The Top Mudding and Off Roading Destinations in the United States
There’s a lot of ground to cover when someone endeavors to list the best places in the U.S. to go mudding and off-roading. Of course, no one can go everywhere and see everything. So, we sat down at the computer, dug in, did our homework, and produced a consensus list drawn from several published sources with expertise in off-roading. Still, this list includes only a handful of places. There are certainly many more worth trying, some of which will undoubtedly be a better fit for you.
One word of caution: Never venture off to any OHV site without first contacting the venue to make sure they are open and accepting visitors. As we discovered in our research, some of these sites are open only on weekends or for special events. Others are between owners and temporarily closed. Still others, like many out west, have been shut down due to extreme wildfire risk.
We begin out west because that is where you will find many of the most sought-after places to go off-roading, including two iconic destinations that seem to top every driver’s bucket list: Moab, Utah, and California’s Rubican Trail.
Home to some of the most amazing red-rock formations on earth, visitors to Moab are afforded a complete range of OHV trails, from simple and scenic backcountry excursions for two-wheel drive vehicles to the ultimate in challenging four-wheel drive trails meant solely for the most experienced drivers using highly modified vehicles.
Be sure to plan ahead before visiting Moab, as it is perhaps the busiest OHV site in the world. Besides off-roading, people flock here for concerts, art exhibitions, car and truck shows and a host of other outdoor activities. Discover Moab offers a calendar of events, along with everything you need to know when planning your visit.
Guided trail tours and Jeep rental vehicles are available in the Moab area. Additionally, OHV permits are a must for both residents and non-residents. Check here for additional tips that will make you Moab experience safer and more enjoyable.
Rubicon Trail (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
The west’s other legendary destination is California’s Rubicon Trail, 22 miles of rough and tumble driving peppered with some of the most challenging rock crawling found anywhere.
Located near South Lake Tahoe, this spectacular off-road drive through the Sierra Nevada is definitely not for novices or the faint of heart. In fact, the recommended steps for preparing your Jeep to challenge the Rubicon are enough to give serious pause to all but the most fearless, and well-prepared drivers. Deep pockets and a calm demeaner will be useful as well, as the Rubicon Trail Foundation advises every driver to expect sheet metal damage (at the very least) to their vehicle.
This Rubicon is so famous, in fact, that Jeep named a model after it. In fact, the Rubicon Trail is closed to the public in late July/early August to accommodate the annual Jeepers Jamboree and Jeep Jamboree.
Like Moab, the Rubicon Trail sits atop a lot of bucket lists and is truly one of the great off-roading challenges by which all others are measured. So, plan your visit well in advance.
Hollister Hills SVRA (Hollister, CA)
Hollister Hills SVRA (State Vehicular Recreation Area) offers 24 miles of trails, including a man-made obstacle course that features a mud bog. Located in the mountains separating the city of Hollister from the Salinas Valley, many of the routes at this off-road course are impassable when wet.
Hollister Hills SVRA is one of nine OHV parks operated by the OHMVR Division of California State Parks. The others are Carnegie SVRA, Clay Pit SVRA, Onyx Ranch SVRA, Heber Dunes SVRA, Hungry Valley SVRA, Oceano Dunes SVRA, Ocotillo Wells SVRA and Prairie City SVRA. Some are currently closed due to the danger of wildfires.
Whipsaw Trail (South Central British Columbia)
We have included a famous Canadian off-roading site because of its popularity and proximity to the U.S. border.
Located in south central British Columbia, The Whipsaw Trail is roughly a 4–5-hour drive from Vancouver and Seattle. In 2007, the Whipsaw became the first Canadian trail to be listed on BF Goodrich’s Outstanding Trails program. Running in a loop between Coalmont and Princeton, BC, the Whipsaw is best visited between July and August, when rainfall is at a minimum.
Situated within the San Juan National Forest, Ouray Colorado bills itself as the “Jeep Capital of the World.” With the rugged Rocky Mountains as fitting backdrop, a tradition of Jeep touring dating back to the 1940s, and exceptional trail maintenance, Ouray offers over 40 amazing backcountry tours for your Jeep or other OHV
Compared with the west, off-roading east of the Mississippi is a different breed of cat. For one thing, the terrain is vastly different. Not better or worse, just different.
Rather than rugged mountains and open deserts, eastern terrain usually involves lush, leafy forests, with green rolling hills gradually yielding to taller green mountains or sandy coastal plains.
