Pardon the simplification, but the United States is big. And one of the best ways to explore our vast landscape, which includes deserts and rainforests and everything in between, is behind the wheel of a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV). The latest models from companies like Polaris are capable machines that can not only get you deep into the backcountry but do it in style, with features such as built-in GPS and entertainment systems, True On-Demand All Wheel drive, and even air conditioning. And driving into the backcountry is just the beginning. Load your Polaris with gear and you can “Think Outside” the routes and use these machines to access some of the best hiking, camping, fishing, and even mountain-biking destinations in the lower 48. Here are 15 of the best off-road trails and routes in the U.S., many of which are perfect for multisport adventures.
Aroostook County ATV Trails, Maine
Pull up northern Maine’s off-road trails on Polaris’s Ride Command navigation system and you might be a little overwhelmed by the options at hand. There are more than a thousand miles of marked ORV trails through Aroostook County, where some of the most rugged mountains in the Northeast tower. Fear not; plot your course and stick to it with the system’s real-time GPS (you can even keep track of others in the Group Ride feature). Consider using Katahdin Lodge as your base camp and you’ll have direct access to the heart of Aroostook’s trails, where backcountry lakes, waterfalls, and the occasional moose await. And bring your hiking boots—Maine’s backcountry is full of gems, including a rugged portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Delancy Loops OHV Trail, Florida
Northern Florida’s Ocala National Forest is wild, packed with endless mazes of sand pine, natural lakes, and rivers fed by crystal clear springs. More than 200 miles of ATV trails are set aside for smaller vehicles, like the Polaris Ranger, General, and RZR, enabling you to ride from lake to lake, spring to spring. Pack your snorkeling gear—the springs in northern Florida offer a unique diving experience.
Windrock Park, Tennessee
The RZR Pro XP is the most agile UTV on the market, with 22 inches of travel that adjusts on the fly thanks to the Dynamix Active Suspension. The machine is built for the most technical terrain on the planet. Terrain like what you’ll find at Windrock Park, a privately owned off-road system in eastern Tennessee with 300 miles of trails traversing some of the steepest, wettest, and rockiest mountains in the South. It’s a rainforest, so expect mud, rocks, and tight trails between towering hardwoods throughout the 73,000-acre playground.
Hatfield-McCoy Trail System, West Virginia
Imagine a paradise where several hundred miles of rowdy 4×4 trails connect a handful of small towns, inns, and restaurants, allowing you get wild on the trails during the day and civilized in town at night. This is the beauty of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, 600 miles of marked paths through wild and wonderful West Virginia. Now imagine packing your entire family in a single UTV and enjoying this adventure together. You can do that in the Polaris Ranger Crew XP 1000, which holds six people with plush seats and too many cupholders to count, all in a dust-free cab with climate control.
Little Sahara Dunes, Oklahoma
You might not expect to find a vast desert two hours north of Oklahoma City, but here it is: Little Sahara State Park, 1,600 acres of rolling sand dunes, some of which reach 75 feet high. The dunes offer a choose-your-own-adventure style of riding as you get creative across the sand, with opportunities for the bold to catch some air. How big can you go in the Polaris Sportsman 570? As big as you want, thanks to the industry-leading ground clearance and True On-Demand all-wheel drive. Bring your RV or snag a campsite and turn it into a weekend affair.
Drummond Island, Michigan
Roll from tight trails in dense hardwood forest to open meadows with long-range views at Drummond Island, an expansive system of trails overlooking Lake Huron with 60 miles of ATV-specific paths and 40 miles of wider ORV-friendly routes. Some loops will take you to the edge of the lake, and riders have the tendency to extend their adventures for miles more than they intended because of the beauty of the landscape. Or you could spend hours geeking out on the Steps at Marble Head, a series of rock shelves that lead to a view extending into Canada.
Roughrider OHV Trail, North Dakota
Going off-road doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Polaris’s Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar is downright civilized, with bolstered seats, multiple cupholders, and the Pro Shield Cab System, which keeps the wild out and the air-conditioning in. It’s the perfect vehicle for Roughrider, a former rail line that’s been converted into an OHV trail following the Missouri River. Think of it as a 16.5-mile greenway for ATVs and UTVs that’s perfect for the family. The scenery is beautiful and the terrain is beginner-friendly. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.
