The Best Ride Parks in the West

We’re back with another five parks and trail systems that come highly recommended. Now, the US is a huge place, and even though we’re limiting this list to “the West,” there are many more awesome places to ride than you’ll find here. That being said, you can’t go wrong planning a trip to any of the following places to ride.

 

Check Out Our Picks for the Best Ride Parks in the West!

California

Imperial Sand Dunes  |   Glamis, California


Imperial Sand Dunes - Glamis, California
Photo courtesy The California Parks Company.

The Imperial Sand Dunes, AKA Glamis, is one of the hottest dune spots in the country. If you’ve got an itchin’ for some dunes, this 118,000 acre ocean of sand in southern California can’t be beat.

As with any dune experience, it’s largely freeform fun. You don’t follow trail or markers, but there are land marks you want to keep an eye out for. Sights like Oldsmobile Hill, The Ceiling Hill, and a number of other hills provide awesome ascents, technical routes, and huge vistas.

With so many massive dunes reaching over 200 feet in some places, you’ll have more than a few moments to remember when you get home. Don’t forget to track down the plane wreck and the swing set while you’re there. If you like dunes this better be on your bucket list.

The Imperial Sand Dunes hosts one major off-road event every year, and that’s Camp RZR. This Polaris run event is packed with vehicle demos, giveaways, and that Polaris touch to make your RZR better.

IMPERIAL SAND DUNES BREAKDOWN

Size

SIZE: 118,000 acres of sand dunes. AKA real big.

Style

STYLE: Wide open dunes and sand.

Cost

COST: $35 per week. $150 for the season.

Experience Level

EXPERIENCE LEVEL: Good for all experiences levels. Some of steep named hills should be avoided by all but the most experienced. As with dune riding anywhere, it’s important to have a flag on your machine and to keep your eyes open for other rider’s flags. It’s easy to collide going over a dune if you’re not careful.

Open

OPEN: October 1st – April 15th. It’s too hot the rest of the year anyway.

Accommodations

ACCOMMODATIONS: There are plenty of low-cost camping on site. You can drive straight onto the dunes from your campsite! Brawley, California is about 25 minutes away and is full of food, groceries, and other accommodations. Check out the Glamis Beach Store for some necessities that are a bit closer.

 
Events

EVENTS: Polaris kicks off the ride season every October with Camp RZR.

Information
Utah

Moab  |   Moab, Utah


Moab may well be the Holy Grail of ride parks. There are countless trails that you’ve never seen the likes of anywhere else. Almost all are guaranteed to give you breathtaking views.

The endless rolling sandstone and the smooth, stone waves frozen in time along with the natural, crater-like hot tubs—sometimes 50 feet across—give the landscape an almost alien appearance. All of which is cut into dramatic cliffs and bluffs by eons of erosion from the Colorado River. The trails all around Moab have striking views of this unique landscape.

You won’t find off-road trails like this anywhere else in the world. It truly is one-of-a-kind and something every rider needs to experience for themselves. Whether you’re in it for the technical rock crawls, the high-speed desert rides, or simply the gorgeous views, you won’t be disappointed.

The best part is that it’s so easy to get stocked up in town (where UTVs are street legal assuming you have the right gear) and head to any of the trails surrounding Moab. And these are often 3-4 hour trails that reward you overlooks of the Colorado River or surreal views of the La Sal mountains on the horizon. This is one off-road trip that should be on every rider’s list.

MOAB BREAKDOWN

Size

SIZE: Hundreds of miles of trails.

Style

STYLE: Sandstone, rock crawling, and beautiful vistas.

Cost

COST: Permits cost $30 per vehicle.

Experience Level

EXPERIENCE LEVEL: Trails vary in difficulty from very easy to very difficult. It just so happens that the best views are on the most difficult trails though.

Experienced racers can have a blast on the short course tracks.

Open

OPEN: Year-round.

Accommodations

ACCOMMODATIONS: There are more camping and lodging options than I can fit. The trails surround the town of Moab which has everything you need for a comfortable trip. See “More Info”.

Events

 EVENTS: Rally on the Rocks happens every May and brings out all the best vendors (like SuperATV!) and hundreds of UTV riders.

Information
Utah

Paiute ATV Trail System  |   Sevier County, Utah


Paiute ATV Trail System - Sevier County, Utah
Photo courtesy Marysvale.org

Paiute Trail is a different sort of ride. It’s not so much about pushing your UTV or ATV to the limit as it is about enjoying the ride. The main trail is a 275-mile loop, but this system has over 1000 miles of side trails that mean you can come back again and again and never see the same thing twice.

If you want to travel the entire main loop, you can expect to spend 25 hours behind the wheel. Don’t expect to make that journey all in one trip, though. The point of this trail is to stop and smell the roses. Better to pick a smaller loop that carries you between towns and take your time.

The Paiute Trail takes you out into the remote wilderness where you’ll have amazing views from the top 5,000 to 11,000-foot ridges. You’ll have the chance to see tons of wildlife like elk, deer, and, if you're lucky, moose and bald eagles. But being so remote means you better bring plenty of food, water, and fuel. Scorching heat and heavy thunderstorms can also really put a damper on your day, that’s why the recommended ride months are September and October.

For those of you who like to truly get out there, you won’t find a better trail system anywhere.

PAIUTE ATV TRAIL SYSTEM BREAKDOWN

Size

SIZE: 275-mile main loop with 1000+ miles of total trail to ride.

Style

STYLE: Easy mountain trails designed for easy traversal. This is a sight-seeing trail.

