PRIME COUNTRY FOR ATV RIDING
When the hatchback or pickup truck just can’t make it any farther and you want to put a little mud (or red sand) on the tires, an all-terrain vehicle is the perfect option.
And with hundreds of maintained trails and roads on public lands, there are few places better to let loose on an ATV than western Colorado or eastern Utah.
From the pine- and aspen-lined forests of Colorado to the dramatic red rock backdrops of Utah, trails are available for riders of all experience levels.
One of the best and safest ways to experience those trails is to join a club, said Steve Chapel, president of the Western Slope ATV Association, an organization with more than 250 members according to its website, wsatva.org.
“It’s the best way to find things out, like where to ride if you’re with the family or where not to ride if you’re with the family,” Chapel said.
The Western Slope ATV Association, named 2014 “Club of the Year” by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, welcomes riders of varying experience levels and was founded on the principle of promoting ATV use as a legitimate family recreational activity on public lands.
“We’ve got people who have been everywhere,” Chapel said. “They can help riders learn what to expect wildlife-wise and what to expect trail-wise.”
Chapel emphatically encourages riders to travel as a group.
“We tell people constantly that they shouldn’t be going alone,” Chapel said. “People have died because they couldn’t get help. It doesn’t take much to turn (an ATV) over, and people can be seriously hurt going only 5 mph.”
In the Grand Junction area, experienced ATV riders can head to the nearby Bangs Canyon Third Flats trail system or more casual riders can try the North Desert to access U.S. Bureau of Land Management trails with no fees.
GO to blm.gov/co/st/en/fo/gjfo/recreation/off-highway_vehicles.html for directions and trail descriptions.
Riders also can visit U.S. Forest Service land in the Grand Mesa or Uncompahgre national forests for more remote trails and roads at higher elevation.
Maps and information of area trails and roads are available at 49”>wsatva.org/?page_id=49 or at Grand Junction’s All-Terrain Motorsports, All Sports Honda and Grand Valley Powersports.
All Sports Honda and Funshares also rent ATVs in Grand Junction.
So hop on that motorized vehicle and enjoy the beauty (and the mud).
Places to Ride
Beyond the valley: The Grand Junction area is one of many places ATV riders can find adventure. Other places include:
Glenwood Springs area, visitglenwood.com/atv-tours.
Rifle area, riflechamber.com/tourism/4-wheeling-atv.
Meeker area, which includes the White River National Forest, fs.usda.gov/activity/whiteriver/recreation/ohv.
Gateway area, gatewaycanyons.com/colorado-adventure-vacations.aspx. Elevate your ride: Two of the most popular and beautiful areas to ride are in the Eastern Utah area near Moab and the San Juan Mountains near Colorado towns Ouray and Telluride.
The high-elevation trails around Ouray and Telluride offer unmatched views for drivers or those on tours. Go to ouraycolorado.com/ouray-activities/ATV.php or vvisittelluride.com/things-to-do/4x4-roading for information specific to the San Juan area.
The White Wash Sand Dunes in Utah is 48 miles northwest of Moab. Go to discovermoab.com/atv.htm for information about this trail and many others in the area, as well as locations to rent an ATV or reserve a guided trip.
Tag It or Ticket
Register your personal ATV through a Colorado State Parks office or another license agent. Cost is $25.25, and much of that is returned to clubs such as the Western Slope ATV Association in the form of grants for trail maintenance and improvements.
“The number one reason riders are ticketed is lack of registration,” said Western Slope ATV Association President Steve Chapel said. “When you’re ticketed, you have to pay the registration fee and a $50 fine.”
Colorado owners must obtain a nonresident permit for Utah. Cost is $30. Go to stateparks.utah.gov/resources/ohv/ permits for a copy of the application.