While many of the western trails are carved out of public lands, in the east you will find more for-profit OHV parks carved out of privately held lands. One of the best, and certainly the most colorful, is Redneck Mud Park in South Central Florida.
Redneck Mud Park (Punta Gorda, Florida)
Leave it to Florida, theme park capital of the universe, to come up with an action park for fans of off-roading. Welcome to the Redneck Mud Park (aka, Redneck Yacht Club), located near Punta Gorda—in Southwest Florida—less than two-hours from either coast.
Once a potato farm in the middle of nowhere, the owners have transformed this 880-acre agricultural tract into the largest off-roading park in the state, open to trucks, Jeeps, ATVs, and swamp buggies. There are miles of trails, three mud holes, s drive-thru buggy/ATV wash, camping, food vendors, music, and entertainment, and more. The park is open on select weekends, often for themed events. Weekend and day passes are available and primitive camping is permitted at no extra charge.
Ocala National Forest (Ocala, Florida)
After a wild and crazy weekend at the Redneck Mud Park, head north to the Ocala National Forest to cool off, slow down, and enjoy the kind of scenery that most people miss who come to Florida simply for the beaches and Disney. The forest screams at you to stop and smell the roses. (Or at least slow down)
The Ocala National Forest, which bills itself as Florida’s top destination for off-roading, offers an amazing ecosystem of Florida scrub habitat as well as the largest concentration of sand pine in the world. Additionally, the forest has over 500 natural lakes and ponds as well as 81 miles of off-road trails for Jeeps and other 4WD vehicles.
Riders are required to have a Florida OHV registration and identification while riding. Out-of-state riders without a Florida OHV title are required to possess proof of vehicle ownership. For more information on OHV riding in the state of Florida, please visit the Florida Forest Service.
Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest (Blairsville GA)
Just a few hours north of Atlanta, the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest offers a network of trails with varying degrees of difficulty. While the Chattahoochee is located in North Georgia, and the Oconee in Central Georgia, all but one of the OHV trails are in the Chattahoochee. An interactive map provides greater detail of the location and scope of each trail.
Be sure to Check the status of the trails before going, as these may be closed to traffic when conditions become too wet to prevent damage and erosion.
Uwharrie National Forest (Troy, NC)
Located about an hour northeast of Charlotte, NC, Uwharrie, (pronounced yoo-WAH-ree) National Forest is one of the most diverse outdoor recreation areas in the state. In addition to off-roading, there are plenty of other outdoor activities including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, and water activities.
Uwharrie’s OHV trail system ranges from easy to difficult, with most being passable in dry weather with a mildly equipped Jeep Wrangler. Add a strong dose of rain and the trails’ clay surfaces can turn into something of a beast. Most of the terrain is a mixture of rocky hill climbs and the occasional steep ledge.
The trails close on December 15th and reopen April 1st, so plan your visit accordingly. And it is worth noting that Uwharrie is within easy striking distance of the Chattahoochee National Forest. (See below)
Outer Banks (Cape Hatteras, NC)
Last, but not least, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out one of the few remaining places in the U.S. where off-roading can be combined with a beach, fishing, camping, and sightseeing vacation. There’s something for everyone, which means that no one will fault you should you leave them to their own devices while you go fishing or off-roading (or both at once).
Development has admittedly taken its toll on the Outer Banks over the past few decades, with massive crowds typically descending on the banks all summer long. So, the trick is to come in the spring or fall, when the weather is less hot and humid, the crowds have largely departed, and the accommodations are generally less expensive. Winter can be nice too, but unpredictable as far as the weather is concerned. Year-round accommodations range from primitive seaside camping to luxury oceanfront homes and resort hotels.
The Northern Outer Banks extend north from Nags Head and Kitty Hawk to Duck and Corolla; and south to Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Ocracoke Island
Off-roading is allowed along many stretches of the banks, but permits are required in most places, largely to prevent misuse of the privilege. This is not a place for breakneck driving so much as off-roading acts as an adjunct to other beach activities, including surfing, beachcombing, and fishing.
Driving along the far northern beaches, you may well encounter the wild horses of Corolla, that still roam free north of where the highway ends in Corolla Village . Descended from Spanish mustangs that swam ashore after various shipwrecks, they are to be admired only and never trifled with. (They are, after all, large, wild, and unpredictable.)