Best States for Off-roading

For two-wheel and four-wheel enthusiasts worldwide, the United States is a destination for off-roading and a recreational hub for enthusiasts who love the great outdoors. With hundreds of thousands of acres of public land available to explore, there is a wealth of opportunities to experience the diverse landscapes, terrain, and picturesque beauty the U.S. can offer off-roading enthusiasts.

With so many incredible locations to choose from, deciding the best states for off-roading can be difficult. So we compiled a group of standout states one should consider when planning their next off-road adventure. We used the following four attributes when choosing what we believe to be some of the best states in the country for off-roading:

  • Number of Trails the total number of off-road trail opportunities.
  • Quality of Trails – trails are well maintained and have been mapped.
  • Ease of Access – the majority of trails are easily accessible by off-roaders.
  • Trail Difficulty – the state offers a variety of trails, from beginner off-road trails to advanced.

No method is going to be perfect when compiling a list like this. What constitutes best for one may not even be a factor for another. And because off-roading comes in many forms—from singletrack dirt bikers to side-by-side drivers and 4×4 overlanders—what constitutes fun for one may differ significantly for another. Based on our predetermined parameters, we consider the following five states some of the best places to off-road in the U.S. Here at onX Offroad, we’re advocates of responsible trail stewardship. We encourage off-roaders of every sort to tread lightly and be sure to review and follow each state’s rules and regulations when visiting.

Utah: Desert, Mountains, and Vast Public Lands

Example Off-road camp in Utah
Photo: Boyd Jaynes

Utah has established itself as a sportsman’s paradise, famous for its rugged and beautiful varied terrain that’s become a mecca for off-roading enthusiasts worldwide.

With the BLM managing over 22 million acres of public lands (about 42 percent of the state), Utah has an incredible number of options available to off-roaders with thousands of miles of trails and roads for off-road vehicles, from basic two-track to advanced singletrack trails. To date, onX has over 300 routes mapped and available for perusal in the onX Offroad Trail Guide.

From the Bonneville Salt Flats Special Recreation Management Area in the north to the spectacular Slickrock area near Moab to the Little Sahara Sand Dunes Recreation Area mid-state, Utah welcomes the off-road community with an open invitation to explore this vastly beautiful state.

Explore Off-road Trails in Utah

onX Offroad Utah Trail Guide

Best Off-Road Trails in Utah: 2020

Best Off-Road Trails in Moab: 2021

Adventures in Moab (With Video)

Colorado: Scenic Mountains and Alpine Highlands

View of motorcycle trail in Colorado
Photo: Jesse Felker Media

Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado is a state with many opportunities for off-roaders. With the spine of the Rockies running through its center north to south, those living in the state can enjoy easy access to many types of off-roading and backcountry exploring.

The state has become an impromptu haven for motorcycle trail riding, with arguably some of the best high-alpine singletrack in the country, such as those found in the Crested Butte area in the south. Not only does the state have world-class singletrack, but four-wheel enthusiasts will also enjoy thousands of miles of two-track with some of the highest mountain passes in the country.

Colorado is an off-road-friendly state and sportsman’s paradise. To date, onX has nearly 300 trails to explore in our onX Trail Guide for Colorado, with many more on the way. You can’t go wrong with Colorado when deciding on your next destination for off-roading.

Explore Off-road Trails in Colorado

onX Offroad Colorado Trail Guide

California: Desert, Mountains, and Ocean Views

Overlanding in Joshua Tree
Photo: Genevieve Davis

California is another state with a wide variety of options for off-road enthusiasts. From the Death Valley National Park in the southeast to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area mid-coast, California has many opportunities to enjoy one of the most varied states in the Lower 48.

With over 225 trails to date in the onX Offroad California Trail Guide, California is one of the largest states in the union in terms of sheer size and number of acres available for off-road enjoyment. California is also one of the strictest states for emission laws and trail access regulations, so review all rules and regulations well before making your plans.

Explore Off-road Trails in California

onX Offroad California Trail Guide

Off-Roading in National Parks

Trail Guide Trip Report: Death Valley, California

Arizona: Desert, Canyons, and Mountains

Desert off-roading in Arizona
Photo: Boyd Jaynes

Arizona is another state with nearly limitless options for exploration in the backcountry. From the Grand Canyon area in the far north to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the Sonoran Desert to the south, Arizona has a vast array of public lands and National parks to enjoy.

With over 190 trails mapped in onX Offroad App, there are many opportunities to take in the many treasures of the American Southwest. Beginner and experienced drivers alike will enjoy the vast beauty of the desert or escape the summer heat on a high mountain trail.

Whether 4×4-ing in the red-hued rocks of Sedona or driving a UTV over a high mountain pass near Flagstaff, Arizona has a tremendous amount to offer off-road enthusiasts.

Explore Off-road Trails in Arizona

onX Offroad Arizona Trail Guide

Best Off-Road Trails in Arizona: 2020

Michigan: Beautiful Lakes and Deep Forests

Side-by-side forest trail in Michigan
Photo: Boyd Jaynes

Those in the midwest who enjoy pristine forests and lakes should look no further than the state of Michigan. With an abundance of state forests and thousands of miles of off-road recreational opportunities for every experience level, Michigan is a hidden gem right in the heart of the midwest.

Containing only 3% of its total population, the upper half of the state that borders Canada (called the “Upper Peninsula,” or “UP,” for short) is a haven for those who enjoy hunting, fishing, and camping. It offers summer and winter recreation opportunities, including snowmobiling and tracked UTV driving.

The lower half of the state boasts beautiful beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, with dunes in some areas. No matter what type of off-roading you enjoy, Michigan boasts a wide variety of terrain, including lush rolling hills, forests, swamps, and many other opportunities to explore on your dirt bike, ATV, ADV, or 4×4.

Explore Off-road Trails in Michigan

onX Offroad Michigan Trail Guide

onX Offroad: The Essential gps app for off-roading
7-Day Free Trial
277

Dale Spangler

Dale Spangler is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast introduced to two wheels at the age of eight and began racing motocross at 12. After chasing his dream of being a professional motocross racer through the mid-90s, he moved on to a career in the powersports industry, where he’s spent the last 28+ years as a marketing specialist, writer, and content creator.