Corral Canyon OHV Area (Ultimate Trail Guide)

corral canyon ohv area

Looking for extreme off-roading trails near Los Angeles? Want to know everything you need for an epic adventure in Corral Canyon OHV Area? You’ve come to the right place! This comprehensive trail guide will cover everything from trip planning essentials to trail reviews, so you can make the most out of your visit to this iconic Southern California off-roading destination.

Located northeast of Apple Valley, Corral Canyon is a paradise of rocky trails and stunning desert scenery managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The diverse terrain offers excitement for 4×4 enthusiasts, ATV riders, dirt bikers, and hardcore rock crawlers. From mild dirt paths to steep rock obstacles, the canyon caters to every skill level.

In this guide, you’ll discover:

  • Exact location and directions to access Corral Canyon OHV
  • When to visit to beat the crowds and heat
  • Detailed trail descriptions and difficulty ratings
  • Tips for navigating tricky sections and avoiding getting stuck
  • Must-see attractions nearby like ghost towns and sprawling OHV areas
  • Where to camp and amenities onsite
  • Helpful trip planning checklist so you come prepared

Let’s get started with everything you need to know for a memorable off-roading experience in Corral Canyon OHV Area!

Finding Corral Canyon OHV Area

Before hitting the trails, you need to know how to get there! Corral Canyon is located in the high desert region of Southern California near the town of Apple Valley.

Here are the key details about the area:

  • Managed by: Bureau of Land Management (Barstow Field Office)
  • Location: Northeast of Apple Valley, CA
  • Nearest big city: Los Angeles, CA – approximately 1.5 hour drive
  • Total acreage: Over 14,000 acres of desert landscape

To access the OHV area, take Highway 18 through Victorville towards Apple Valley. Once in Apple Valley, head north on Stoddard Wells Road. Travel 10 miles on the winding dirt road until you reach OHV signs marking the entrance.

If coming from farther away, it’s approximately:

  • 2.5 hours from Las Vegas
  • 3 hours from San Diego
  • 5 hours from Phoenix

No matter which direction you’re traveling from, watch for signs pointing the way to Corral Canyon. Stoddard Wells Road is well-marked but be aware it is dirt, winding, and full of dips – so take it slow! Once you reach the signs and fence marking the OHV area boundary, you’ve arrived.

When to Visit Corral Canyon

Time your trip right to avoid sweltering heat and huge crowds. Here’s a breakdown of the best times to visit:

Spring (March – May)

  • Warm days with temperatures from 65°F – 90°F and cooler nights
  • Wildflowers start blooming with bursts of color
  • Chance of rain tapering off by April
  • Not as crowded as other seasons

Fall (September – November)

  • Cooling temperatures with highs from 75°F – 100°F
  • Pleasant weather for camping
  • Fewer crowds than spring due to kids in school

Winter (December – February)

  • Cold nights dipping close to freezing
  • Daytime highs from 50°F – 70°F
  • Some trails may be muddy or snow-covered
  • Least crowded time to visit

Summer (June – August)

  • Extreme heat over 100°F every day
  • Avoid midday – go early morning or late evening
  • Most crowded with vacation travelers

For the best experience, aim for a trip in the fall or spring to enjoy cooler weather and fewer crowds. Winter can be a fun time too if you don’t mind bundling up!

Avoid Holiday Weekends

Corral Canyon gets very crowded on major holidays like Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, etc. Gates often close when the area hits capacity.

Skip the chaos by planning your trip on a non-holiday weekend. You’ll encounter smaller crowds and have trails all to yourself!

Overview of OHV Trails

One of the biggest attractions of Corral Canyon is the variety of trails winding through rugged desert terrain. Let’s break down the incredible riding opportunities by difficulty level:

Beginner Trails

If you’re just getting started with off-roading, these easy trails are perfect for beginners:

  • Cakewalk Trail – Wide dirt road that loops along a dry lake bed. Great for family-friendly intro to OHV.
  • Bell Mountain Trail – Gradual dirt path with sweeping views of the valley.
  • Wild Horse Trail – Leisurely trail accessing remote areas of the park. Ideal for scouting.

Intermediate Trails

Ready to upgrade the challenge? Try these intermediate-level favorites:

  • Outlaw Trail – Rocky with steep dips and climbs. Requires 4WD vehicle and some experience.
  • Bullfrog Trail – Tighter single-track with rocky sections and canyon views.
  • Coyote Run Trail – Sinewy trail with loose gravel, ruts, and sandy patches.

Advanced Trails

Experienced off-roaders will love pushing their skills on advanced trails like:

  • Hammerdown Trail – Rock crawling and steep ascents. Choose line carefully to avoid body damage.
  • Lippincott Trail – Rocky shelf road with tight squeezes between boulders.
  • Jackhammer Trail – Intense rock garden will test suspension and 4WD capabilities.

