3 OHV motorcyclists on a Cactus lined path
Alex Kelly Photo Visit AZ Rolls OHV January2023

How (and Where) to OHV in AZ

Responsibly exploring Arizona’s off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails opens the door to stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems inaccessible by conventional cars. An extensive network of OHV trails crisscrosses the state – these seven trails offer a variety of desert and alpine terrains, historic sites and challenging rides.

Best OHV Trails for Beginners

How (and Where) to OHV in AZ

Harquahala Mountain Summit Road OHV Trail

  • Where: Wenden
  • Distance: 20.6 miles
  • Great for: ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, dual-sport motorcycles, 4x4s
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate

This straightforward drive presents moderate challenges near the summit, where you’ll find a deserted Smithsonian astrophysical observatory and 360-degree desert views. During the spring, flowers bloom along the saguaro-lined route. Watch for abandoned mines and mining equipment in the area.

Bloody Basin Road

  • Where: Black Canyon City
  • Distance: 29.8 miles
  • Great for: ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, motorcycles, 4x4s
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate

Not far from Phoenix, this well-maintained road through Agua Fria National Monument gets rocky on the descent to the Verde River Sheep Bridge. The 476-foot suspension bridge is open to foot traffic.

Best OHV Trails for Thrill Seekers

How (and Where) to OHV in AZ

Hualapai Mountain OHV Trail

  • Where: Kingman
  • Distance: 46.9 miles
  • Great for: ATVs, UTVs
  • Difficulty level: Hard

Rugged and remote, this trail climbs to more than 7,000 feet, hugging mountainsides as it follows an old mining route to the historic Boriana Mine. Bring the binoculars to birdwatch as you go, and don’t attempt the ride during winter when ice and snow make the drive treacherous.

Red Springs Trail

  • Where: Red Springs Trail
  • Distance: 25 miles
  • Great for: Dirt bikes and motorcycles
  • Difficulty level: Hard

Designed for single-track motorbikes, the Red Springs Trail is extremely rocky at times as it winds through ocotillo and bushy grasslands. Hills provide an extra challenge.

Best OHV Trails for Families

How (and Where) to OHV in AZ

Cinder Hills OHV Area

  • Where: Flagstaff
  • Distance: 19 miles throughout 13,500 acres
  • Great for: ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, motorcycles, 4x4s
  • Difficulty level: Easy, moderate, and hard

Located adjacent to Sunset Crater National Monument, the Cinder Hills OHV Area features 13,500 acres suitable for all types of OHVs and all skill levels. Beginners can ride through Ponderosa pines while the adventurous tackle volcanic cinder cones and craters.

Redington Pass Backcountry Touring Area

  • Where: Tucson
  • Distance: Varies depending on the trail
  • Great for: ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes, motorcycles
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate

Accessed by Redington Road, the trails in the Redington Pass Backcountry Touring Area cut through grasslands dotted with oak and juniper. Depending on the trail, you may be able to see Saguaro National Park, Kitt Peak Observatory, Tanque Verde Canyon, and Tucson in the distance.

Sunrise to Big Lake Snowmobile Route

  • Where: Springerville
  • Distance: 36.9 miles
  • Great for: ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles
  • Difficulty level: Moderate

This loop of forest roads allows ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles to explore the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest after snow forces local road closures.

What You Need to Know to OHV in AZ

An OHV is any motor vehicle designed for use on unimproved roads and trails, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), trail motorcycles and dirt bikes. To optimize your time on the trails, make sure you understand Arizona’s OHV regulations and how to responsibly operate your vehicle.

Heading out on an off-road adventure in Arizona is a great way to explore the thousands of miles of trails, roads and open areas the state offers for off-highway vehicles (OHVs), motorbikes and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

You can spend the afternoon crawling over the red rocks of Sedona or creeping down a steep rocky trail to a desert canyon waterfall. Or maybe you'd rather ride the volcanic cinder fields where NASA astronauts once trained and travel back in time to old abandoned mining towns. You can do it all; and thanks to our climate, you can enjoy these outdoor adventures year-round.

Note: Resident and non-resident off-highway vehicles (OHVs) MUST display a valid OHV decal to operate on public and state trust lands in Arizona. Learn more and purchase an OHV decal.

Licensing: You can purchase an OHV decal through the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), Arizona Game and Fish (AZGFD) or an authorized third party for $25. Each OHV will need its own decal. (Decals cannot be shared.) To purchase the decal, you will need a vehicle license plate and certificate of title in your name. The decal is valid for one year and costs $25.

Regulations: OHVs must stay on designated trails or in designated areas at all times. It’s also unlawful to drive recklessly, cause damage to the environment or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Additionally, an OHV must have proper permanent safety components, such as footrests, to accommodate a second passenger.

Responsibility: Illegal and unethical use of OHV trails and areas can destroy fragile environments and natural resources. To protect them, stay on designated trails and in designated areas. Avoid wet areas and private property. To reduce the impact on other people, slow down or stop when approaching others. Limit OHV use in or near campgrounds and keep your OHV properly tuned and muffled.

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About the Author

Teresa Bitler

Teresa Bitler is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Way, Wine Enthusiast, and AAA publications. She is the author of two guidebooks and a contributor to Fodors Arizona & The Grand Canyon.

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