The weather is cooler, all off-road and on-road vehicles are serviced (or should be!), and you are ready to push the skinny pedal on some fun rides. You can easily go to the same places you have always known, but there is something special about exploring new riding places. With the spirit of adventure running through our veins, we are putting together the Top 5 Winter Riding Destinations that we are excited about for the 2019/2020 riding season. If you have already been to these places, great! Maybe there are some new areas to explore on your familiar trails. Or, if you haven’t been to these places, get ready to have some fun! Load your toys, tools, supplies, and family up and get ready for some fun…
Top 5 Winter Riding Destinations
1: Johnson Valley, CA
Known as the home of the annual King of the Hammers race, Johnson Valley measures 96,000 acres and is an off-roaders paradise with an incredible variety of terrain. From vast desert basins to the most insane rock climbs in the United States, Johnson Valley has a bit of everything, for everyone. There are also sand dunes in the area if you really want to ride on something different.
The main camping area for Johnson Valley is located on Means Dry Lake, and there is a ton of area to park your vehicle, trailer, toys, and everything else you can bring. The only thing to keep in mind is that this is completely dry camping – bring your supplies with you and fill up your water tanks. The closest supplies are out a dirt road for about 20 minutes and then another 20-30 minutes to the closest town for supplies. Anyways, just make sure that you have everything with you.
The ideal vehicle for Johnson Valley is one that has a wide stance, lots of ground clearance, and an opportunity to haul spare parts and tires for those just-in-case moments. There are plenty of opportunities to ride hundreds of miles out here, so be prepared. Many riders out here have a UTV with Turbo power to put miles down fast, especially since most of these vehicles have big suspension power and bigger tires. You can have fun with any type of vehicle out here, so don’t stay home if you don’t have the high performance.
There are no fees to recreate in this area.
For more information, click over to this website: https://www.blm.gov/visit/johnson-valley-ohv-area
2.) Little Sahara Sand Dunes, Utah
Nestled into the middle of Utah, this area does get cold in the winter, but there are many times that you can watch the weather and get out here to ride. The absolute best times are in the fall and spring times. Little Sahara isn’t so “little” in the dunes department – you can the massive sand dune named “Sand Mountain“ right from the campsite. This is one of the tallest sand dunes that you can climb in the country at right around 700 feet tall. Behind the large hill, you can find rolling big dunes that give you a Glamis-style of dining experience without the Glamis-sized crowd. In total, there are 60,000 acres to ride.
There are 4 camping areas scattered around the dunes, but the main camping area will be right under Sand Mountain. That has the most direct access to the main riding area, but it is completely dry camping. Like Johnson Valley, if you plan on camping here then you better make sure that you bring all of your supplies with you. Nestled throughout all 4 campgrounds are pit toilets and several water sources.
For the younger generations in your group, there is a great selection of smaller dunes that give newbies and/or youngsters the ultimate areas to learn how to ride and get to know the flow of the dunes.
While the fees to enjoy this area are not monstrous, there are fees to be aware of as you venture over to this area. It costs $18/vehicle/night, or you can buy a $120 season pass. If you’re a senior or a person with disabilities, then it costs $60 per season pass.
Here is more information on the dunes: https://www.blm.gov/learn/interpretive-centers/little-sahara-recreation-area
3.) Glamis Sand Dunes, CA (Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area)
Is this the most iconic place to ride sand dunes in the world?! Based off of the social media following and all of the movies and videos that have been shot on these dunes, Glamis will continue to be one of the most visited recreation areas in America. And, why is it so popular? The main reason is because of the rolling sand dunes that are just plain epic to ride on. No where else in America offers the sheer amount of open sand to ride on (over 40,000 acres) with the incredible, rolling dunes that deliver roller coaster rides for hours.
Camping in the Glamis dunes can be found in multiple places. Highway 78 is the two-lane road that gets you to the dunes, whether you are coming from the east or the west. From the west, you’re going to hit Gecko road first, which includes a bunch of different pads and areas to camp with paved areas for motorhome camping. You can camp in the sand if you want, but be sure you have a 4WD tow vehicle. From the east, you’re going to hit the Glamis Beach Store first, which also serves as the entrance to the camping area known as “the washes”. There are a ton of washes, which are all dirt-based camping areas. Camp anywhere in this area, but always be aware that that sand can blow and get into the hard pack areas to make them soft. No matter which camping area you choose, all of them are dry camping spots, so come prepared with all of your necessities. By the Glamis store, there is a vendor area with several food and parts stores. The Glamis store also has a ton of supplies, ice, showers, and other necessities.
You will need a pass to camp in Glamis. You can buy a 7-day pass outside of the dunes for $35 at select retailers or online. The 7-day pass on-site is $50. If you’re going to go out here for more than 4 times, then the $150 season pass will be well worth your money. Keep in mind that all of those costs are per automobile. If you have more than 1 on-road vehicle coming with you, you’ll need one pass per vehicle.
There are many different attractions to see within the Glamis dunes. There are no less than 7 hills out there, with 5 of them being major hills that see a lot of vehicles. In order of proximity to the main road and camping areas, you have Competition hill, Oldsmobile hill, Brawley Slide, Lizard Hill, and China Wall. You should also look for the Flag Pole, swing set, and the firefighter’s memorial, which is located at Brawley Slide.
Here is more information on the Glamis dunes: https://www.blm.gov/visit/imperial-sand-dunes
Needless to say, there is plenty of stuff to see in Glamis! Bring your family, your friends, your vehicles, and plenty of fuel – you’re going to have a blast!
4.) Stoney Lonesome OHV park, Alabama
In the deep south, there are several off-road parks to choose from when planning your vacation. Some of the best trail networks happen to be at the Stoney Lonesome OHV park. With a wide range of terrain, Stoney Lonesome gives riders wide open trails, tight and technical trails, rock climbs, and muddy bottoms. Personally, I love the variety at this OHV park, and they have a ton of trails to enjoy.
In total, the park has 1456+ acres to ride on and enjoy that variety of terrain. A variety of events take place throughout the year, and some of their most popular weekends are those that have a night ride. There are also barbie Jeep race weekends, 24 hour night rides, and so much more. Check out their events calendar on the Stoney website for more details.
An OHV park in the south wouldn’t be complete if there wen’t RV spots, camping, and cabins on site, and Stoney has all of those. You can make reservations on their website, or you can call them up to see what they have available.
For more details, check out the Stoney Lonesome website, here: http://www.stonylonesomeohv.us/index.html
5.) TexPlex Park, Texas
If you want to test your racing mettle, TexPlex has quickly become one of the best private race track facilities in all of America. There are multiple tracks on the property, and they have race events scattered throughout the year. Multiple classes allow different side-by-sides to enter the various races.
TexPlex is located just south of Dallas in the smaller town of Midloathian, TX. There are many different hotels in the area to stay in. The park itself does not have on-site camping, so you’ll have to stay in a nearby hotel or residence if you plan to extend your trip past one day.
The 1000 acre property features multiple tracks, including short- and long-UTV courses, MX tracks, Supercross tracks, a truck track (designed for Ford Raptors and such), mud tracks, and much more. Basically, the owners have put as much of those 1000 acres to good use as possible.
For more information, here is a link to the TexPlex website: https://www.texplexpark.com/
No matter where you decide to ride this winter, the important part is that you get out and enjoy the off-road lifestyle with your family! Also, be stewards of the sport by always picking up your trash, making sure our riding areas are better than how you found them, and by teaching the next generation proper trail etiquette out there. We want to keep all of our recreation areas open for many generations to come.
Until next time, be safe on the trails, and we’ll see you out there!