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Lake Havasu Off Road Trails

  • Skill Level: Varied
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Fees: None (but OHV sticker required)
  • Season: Fall – Spring
  • Vehicles Allowed: ATV, SxS, 4×4, full size, motorcycles  

With winter temperatures in the 60s and 70s, Lake Havasu is the perfect destination for a winter riding vacation.

But excellent winter weather isn’t the only thing that Lake Havasu has going for it. Other recreational opportunities include boating, fishing, golf, hiking, biking.

And of course off roading!

Lake Havasu Off Road Trails
There are lots of washes open to OHV travel James Tapparo II | Flickr

With a population of approximately 55,000, it’s a small town, so it’s easy to get around. Plus, with tourism being a major source of revenue there’s plenty of lodging options and a variety of restaurants to make your visit even more enjoyable.

Lake Havasu is a charming town with lots to offer.

But, we’re here for the off roading, so let’s get to it.

Surrounded by thousands of acres of open desert, this place is practically Shangri-La for OHVs.

Most of the Lake Havasu off road trails are managed by the BLM as part of its Lake Havasu Travel Management Trail System.

With 20 different networks of trails all within easy access of town, off roaders will have plenty of options.

The terrain is primarily open desert with some hills, canyons and sand dunes. There’s also the popular Standard Wash which is an unrestricted open riding area.

Lots of abandoned mines and old mining ruins pepper the region. Some of the mines are marked on maps, but not all of them.

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Use caution when exploring around these mining areas. Old mines are unstable and dangerous, so do not to go in them.


Lake Havasu Off Road Trails Maps

(BLM Lake Havasu Travel Management Trail System)

You can get all these maps for free at Avenza Maps which you can view with the Avenza Maps app on iOS and Android.

Avenza doesn’t work on desktop computers, but the above links take you to the BLM website which will open a scalable PDF for easy viewing.  


5 Popular Lake Havasu Off Road Trails

Cattail Cove Trail / Rovey’s Needle

Lake Havasu Off Road Trails: Cattail Cove
Roveys Needle Cattail Cove Trail via
  • Trail Miles: 8.6 mile out and back (17.2 miles total)
  • Drive Time: 4 hours
  • Skill Level: Difficult
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Vehicles Allowed: ATV, SxS, 4×4, full size, motorcycles  
  • Notes: OHV sticker + State Trust Land Permit required ($15)

How to get there: Turn east off Hwy 95 just north of mile marker 165. The area looks like a gravel pit under major power lines. Located adjacent to Cattail Cove State Park which is on the opposite side of Hwy 95.

This ATV trail follows a sandy wash with some challenging rock obstacles thrown into the mix for fun.

Trail ends at the southern most section of Lake Havasu where the Colorado River enters and starts to widen into the lake.

You’ll enjoy a close up view of this at the end of the trail overlooking Bill Williams River as it feeds into the Colorado River/Lake Havasu junction.

Lake Havasu Off Road Trails: Rovery's Needle
Rovey’s Needle honeycomb rock via

You’ll usually see this trail rated as moderate, but I’m straying on the side of caution here with a difficult rating.

If you have a lot of previous 4×4 experience, you may find it to be moderate, but if you’re a bit green it’s difficult.

Some of the rocky sections have bypasses, but you can’t avoid them all.

Lots of off shoots and roads pepper the area, so route finding can be difficult.

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At the start of this trail is a big staging area right off Hwy 95 with tons of room for large RVs and trailers. No problems getting in and out.

Camping is allowed, but you must be self contained. No amenities, water or toilets!


Standard Wash

Lake Havasu Off Road Trails: Standard Wash ATV Trail Lake Havasu
James Tapparo II | Flickr
  • Trail Miles: 22+
  • Drive Time: 4 hours
  • Skill Level: Easy/Moderate
  • Usage: Busy
  • Vehicles Allowed: ATV, SxS, 4×4, full size, motorcycles  

Standard Wash is an open riding area for all OHVs. Vehicles must be either street legal or have an OHV sticker.

Zip through shallow canyons created by water runoff as well as dirt trails over small hills and open desert.

Terrain features desert, washes, gullies, sandy trails and hills.

With 20+ miles of riding, it’s a fun destination for a day of riding.

The main road/wash riding trail is easy, but there are some more challenging off shoot trails if you’re looking to kick it up a notch.

Standard Wash is also a main access point for a lot of other Lake Havasu off road trails.

Standard Wash Overview Map (Lake Havasu Travel Management Trail System Map 6)


Swansea Townsite / Swansea Ghost Town

  • Trail Miles: 35 miles
  • Drive Time:  3-4 hours
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Vehicles Allowed: ATV, SxS, 4×4, full size, motorcycles  

Head south on 95. Drive 24 miles, take a left on Planet Ranch Road which is just past the Bill Williams Memorial Bridge.

