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25 Epic Off-Road Adventures Across the U.S. and Canada

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Roads? Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads

The landscape of North America is vast and home to a variety of different terrain. While there are extensive highways stretching across the U.S. and Canada, there are plenty of looser, or even unmarked territories, for adventurous drivers to explore. We looked up some of the best off-roading destinations on each side of the border to find these 25 great spots for Jeep, 4x4, ATV, or dirt bike adventures.

Hawk Pride Mountain Off-Road Park
©TripAdvisor

Hawk Pride Mountain Off-Road Park

Tuscumbia, Alabama
USA Today recommends this park with more than 90 trails, where level-five trails are considered "hardcore territory" and recommend "a big roll of toilet paper and extra set of underwear." All rock-crawl trails are 100% natural rock, the site guarantees.

Related: 22 Bucket-List Experiences for Adrenaline Junkies

Byrd's Adventure Center
©TripAdvisor

Byrd's Adventure Center

Ozark, Arkansas
The Ozarks offer plenty of rough terrain to challenge your 4x4s. Arkansas Jeep dealer McLarty Daniel recommends heading to Byrd's, where there's trails from beginner to "Red Trails," for which even expert drivers are recommended to equip their Jeep with roll cages. In between, there's a rock garden and obstacle course for $15 for motorcycles and ATVs and $20 for four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Related: Why People Are Crazy About Jeeps and Why You'd Be Crazy to Buy One

Hot Springs ORV Park
Sharleen C./Yelp

Hot Springs ORV Park

Hot Springs, Arkansas
This park is recommended by the state tourism office, the Arkansas Times, and off-roaders alike. For $33 a day or half that for bikes and ATVs, drivers get access to rock-crawling trails of every difficulty level, all well marked so you don't get in over your head.

Flagstaff, Arizona
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
Whipsaw
Whipsaw by Tjflex2 (CC BY-NC-ND)

Whipsaw Trail

Princeton, British Columbia
 A popular course for Canadian off-roaders, and one of BF Goodrich's past picks for outstanding trails, driving dry through the BC woods is quite different from when the mud gets wet enough to cling to your tires. Even on dry-weather days, you'll drive through some ponds while overlooking the Cascade mountains east of Princeton. There are plenty of friendly Canadians to help you out in a pinch.

Related: 30 Best Summer Travel Destinations in Canada

Rubicon Trail
Wikimedia Commons

Rubicon Trail

Near Pollock Pines, California
This famous — or infamous — 22-mile stretch of road never presents the same route twice. Fourwheeler.com warns of falling trees and shifting rocks, and The Last Great Road Trip, a team of off-road adventurers that writes about its exploits online, chronicled 2009 and 2013 treks. The 23rd annual Jeep Jamboree Rubicon Trail trip, taking place Aug. 6-9, has a long list of requirements for those wishing to participate, including 1997 or later Jeep Wranglers with 35-inch tires (but less than 40 inches), front and rear lockers, tow points, skid plates, and rocker panel protections.

FJ Summit
FJ Summit by Evan Gage (CC BY-NC-ND)
four wheeler in the mud
shaunl/istockphoto

Redneck Mud Park

Punta Gorda, Florida
Once called the Redneck Yacht Club, it's easy to see how the Redneck Mud Park does for off-roading what yachts do for sailboats. The Mud Park hosts races in four unique "mud holes," plus truck pulls and miles of free-riding trails that can accommodate ATVs, side-by-sides, trucks, Jeeps and buggies. A pass (when it's open) includes camping, and the concert stage often hosts non-vehicular entertainment. Mud Life Magazine writers liked it so much they went back!

Related: 43 Most Over-the-Top Trucks You Can Buy

starr-070405-6763-Morella_faya-habit-Munro_Trail-Lanai
starr-070405-6763-Morella_faya-habit-Munro_Trail-Lanai by Forest and Kim Starr (CC BY)

Lanai, Hawaii

The islands of Hawaii are full of lush greens, tropical springs, and volcanoes, so there must be some spectacular spots to drive off the tourist-clogged roads. The Orange County Register recommends Lanai for its red rocks and dirt, which it compares to the Martian landscape. If you make it all the way across 400 miles of unpaved roads without getting stuck, you'll see sights such as a wrecked tanker and the mythically inspired Garden of the Gods.

Cliffs Insane Terrain
Savannah A./Yelp

The Cliffs Insane Terrain Off-Road Park

Marseilles, Illinois
The Travel Channel recommends this 300-acre park of fields, creeks, and mud. Cliffs Insane offers day passes starting at $25, with discounts for children, passengers, half days, and extra days, as well as — at least in more typical times — guided tours.

Badlands
©TripAdvisor

Badlands

Attica, Indiana
In the middle of farm country, there's this wet, dirty oasis for 4x4s. Driving Line raved about its Jeep-sized drainage tubes dropping into deep water, steep rocks, and the 20% of the park for four-wheelers only. ATV Illustrated, calling the spot a "hidden gem," enjoyed the portion of Badlands that allowed three-wheelers to succeed where Jeeps couldn't. For dry off-roading fans, there are sand dunes, gravel, and woods, and there are rental vehicles, too.

ATVs in the mud
suriya silsaksom/istockphoto
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Ryan B./Yelp

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

This beach vacation destination could also be an off-roading paradise in New England. The Cape Cod seashore grants permits for off-road vehicles on the beach, and nearby Nauset Beach has seven sand-dune trails that are accessible if you get the permits. As Cape Cod Online reminds off-roaders, be sure to go out at low tide if you want to have enough sand to drive on, and be sure to exercise caution in areas where there might be pedestrians and sunbathers to avoid accidents. 

