Looking to ride an ATV, side by side, dirt bike or go off-roading in a 4×4 in stunning Palm Springs, California? You’ve come to the right place!
With its beautiful desert landscapes, challenging trails and great weather year-round, Palm Springs is a fantastic destination for exhilarating off-road adventures. This complete guide will cover everything you need to know including the top spots to go off-roading, guided tours, rentals, safety tips and more.
Palm Springs and the surrounding area offers some of the best off-roading in Southern California. Just a short drive from Los Angeles or San Diego, riders can explore massive open riding areas with majestic desert scenery. The many OHV areas and trails provide challenges for every skill level.
From remote dunes to technical hill climbs, Palm Springs has epic trails for dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs and 4×4 vehicles. The open desert riding areas make it easy to explore the striking desert landscape at your own pace. Or join a guided tour for a more structured experience.
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Why Go Off-Roading in Palm Springs?
There are many great reasons to go off-roading around Palm Springs:
- Stunning desert landscapes – Ride through palm oases, rocky canyons, sandy washes and fields of vibrant wildflowers. The scenery is truly special.
- Challenging trails for all abilities – With over 200 miles of trails, OHV areas around Palm Springs offer everything from easy dirt roads to extreme rock crawling for 4x4s.
- Great weather year round – With plenty of sunshine and moderate temperatures even in winter, riding conditions are ideal all year in Palm Springs.
- Close proximity – Just a 2 hour drive from San Diego or Los Angeles makes Palm Springs an easy weekend getaway destination for off-roading.
- Diverse OHV options – Drive your own 4×4 or UTV, or rent an ATV or dirt bike. Many types of vehicles can go off-roading here.
The combination of remarkable desert scenery and exciting trails makes off-roading in Palm Springs an unforgettable experience. Let’s look at some of the top destinations and rides.
Top Spots for Off-Roading Near Palm Springs
The Palm Springs area offers several excellent OHV recreation areas with mapped trails perfect for ATV, dirt bike and 4×4 fun. Here are some of the top spots for off-roading:
Ocotillo Wells SVRA
Located just an hour’s drive from Palm Springs, the massive Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) provides 85,000 acres of open riding. With over 120 miles of mapped trails, it’s a dream location for off-road enthusiasts.
Highlights include Truck Haven, a popular area to explore, Shell Reef’s rocky trails and Close Out Hill’s steep climbs. The park offers beautiful desert scenery with sandy washes, rolling hills and amazing views. Trails range from mild dirt roads to challenging rocky paths only suitable for highly modified 4×4 rigs.
Ocotillo Wells hosts King of Hammers, a grueling 4×4 race held every February that brings thousands of spectators. Definitely consider a visit to Ocotillo Wells SVRA for your Palm Springs area off-road adventure.
Dumont Dunes OHV Area
Situated on the north end of the Coachella Valley, Dumont Dunes offers giant sand dunes perfect for UTVs, dirt bikes and dune buggies. With no marked trails, you are free to carve your own path exploring the massive sand mounds and bowls.
The remote feeling dunes are conveniently accessed from Hwy 15 near Victorville, making Dumont a favorite for weekend warriors from Palm Springs. This OHV playground allows everything from dirt bikes to 4×4 trucks and side by sides.
Events like the Dunefest take place here featuring drag races, concerts and vendors. The steep slopes and enormous dunes make Dumont a thrilling off-road experience.
Joshua Tree National Park
While not an open riding area, Joshua Tree National Park still offers amazing opportunities for 4×4 and high clearance vehicles. The park’s rugged desert landscapes are perfect for off-road travel.
Some of the notable routes include:
- Keys View Road – This paved but steep road ends at a stunning panoramic vista. The route also makes for an enjoyable drive for 4x4s.
- Geology Tour Road – A challenging 18 mile dirt road with scrambling sections that provides amazing views into the Wonderland of Rocks. High clearance 4WD required.
- Black Eagle Mine Road – This 9 mile bumpy road passes abandoned mines on its way to scenic views.
Make sure to carefully research trail access and stay on designated routes in Joshua Tree. With high ground clearance, 4x4s can explore amazing rock formations and desert scenery. Just be sure to tread lightly and respect trail closures.
Guided Tours and Rentals in Palm Springs
To make your Palm Springs area off-road experience even more fun, join a guided ATV tour or rent your own vehicle from one of these great local outfitters.
Guided ATV and UTV Tours
Joining a guided tour can be a great way to explore OHV areas if you don’t have your own ATV or 4×4. Tours provide the vehicles and lead you to the top spots.
- Palm Springs ATV Tours offers small group tours near Ocotillo Wells in single or two-seat ATVs. Tours go to areas like Painted Gorge and include lunch.
- Desert Riders Outpost provides private, custom ATV tours in Ocotillo Wells and the Imperial Sand Dunes. You can choose from ATVs, side by sides or dirt bikes.
- The Red Jeep Rock N’ Off Road Tour combines a guided rock crawling 4×4 ride through the San Andreas Fault with an ATV ride in Ocotillo Wells. A cool combo!
ATV and Side by Side Rentals
If you want complete freedom, rent your own ATV, UTV or dirt bike in Palm Springs. Some top rental outfitters include:
- Colorado River ATV Rentals – Choose from single and two-seat ATVs and side by sides from brands like Polaris, Can-Am and Honda. They also deliver to hotels and offer add-ons like GPS.
- Cliffhanger Guides – Rent ATVs, UTVs and off-road trucks and Jeeps. They also provide guides and sell gear. Conveniently located right in Cathedral City.
- Balloon Above – Along with hot air balloon tours, Balloon Above rents 2-seat Polaris UTVs for sunset tours through the Coachella Valley.
Renting your own vehicle allows you to go where you want and ride at your own pace. Just be sure you understand all park rules and trail access limits when renting.
Off-Roading Safety Tips
While incredibly fun, off-road riding does come with certain risks. Following some key safety tips will help ensure your Palm Springs ATV or dirt bike trip goes smoothly:
- Always wear safety gear like a DOT certified helmet, goggles, gloves and over-ankle boots. A helmet could save your life in a rollover.
- Never ride alone. Use the buddy system and keep each other in sight. Carry radios or cell phones to stay in contact.
- Take a hands-on safety training course if you’re new to ATVs to learn riding techniques. Get familiar with the controls at slow speeds first.
- Carefully follow trail signs and closures. Stay on open routes and respect nature.
- Pack plenty of water, food, first aid supplies and extra fuel. Use satellite GPS to avoid getting lost in remote areas.
- Don’t ride impaired and avoid excessive speeds. Ride within your limits.
Common sense precautions like these will help you have an awesome and safe ATV adventure around Palm Springs.
Plan the Perfect Palm Springs Off-Road Getaway
With its striking desert scenery, challenging trails and great weather, Palm Springs is a fantastic destination for off-road enthusiasts. The massive OHV recreation areas and scenic trails offer world-class riding and 4×4 adventures.
Renting an ATV, joining a UTV tour or taking your own 4×4 off-roading around Palm Springs will create memories to last a lifetime. This guide provided everything you need to know to plan your perfect off-road vacation.
From scenic routes in Joshua Tree to the massive dunes at Ocotillo Wells and Dumont, you’ll find exciting trails for all skill levels. Just be sure to follow safety guidelines, stay on permitted trails and tread lightly.
So book your trip, grab some gear and get ready for an epic off-roading experience in gorgeous Palm Springs, California! Which trail or OHV area are you most excited to explore? Let us know!