: While fun, this trail is extremely difficult in some spots, but can be easily navigated with the correct vehicle and a confident driver experienced in off-road driving technique. Plan on using a spotter and follow the white-dash guidelines for vehicle track. One section of the trail near Merrimac Butte can feel-and be-tippy--be cautious, if you have a fear of heights, and make sure to look at the track ahead and not the drop-off. Wipe Out Hill is optional, as a side trail allows for bypass. Make sure you can get up WOH-before you go down!
Points of interest: This trail with sandy track and slickrock is rewarding for its beautiful red-rock canyon lands vistas throughout the length of the trail, as well as majestic and interesting rock formations that include Monitor and Merrimac Buttes (named after the battleships!) and Determination Towers. Side trips take you to other features, such as the SevenMile Canyon Overlook.
What you need: You need a 4WD vehicle with high ground clearance, skid plates, tow hooks and good tires. Always carry recovery gear, food, water and first aid kit.
Information: BLM, Moab Field office; Moab Jeep 4 x 4 Trail Reports; Dan Mick's Guided Tours (435-259-4567)
Shiloh Ridge ORV Park
Location: Alto, Texas
Size: 1,200 acres
Time: At least two days
Experience level: Mild to wild
Points of interest: Two mud pits, rock area, sand hill and hill climb. Shiloh Ridge has one or two special events per month.
What you need: The park has 44 RV sites with full hookups, 82 water only RV sites and unlimited primitive camping. There is a concession area and showers/restrooms. Pricing for a non-event weekend to enter the park is $20 per vehicle (includes driver) per day and $5 per passenger per day. Camping prices are $16 per site per night for water/electric, $10 per night for water only and primitive camping is free.
Information: 936/858-2193, www.shilohridge.com
South Padre Island
Location: South Padre Island, Texas
Length: 34 miles
Time: 2 hours to 2 days
Experience level: Beginner
Points of interest: There is one legal entry point for vehicles north of the town of South Padre and it's there you pay a small fee to drive on the beach. The sand is tightly packed for the first few miles but becomes loose the farther you travel. You can drive to the Port Mansfield Cut, which separates South Padre Island from the Padre Island National Seashore. Along the way you'll enjoy solitude and tall sand dunes dotted with salt-tolerant grass.
What you need: Aside from the aforementioned permit, airing down your tires is all that's needed for a stock vehicle.
Thompson Lake Trail
Where Is It: Near Maxville, Montana, approximately 60 miles northwest of Butte on Hwy 1.
Length: 40-miles loop trip from Maxville to Thompson Lake.
Time: A full day.
Wheeling experience: Intermediate to advanced.
Points of interest: Good graded Forest Service roads lead to non-maintained and at times challenging trails. Snow can be quite deep before July, making access to higher elevations impossible. This is a very scenic area with water crossings, numerous lakes and tight turns.Thompson Lake, which is in the middle of a non-motorized area, is accessible by (of all things) a non maintained county road. Lots of remains of early mining activity are in the area. Be sure to stop at the lake---motorized travel beyond the lake is illegal, but it's worth your time to hike to the two other lakes above it.
What you need: A chain saw---it's not uncommon to find fallen trees across the trail. Long-wheelbase vehicles may have some trouble in turns, but it is do-able.
Information: Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, 406/683-3572, www.fs.fed.us/r1/b-d/
White Wash Sand Dunes, North Eastern Utah
This area is particularly popular for riding ATVs, but with the right rig, White Wash Sand Dunes can be a blast in any type of powerful 4x4. The area is located 48 miles northwest of Moab, Utah. Cherished for its scenic beauty, the terrain consists of red sand mixed with traditional Moab slickrock. Large cottonwood trees dot the lower sections while stunning red cliffs to the east provide a spectacular backdrop. In addition to dunes, White Wash features many miles of dirt two-track, perfect for exploratory day trips and follow-the-leader fun. Camping is allowed and is made convenient by the nearby facilities at Green River. If you choose to have a campfire, be sure to use an existing fire pit. To find directions check out www.discovermoab.com.