Cost

COST: Free! That’s right, access to this amazing trail costs you nothing. You need only consider lodging and supplies.

Experience Level

EXPERIENCE LEVEL: Paiute is designed for any experience level. Don’t look for technical riding here, but make sure you have the right gear before you get 100 miles away from the nearest town. Washouts and debris can cause the occasional challenge.

Open

OPEN: Year-round with certain portions closed seasonally due to snow likely until summer. September and October provide the best riding conditions. Most of this system is designed for 50” machines with more trails being converted to 60” wide all the time.

Accommodations

ACCOMMODATIONS: Many rider friendly towns intersect with the trail and offer abundant lodging and food options.

Events

  EVENTS: The Paiute Trail Jamboree happens annually every August and brings hundreds of riders together for contests, prizes, live entertainment, and good food.

Information
Oregon

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area  |   Coos Bay to Florence, Oregon


Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area - Coos Bay to Florence, Oregon
Photo courtesy the U.S. Forest Service.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is actually a series of three dune areas along 40-mile stretch of the Oregon coast between Coos Bay and Florence. It features towering coastal dunes like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Some reach up to 500 feet above sea level. Now that’s a dune. It offers coastal dunes, cool air, and lots of trees. It’s a dune park you can visit any time of year and feel like you’re off the beaten path.

The proximity to the pacific keeps the area cool all year round and it’s right off the 101, meaning it’s easy to get to for many of you that live up and down the west coast. That cool temperature means people flood there in the summer for DuneFest and the UTV Takeover.

One of the cool things about the Oregon dunes is the many primitive camping locations that are right in the dunes. Perfect for a real adventure. Speaking of adventure, the dunes are flanked on one side by ocean and endless forest on the other. If you want to get away and just ride, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area are perfect for you.

OREGON DUNES NATIONAL RECREATION AREA BREAKDOWN

Size

SIZE: 40 miles of coastal dunes up to 5 miles wide.

Style

STYLE: This one is all dunes, forest, lakes, and that cold, northwest ocean.

Cost

COST: A two-year Oregon ATV permit (good for ATVs and UTVs) can be purchased online for $10. They really want you to use the public land in Oregon.

Experience Level

EXPERIENCE LEVEL: Not the most technical dunes in the area, and experienced riders won’t feel challenged. Let me reiterate the importance of safety when dune riding: you might feel like you have tons of space, but the guy on the other side of the dune can’t see or hear you unless you have a big flag on your UTV.

Open

OPEN: Open 365 days a year. Camp right on the sand and stay all night!

Accommodations

ACCOMMODATIONS: Primitive camping spots are available on the sand. You can bring your camper, but you should expect dry camping only. No matter where along the this stretch of coast you decide to ride, you’re never more than twenty minutes from hot food, groceries, and gas. Coos Bay, Reedsport, Florence, and other smaller towns dot this stretch of dune heaven.

Events

EVENTS:  DuneFest and the UTV Takeover will keep you busy through June and July

Information
Idaho

St. Anthony Sand Dunes  |   St. Anthony, Idaho


St. Anthony Sand Dunes - St. Anthony, Idaho
Photo courtesy the U.S. Department of the Interior - Bureau of Land Management.

Dunes practically define the west, so let’s talk about another 10,600 acres of dune fun—this time in St. Anthony, Idaho. With dunes ranging from 50 feet to 400 feet tall, you’re going to have a lot of fun in one of the country’s largest dune areas with some of the country’s biggest dunes.

These dunes are relatively close to Yellowstone National park which combos nicely with St. Anthony on the road trip of a lifetime. The average annual high is around 85 degrees which makes this a good choice any time of year, although the western expanse of dunes—which are where you find the biggest dunes—are closed from January 1 to April 1 every year, though.

There is a large area to the north of the dunes that can be explored by road and trail. This area is also closed seasonally. It is gorgeous backcountry that covers a huge area. Check out the Civil Defense Cave (so named during the Cold War when holes in the ground had defensive implications) to explore an ancient lava tube.

Every year, the UTV Invasion closes out the summer at the St. Anthony Sand Dunes. This event brings in thousands of attendees annually, and is packed with contests, races, and fun for the whole family. Not bad for a free event.

ST. ANTHONY SAND DUNES BREAKDOWN

Size

SIZE: 10,600+ acres. But at this park, the size of the dune matters, too, and they don’t disappoint at around 400 feet tall.

Style

STYLE: Dunes! Sand! And even bigger dunes!

Cost

COST: $5 per vehicle per day. $60 annual pass.

Experience Level

EXPERIENCE LEVEL: Good for everyone. The big dunes aren’t super technical, but you can get into trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve read this far then you know what’s next: get a flag and be aware of other riders.

Open

OPEN: The easternmost dunes never close. Some areas are closed seasonally. Western dunes are closed January 1 to sunrise April 1. The wider area around the dunes is closed January 1 to Sunrise on May 1.

Accommodations

ACCOMMODATIONS: There are several campgrounds in the area that have electric hookups and dump stations for RVs including Egin Lake Campground and Sand Hills Resort. Camping is $25-$60 per day. Dump stations cost $10 per use. St. Anthony is less than 20 minutes away for when you need to stock up on food and gas.

Events

EVENTS: The St. Anthony Sand Dunes’ major annual event is the UTV Invasion over Labor Day Weekedn. It draws hundreds of riders every year and it’s free to attend.

Information

Five parks and trail systems is a small cross section of the total offerings the west has to offer. Where’s your favorite place ride? Tell us on our Facebook page!

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