San Rafael Swell
Both north and south of I-70 in eastern Utah are dozens of rugged, unpaved roads for exploring the backcountry throughout the San Rafael Swell.
The Paiute ATV Trail
This famous trail is a 200-mile loop over three mountain ranges and through rugged canyons and deserts. The trail may be accessed at many points, including the junction of Interstate Hwys 15 and 70 mid-way between the cities of Fillmore and Beaver, and also from Richfield on I-70. From the main trail, administered by the Fishlake National Forest and the BLM, there are many side trips which offer hundreds of miles of open roads for ATV use.
While off-roading is not permitted within these National Parks, there are many surrounding trails that offer exciting ATV experiences and incredible park vistas. The off-road trails near Bryce Canyon and Zion Park provide an enjoyable way to experience this unique region.
The Grand Canyon and surrounding region offers incredible vistas, canyons, and trails – many of which are only accessible with a four-wheel drive vehicle, and with the help of a knowledgeable guide.
Just south of SR 24, Boulder Mountain has many roads that are excellent for 4-wheel drive vehicles. North of Boulder Mountain over the back of Thousand Lake Mountain via Loa and Fremont is a ruggedly scenic 25-mile ride to Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park.
Cathedral Valley offers a 58-mile loop that can usually be driven by vehicles with good ground clearance. It passes some of Capitol Reef’s most spectacular and stark landscape, including the Temples of the Sun and Moon and Glass Mountain. Road conditions can vary greatly depending on recent weather conditions so check at the visitor center for current road and weather conditions.
One of the most popular drives in southern Utah (accessible to passenger cars when dry) is the Burr Trail. From Boulder, it extends for 66 miles through BLM’s Long Canyon and Circle Cliffs, the Waterpocket Fold of Capitol Reef National Park, and other amazing scenery to Hwy 276 above Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell.
In southwestern Utah, the East Fork trail system in the Dixie National Forest begins at Tropic Reservoir; drivers are cautioned that some roads on the system are still closed for logging operations. Other favorite areas for off highway vehicles include Kodachrome Basin State Park (south of Cannonville), BLM’s Sand Mountain (8 miles southwest of Hurricane), and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, which contains three-thousand acres of brightly colored sand dunes available for OHV use. A 60-mile drive from Escalante, southeast on BLM land to the famous Hole-In-The Rock overlooking Lake Powell, affords unusual scenery along the Kaiparowits Plateau.
Southeastern Utah has been called the off-highway vehicle capital of the world. The famed Moab Jeep Safari, held every Easter, attracts many 4-wheeling enthusiasts who come to explore the area’s driving challenges, such as the Moab Rim, Poison Spider Mesa and other BLM routes. Participation in this popular event is allocated by an advance registration lottery system.
One of the most talked about 4-wheel drive roads in southern Utah is Elephant Hill in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. Also in the park, the White Rim Trail loops around the Island in the Sky mesa for over 100 miles. Reservations for this adventure are recommended. West of Blanding, a 38-mile dirt and gravel road travels over Bear’s Ears in the Abajo Mountains to Natural Bridges National Monument, and connects to forest roads that drop into Beef Basin or continue on