Where to ’Wheel and Overland: New Places to Explore in the U.S. and Beyond

10+ new places to explore in the U.S. and beyond

Breaking news: You can't go off the grid if you don't know where that is. You also can't go rockcrawling or trail riding if you don't know where to go. To get you started, we've put together more than 10 places to explore—some are on government-run land, while others are private off-road parks. We also tried to find some that you may never have seen before in Four Wheeler. If you're new to four-wheeling or overlanding, also consider joining a local 4x4 club, as a club can be a great source of information and camaraderie.

Photo: Hidden Falls Adventure Park

Texas
In Marble Falls, Texas, you'll find Hidden Falls Adventure Park, a 2,700-acre off-road park. Motorized vehicles of all types can play here. There's mud, rocks, creeks, and waterfalls—all sorts of terrain, with this being Hill Country. You can do plenty here, whether you're running a bone-stock or highly modified rig. Camping is allowed. Note that the park is currently open Thursday through Sunday, and on Friday and Saturday night 'wheeling is allowed until midnight.
Info: Hidden Falls Adventure Park, www.hiddenfallsadventurepark.com

Photo: Stony Lonesome OHV Park

Alabama
Stony Lonesome OHV Park—that's where to go in Alabama. It's located in Cullman County and is comprised of more than 1,456 acres for whatever floats your boat (not including boats, but including horses). You can also check out the park's events, which include Barbie Jeep racing, poker runs, mud runs, night rides (go nuts and try the 24-hour night ride), and more. You can also camp or get a cabin.
Info: Stony Lonesome OHV Park, stonylonesomeohv.us

Photo: BHM Offroad Test Facility

New York
BHM Offroad Test Facility in McDonough, New York, has trails, obstacles, and guides available if you've never 'wheeled before. The locale also does focused training, such as a Ladies Weekend just for women, or if you've modified your rig and want to try it out before an overlanding trip or trail ride, this is the spot. The park says it will "provide you the testing grounds for your off-road adventures." There are easy and challenging trails and obstacles, and it's open to 4x4s and ATVs alike. There's camping, too.
Info: BHM Offroad Test Facility, bhmoffroadtestfacility.com

Photo: Hollerwood Offroad Adventure Park

Kentucky
Hollerwood Off-Road Adventure Park is in Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky, which means you're near the Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Resort Park. There are more than 2,500 acres at this off-road park for whatever you're driving/riding. You'll find obstacles, but there's also loads of nature to see. The park has been working on new trail access, too. Events also take place here, such as speed climbing. You can camp and night riding is allowed.
Info: Hollerwood Off-Road Adventure Park, hollerwoodpark.com

Photo: Tecate Baja 4x4 Club

Baja California, Mexico
The Tecate Baja 4x4 Club recommended exploring in the town of Jacume near El Hongo in the rural area of Tecate. The route is known as "la mina," and 90 percent of what you can expect will be "stones with steps" for different levels of 4x4 modification. "That place is for everyone!" the club told us. "There are about 3 kilometers [nearly 2 miles] in one circuit that's between the stones where on several occasions there have been events where up to 300 4x4 vehicles have been gathered." The route is approximately 25 miles from the Tecate border.
Info: Tecate Baja 4x4 Club can be found on Facebook or @tecatebaja4x4club on Instagram

Photo: Jesse Pluim/BLM

California
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gave us this tip: Samoa Dunes Recreation Area in Samoa, California. If you've been to the area before, know that major improvements are forthcoming, so it'll be new to you even if it's old to you. This 300-acre area has 140 acres of motorized-usage trails and beach strand, plus there's the Eureka Dunes—75 acres of riding area for OHV use, which extends about a mile north of the park. 4x4s and ATVs can explore here, and with that comes the ability to also hike, fish, sightsee, surf, and, if it's your thing, bird watch. Factoid: Ammo bunkers can be spotted near the staging area. The Coast Guard had to surveil the Pacific coastline during World War II.
Info: Samoa Dunes Recreation Area, on.doi.gov/2N4kfwo

California
California's OHMVR division of the California State Parks gave us the tip of Modoc Line Rail Trail near Susanville. It's owned by Lassen Lands and Trails Trust, but it also runs through BLM land. It's an 85-mile-long rail trail and awfully scenic, with mountain ranges. High-clearance vehicles are allowed on the Sage Hen segment, Snowstorm Canyon segment, and Viewland. Note that this is a multiuse trail system, meaning you'll share the road with bikes—and even horses.
Info: Modoc Line, lassenlandandtrailstrust.org/modoc-line-rail-trail

Photo: Racing at Purcell's

Canada
Nova Scotia Jeep Club, Halifax Chapter, gave us a tip for where to go in Canada, and you may not have heard of it before: Racing at Purcell's, or RAP, located in Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. It's owned by Shawn and Bridget Purcell, and Shawn ain't no poseur. Extreme obstacle buggy racing in Quebec was his thing, and then he decided to set aside 20 acres of his land to bring it to Nova Scotia. RAP holds competitive events, including the Rough and Tough obstacle course, but there's also something dedicated to Shawn's first passion: mud trucks. The park built its own version of hill and hole racing called Deep and Dirty. "Some of the biggest, baddest mud trucks from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have fun getting muddy here." Look for competitive mud events, too.
Info: Racing at Purcell's can be found on Facebook or @racingatpurcells on Instagram; Nova Scotia Jeep Club, novascotiajeepclub.ca

