The top 7 offroading trails in the USA

The Top 7 Offroading Trails in the USA

There’s nothing better to get your blood pumping than the idea of a road trip, but if you’re finding your excursions on the road to be less than thrilling of late, perhaps it’s time to ramp up the adrenaline by going on an off-road adventure.

Off-roading, besides being a challenge for thrill seeking drivers, is deeply ingrained in US tradition: much of our nation’s expansion was a result of the efforts of trailblazing pioneers who took to seldom travelled routes (or forged their own in the wild), to make way for commerce and development.

Few things can be more American than this pastime, and if you’re looking for places to start, here’s a selection of the best offroading trails in the USA to get you on the road (pun intended)!

#1 Rubicon Trail, California

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In spite of its seemingly fleeting 12 mile long stretch, this is actually one of the most famous challenging off road routes in the US – so much so, in fact, that Jeep has used its name for their toughest Wrangler 4x4s. Lying 80 miles to the east of Sacramento, and to the west of Lake Tahoe, the Rubicon winds through the Tahoe and Eldorado National Forests, and will test the nerves of even the most seasoned 4x4 drivers.

Only modified 4WD vehicles with extra ride height, rocker guards and wide tires can brave this one, and damage to your ride’s body is still a distinct possibility. It goes without saying that this trail isn’t for the faint of heart, and you should take accessories such as a medical kit, and fire extinguisher with you! And make sure to equip your vehicle with an led light bar in case you're travelling late in the night.

#2 Alpine Loop Trail, Colorado

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Starting from Lake City, due southwest of Denver, the 63 mile long Alpine Loop Trail encompasses the San Juan Mountains. Along the way, you’ll drive through solemn ghost towns such as Carson City, a couple of twelve thousand feet high passes, and some extremely picturesque mountain scenery.

The good thing about this trail is that even those who own a 2WD vehicle can enjoy it for the most part – obviously, to reach the highest point, you’ll need a proper 4x4. A word of warning: don’t attempt to cross the trail in winter, since large portions are closed off because of snow.

#3 Dalton Highway, Alaska

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If you’re looking for some (read: plenty of) alone time in the bleak, desolate wilderness, the Dalton Highway – an expanse of gravel road stretching from Deadhorse to Livengood for 414 miles should be on your bucket list.

Lacking basic services and cell phone signals for the most part, this off road trail is regarded as one of the riskiest routes in the States, but for modern-day poets who want to get lost in the wild for days on end, it doesn’t get better than this one.

#4 The Mojave Road, California

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Starting out as a route used by Native Americans to conduct trade, and later being repurposed to a wagon trail after the civil war, this is a typical North American desert route that can only be crossed by a 4x4 vehicle, and that too if you’ve got 2-4 days to spare.

The route encompasses the Mojave National Preserve, and after passing through a series of mountain ranges, ends near Barstow, California. A must travel route for history buffs looking to experience a portion of the early settlers’ escapades.

#5 Moab, Utah

Moab is an oft-featured off road track in the US, providing travelers with a uniquely rugged geography and breathtaking views. While the famous ‘slickrock’ terrain that provides a healthy challenge to off road enthusiasts is restricted to the roughly 25 sq. miles. Sand Flats Recreation Area, this isn’t the only thing Moab has to offer.

If you want to capture sceneries worthy of National Geographic, drive your 4x4 out into the surrounding areas such as the Arches National Parks and the Canyonlands. A piece of advice: traverse the terrain cautiously, you never know when you’ll end up on a sudden expanse of slickrock after having skated through soft sand for a while. Above all, be prepared to climb a lot.

#6 Washington Backcountry Discovery Route

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Perfect for a week-long getaway for the casual off road driver, the WBDR is a relatively easy route that boasts amenities such as hotels and campsites. The toughest terrain you’ll experience on the WBDR are steep glades, and there’s a dearth of guardrails as well, but for the most part, it won’t test your skills and resolve like the trails mentioned above.

You’ll find drastically changing scenery along the trail too: going from dense temperate vegetation in the Cascade Mountains to dry desert in Eastern Washington.

#7 The Trans-America Trail

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Stretching from the coast of the Atlantic to the coast of the Pacific for almost 4,800 miles, the TAT is a dedicated route for bikers (although some adventurous 4x4 drivers have also demonstrated its viability as an offroad car track).

Scouted out as a project by Sam Correro and a crack bike team, the TAT goes through South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Indiana before terminating on the West Coast in Oregon, so you’ll be able to encompass dense forests, deep river crossings, lofty mountain passes, difficult bogs, and rugged desert – basically, an opportunity to test your endurance across nearly the entirety of off road terrain.

While the TAT’s routes are frequently updated by fellow offroaders, it can still be quite unpredictable at times, so it’s a good idea to have a GPS device handy that can update you on shortcuts, bypasses and blocked roads on time. Also, this is a survival trail: be prepared to ration off supplies and fuel until you hit the next pit-stop (which can take a while!).

Conclusion


These is but a sample of what the US has to offer to off road enthusiasts, but I hope it gets the point across that whether you favor a 4WD, a 2WD, an ATV or a dirt bike, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to stretch your driving skills and endurance to the limits, right here in the US.

If you’ve got feedback – a choice track of your own perhaps – do mention it in the comments section below. Be sure to share this article with your buddies if you enjoyed it!

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