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What are the best Arizona offroad trails?

Check Out These Awesome AZ Off-Road Trails

Updated on January 23, 2023


If you live in Arizona, you either own an off-road vehicle (and use it frequently) or are well aware that off-road trail driving isn't just a popular activity in The Grand Canyon State, it's a way of life; a passion. Arizona has many, many (many) OHV trail areas. OHV stands for 'Off-Highway Vehicles', and either state or national markers officially mark them, one does not need street-legal-type registration to enjoy the trails.

As many trail areas as there are to enjoy, there are almost as many different kinds of vehicles to cruise around in those off-road play lands, so rather than toss a boring old 'top ten' list of OHV areas in Arizona, we're also gonna give you our picks of the best vehicles you can use in those particular areas.

So grab your notebook or save the link to this article because if you've never had the dusty pleasure of four-wheeling through the wilderness in Arizona, you're about to get a primer in where the best places are to ride, and what the best vehicles are you can ride them in.

The Best AZ Offroad Trails

Apache Trail

With so many Phoenix attractions nearby, we recommend beginners start with the Apache Trail in the Tonto National Forest. Yes, yes, you pros and off-road veterans are probably scoffing because the road is largely paved, but there are unpaved sections which offer the novice an opportunity to get their feet dirty (so to speak) and gain some experience as well as much needed confidence. There's no need for four-wheel drive on this trail, so your stock SUV or pickup (or even your crossover) will suffice. Just make sure you have some supplies like food and water in case you do run into any trouble. The trail is well traveled, so if you do run into some bad times, you won't be stuck out there for long.

Bulldog Canyon Trail

Nearby is the Bulldog Canyon trail. This route requires a permit and is recommended for more experience off-roaders. You'll get to see up-close views of the Superstition Mountains and if you're feeling particularly adventurous, you can take a short trip down the Salt River to cool off. While the trail can accommodate full-sized vehicles, we recommend a quad bike type recreational vehicle, and in particular, Honda FourTrax Rancher offers the most versatility and durability for your hard earned buck. While many quad bike enthusiasts prefer sport models, the utility models are better suited for the kind of trail riding Bulldog Canyon offers, and usually come with options like storage areas for supplies and equipment.

Point Sublime

Point Sublime near the south rim of the Grand Canyon is scenic, moderately challenging, and probably has the best name of any of our list of off-roading trails. The end of the trail is actually inside the National Park, and as a rule, the National Parks system tends to downplay the sport of off-roading (as in, they don't talk about it much). So to an extent, it's probably a good idea that not too many people know about the trail because crowds don't tread very lightly, and we do endorse a practical and reasonable approach to environmental issues (in other words, be responsible with your National Park Lands so future generations can enjoy them). Having said all that, there are picnic tables and campsites provided by Grand Canyon National Park (obtain a permit at the ranger station) and the views from the point are not just incredible but are not seen by the usual crowd of tourists. If you can't afford a Global Expedition Vehicle - they start at around $200,000; we provided the link in case you want to ogle the coolest camper vehicles in the world as we did - then you might want to look into a used off road van and get yourself a Westfalia conversion kit.

Mount Ord Lookout Trail

The Mount Ord Lookout Trail off of Highway 87 climbs above 7,000 feet and ends at a National Forest Service Fire Lookout tower (hence the name). This is an easy to moderate trail that offers fantastic views as your end goal and some fun driving along the way. If you want to tackle the trail in a stock pickup, your absolute best bet is a Toyota Tundra with the TRD package. As a Tundra owner (and having owned several GM and one Ford pickup in the past), the author of this article can attest to the vehicles ability to tackle tough terrain and still drive like a nice, quiet street rated SUV when all is said and done.

Schnebly Hill Road Trail

The Schnebly Hill Road Trail makes our list because it's not only fun to say, scenic, and generally a lesser known trail, but those of you who are heavily into irony can rent a Kia Sedona (rated surprisingly tough for a minivan) and ride through a Sedona in a Sedona. If you do rent, make sure you get the insurance. Full coverage.

Plamosa Mountains Trail

The Plamosa Mountains Trail near Yuma offers desert off-roading at some of its finest, and is another recommended trail for the beginning off-road enthusiast. This trail is for those who like the more desolate beauty of the desert Southwest; you get plenty of sand, cacti, and the occasional roadrunner sighting to keep things interesting without having to concentrate on a challenging trail drive. If affordability is what you crave, the Nissan Frontier is the most affordable stock pickup with an available four-wheel drive.

And that's our list! What are your favorite off-road trails in Arizona, and what are your favorite vehicles to cruise those trails in? Let us know in the comments section. In the meantime, if you already have an off-road vehicle but are perhaps in need of a financial boost, come check out CASH 1's available Arizona title loan services. We provide some of the best title loans in AZ on just about any vehicle, be it car, boat, or yes, that four-wheel trail shredder you only use for fun.