10 Perfect Places to Ride Your ATV on Public Land

Gain a new perspective by exploring these public lands via OHV. 

By Trent Jonas

10 Perfect Places to Ride Your ATV on Public Land
Photograph Courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Across the U.S., outdoor enthusiasts will find awe-inspiring natural landscapes on public land perfect for hiking, camping, and endless exploration. For those adventurers chasing a thrill of the four-wheeled variety, you're in luck. From the dense boreal forests of the Adirondacks to the sweeping sands of Oregon Dunes, there is plenty of space to be explored on your OHV. Here are 10 of our favorite public land destinations for ATVing. 

Spider Lake Trails, Pine River, MN

Spider Lake Trails area has been voted the “Best ATV Trail” in Minnesota—and for good reason. Twenty-nine miles of northern-Minnesota trails offer challenges for riders of all skill levels. From smooth and sandy tracks, to rocky and hilly traverses, you’re sure to find a trail to suit your riding style—all while enjoying the lakes and forests that backdrop your ride. A trail permit is required as is familiarity with Minnesota’s ATV/OHV regulations. 

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Apalachicola National Forest

In the Florida panhandle, ATV enthusiasts make a run for the Silver Lake OHV Trailhead in the Apalachicola National Forest. The Silver Lake system consists of 56 miles of trails through the Munson Sandhills, which are located just west of Tallahassee. An OHV pass is required—they can be purchased from Recreation.gov—and be sure to familiarize yourself with federal/Forest Service OHV regulations.

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Eisenhower State Park, Denison, TX

The Ironweed OHV Trail System at Eisenhower State Park has some of the most scenic trails in the Texas State Park system. Riders will enjoy winding through the park’s beautiful backcountry woodlands with occasional panoramic vistas out across Lake Texoma. Make sure you have the appropriate licensures and permits before you ride.

Uwharrie National Forest

Some of the best public ATV trails on the Eastern Seaboard can be found at the Badin Lake Recreation Area inside the Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina. The Badin Lake OHV Trail Complex offers six trailheads with access to 16 miles of trails that range from easy to extremely difficult. Several ATV-accessible campsites are available within the forest/recreation area.

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Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area offers incredible ATV riding in a striking Pacific Coast setting. The trails connect several off-road staging areas and ATV-friendly camping is available by permit in the recreation area. Be sure to check for ATV regulations specific to this beautiful-but-fragile natural area.

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Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

The Helena and Lewis and Clark National Forests rise up where the plains meet the Rocky Mountains in western Montana. The two forests are combined for management purposes and, individually, offer many recreational opportunities for ATV enthusiasts, including ATV camping.

The Adirondack Park, Northville, NY

At more than six million acres in Upstate New York, the Adirondack Park consists of numerous interlinked public lands. Winding across these acres in several places, ATV riders will find challenging and accessible trails across gorgeous terrain. The Lewis County ATV Trail System is one of the largest in the region.

Hollister Hills State Recreation Area

Hollister Hills was the first State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA) designated in California. The SVRA’s 6,800 acres straddle the San Andreas Fault in the Gabilan Mountains, just about an hour south of San Jose. The parks rolling hills bounce between 660 feet and 2,425 feet of elevation, making for miles of challenging and beautiful rides through oak woodlands, lush canyons, and across seasonal streams. 

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St. Joe State Park, Park Hills, MO

If you find yourself in southeast Missouri with your ATV, make a beeline for St. Joe State Park. One of only two off-road vehicle parks in the state park system, St. Joe is home to miles of spectacular trails designed specifically for off-road use. The park does have its own set of rules in addition to the Missouri state licensing and permit requirements. 

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Chugach State Park, Anchorage, AK

Although its adjacent to the City of Anchorage, Chugach State Park is a true wilderness—in the over-the-top, Alaska sense of the word—which makes for incredible vistas on any ATV ride. Be sure to check the park’s website for ATV access points and make sure you comply with state licensure and ATV regulations. 

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