Extreme Trails

Only hardcore rock crawlers should attempt these ultra extreme trails:

  • Jawbreaker – Steep inclines, off-camber shelves, and rocky terrain requiring extensive modifications.
  • Caso Diablo – Intimidating rock garden with uneven boulders, axle twisters, and tippy sections.
  • Widowmaker – Super narrow rock crawling with deadly drop-offs. Full armor and belts recommended due to extreme difficulty.

Review trail difficulty ratings and only attempt what your vehicle can handle safely. Unprepared rigs on advanced trails risk body damage and getting stranded.

What to Expect While Off-Roading?

From rugged rocks to stunning scenery, here’s an overview of the diverse terrain and sights you’ll experience:

Rocky, Sandy Trails

Most trails feature a rugged combination of rocks, gravel, and sand. Smooth dirt paths are rare – be prepared for a rocky ride!

  • Rocky sections – Large boulders, axle twisters, uneven shelves requiring careful tire placement. Let off the gas.
  • Loose gravel and shale – Decreases traction. Maintain steady speed to avoid spinning out.
  • Sand pits – Momentum is key. Accelerate to push through without getting stuck.
  • Ruts and dips – Angle tires to avoid bottoming out your rig. Pick your line wisely.

Desert Landscape

The remote trails pass through stunning desert scenery:

  • Mountain views – Towering peaks with Los Angeles skyline visible on clear days.
  • Dry lake beds – Crisscrossing trails around dusty lake beds.
  • Canyons – Narrow slots between soaring canyon walls.
  • Desert foliage – Joshua trees, brush, wildflowers in spring.

Desert Wildlife

Keep eyes peeled for desert dwellers:

  • Jackrabbits
  • Kangaroo rats
  • Coyotes
  • Desert tortoises – don’t disturb!
  • Lizards slithering across trails
  • Variety of bird species like hawks and hummingbirds


Many trails are very remote with no cell phone service. Come prepared for the isolation! Make sure to:

  • Have spare water, food, first aid kit, and survival items
  • Tell someone your plans and expected return time
  • Use a GPS device with offline maps downloaded

The remoteness adds to the adventure but also increases risks if you break down. Travel with others when possible and bring satellite communication devices.

Driving Tips and Precautions

Conquering the canyon’s trails is an exciting challenge. But the difficult terrain also brings tipping risks and chances of getting stuck. Keep these driving tips in mind:

Air Down Your Tires

Reducing your tire pressure increases traction and grip on rocky trails. Air down to 15-20 PSI if your vehicle allows it. Make sure to re-inflate when exiting the OHV area.

Pick Your Line Carefully

Scan ahead and pick a path between obstacles. Choose lines that avoid hitting your chassis on rocks. A bad line can mean body damage or getting stuck.

Use Spotters Where Needed

Have a spotter guide you through extra rocky or off-camber sections. Their outside perspective helps you avoid disasters.

Engage 4WD

Shift into 4WD mode before hitting rocky terrain. The extra traction helps climb obstacles and push through sand pits.

Maintain Momentum

In loose sand, keep momentum to avoid getting stuck. Accelerate gently and avoid abrupt stops or spin outs.

Bring Recovery Gear

Pack tow straps, a shovel, tire repair tools, and other recovery items. Getting stuck happens to everyone eventually when off-roading.

Watch for Dangerous Cliffs

Some extreme trails border steep ravines and cliffs. Stay centered on the trail and crawl carefully. A mistake means a deadly plunge.

Avoid Going Alone

Travel with at least one other vehicle in case you break down miles from civilization. Making solo trips increases risks dramatically.

Respect Trail Markers

Don’t go off designated trails – stay inside boundary markers. Straying damages the environment and risks hefty BLM fines.

Driving responsibly and conservatively will keep your rig running all day versus being stranded overnight. Remember to put safety first!

Where to Camp in Corral Canyon?

One of the bonuses of visiting Corral Canyon OHV is the ability to camp right by the trails. On-site camping means more time to enjoy sunrise and sunset rides!

Here are the best camping options near the riding action:

Developed Campgrounds

The main campground sits near the entrance with sites available on a first come, first served basis:

  • 75 sites for tents and RVs up to 35 feet
  • Vault toilets and trash bins
  • No hookups – come self-contained
  • $10/night camping fee (free with America the Beautiful pass)

Also near the entrance is a smaller campground with just 8 primitive sites. No toilets or trash service at the smaller area.

Fill any water tanks before arriving – no potable water available!

dispersed camping

Once on the trails, find a flat spot and set up your own primitive dispersed campsite:

  • Free camping!
  • No facilities – you must pack out all trash
  • Recommended for self-contained rigs only
  • Avoid camping on vegetation or blocking trails
  • Maximum 14 day stay limit to avoid squatters

Dispersed camping allows staying right next to your favorite trails. But come prepared with your own bathroom setup!

