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ATV Arizona: Two Epic Trails For Adventure

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ATV Arizona

Arizona has a lot going for it when it comes to ATVing. Obviously the winters are great! The high desert does get some snow, but the lower desert is perfect for winter riding. 50+ degrees and sunny is pretty hard to beat in January.

Many small desert towns are now embracing off roading as an attractive source of tourism dollars, so you’ll find the towns welcoming and friendly.

Plus, Arizona also has plenty of wide open space with thousands of miles of dirt roads making it the perfect destination for your next ATV adventure. Not only are there tons of designated ATV trails in Arizona, but also old mining roads and forest service roads.  

This article highlights two of the best OHV trails in AZ – The Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route and The Arizona Peace Trail.


Two Long Distance Arizona ATV Trails

Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route (AZBDR)

  • Length: 744 Miles (Point To Point)
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Advanced (Varies with weather. Due to length, remoteness, clay and deep loose sand.)
  • Longest Section Without Gas: 136 miles
  • Permits required: Yes, 2 permits required
  • Street Legal Requirements: Yes. Street Legal Requirements
  • Registration & License: Yes, ATVs require both for this route. AZ State OHV Registration
  • Trail Surface: Unmaintained dirt roads
  • Riding Season: May – June and September – October
  • How Long Does It Take To Ride: 4 – 6 days
  • Services Available: All (motel, restaurant, gas, store, food, mechanic)
  • Nonresident OHV Decal: Required, cost $25 + processing fee. Purchase AZ Nonresident OHV Decal

This 744 mile off road adventure trail runs almost directly through the center of Arizona from the US/Mexico border to the Utah/Arizona border.

Primarily billed as a motorcycle route, the AZBDR is fully accessible for all street legal 4x 4 vehicles with good tires and high clearance. There are no single track sections on this trail.

This route is made up of minimally maintained dirt roads with a variety of hazards such as ruts, deep loose sand, rocks and clay (which becomes difficult to ride when wet). Some sections cross arroyos/washes that may be impassible when flooded.

Even though this route is through some rugged remote desert, it does pass through several small towns. With planning, it’s easy to stay in motels and eat at restaurants every day.

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Of course, if you want to get away from it all, plenty of camping is available.

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GPS Download Here: Download Tracks

To ride this route from end to end, you will need to obtain two permits, one from the Arizona State Land Trust and one from the Navajo Nation.

From the AZBDR website:

“The second permit is needed when riding through Navajo Nation (Section 8) you MUST obtain a pass to ride and camp in Navajo Nation. Camping and riding permits are $15 each per person (cash only). They can be purchased at the small round building at the junction of Hwy 64 and 89 in Cameron. Don’t plan on entering these lands after dark after the permit office is closed. Cameron Visitor Center: P.O. Box 459, Cameron, AZ 86020 tel : 928.679.2303, fax: 928.679.2017, email: lcr@navajonationparks.org.

Please also note, no alcohol or firearms are allowed on Navajo land, and you must camp in designated areas only.”

Here are two nice write ups from a couple groups of motorcyclists that did this route:

Exploring AZ’s Backcountry Discovery Route

The Arizona Backcountry Discovery Route: An Adventure In Extremes



Arizona Peace Trail

  • Length: 750 Miles (Loop)
  • Difficulty: Moderate (Mostly due to length and remoteness)
  • Longest Section Without Gas: 155 miles (less if you go off trail)
  • Permits required: No
  • Street Legal Requirements: Unknown, but recommended for accessing towns. Street Legal Requirements
  • Registration & License: Yes, ATVs require both for this route. AZ State OHV Registration
  • Trail Surface: Unmaintained dirt
  • Season: All Year (but snow/rain may make certain sections inaccessible)
  • How Long Does It Take To Ride: 5 – 7 days
  • Services Available: All (motel, restaurant, gas, store, food, mechanic)
  • Nonresident OHV Decal: Required, cost $25 + processing fee. Purchase AZ Nonresident OHV Decal
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From the Hualapai Mountains of Kingman Arizona to small remote desert towns with stops in Yuma, Lake Havasu City (home of London Bridge) and Bullhead City, this trail allows you to see a wide and varied slice of southwestern Arizona.

Note: Bullhead City is across the border from Laughlin Nevada, a small gambling town 100 miles south of Las Vegas. Even if you’re not a gambler, Laughlin could make nice stop over. Eat a nice meal, get a spa treatment, see a show, go boating or play golf, Laughlin offers a lot of amenities for a remote gambling town. Visit Laughlin Website

This 750 mile remote desert route has a lot going for it. Not only does it offer year round riding with easy access to services, but it’s a loop that can be easily accessed from all the towns along it’s route.

You can do a week plus ride on this trip with plenty of time for relaxing and sightseeing or easily pick and choose some excellent day trips.

Although this trail loop is open year round, some portions have seasonal challenges, possible weather closures and partial closures due to events. The Peace Trail GPS tracks offer some alternative routes around the closures and the weather related closures are mostly avoidable with proper planning.

From the AZPT website:

“During the first weekend in January the trails to and thru Planet Ranch are closed, an alternative route is through “Pipeline Crossing” (see our GPS tracks).

Also, during the first weekend in February, most trails in North La Paz County are closed, due to an annual desert off-road race.

In the winter, the AZPT trail thru the Hualapai Mountains in Kingman may have snow to make this section impassible; two alternative routes are identified on our GPS track file and website.

In event of heavy rain, crossing at Alamo Lake may be impassible. Please check our website for passable status or contact Wayside Cafe & RV Park for info and our GPS tracks have shown an alternative.”

The best overall riding season is October through November. This allows you to avoid the scorching summer sun, snow at the higher elevations and the rainy seasons of December-January and July-early September.

This trail was a collaborative effort between several ATV/off roading clubs and the BLM. The Bouse Ghost Riders ATV club deserves a lot of the credit for building relationships with other desert ATV clubs and working together with the BLM to get this trail official non-profit status in 2015.

In addition to providing excellent OHV opportunities for locals, one of the big goals of this trail was to help attract visitors to the area. With excellent winter weather, ample BLM land and a vast network of already existing desert roads, this area was perfect for setting up an epic off roading loop trail.

The Arizona Peace Trail makes for a perfect winter off-roading destination, plus it helps support local businesses.


Articles To Help You Plan Your ATV Trip

If you’re planning a long distance off road trip, be sure to check out ATV Trail Riding Survival Kit for a complete list of everything you need to pack in an ATV emergency kit including information on tools, survival gear and first aid.

You may also find ATV Trip Checklist helpful. It includes a list of necessary ATV gear and camping equipment required for a long haul trip. There is also a downloadable checklist for your convenience.



More ATV Arizona Information

In addition to miles of ATV trails and dirt roads, Arizona also has three sand dunes open to OHV use. Find out everything you need to know about these sand dunes by checking out these articles:

Depending on where you’re at in Arizona, Needles California makes for an easy escape, so be sure to check out our ATV Resort page with information about the Pirate Cove Resort. This great resort offers everything you need for a quick getaway with minimal planning – cabins, food, ATV rentals and miles of trails easily accessible from the resort.

Arizona also has a popular ATV Jamboree:

UTV Rally@Mormon Lake
Flagstaff Arizona
May 1 – 2, 2020

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