America’s 26 Greatest ATV Destinations – Mountain Region

South, West — on February 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm

At about 3.79 million square miles, the United States is a vast nation — the world’s third largest by land area. The diversity of our people defines us, but our world-beating OHV trails are pretty magnificent, too. We American off-road riders have an all-you-can-eat buffet of terrain choices and ATV Destinations available for the taking —deserts and dunes of the southwest, towering peaks in the Rocky Mountains, dense forests and the countless lakes of the Midwest, stunning views from atop the Ozark Mountains and the colossal riding areas of the rolling Appalachians.

Our American history of conservation and outdoor adventure has preserved land for every purpose — wildlife refuges, plant conservation, camping, hiking, prairie restoration, city parks and National Forests comprising about 8.5 percent of our total land area.

As good as we have it, recent legislation like the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act has put a bull’s eye on drastically reducing lands available to human recreation. Our view is that getting out there on sustainable, properly managed trails is an essential way for people to explore and learn to appreciate our natural environment.

So what are you waiting for? It’s summer, and trails are open — get out and ride! Here are some suggestions to get you started — our list of 26 of the Greatest ATV Destinations in the country.

MOUNTAIN REGION

Carson National Forest
Home to some of the finest mountain scenery in the Southwest, the Carson National Forest in New Mexico encompasses 1.5 million acres and has an elevation range from 6,000 to 13,161 feet, plus a wide range of animal inhabitants, like mountain lions, bighorn sheep and elk.

Check out the Red River area, which has many expertly maintained trails designed just for ATVs and fabulous scenery. With the big changes in elevation, riders should prepare for similarly drastic temperature changes.

What makes it great?
Red River is an ATV-friendly town. Fraternize with the locals, hit the mountain trails and find the high-elevation lakes.
Contact: Carson National Forest, (575) 758-6200;
Carson National Forest Website/

Elko, Nevada
Tucked away in northeastern Nevada lies Elko, a lively little city with endless scenery and countless miles of beautiful trails taking riders way up into the area’s rugged hills. When the riding’s done, check out the otherwordly Lamoille Canyon about a half an hour east of town to see the vanishing glaciers.

Elko County has about 300,000 miles of trails and roads to choose from. We enjoy the Ruby Mountains southeast of Elko that lead to Green Mountain, which approaches 8,000 feet in elevation.

What makes it great?
Visit northeastern Nevada during the Elko ATV Jamboree every June, where you can ride with visitors who come from many states away to ride the area’s trails. It’s a fun event, and a great time to tag along with guided rides for a hassle- and map-free trip.
Contact: Elko Convention and Visitors Authority, (800) 248-3556;
Elko, Nevada Website

Grand Lake, Colorado
Way up in the mountains, at 8,367 feet above sea level, is Grand Lake, Colorado — the headwaters of the Colorado River. Located right next door to the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Arapaho National Forest, Grand Lake has become a haven for outdoorsmen, summertime vacationers, campers, hikers, snowmobilers and ATV riders.

This ATV Destination offers more than 100 miles of ATV trails in the Grand Lake area, all with scenic mountain views of some of Colorado’s highest peaks — from the Three Lakes region to the Continental Divide. The town of Grand Lake has rustic architecture, a historic boardwalk and more than 60 shops to peruse.

What makes it great?
The riding is great, but there’s much more to do in Grand Lake: hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park, go boating, fishing, tubing on the lake, or horseback riding in the hills, to name a few.
Contact: Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, (970) 627-3402;
Grand Lake, Colorado Website

Hieroglyphic Mountains
Just 35 miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona’s Hieroglyphic Mountains offer a hypnotizing and peaceful slice of low desert riding with gigantic Saguaro cactus arms reaching into the Sonoran Desert sky.

ATV terrain includes sand washes and rocky rugged trails, hill climbs and boulder-strewn descents. A 22-mile connecting loop intersects other OHV routes: Lake Pleasant to the east, Wickenburg to the west and Prescott National Forest to the north.

What makes it great?
There are no actual Egyptian hieroglyphs here, but ancient residents left behind petroglyphs, or rock carvings, that have been found in the area.
Contact: Hassayampa Field Office, (623) 580-5500;
Hieroglyphic Mountains Website

Idaho Panhandle
Somewhere in the outskirts of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is ATV paradise — tall lodgepole pine trees, sapphire mountain lakes, clear valley streams and beautifully maintained trails that are part of the Canfield Mountain Trail System.
What’s great about many of the trail systems in northern Idaho is that they are connected to form a network. Whether it’s a gravel road connection or by dedicated trail, it’s nice to be able to ride a wide area without having to trailer from place to place.

What makes it great?
From Bonners Ferry, near the Canadian Border, south through Coeur d’Alene and east to Wallace is one of the greatest, most beautiful stretches of mountain riding in the United States. Check out the High Mountain ATV Jamboree near Wallace July 13-18.
Contact: Visit Idaho, (208) 334-2470;
Idaho Panhandle Website

Paiute Trail
There’s something about central Utah that calms the spirit. Perhaps it’s the lack of people, or the breathtaking and varied scenery in all directions, or maybe it’s that you can relax knowing you’re riding some of the best trails around. South-central Utah’s Paiute Trail is part of an endless, perfectly maintained system that offers true high altitude riding and adventure at every turn.

Riding the Paiute is great in late summer or early fall when the valleys are still green and balmy. Spend a few minutes on the trails, heading skyward, and soon the leaves are turning yellow, orange and red and the air is crisp — amazing.

What makes it great?
Come visit the Paiute Trails during the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree September 14-19 where an incredible list of guided rides takes visitors to many points of interest. Ride types include easy and fun bird watching, ghost towns, silver mines, night rides and some intense rock climbing trips.
Contact: Sevier County Travel Council, (435) 893-0457;
Paiute Trail Website

To view the rest of America’s 26 greatest ATV Destinations by region, follow the links below.

ATV Destinations: PACIFIC REGION

ATV Destinations: MIDWEST REGION

ATV Destinations: EASTERN REGION

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