Top Five Off-Road Trails In America

Prepare to be thrilled

American roads used to be awash with personal luxury cars in the ’70s but has the coupe fallen from grace? Only 2,267 copies of the Subaru BRZ – the only Subaru coupe sold in the USA – found new owners in 2020 and its Toyota 86 twin hardly fared better with 2,476 units sold. By comparison, more than 430,000 RAV4s were sold. You see, today, Americans want do-it-all cars and a coupe can do decidedly few things besides offering sporty performance and handling. No wonder Toyota has resorted to a joint venture with BMW to save the Supra coupe – it would not have made economic sense to develop otherwise.

SUVs In All The Flavors

Crossovers and SUVs have become Americans’ vehicles of choice today. They are a Subaru specialty, but virtually all manufacturers offer such vehicles. They ride higher off the ground and offer more ground clearance than a car. Their station-wagon-style bodies have a liftback at the rear and as many as nine seats in various configurations. They’re great for transporting people and their cargo off the beaten track. But how much off-roading do you need to do? There’s an SUV for any scenario.

We’ll divide them into four categories:

  • Car-based crossovers such as the Subaru Outback and Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain
  • Crossover SUV models that drive like cars but look like SUVs, such as the Acura MDX and Subaru Ascent
  • Traditional body-on-frame SUVs such as the full-size Lincoln Navigator and Lexus LX
  • Heavy-duty off-road 4x4s such as the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender

The Top 5 Toughest Off-Road Trails In The US

Off-roading has become extremely popular in America and you generally need a heavy-duty 4×4 to traverse the toughest trails. You’ll see sights and scenes most Americans aren’t privy to as you get down and dirty in nature.

Here are our five favorite ones:

  • Rubicon Trail in California: Famous because Jeep tests its trail-rated off-roaders here, this trail in Northern California is 22 miles long and offers incredible views. It runs through the Tahoe and El Dorado national forests and is regarded as a very tough trail with a high difficulty level. You should accept that your vehicle will receive a hammering, which could include bodywork scrapes and bangs. It can get rather busy in August, so that might not be the best time to visit.
  • Moab in Utah: More suitable for beginners than the Rubicon Trail, the Moab puts Southern Utah’s amazing Colorado River, red mountains, and rock canyons on proud display. However, expert off-roaders will find plenty to challenge their abilities too – and their vehicles. It’s at its busiest during the summer. The weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast before you go.
  • Imogene Pass in Colorado: This trail in southwest Colorado is the second-highest pass that is accessible with a vehicle in the state and rises to 13,114 feet above sea level. Both beginner and experienced off-road drivers are catered for. You’ll start at the Savage Basin, see the Tomboy Townsite mining town, and drive through the Uncompahgre National Forest. High cliffs are traversed, which are sure to get the heart pounding, but the reward is great views of the Rocky Mountains.
  • Silver Lakes Dunes in Michigan: It’s not on everyone’s list, but we had to include something that is more easily accessible to people living on the East Coast. Silver Lakes provides dune riding with views of Lake Michigan and gives inland Americans an opportunity to brush up on their dune-riding skills too. Visibility extends for miles and this has become one of the most popular trails in the US. Take note that a dune flag has to be acquired to enter the area.
  • Crystal Ridge Trail in Washington: There might be only around nine miles of trails, but it caters to everybody, with the first half great for beginner off-roaders and the second half the challenging part if you’re looking for bigger thrills. If you only want to do the easy part, you can conveniently get off the trail at the halfway point via the forest service road.


America’s top-selling car is a crossover and sales of coupes, sedans, station wagons, and minivans have all taken a back seat to this type of vehicle. If you’ve embraced the off-road vibe and you want to go a few steps further, there are many dedicated off-roaders that will be able to traverse any of the above trails with ease. These include the Jeep Wrangler, Land Rover Defender, Mercedes G-Class, Lexus LX, and many more.

Just be sure you have the necessary skill levels and bring a vehicle that has features such as a low-range transmission and diff locks to provide the required off-road performance that these trails demand. You stand to see parts of the country some people can only dream of. Let your sense of adventure take over and tackle the trails.

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