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When you're feeling the urge to hit the road for an adventure, don't discount all the fun there is to be had off-road right here in Utah. With thousands of miles of sprawling vistas and breathtaking scenery that takes you from desert dunes to winding mountain trails, the Beehive State's outdoor recreation is second-to-none.
Though you could toss a dart at a map to pick your starting point, certain areas offer prime off-roading fun. Fuel up your ATVs, dirtbikes, four-wheelers and other OHVs at Maverik (don't forget the snacks and drinks) and check out any one of these seven best-loved Utah trails and riding areas.
Poison Spider Mesa
Though the name makes it sound like something you'll want to avoid entirely, Poison Spider Mesa is consistently ranked as one of the most popular OHV trails in the Moab area for good reason. But this isn't one for beginners.
With a technical rating of 7/10, this trail is deemed a bit more challenging due to its "large awkward ledges with tippy spots," according to onX. You'll have to navigate steep hills, slickrock and waterfalls, but the view from the top of the trail makes the rigorous climb worth it.
Be sure to (safely) snap a selfie when you catch a glimpse of the beautiful scenery that this trail is so famous for. (And to prove to your friends that you survived the ride!) After the adrenaline rush wears off, take a load off at Little Arch and chow down on some lunch while you enjoy the overlooking view of Moab.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Described by the Utah Office of Tourism as "[a]n off-the-radar expanse of photographic and OHV bliss," this is one destination you'll want to include on the bucket list. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park looks like the setting of a movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz — but it's infinitely more entertaining.
Located southwest of Zion National Park, the dunes are a favorite playground for off-roaders as 90% of the area is open to OHVs. You've got 1,200 acres of salmon-colored dunes to explore while you zip up, down and around all the ponderosas, pinions and juniper bushes.
All it will cost is a simple $10 entrance fee for you to entertain yourself all day. And the fact that it's a little off the beaten path means you won't be competing with as many motorists, which many consider a major bonus.
If you could choose one off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail to try, Hell's Revenge should be it. First of all, no geographical landmark has ever been as appropriately named as this one. This 6.5-mile trail is hard, technical and not for the faint of heart. Basically, it's not recommended for beginners.
From the very first rousing climb, you'll know what you're in for. After that, more steep climbs (and naturally equally steep descents) await you as well as sandy patches and tricky obstacles such as Hell's Gate, the Tip-Over Challenge, Escalator and Mickey's Hot Tub.
This trail is as scenic as it is exciting, with spectacular vistas of the La Sal Mountains, an overlook of the Colorado River and dino tracks. And if you want the thrills but don't have the skills, many local guides will be more than happy to accommodate you.
Little Sahara Recreation Area
Tucked away in the northwest corner of the Sevier Desert, the Little Sahara Recreation Area boasts over 60,000 acres of sand dunes, trails and sagebrush flats, notes Utah.com. LSRA's majestic dunes are the result of deposits left by the Sevier River into Lake Bonneville 15,000 years ago, which were then carried by the southwestern winds across the Sevier Desert. The area can be broken down into four areas of riding:
- White Sand Dunes: These easily accessible dunes on the northern end of the area contain more bowls than college football and are suitable for every level.
- Black Mountain: Dirt trails in the desert? Please and thank you.
- Dunes southwest of Black Mountain: These low-lying and less traveled dunes are perfect for beginners and antisocial riders.
- Sand Mountain: The crown jewel of this park, Sand Mountain provides the ultimate hill-climbing challenge with a 700-foot-tall sand wall.
The Paiute ATV Trail
A joint venture between the BLM, P&R and Fishlake National Forest, the legendary Paiute ATV Trail spans over 275 miles (plus 1,000 miles of side trails) and is perfect for easy ATV/UTV riding, according to Utah.com.
Despite its popularity, the trail is so expansive that you'll often go miles and miles without encountering another soul—enabling you to immerse yourself in the peaceful dense forest that surrounds you. Wildlife can be spotted near the trail, with herds of deer and elk often roaming the area.
In its entirety, the trail is best enjoyed over a 3-4 day period, with September and October usually providing the best riding weather. Overnight accommodations can be found at many of the towns the trail passes through such as Fillmore, Salina and Richfield.
American Fork Canyon
American Fork Canyon is a microcosm of Utah's outdoors scene: it's a world-class spot with something for everyone. The Alpine Loop is a bucket-list climb for cyclists and a jaw-dropping scenic drive (especially in fall). Mount Timpanogos is one of the most iconic hikes in the state.
For OHV riders, the canyon offers hundreds of miles of trails ranging from dirt roads to single-track trails, most on the easy to moderate side. Mineral Basin and Silver Lake are must-see locations along the way. One of the most popular trails runs from Tibble Fork all the way to Midway. It's a relatively easy 30-mile trail (doable in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle) with beautiful views and only a few steeper/rocky parts.
To see all of the OHV trails in American Fork Canyon, check out this map from the Forest Service.
Knolls Recreation Area
Move over, Beyonce and Solange—the best Knolls in the world are right here in Utah. Just 80 miles west of Salt Lake, the Knolls Recreation Area boasts 36,000 acres of dunes, rock hills, mudflats and more—perfect for a multi-day OHV adventure.
The sand dunes can be mostly ridden on normal tires. The western dunes are busier due to their proximity to the campsites, but the ones to the east are bigger and more deserted, though it takes longer to get to them. The numerous trails can be harder and more technical and are recommended for more seasoned riders, according to Utahoutdooractivities.com.
Got the need for speed? The mudflats are the perfect area to pick up the pace and have a blast while you're at it. Speaking of blasts, the Knolls are located right next to a bombing range, so make sure you stay within the area boundaries.
Follow the rules of the road
Before you fire up your OHV and hit any trail you please, it's important to be aware of some basic safety and regulation guidelines. First, the Utah Office of Tourism would like to remind you that any OHV — be it an ATV, UTV, OHM or snowmobile — has to have a current OHV registration sticker. (Non-residents will need to purchase a permit for each vehicle they bring to the state.)
Second, keep in mind that you can't just take your OHV to any trail you please. Pay attention to local postings and only drive in areas designated for OHV use. (For more information about where and how to ethically operate an OHV in Utah, visit the TreadLightly! website.)
Lastly, riding OHVs can be as dangerous as it is exhilarating. Please make sure to follow Motosport's basic safety measures when out and about. This includes wearing the proper safety gear, carefully inspecting your vehicle and avoiding venturing out alone if possible.
Start every Utah Adventure with Maverik
No matter which trails you choose to explore, make sure you fuel up for the adventure ahead first. Begin and end every expedition at Utah's premier adventure outfitter for fuel, food, drinks and more at Maverik, adventure's first stop. Visit Maverik's website to find a location near you.