Related: 20 Things You Never Knew About New England

Sand Blaster Tread
Sand Blaster Tread by Justin Kiner (CC BY-NC-ND)

Assateague Island Beach

Berlin, Maryland
This small island on the eastern shore has room for up to 145 permit-holding, over-sand vehicles for beach driving. Permits are annual, not daily, and the Maryland and Virginia portions of the beach have different closing schedules. Area group Capital Off Roading Enthusiasts experienced all 12 miles of sand on a windy day, and caught glimpses of dolphins, storm-wrecked houses, and seashells.

Bog in the Newberry State Forest Area
Bog in the Newberry State Forest Area by Tony Webster (CC BY-SA)

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan

On the land between Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron, there are more than 50 ATV/ORV trails, including one that goes through Lake Superior State Forest. The Midwest winter climate means frozen ground and ice, with summers thawing to loose, wet mud. Upper Peninsula Overland leads ecotourism trips where the goal is to traverse the terrain gently, not tear up the mud.

Goose Lake
©TripAdvisor

Red River, New Mexico

If the Gold Rush pioneers could make it through the Red River trails on horse and carriage, gas-powered 4x4s should have no problem. You'll drive winding roads from mine caves and lakes up mountains as high as 11,250 feet, and Red River also has been known to offer professional drivers for tours. Red River is also close to Goose Lake and Cabresto Lake, and both offer more opportunities to test your off-roading skills.

Related: 18 Towns Where You Can Still Experience the Wild West

Logandale Trail Systems
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Logandale Trail Systems

Clark County, Nevada
Sure, you can take an off-roading excursion from Las Vegas like every other tourist, but there's plenty of desert and sand farther out with great canyon views. The Logandale loop shows up on many Nevada 4x4 sites such as Vegas Valley 4 Wheelers and Dixie 4 Wheel Drive. Trails take you over cliffs, or you can climb the rocks for an added challenge, but leave the petroglyphs alone and remember that flash flooding can occur when storms move in.

Uwharrie National Park
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
2018-06-23 Disney Island - Grand Lake OK
2018-06-23 Disney Island - Grand Lake OK by mike krzeszak (CC BY)

Disney, Oklahoma

This Disney may not have Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, but it is a magic kingdom to off-roaders. A rock garden, hills, and trails below the Grand River Dam offer a virtual roller coaster for 4x4s. You can get there through any of the five nearby state parks, and the city sells $5 maps of all the trails.

off-roading in the mud
zazamaza/istockphoto

Concession Lake, Ontario

While few parts of Ontario permit off-roading, Concession Lake welcomes drivers. The trail here will make drivers climb over Canadian Shield rock, squeeze between trees, and try to remain unstuck in the mud and water. Those puddles only get deeper after rain, and in winter snowmobiles take over the trail.

Rausch Creek Off Road Park
©TripAdvisor

Rausch Creek Off Road Park

Pine Grove, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Jeep and Toyota dealers send drivers to Rausch Creek to splash in the mud or conquer the steep rocks. Rausch Creek is for Jeeps, trucks, or SUVs only, and your party must include at least two vehicles. There are more than 60 miles of terrain, including a human-made concrete and all-natural rock crawling course where you can test your skills.

Related: 30 Most Iconic SUVs of All Time

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Moab, Utah

The red rocks and canyons of Moab make it "America's Off-Road Capital," according to 4x4 drivers. Off Road Extreme chronicled dune jumping, the sheer drops of Hell's Revenge, and the Hot Tub, a deep bowl that threatens to eat 4x4s. Jalopnik advises those popular obstacles are only a small portion of Moab's off-roading opportunities, and encourages exploring other trails, too. Beware the slickrock, though.

Related: 31 Bucket-List Experiences in America's National Parks

Hatfield-McCoy Trails
©TripAdvisor

Hatfield-McCoy Trails

Mingo County, West Virginia
The rivalry of the West Virginia Hatfields and the Kentucky McCoys has died out, but the West Virginia trails bearing their names come highly recommended. Western U.S.-based Dirt Toys Magazine compares the trail system favorably to Moab, describing the forested backwoods as "kick butt picturesque." Bear Wallow is the only trail in this system that allows 4x4s, with trails widened for full-sized vehicles — but that doesn't mean they're easy,

Washington Backcountry Discovery Route
Washington Backcountry Discovery Route by Adam Barhan (CC BY)

Washington Backcountry Discovery Route

Cascade Mountains of Washington
Last Great Road Trip took a portion of this nearly 600-mile route, from Seattle into Canada, although you can actually start as far south as Oregon. Brush had to be cleared ahead of the Toyota being used, and the road was shared with cattle. A Four Wheeler crew found itself moving whole trees out of the way. Driving along the Cascades, pretty much anywhere you stop offers a tremendous view.

Related: 33 Greatest American Trucks of All Time

steep rocky mountain
SeanXu/istockphoto

Morrison Jeep Trail

Park County, Wyoming
The treacherous Morrison Jeep Trail ends up on many lists of Wyoming's 4x4 trails, including one from Dangerous Roads. It's only one lane for most of the 22 miles up extremely steep terrain, with rocky patches demanding high clearance vehicles. You've only got June to September to attempt the trail, as snow makes it prohibitive during the long winter.

Related: 20 Heart-Stopping Roads to Drive Around the World