ATV Trails In Wyoming
Christina Lake (Lander Wyoming)
Located within the Shoshone National Forest, this trail is worth a special trip.
Not only is it a challenging fun ride, but Christina Lake is lovely. The lake has a rocky rugged shore and is surrounded by hills covered in pine trees.
There is a beautiful dry camping area at the end of trail right on the lake. If you have the time, spend the night – you won’t regret it.
At only 9 miles (one way), it’s short, but challenging, so plan accordingly.
Adventure Starts When The Going Gets Tough
What starts out easy enough turns into a rock infested nightmare. (a fun challenging nightmare!) Parts of the trail are nothing but huge rocks that require both ground clearance and skill.
ATVs and SxS will be able to make it to the lake with a bit of grit, but most full sized rigs don’t attempt the entire route.
Full sized drivers generally park when the going gets tough and hike the rest of way to the lake. With a modified rig and an experienced driver, you can make it, but be sure you know what you’re getting into.
You’ll also have several water crossing as well as mud, so this trail really will give you a workout.
One of the water crossing can be fairly deep, so use caution. This crossing is towards the end and can be seen on the map.
Shoshone National Forest is huge with entry points outside of Cody Wyoming and Lander Wyoming. These two towns are 163 road miles apart, so this gives you an idea of it’s size.
Both the Lander and Cody sections have some of the best ATV trails in Wyoming with hundreds of trail miles open to offroading.
WYO Parks: Shoshone South ATV Map (Lander area with Christina Lake)
WYO Parks: Shoshone North ATV Map (Cody area)
Bearlodge WY ATV Trails (Devil’s Tower Area/Crook County)
Most people are familiar with the Black Hills of South Dakota, but many people may not know those hills extend into Wyoming where they are referred to as the Northwestern Hills.
And, just like the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Black Hills of Wyoming are also excellent for off roading. It’s not as big a riding area, but it’s a perfect weekend getaway.
A bit off the beaten track, most people are just passing through here on there way to somewhere “better” like South Dakota, Yellowstone or Devil’s Tower.
If you have time, check out Cook Lake, it’s a small, but very picturesque lake. Good fishing!
You can find some pretty nice free camping as well. I’ve been through here a few times and always enjoy myself.
In the Northwestern Hills, there are two main riding areas: Ogden and Blacktail. There’s somewhere in the neighborhood 100+ ATV trail miles.
The Forest Service doesn’t state how many OHV trails are in this area, they just say “dozens of miles of OHV trails”.
However, they do mention 300 miles of snowmobile trails. Not all snowmobile trails are open to offroading, so I’m making an educated guess here.
Big Horn Mountains (Sheridan WY)
This is one of my personal favorite places to ride – I consider it one of the 10 Best ATV Trail Systems In The US.
The Big Horns have some of the best ATV trails in Wyoming – they’re right up there with Colorado and Utah in terms of epic off roading.
Miles of roads and trail with easy access. All the Forest Service campgrounds provide ride in ride access to the back roads. It’s dry camping – no hookups or toilets, only vault toilets, but the campgrounds are quite nice.
Plus, there are virtually unlimited free camping options. And I’m not kidding when I say virtually unlimited.
Even with a big rig, you’ll be able to find free camping options. Drive down any reasonable looking dirt road and tuck into the trees.
There are two separate sections of the Big Horns with different access points. Unfortunately the two sections do not meet up, so you have to choose your section in advance.
One section is accessed from Buffalo WY, while the other section is closest to Sheridan WY.
We prefer the Sheridan access area, it’s larger with better camping and more offroading. But, the Buffalo section is very beautiful and definitely worth a visit too.
Deer, elk and moose are plentiful throughout the mountains, so you’ll have some excellent wildlife photography opportunities.
Plus, it’s 20 degrees cooler up here, which makes it quite comfortable even on the hottest days down below. We’ve seen days where it was 95 degrees in Sheridan, but 65 degrees and drizzling up top.
WYO Parks: 2021 Big Horn ORV Map
Forest Service: Big Horn Mountains ATV Trails (individual routes and their info)
Killpecker Sand Dunes (Rock Springs, WY)
I know that sand dunes don’t exactly qualify as “trails”, but this is one of the best offroading areas in Wyoming, so I’m including it!
With over 20,000 acres open to off roading, there’s plenty of sand to keep you busy.
A virtually endless sea of soft rolling hills extend into the horizon. The dunes are vast with a variety of riding terrains to accommodate all skill sets.
Adventurous riders will enjoy tackling some of the steeper climbs and catching air while the less adventurous will find plenty of roller coaster fun cruising.
