Because of its great size, the United States sports driving conditions of all kinds within its borders, which makes the country an excellent stop for people who love driving off-road. There are mountainous trails, sandy deserts that are perfect for dune bashing, frozen ground layered in ice and made treacherous because of it, and much more. While it was difficult to nail down a set of specific courses and tracks, we were able to come up with this list of our favorite off-road destinations in the United States. It’s short, but sweet, so keep reading if you’re looking for your next off-road thrill.
The White Rim Trail in Utah is pretty much what people picture in their heads when they’re thinking about off-road driving in the hills and mountains. There are many sheer drops into beds of rocks below, along with narrow ridges hugging the sides of mountains that make for dangerous driving conditions at best. You can find this trail in Canyonlands National Park, and it’s right in the middle of the country too, which is convenient.
If the thought of taking a header off the edge of a cliff gives you cause to pause, then you might like this next track a lot better than the first. El Camino del Diablo, or The Devil’s Highway in Arizona, is a mostly flat path that extends some 250 miles. There are many famous landmarks along the trail, including the Tule Mountains and the abandoned Fortuna Mine near the trail’s end. Instead of big mountains and drops you get a lot of dirt and sand here, so make sure you lock those differentials to improve traction.
Though it’s impossible to recommend the place during the hot summer months, Death Valley National Park in Nevada features some of the best off-road driving in the state. With a good grip and decent shouldering, your vehicle should stay upright and moving forward through all the trails the park has to offer. It’s hard to nail down any specific, single track, but fortunately the lot of them is easily traversed, even if you’re not using a specialized off-road 4×4 machine.
Now we like to drive off-road, but that doesn’t mean we just ignore great trails that were meant for smaller vehicles, like dirt bikes. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail in West Virginia really seems to be suited to bikes, but it does feature a stretch of 70 miles or so where a 4WD vehicle can get in there and really tear it up. This trail will give you mud, dirt, sand and other terrains to conquer, all in the same track.
Last but not least, Truckhaven (or Ocotillo Wells) in southern California is one of the most popular off-road courses in the United States, attracting new and experienced drivers, young and old. Because it has such a wide variety of terrain with hills, drops, mud holes and other hazards dotted throughout, Truckhaven makes an excellent place for fresh off-road drivers to get their bearings, as well as a nice training spot for more experience drivers who want to perfect their skills.