From groomed trails and forest paths to beaches and massive sand dunes, there are a ton of great West Coast options for off-road enthusiasts looking to get outside and explore. To help you figure out where to start, ATV Trader has put together some of the region’s top trails, each with its own unique terrain and difficulty.
One quick note before we dive in: different states use different terms to define both Off-Highway Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles, so make sure you understand how your four-wheeler or side-by-side is classified so you know you’re selecting trails that are meant for you to ride.
Okay, without further ado, here are trails on the West Coast you need to check out:
1. Glamis • Imperial County, CA
Why It Made the List: The Glamis Sand Dune is the perfect ride for any experience level – from novice to expert – and can be tackled by basically anything with four wheels and the proper equipment to handle all that sand (things like paddle tires are a must!).
Glamis offers more than 40 miles of sand dunes to ride and is the largest rideable dune for off-road vehicles anywhere in the US. There are no trails – just wide open, glorious dunes to explore. And since Glamis is part of the Imperial Sand Dunes, riders can easily access other popular dunes like Mammoth Wash, just to the north of Glamis, and Buttercup, down near the Mexican border.
If you’re planning to stay overnight in Glamis, there are four campsites within the actual dune, which is pretty awesome, but they often fill up fast. Make sure to get there early to save yourself a spot. Also, you should bring plenty of supplies with you. The area around Glamis doesn’t have a lot to offer, other than one small store that sells just the basics – so make sure to come prepared.
Getting There: To get to Glamis, you’re going to head to Highway 78 and exit on either Vendor Row or Gecko Road for the campsite locations. You’ll need a pass to get into the Dunes. They cost $50 if you buy it at Glamis, however if you buy it offsite before getting there, it’s only $35.
2. Moab • Moab, UT
Why This Made the List: Well known for its red rock formations, Moab is home to Arches National Park and is often considered a bucket list destination for many off-roaders. While riders can’t take their machines inside the national park, there are countless backcountry trails that will still allow you to experience the dramatic Moab landscape, from rolling sandstone to crater-like hot tubs to craggy cliffs. And, in addition to the beautiful red rock, Moab is situated next to the Colorado River, offering a beautiful contrast to the dusty desert.
Because the landscape is so diverse and dramatic, there are a ton of riding options for you to choose from. Whether you want to practice your rock crawls, opt for a high-speed desert ride, or just leisurely enjoy the amazing views, Moab will have something for you.
Getting There: Moab is located 4 hours from Salt Lake City and about an hour and a half from Grand Junction, Colorado – and because it’s also home to a national park, there are great roadways leading into the area, making it easy to access. However, because you’re there to ride backcountry trails, your actual riding destinations may be slightly spread out.
The White Wash Sand Dunes, for instance, is a popular destination for those looking to ride in and around Moab. However, they’re located about 45 minutes northwest of the central city, so make sure to plan ahead. The extra drive time comes with a hidden benefit, because some of these trails are outside of Moab and Arches National Park and many, like the Fallen Peace Officer Trail, offer dramatic and sweeping views of the National Park that you wouldn’t experience from inside its gates.
Conclusion: There are so many great options on the West Coast alone, it was hard to narrow it down. To discover more possible adventures, be sure to check out Part 2 of this article for more West Coast trails you absolutely need to ride. No matter where you go, we hope you take us along for the journey and share your top spots with us as you go! For more regional and national information about ATVs and UTVs, explore more of ATV Trader’s blog.