This is a family friendly ride that starts south of town at the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge.

It’s rocky in a couple places, so high clearance is recommended, but you don’t need four wheel drive.

Lake Havasu Off Road Trails: Swansea Townsite
Surviving buildings at Swansea Townsite lovz2hike | Flickr

Swansea is a ghost town. The townsite is all that remains of this short lived copper mining town that only lasted 29 years – from 1908 to 1937.

At the start in the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll have a few short sandy hill climbs, but after this it levels out to primarily gravel roads and sandy washes.

There are some wash/water crossings and one section that goes through a narrow slot canyon. Don’t attempt after heavy rain or in advance of rain.

Lake Havasu Off Road Trails
Swansea ghost town lovz2hike | Flickr

Always be aware of the possibility of flash flooding, especially when riding in washes or slot canyons.

For additional mileage, just past Swansea ghost town there’s the ruins of an old pump station down by the Bill Williams River. Plus, there are additional side roads/trails to explore.


Mohave Wash

Lake Havasu Off Road Trails: Mohave Wash
James Tapparo II | Flickr
  • Trail Miles: 34 miles
  • Drive Time: 3-4 hours
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Usage: Busy
  • Vehicles Allowed: ATV, SxS, 4×4, full size, motorcycles  

Mohave Wash is part of the greater Standard Wash riding area.

The trailhead for Mohave Wash is about 6 1/2 miles south of town.

The Mohave Wash route is actually not one wash but three separate washes: Standard Wash, Middle Mohave Wash and West Mohave Wash.

West Mohave Wash is part of the Arizona Peace Trail.

The beginning of the Mohave Wash route is actually Standard Wash which starts at the south end of the staging area. There is a kiosk at the start with rules and regulations.

Due to it’s close proximity to town, expect company on weekends. But, it does thin out on weekday.

This Lake Havasu ATV trail is rated easy. Most of it’s in sandy washes with a small portion on dirt roads.

Depending on recent maintenance, wear and weather, these washes can deteriorate into a tough washboard surface that can be jarring.

Your biggest challenge will be making sure you’re on the “right” trail. This is a very confusing route to follow!

But, as long as you’re prepared, the ride is enjoyable even if you do get lost.

Attitude is everything:

You’re not really lost if you’re still having fun and make it back safely!


Bison Falls

  • Trail Miles: 5.3 miles
  • Drive Time: 3 hours
  • Skill Level: Moderate
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Vehicles Allowed: ATV, SxS, 4×4, full size, motorcycles  

This trail has an odd trailhead in a developed part of town.  It starts in the NE most section of town on Bison Blvd.

You don’t have to worry about parking in this residential area.

Trail is easy going at the start and there’s plenty of room for trailers, so you just have to drive up the trail a bit to find a place to park.

Don’t expect an exciting waterfall, it’s likely not to be running unless you go in spring or after a rain.

But, even without the waterfall, this is still a fun trip.

Follow this trail to it’s dramatic end over 3,000’ above Lake Havasu to soak in impressive views of the lake and surrounding desert.

This trail is easy all the way to the falls, so this is a good point to turn around if you’d like to avoid the more difficult section.

Once you get to Bison Falls, this is where it starts to get a bit more challenging.

There’s a steep rocky hill climb and a road with some exposed rock. In a few places, scratchy scrub brush encroaches on the trail.

Turn back at the falls if you want to avoid the hard part.

Like most of the OHV trails in the region, this one also has lots of additional trails and roads for exploring.


Wild ATV Know Before You Go icon
  • An OHV decal is required for both AZ residents and non-residents to ride on public and state trust lands
  • Residents: purchase an OHV decal from Motor Vehicle Division or online
  • Non residents: purchase an OHV decal from Arizona Game and Fish
  • Street legal vehicles also require an OHV decal as well as a registration sticker and a license plate
  • Arizona allows street legal OHVs
  • Passengers are only allowed on ATVs that are designated by the manufacturer as a two up ATV

Required equipment to operate in Arizona

  • Helmets are required for children < 18 years old
  • Googles/eye protection is required for vehicles without a windshield
  • Muffler to limit sound to less than 96 decibels
  • USDA approved  spark arrestor
  • Headlights and tail lights are required from dusk to dawn
  • Safety flags are required in sand dunes
  • Brake light and at least one red rear reflector if tail light doesn’t reflect
  • Rear license plate
  • Rear view mirror
  • Seat and footrests for both operator and passenger

Lake Havasu Off Road Trails


Featured image an pin for Lake Havasu Off Road Trails BLM | Flickr

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