onX Discusses the Importance of Going Roadless

Roads create unnatural interruptions for many species of wildlife, and elk are particularly affected by them. To help you get off the beaten path and find key roadless habitat areas, onX partnered with Randy Newberg to create the Roadless Layer.


Randy Newberg has made a living hunting deep within public lands, far away from roads and other hunters. His tenacity to explore wild and roadless areas has paid off with an impressive resume of hunting success and a reputation as one of the good guys. His love of hunting off of the beaten path is matched only by his passion to keep the tradition of hunting alive and well.

These two passions created a natural match between Newberg and onX and resulted in the design and implementation of the Roadless Layer.

The nationwide Roadless Layer is essentially a heat map that gives an overall view of how close a particular area of wilderness is to a road. Areas shaded the darkest are closest to roads, while the brightly illuminated areas are the furthest removed.

onX Hunt Roadless Layer

Newberg has used the strategy of hunting away from roads for years but never with this level of sophistication and detail. Formerly, he would find unpaved Forest Service roads on Google Maps, then draw them by hand onto his surface maps. Afterward, he’d use Microsoft Paint to highlight the roadless areas.

“Hunters are like MacGyver. We figure out a way to make it work,” he said.

After making a tutorial on how to E-Scout, though, Newberg came to onX with an idea for a roadless layer. We got to work, and the effort was worth it.

Newberg had read through countless studies and surveys conducted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and other organizations about how roads impact the behavior of elk. The Journal of Wildlife Management had printed several studies on the topic as well, and they all reached the same conclusion—elk thrive in open timber furthest from roads.

In Newberg’s vision, the layer is best used during the general rifle season for finding remote areas for bull elk to travel, heal and rest after the rigors of the rut, but he doesn’t think its usefulness ends there. The layer is just as helpful for finding those off the beaten path areas when elk are pressured during the early archery season as well.

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Newberg is planning his fall hunts with the Roadless Layer by refining vast areas of public land down to a manageable size far from roads. He can now take an area of 2,000 square miles, turn the layer on and find a roadless area of 100 square miles or so. He then utilizes many of the other onX Hunt map tools to further refine that area down to a few square miles where he will set up on opening morning.

While he knows that he may catch some flack for helping make his hard work and secrets so accessible, Newberg recognizes the benefit it will provide to hunters across the country. Most people don’t get to spend as much time in the woods as they would like, and anything that can make our time more productive is immensely valuable.

“My hunting days are far too important to be floundering around in the woods,” he said.

onX Hunt Roadless Layer in-App Screenshot

Use the Roadless Layer in onX Hunt for the ultimate backcountry hunting experience.

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Last updated: July 2018.

Header Image: Jeff Roberts