Its may be an alphabet jumble, but your ATVs and UTVs are considered Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs). There is probably no better time to get out and about on your ATV or UTV than the fall, and probably no better place to ride than a on a trail made for the purpose.
Unlike your farm or neighboring area where your workaday ATV might afford you access for hunting fishing, going on a trail is almost purely about the experience. Sightseeing. Nature. Trees. Unexpected wildlife. Hills. Gravel. Dust. Watery fords. Mud. Big smiles.
In a word, fun! But how do you get on to the best trails with the minimum of fuss?
There are a handful of resources you can turn to for the inside line on trails and open areas where you can ride your OHV for the maximum fun.
The American Motorcycle Association (americanmotorcyclist.com) deals with more than just two-wheelers. On their website under ATV Riding Resources, they have "Where to Ride.” It is a recurring feature on this website that includes information about public riding areas where you're allowed to ride your ATV. These are rider-submitted and often focused on state- or county-level parks and open areas. More than 35 states are represented, and they often include information from the area's managers, including trail characteristics, costs and registration information.
Perhaps even more authoritative is Rider Planet USA (riderplanet-usa.com). This is another rider-submitted list, but it also includes an indication for each trail of difficulty, along with notable features and photographs. A real plus is that Rider Planet-USA also includes listings of nearby trails, so your riding adventure can cover multiple rides in the same area.
State tourism and outdoor agencies also recognize the importance of bringing OHV riders to their areas, and they also spend considerable effort to do so. One of the country’s most outdoorsy areas for riders of all stripes is Moab, Utah, and their website, discovermoab.com will not only give you the 4-1-1 on trails and wildlife areas where you can ride, but it also helps with campground, hotel, and motel recommendations as well as companies that make a business of catering to OHV riders.
If you haven’t yet joined one, search out an ATV club in the area where you would like to visit. Local riders know the lay of the land and can set the ball rolling for rides in both public and private lands. These groups plan frequent outings, and you may be able to accompany them if schedules match. Chances are, you will undoubtedly make new friends who share the same offload-riding gene.
There are also companies that specialize in organizing rides for you and friends. Often these are connected with campgrounds, but many in truly tourist-friendly areas are simply standalone. If your personal OHV throws a hoof—breaks down, that is—these guide organizations usually have vehicles available for rental.
The best thing about these companies is that they know hands-down the best trails and the best times to ride them. And, they can advise you on ATV laws and licensing or riding fees—which are often built into rental fees, should you go that route.
Traveling out of state to ride? Be sure to check the local laws regarding OHV usage on trails and roads. There may be fees involved, so be prepared to be legal before heading out.
Autumn is upon us, and who wouldn’t want to hit some trails to see forest leaves in all their red-orange-yellow-brown splendor? Check out some of these websites for the northern U.S. where fiery autumn color can be had. Plan ahead and check with the local agencies, since they are the best source for sharing and predicting fall foliage timing.
Wisconsin ATV/UTV Association