Complete Killpecker Sand Dunes write up!
Kirwin Ghost Town (Meeteese WY)
Located deep in the heart of the Absaroka Mountain along a fork of the Wood River lies the remains of what was once a booming mining town.
From the late 1800s to 1907, several hundred people called Kirwin home. In addition to the mining, there were several business including a sawmill, two general stores, a hotel and a boarding house.
It was even easy to make it into the “big” city of Meetesse as stagecoaches made runs every other day,
Unfortunately the amazing backdrop of the mountains also came with a huge hazardous downside.… avalanches! Ultimately an avalanche was the towns undoing.
When a huge storm passed through town in February of 1907, an avalanche roared through town killing 3 people and destroying several building.
The citizens couldn’t take the harsh winter conditions anymore. Once the storm cleared, most people packed up and left never to return.
A couple pushes to repopulate and rejuvenate the town proved unsuccessful and the town never recovered.
Amelia Earhart Lived Here
Amelia Earhart visited a dude ranch in the region in the early 1930s. She liked the area so much that she was having a cabin built just up the road from the Kirwin Ghost Town.
After she disappeared on her ill fated around the world flight in 1937, construction on the cabin was discontinued.
Today you can continue past the ghost town to the remains of Amelia Earhart’s cabin. Construction never got that far along – it was only 4 logs tall, so it’s rotting and quickly returning to the earth.
Not much to see at Amelia’s cabin, but if the weather good and you’d like a bit of a leg stretch, it’s only about 1 mile past the ghost town.
Complete Kirwin Ghost Town write up!
Laramie Peak (Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest/Laramie WY)
The closest “big” town to the Laramie Peak ATV Trail is Laramie which is a little less than an hour away.
Located in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, this short but sweet ATV trail is a local favorite.
The Forest Service charges $5 per day, per vehicle or an America The Beautiful Pass.
Even though this trail is only 4.2 miles, it packs a lot in. It starts out relatively flat for the first mile, but gradually builds to a slow steady climb to the top.
The trail takes you through pine forest, interesting large rock outcroppings, an old burn area and eventually above the tree line.
Trail is easy, but bumpy – mostly hard pack with a lot of good sized rocks. May be muddy in section depending on snow melt and recent weather.
At the very top you’ll be able to view several states, different mountain ranges, small town and cities.
Visit A Historic Fire Lookout
Laramie Peak Fire Zone, the local volunteer fire department host an annual poker run fundraiser on this trail, so if you happen to be in the area and want to support a good cause, check it out. The poker run is held annually on Memorial Day weekend.
On your ride, be sure to stop in at the Black Mountain Fire Lookout, one of the few fire lookouts still in use in the US. It’s also on the National Historic Lookout Register.
It’s staffed from June – October and open to visitors.
You’ll enjoy the bird’s eye view in all directions, but be prepared to walk up a lot of stairs!
But, Laramie Peak Trail isn’t all that the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest has to offer. This area has hundreds of miles of roads and trails open to OHV use as well as tons of opportunities for ORV camping.
Forest Service: Laramie Peak Trail Map
Forest Service: Laramie Peak
WYO Parks: 2021 Medicine Bow ORV Map
- Wyoming does not offer reciprocity for out of state ATV/OHV registration.
- All riders are required to either purchase a Wyoming ORV permit to operate in Wyoming or have a license plate.
- Most Forest Service ATV trails in Wyoming are “enrolled” – this means that your vehicle is required to have either a license plate or an ORV decal.
- “Not enrolled” roads are typically busier, larger roads and highways. They will require both a license plate and a driver’s license.
- Operators without a drivers license can only operate on enrolled trails.
- Operators > 14 years old with a proper driver’s license endorsement can ride on roads, routes, trails that are designated for ORV travel, and non-designated roads if the ORV is street legal.
Sunlight Basin to Sulfur Creek (Cody WY)
Enjoy beautiful sweeping mountain views, small creeks and waterfalls.
About an hour outside of Cody, this ride takes a bit of effort to get to the parking area, but it’s worth it.
Located north of Cody off the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (Hwy 296) as it twists and turns on it’s climb to the Beartooth Highway.
In two small sections, Chief Joseph Byway briefly changes names and becomes Dead Indian Hill Rd. and Crandall Rd, but it’s still Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.
In the Crandall Road section, you take a left onto Sunlight Road and the staging area is 495” on the right.
This is a high mountain area. Some trails have a May open date, but others don’t even open until June.
This easy ATV trail is on a good (but washboard) forest service road. It’s pretty easy going except for the washboard, but nothing challenging.
Depending on recent weather and snow melt, you may face mud and some water crossings.