Nearby Private Campgrounds

If wanting RV hookups like power and water, stay at a private campground in Apple Valley before or after your OHV adventure:

  • Desert Willow RV Park – full hookups
  • Antelope Acres RV Park – pool, showers
  • Apple Valley RV Park – pull-through sites

Enjoy plumbing at a luxury campground, then rough it on trails during days.

Trip Planning Checklist

An epic Corral Canyon trip requires careful preparation. Use this checklist to ensure you have the essentials:


  •  GPS device – recommended to avoid getting lost on remote trails
  •  Maps or GPS app – download offline topographical maps ahead of time
  •  Compass and mirror – for navigation and signaling if lost

Safety Gear

  •  Helmets – mandatory for ATV riding, recommended for Jeeps
  •  First aid kit – for minor injuries like cuts, sprains
  •  Fire extinguisher – essential for all vehicles
  •  Satellite communicator – to call emergency services from remote areas

Recovery Tools

  •  Tow/recovery straps – to pull stuck vehicles
  •  D-rings and shackles – for vehicle recovery
  •  Tire repair plugs – temporary fixes flats until you can change tire
  •  Shovel – dig out stuck vehicles or improve trail access
  •  Traction boards – provide grip in sand or mud when stuck

Spare Parts and Tools

  •  Extra batteries
  •  Fuses
  •  Radiator fluid
  •  Duct tape
  •  Zip ties
  •  Multi-tool
  •  Tire irons and jack
  •  Work gloves

Vehicle Supplies

  •  Full tank of gas – fuel before arriving, none available onsite
  •  Extra gas canister – for longer trips or getting stranded
  •  Oil, transmission fluid – top off levels before hitting trails
  •  Tire air compressor – air down and re-inflate tires when leaving
  •  Zip ties – temporary repairs if parts get knocked loose

Camping Gear

  •  Tent, sleeping bags, pads – essentials for camping on trails
  •  Camp stove and fuel – gathering firewood is not permitted
  •  Toilet paper and trowel – for burying waste if dispersed camping
  •  Water and water filtration – no potable water available onsite

Food and Water

  •  3-4 gallons of water per person, per day – dehydration risk very high
  •  Electrolyte drinks to replenish salts and minerals
  •  High protein snacks for energy like jerky, protein bars
  •  Campfire cooking supplies if at developed campground

Clothing and Footwear

  •  Sun hat, long sleeves – protect from sun and heat
  •  Bandana or face mask – filter dust on trails
  •  Hiking boots or closed toe shoes – no flip flops!
  •  layers for cold nights and mornings

Don’t Miss Nearby Attractions

Make a weekend of it by combining your Corral Canyon trip with visits to these neighboring destinations:

Stoddard Wells OHV Area

Just 5 miles east of Corral Canyon, this BLM managed OHV playground has trails for all skill levels winding through the valley. Race around the motocross track or climb the rocky Widowmaker Trail.

Calico Ghost Town

Immerse yourself in Old West history at this restored mining town dating back to 1881. Wander the wooden buildings on Main Street and visit the railroad depot, gold mine, and cemetary.

Mojave Trail

One of the most iconic 4×4 routes in the country spans 140 miles from Barstow to Lake Mead. Require extensive planning and preparation to complete this bucket list trek.

Silverwood Lake

Rent a boat, swim, fish, or hike lakeside trails at this beautiful reservoir nestled in the San Bernardino National Forest just 30 minutes south.

Hesperia Lake Park

After getting dusty on the trails, rinse off with fishing, swimming, and watersports at this popular lake park with sandy beaches.

Use Corral Canyon as a home base to experience the best of the high desert region. Time it right to catch wildflower blooms in the nearby deserts and mountains for a colorful backdrop to your adventures.

Conquer Corral Canyon’s Trails!

Corral Canyon OHV Area delivers an incredible mix or rocky terrain, stunning scenery, and extremes trails that make it a top destination for off-roading fans in Southern California. Use this guide to plan your visit and experience the best of the canyon!

From easy warm up trails to the most challenging rock crawling runs, the park caters to all driving skills. Come prepared with a trail-ready rig, full tanks of gas, and recovery gear to maximize your adventure.

Time your visit to beat the heat and crowds – aim for spring or fall weekends. And take advantage of camping right in the park to catch incredible sunrises and sunsets on the trails.

Use the tips above to pick the optimal trails for your skill level, prevent getting stuck, and wheel responsibly to avoid damage or injuries. Respect all trail markers and boundaries.

Corral Canyon deserves a spot high on your bucket list if you crave an exciting off-road challenge. Follow this guide to make the most of your trip! Have you visited Corral Canyon OHV Area before? Share your experience in the comments below!

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