Photo: Big Sky 4 Wheelers

Montana
The Blacktail Wild Bill ORV Trail System is in Flathead National Forest in Kalispell, Montana. The area is a favorite of the Big Sky 4 Wheelers club, which has a "work share agreement with the Forest Service that allows us to build challenge features on the trail. We clean the trail and try to keep the brush down on our work weekends. We have built a number of challenge features on the trail and all challenge features have bypasses," the club told us. (In fact, the club's main fundraiser—Snow Bash—is held here. The next event is January 17-18, 2020, so get on that ASAP.) The club said there are multiple obstacles on the trail that have difficult lines and easier lines, and there's an area they call the playground with multiple obstacles. The entire trail is said to be doable in most overlanding vehicles, too, although be aware that some of the taller and longer rigs might have an issue. Expect rocks, hillclimbs, and more.
Info: Big Sky 4 Wheelers, bigsky4wheelers.com or the U.S. Forest Service, bit.ly/2C2kbqG

Pennsylvania
Bald Eagle State Forest in Pennsylvania is one of many forests within the U.S. State Forest system in the state that has what are labeled as "drivable trails." There's a laundry list of options when it comes to other Penn forests with drivable trails (bit.ly/2JBkzAq). The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry explained drivable trails as, "maintenance of these roads is often limited just to the minimum amount necessary to control erosion and sedimentation." So, 4x4s versus low-clearance. Bald Eagle State Forest is 193,424 acres in five counties within central Penn. Rausch Creek Off-Road Park (rc4x4.org) is also in this state.
Info: Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, trails.dcnr.pa.gov

Michigan
An off-road park that's not even open yet? Meet Holly Oaks ORV Park in Oakland County, Michigan. It's projected for July 2020. What we know: The area was selected because it's where Michigan has the most licensed ORVs in the state—yet it's a state without legal public riding areas. We also know that "as part of a long-term goal of the Statewide Trail ORV Plan, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources wanted to create an opportunity for legal, public off-road vehicle recreation in southeastern Michigan." The park will be made up of former and active sand and gravel mines and be open to all types of motorized vehicles. It's a joint state-county project and will be operated by Oakland County Parks and Recreation in a partnership with the Department of Natural Resources "via a 20-year operating agreement, with a 10-year renewal. "
Info: Holly Oaks ORV Park on Facebook

Where Else to Explore?
Where to 'wheel? That's a question that seems to have a different answer every year, as BLM, forest, and state parks close opened trails or open new trails, or private off-road parks shut down while new ones pop up. Figuring out where is OK and what can drive there can be a real struggle. For example, if you're in North Carolina, Tellico OHV in Nantahala National Forest closed down quite a few years back, but did you know you still have Badin Lake OHV Trail Complex in the Uwharrie National Forest (bit.ly/31ZE6AR)? Or how about North Dakota, where as of 2003, the BLM closed all BLM-managed public lands? But you still have about six BLM-run areas for OHV use in Montana/Dakotas—although they're all in Montana. A Maine forest rep told us you "can operate on the road system maintained for public access, but not on the ATV or snowmobile trails. We don't maintain or provide Jeep or fullsize vehicle trails." And the national forests in Alabama do not permit off-roading, and the ORV trails have a maximum width limit of 50 inches. Meanwhile, the BLM will be opening up more land for recreational use as part of California's West Mojave Route Network Project, and other closed trails are opening in other states following fire or other natural causes of damage. But how are you supposed to keep up with all these changes?

Not to mention, we'll be the first to admit that Googling for answers/info takes you down a rabbit hole of misinformation, illegal trails on restricted land, and sometimes you'll even face impossible-to-interpret maps, including from some state's government-run agencies. We have some solutions to help with your search:

The Forest Service gave us this link to a state-by-state list of motor vehicle-allowed trails: bit.ly/36pWPcf.

The BLM handles 245-plus million acres of public land (including in Alaska). Where can you explore by vehicle? Start here: blm.gov/programs/recreation/OHV

400 national parks fall under National Park Service's domain. Sure, most don't allow your vehicle there, but some do. Each park lists what's OK and what's not, so start your hunt here: nps.gov.

Take a cruise through recreation.gov, which exists to help you plan a trip based on what you want to do and where. It's kind of like a super group, since everyone you can think of is performing in it: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Federal Highway Administration, National Archives & Records Administration, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, Tennessee Valley Authority, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service.

There's a brand-new topo trail-mapping app—so new that we haven't tried it out ourselves yet—from onX Offroad that parses through 985 million acres of public land and more than 240,000 miles of roads and trails to help you find a place to go, including width restrictions. Waypoints, weather forecasts, offline maps it's all there, plus more than 54,000 campsites and campgrounds. You're in charge of the filter. It costs $3.99 per month or $29.99 for the year. Learn more here: onxmaps.com/offroad-app.

 

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