Top 5 epic off-road escapes in North America

You’ve got a great set of wheels and you’re dying to put them to the test? Normal roads and highways don’t do it for you? This is why we’ve come up with a list that will get your blood racing and your hands itching to get behind the wheel. If your passion is to go out and explore places that most rarely see, then read on!

Sure, you’ve wanted to go offroading but why take your 4×4 to a tame road? If you want to drive on the wild side – this is where you should go! You’ll even get to see some inaccessible quirks of nature as well. Keep in mind that the broad umbrella of off roading includes literally going off road and even going as far as rock crawling. We’ve managed to narrow down the list to just 5, but it was hard.

1. Death Valley, California

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

No list can be complete without the famous place featured on it. With the scorching high temperatures that can exceed 120 degrees to being one of the lowest points in North America, you can be sure that you are bound to face some tough terrain. The desolate landscape and extreme temperature make this a challenging location, but we think you’ll find the freedom and solitude rewarding.

There are both challenging as well as relatively easy off roading routes for you to try. The scenic off road trail is the Racetrack Valley via Stovepipe Wells. You will go over terrain that is meant only for 4x4s, but the end of the road will lead you to the famous Racetrack Playa where the siding rocks mysteriously move across the desert floor. You can also take the access road via Lippincott Pass road, climbing up from Saline Valley. This route is tough and you will definitely need a high clearance vehicle. If you want to test the limits, try heading through Goler canyon from Slate Range. You’ll have your vehicle going over granite walls, streams and more.

2. Glamis Dunes, California

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

This is the off roading Mecca for 4×4 enthusiasts. The pink colored sand dunes set against a blue sky is enough to make you think you are in a world of your own. The massive dunes ensure there’s ample space for everyone and you do have to make sure you get all your permits and registrations in place before you start revving and going mad on the sand. Public holidays and weekends tend to be the busiest, so if you’re looking to find some solitude, you’ll be out of luck if you head there during those times. This is one place where you can let your hair loose, and let the accelerator go all the way.

3. Moab

This place, located in Southeast Utah boasts some of the best 4×4 riding in the world. The red rocks, rising high make for an epic landscape, complete with cliffs, water, sand and massive boulders that threaten to crush you. It is touted to offer excitement beyond anything you’ve dreamed of and the unforgiving terrain can test your mechanical and physical skill.

Fisher Towers, Moab, Utah at sunset – Author: Greg Schaefer. – CC BY 3.0
Fisher Towers, Moab, Utah at sunset – Author: Greg Schaefer. – CC BY 3.0

The trails created in this area date back to the time when prospectors came scouring the land in search of fortune. While you can take your pick anywhere in Moab, our fav is Kane Creek Canyon Trail that will really test the endurance of you and your vehicle.

You will experience everything ranging from lots of water, to rocks of all sizes, sand, heavy brush that can make short work of your paint and more. The best part is that this trail will only take you 4 hours, which means there’s time to chill with that beer later in the evening.

4. Rubicon

Rubicon Trail – Author: Tucker Hammerstrom – CC BY-ND 2.0
Rubicon Trail – Author: Tucker Hammerstrom – CC BY-ND 2.0

This is California’s legendary trail and a testing ground for many local companies as well as reputed ones such as Jeep which named a variant of their Jeep Wrangler after the trail. You know it’s this famous – now let’s get down to the details.

Your vehicle should have high clearance and long wheelbases to overcome many of the obstacles that lie in wait. Some of these are the Soup Bowl, Sluice Box, Thousand Dollar Hill, Silby Rock and more. This location is host to popular annual events such as the Jeepers Jamboree, Marlin Crawler round-Up and the Toyota Land Cruiser Association’s Rubithon to name a few. If you want to be part of a legendary trail, this is it.

5. Engineer Pass

If you want scenic views and a nice drive while going off roading, you should head to Colorado. It’s not only a good drive and a test of skill; it has so much more to offer for anyone else who is accompanying you on your trip. There are many points of historical significance and mines that can rivet your attention. This trail, along with Cinnamon Pass makes up the famous Alpine Loop which is an exciting trail for all drivers – new and experienced alike.

Engineer Pass, Colorao
Engineer Pass, Colorao

The only thing you have to watch out for is if there’s snow. This trail is great for the months between June and October, but the trail is shut in winter due to treacherous hidden dangers. Rising to 13000 feet, you will have a view you will never forget and be one with the clouds. We would suggest stopping at Point Oh! for a picture or two. Stop by at Henson Creek to try your hand at fishing, if it takes your fancy. While most of the trail is fairly straightforward, there are some tricky parts that may seem challenging to you.

As much as we would have loved to name a lot more (and there are tons of great hidden gems for 4×4 enthusiasts), we could name only a few. Otherwise you’ll be here all day reading the list. You know the drill, use caution, be prepared and just go for it. You’ll definitely have memories that will last you a lifetime and these trails will call to you time and again. They still do to me.

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jack-beckett is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival