Overlanding is a great way to spend a weekend. Exploring and travelling remote areas provides a great opportunity to see something new and get an escape from the everyday grind, but where should you go overlanding? For most people, the answer is: Public Land.
There are various types of public land to explore and their accessibility can vary from state to state. In the PNW there is plenty of public land to explore, but I hear that in some states like Texas, they are few and far between. See below for the 3 main types of public land that you can find off-road trails in and how to locate public land near you:
National Forests and National Parks
National Forests and National Parks provide great opportunities for exploring in your off-road vehicle. They are usually large in mass so they can provide a great escape into nature. You can find plenty of spots for seclusion to set up camp and enjoy nature.
National Forests usually have large forest road systems where you can find trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Some National Forests have specific off-road designated areas (OHV areas) with more challenging trails to test your off-roading skills, but these areas are usually more crowded and are not always ideal for overlanding. Usually the more vast, remote areas provide the best overland adventures.
To find National Forests near you go to the US Forest Service website and enter your state. From there you can search up National Forests near you. If there are not any forests in your state search nearby states to locate forests to explore. You can also use GPS maps to locate national forests and search them up online for more details.
National Parks are usually more regulated than National Forests but depending on your state they may be the best place to overland. Go to the National Park Service website to locate land in your state.
Once as you identify the land that you want to explore locate a map of the trail systems. Most forests have MVUMs (Motor Vehicle Use Maps) on their website. You can also use GPS apps like Gaia or OnXOffroad to locate trail systems. Just make sure to stay on designated trails and abide by local regulations.
State Forests and Parks
If you cannot find any National Forests or Parks nearby the next step would be to locate State Forests and Parks near you. Opportunities for exploring State Forests and Parks can vary from state to state but many have trails for overlanding and off-roading. Some of the best OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) areas in Oregon are located in State Forests.
To locate State Forests or Parks in your state just search up your states name with “state forests” or “state parks” in the search query. This will help you locate land in your area to explore. From there you can do more research on the forest or park.
You should be able to find OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) use maps on the forest website to locate the trail systems. You can use GPS apps to locate trails in these forests as well, but as always stay on designated trails! Make sure to look up the regulations for that specific forest as they can vary from one forest to another.
Bureau of Land Management Land
BLM land is some of the most remote land in the United States. I have had some of my favorite adventures exploring the remote land of BLM territory. Unfortunately, not all states have BLM administered land that you can explore. So, start by going to the Bureau of Land Management website and see if they have land in your state. BLM has land in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, among other states. You can explore a full list of states on the BLM Website.
From here you can identify land that is close to you and choose an area to explore. There are plenty of maps on the BLM website to help you locate trails. Once again you can use GPS apps to locate trails as well.
When exploring BLM land, it is very important to plan ahead and come prepared. Some BLM land is very remote, far away from civilization so you need to make sure you have everything you need to have a fun safe time. Also, make sure you locate the trials systems before hand as some BLM land is not meant for OHV use. Make sure you are aware of all regulations for the land to make sure you are doing your part to preserve the land for future use.