Prepare To Get Wet
There are actually 4 water crossings, but they’re usually dry or simply muddy. However, if you’re looking to extend your ride, be prepared to get wet.
Sunlight Creek crosses the road after Sulfur Creek creating a potential deep water crossing (see map above). It’s usually passable, put proceed with caution!
Additional riding opportunities can be found throughout this region.
If you’d like to really get away from it all check out the Sunlight Ranger Cabin. This Forest Service managed cabin makes a nice base camp for a riding weekend.
At $150 bucks a night, this cabin is a pretty good value considering it’s a 3 bedroom. You’ll pay that much in Cody for a single hotel room!
Three miles up the road from Sunlight Ranger Cabin is Little Sunlight Camping Area with 5 dry dispersed camping sites and a vault toilet. It’s grizzly country, so be sure to store your food properly.
WYO Parks: Shoshone North ATV Map
Red Lake Motorized Recreation Area (Cody WY)
This riding area is so close to town, it’s almost in town. The main staging area is 1 mile south of town off Skyline Drive.
This high plains riding area features old roads, trails, washes, hills and plenty of sand with lovely views of the surrounding mountains.
The riding area totals almost 3,000 acres, with 2 open riding areas on 400+ acres and 60 miles of trails. Single tracks are also available for dual sport use riders.
There are no amenities, so come prepared.
Red Lake Motorized Recreation Area is next to land managed by BLM and also land owned by Wyoming State Lands and Investments, so there’s plenty of additional roads and trails for riding.
Always popular with locals, this riding area didn’t become “official” until 2015.
A local off roading club, the Northwest Wyoming Off Highway Vehicle Alliance, worked with the state of Wyoming and a generous land owner to make this off roading area possible.
A 10 year agreement ensures that off roading will be legal here until 2025. If riders respect the land, then hopefully an extension will be secured.
McCullough Peaks (Cody Wyoming)
Cody Wyoming is blessed with a lot of great ATVing and McCullough Peaks has some of the best.
Enjoy 150 miles of mountain trails spread over 25,210 acres.
Besides the wide open wilderness and mountain views, the big draw here is the wild horses. The area is home to one of several wild horse management areas in Wyoming.
The spectacular McCullough Peak wild horses are renowned for their beautiful, varied colors which makes for a special Wyoming memory as well as stunning photographs.
Antelope are also plentiful in the region, so you’ll have plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.
BLM manages the area, so there are plenty of roads for off roading.
Most of the routes are open to all vehicles including full sized, but there are a few ATV/UTV/motorcycle only routes.
1212 is one of the best routes, but there are plenty of options. As you can see on the map, there are a lot of entry points just east of Cody, so getting on the trails is pretty easy.
BLM: McCullough Peaks
McCullough Peaks ATV Map (Avenza Maps – Free download on your phone)
Union Pass Road (Pinedale WY)
Stunning ride in Union Pass through the Wind River Range that takes you from Pinedale WY To Dubois WY. This is a high elevation ride, so the trail doesn’t open until May.
Trailhead is easy to find. Take 352 past Cora. At the end of 352, you head toward the left onto 600 (also seen as 370600 on the map). This road will take you all the way to the pass and beyond if you desire.
Signs with milage mark the way with plenty of opportunities for side trips. Lots of roads dot the region.
The trail is actually a road and a pretty good one at that. It’s very bumpy, so expect to get jostled around, but the trip is a fun family friendly ride.
Two wheel drive vehicles could probably make it, but I wouldn’t recommend it – it’s not ideal. 4×4 full sized vehicles, ATVs, UTVs and motorcycles will all be able to easily make the trip.
One of the best ATV trails in Wyoming! Meadows, jagged peaks, wildlife, lakes, creeks and wild flowers make this a memorable ride.
Summer comes late to this area, so riders will enjoy the “Spring” wildflower bloom in late July and even into August.
WYO Parks: Pinedale ORV Trail Map
Gros Ventre ATV Trails (Jackson WY)
7 miles north of Jackson, you turn right at Gros Ventre Junction to the small settlement of Kelly WY.
These trails feature views of the Tetons, streams, lakes and high plains scenery.
With over 70 miles of Forest Service roads to explore, you’ll find plenty of excellent riding to keep you busy.
Be sure to take the quick stroll to the Wedding Tree that rewards with a stunning view of the Tetons. As the name suggests, locals reserve the Wedding Tree for outdoor weddings with a view.
Between May and Labor Day, dispersed camping has a 5 day limit. This is grizzly habitat so proper food storage is required.
Forest Service: Gros Ventre Corridor
Featured Image by Pinedale Travel & Tourism Commission