General Sam’s Offroad Park, Texas
You could spend a week exploring the 60 miles of trails within General Sam’s Offroad Park, a 750-acre OHV playground an hour north of Houston. But if you have a Polaris RZR Pro XP, you’d be remiss not to spend at least a few hours in the Competition Area, a course designed to test your skill and your vehicle’s mettle with sand and mud obstacles that are guaranteed to make you smile. Feel free to let the RZR Pro XP out of its cage—the 2021 model was built stronger than ever, so you can be confident in the wildest of situations. Beyond the Competition Area, General Sam’s trails traverse pine forests, creek drainages, swamps, rock walls, and epic ruts.
Bulldog Canyon, Arizona
Drive into the backcountry; camp. Wake up and drive deeper into the backcountry; camp. Repeat until you’ve exhausted the 34,000 acres of the Bulldog Canyon OHV Area, where 20 miles of marked trails cruise through the Sonoran Desert and the Goldfield Mountains, just an hour from Phoenix. The terrain is straightforward and suitable for beginners and families, but the scenery is off the charts. Primitive campsites along the trail make Bulldog Canyon an ideal multi-day destination for off-roaders looking to take their time and explore the nonmotorized trails within the canyon on foot.
Broken Arrow Trail, Arizona
Consider Sedona’s Broken Arrow Trail a hike in your side-by-side. The scenery is impeccable as you drive through the high desert of the Coconino National Forest, with views of red-rock canyons and towering buttes. The eight-mile out-and-back is wide enough for a jeep but can get technical at times as you climb sections of firm rock. Fortunately, it’s nothing the Polaris General XP 1000 can’t handle, with its 100-horsepower engine, 13.5 inches of ground clearance, and 30-inch tires that offer gecko-like traction.
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, California
Winds, time, and an ancient lake formed the Imperial Sand Dunes, a 40-mile-long system of sand mountains in southeastern California, 200 miles from Los Angeles. It’s one of the largest collections of inland dunes in the country, and most of the off-road action happens around a palatial, 300-foot-tall dune called Oldsmobile Hill. It’s a social scene where you’ll find ATVs and UTVs of all kinds racing across the sand. Temps will hit triple digits in the summer, though, which makes the Pro Shield Cab System and HVAC inside the Polaris Ranger XP 1000 NorthStar priceless.
Polaris’s General XP 1000—a beast of a machine with 100 horsepower, 13.5 inches of ground clearance, and the widest stance of any UTV on the market—might be the perfect vehicle for exploring Ouray and its surrounding slice of the San Juan Mountains, where hundreds of miles of unimproved roads and trails extend from town, climbing the steep San Juan backcountry. The area is known as America’s Switzerland because of the towering peaks and picturesque meadows. It’s also an adventure playground with world-class fishing, rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking in all directions. The General’s oversize storage bed, which can hold up to 600 pounds of gear, will come in handy when you’re preparing for days of adventure.
Baumgartner Trails, Idaho
Backcountry is on the menu in this system, which has more than 200 miles of ATV and motorcycle trails ascending and descending the Sawtooth National Forest along the South Fork of the Boise River. Many of the trails are limited to vehicles no wider than 48 inches, perfect for the Polaris Sportsman 570, with its narrow footprint and True On-Demand all-wheel drive. Think technical singletrack with steep pitches, sheer drop-offs, narrow switchbacks, and lots of rock scrambling. Bring your camping and fishing gear—or set up at the Baumgartner Campground, which has a hot-springs-fed soaking pool.
Moab, which might be the most OHV-friendly town in the country, is surrounded by countless acres of off-road bliss, from mellow old mining roads to rock-crawling adventures. The slickrock is the draw here, offering waves of grippy rock seemingly built for off-road vehicles. Ride Poison Spider Mesa, a hybrid of dirt and rock, and you’ll see arches and petroglyphs. Add a hitch rack to your Polaris General or RZR and you can bring your mountain bikes with you and use the RZR to access some of Moab’s signature bike trails.
Paiute ATV Trail, Utah
The Paiute has more than 2,000 miles of routes traversing Fishlake National Forest and BLM land in south-central Utah. Don’t worry: with Polaris’s Ride Command GPS system, you’ll always be headed in the right direction. The in-dash screen allows you to plan and create your route before you put tires to dirt. If you’re riding with others, you can keep track of everyone on the display in real time. It will come in handy on the Paiute, which centers around a 275-mile loop that passes through small towns, but accesses limitless side trails that extend deep into Utah’s backcountry. Expect anything from firm, packed roads to gnarly switchbacks on narrow trails.
Always moving, forever searching, never at rest. Our passion for the outdoors unites us, creating a bond that goes beyond the mechanical. Our off-road vehicles take you where others can’t – from the remote hunting stand covered in snow and brush to the race track in the desert sun and anywhere in between. Think Outside and find your own new adventure with Polaris.