Photo by ferrantraite via iStock
There’s nothing quite like hopping in your Jeep or side-by-side and hitting the trail for a fun weekend of off-roading. The fresh air, mud, and challenge of navigating tough trails are enough to recharge your batteries for returning to the grind the following work week.
The question is, where can you go to get your off-roading fix?
No matter which corner of the country you live in, specialized off-roading parks are available to suit your fancy. You just have to know where to look, and a great place to start is this list of the best off-road parks of 2023!
We’ve done some digging and found parks that offer excellent off-road opportunities combined with good prices and great customer service. The parks listed below represent some of the best (and most fun!) off-road parks you can find.
Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
Kansas Rocks Recreation Park
Nothing is better than hopping in your 4×4 or side-by-side and heading out for a day of trail riding. The fresh air in your lungs and the mud and dirt on your face remind you of why you bought your off-roader in the first place.
Of course, it helps when you can get your off-roading game on in a place that offers an abundance of trails and varying levels of difficulty, all in one beautiful spot. That’s exactly what Kansas Rocks Recreation Park provides.
There are many reasons why Kansas Rocks is our top recommended off-road park…
Let’s start with the location. Nestled amongst the rolling hills of east Kansas, the park is easily accessible from many larger cities in the midwest, including Kansas City and Joplin, both of which are about an hour-and-a-half drive away.
If you’ve never been to this part of the country, you’re in for a treat. The abundance of trees makes you feel like you’re adventuring through uncharted forests on an exploration expedition. And hidden in those trees are some surprisingly steep and challenging trails where you can put your off-roading skills to the test.
The park itself encompasses 380 acres of diverse terrain – another great reason this park takes the top spot on this list! Whether you want to rock crawl, dash through mud, or explore wooded trails, Kansas Rocks has what you’re looking for.
And, as noted earlier, there is terrain for all skill levels of riders, so you can come to the park with the confidence that there’s terrain suited for your particular needs and wants. In fact, there are 65 trails in the park – more than enough to keep you entertained for a weekend of fun in the great outdoors. You can bring your SUV, 4×4 truck, side-by-side, or all three to tackle the park’s trails.
But off-roading isn’t the only activity you can pursue here…
The park offers hiking and mountain biking if you’re craving some outdoor exercise. Again, there are various opportunities to explore the park on trails for people of all skill levels. The park also offers a campground with 24 sites for RVs (with 30-amp and 50-amp electric) and another 24 sites for tents. The campground has all the amenities you need for a fun weekend away, including:
- Fire rings
- Picnic tables
- A pavilion
- A shower house and restrooms
- A kids playground
In other words, you can hit the road, head to the park, and enjoy a camping and off-roading weekend all in the same location. Nice!
It’s worth mentioning that the park has been in business for 20 years and emphasizes a fun, safe time for everyone. There is no drinking and driving allowed, so you can explore the park’s terrain knowing that everyone on the trail is committed to a family-friendly environment for outdoor adventures.
Additionally, the park is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so rates are extremely affordable. A day pass is $25, and a three-day pass is just $55. You can get an annual pass for $125 – a fantastic price for year-round admission to a fully-featured off-road park.
Usage fees for the park go toward park maintenance, site improvements, and expansion, so each time you visit, you’re contributing to the sustainability and growth of the park for the future. What’s not to like about that?!
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Hot Springs Off-Road Park
Second on our list of the best off-road parks of 2023 is Hot Springs Off-Road Park, which offers over 1,200 acres of room to roam and explore in western Arkansas. Whether you want to rock crawl, travel on technical off-road trails, or bring your unmodified vehicle for some leisurely driving, Hot Springs Off-Road Park has something for you.
Heck, there are even guided rides and side-by-side rentals if you don’t have your own off-roader!
With around 100 miles of trails, you can head out for the day and never drive on the same dirt twice. Everywhere you look, you’ll find gorgeous scenery, too, which only adds to the thrill and excitement of spending a day off-roading.
Each trail in the park has a marked entrance and is fully mapped and rated for difficulty according to each vehicle type (e.g., 4WD vehicle, dirt bike, or ATV). Level 1 trails are the easiest; level 5 trails are the most difficult. Like I said – there’s something for everyone!
Not only does this park offer varied terrain for you to explore, but it also offers the benefit of being open seven days a week year-round. The park opens at 9 am and closes at dusk, so there is ample opportunity to get your off-roading fix no matter when the mood strikes.
Hot Springs Off-Road Park makes our list of the best off-road parks of 2023 for another reason: affordability. Day use rates are as follows:
- $36.36 SUV/Jeep/Truck per vehicle each day (passengers included)
- $36.36 UTV/Side x Side per vehicle each day (passengers included)
- $36.36 ATV each day (helmets are required; one person, one vehicle, except factory 2-seaters)
- $18.18 dirt bike each day (helmets are required; one person per vehicle)
You can also choose from various yearly memberships. For example, the Silver yearly membership is $63.64 and gives you half-price admission for day-use trail passes for a full year for one vehicle. A top option is the Gold Family yearly membership ($350.00), which gives you unlimited day-use trail passes for a year for two vehicles and drivers in the same household family. Nice!
Hot Springs Off-Road Park isn’t just for off-roading, though. The park offers year-round activities and events and offers onsite camping (cabins, tent sites, and RV sites), so you can make it a true destination trip. Other amenities include the following:
- Restrooms and shower house
- A well-stocked Park Store with snacks, drinks, ice, firewood, limited auto parts, and more
- A 3900 sq. ft. pavilion, picnic tables, and a stage area for group events
- A stream running through the park
- Pet-friendly, family-friendly environment
So, in other words, you’ll find just about everything you need for a fun weekend at Hot Springs Off-Road Park. There’s a reason why it’s one of the top attractions in the Hot Springs area – lots of amenities, varied off-road terrain, and a fun environment at a great price.
What’s not to like?!
MERUS Adventure Park
Let’s keep it in the middle portion of the country and head to the Texas panhandle, where you’ll find MERUS Adventure Park. As the name indicates, MERUS isn’t just an off-road park – it offers all sorts of adventures to satisfy your need to get outdoors.
First up, you can play and relax on off-road and overlanding trails that are available, from mild adventures for road vehicles to wild, narrow trails for more advanced 4x4s. You can explore sand, rocks, hills, canyons, and more, all while satisfying your need to get off-road.
In fact, the park offers the following trail types:
- Beginner – Fully stock 4×4 vehicles are fine. No mods needed.
- Intermediate – Some stock vehicles to slightly lifted vehicles with 32″ + tires.
- Advanced – 2″+ lift kit with 35″+ tires recommended.
- Highly Experienced – 3″+ lifts, 37″+ tires and lockers recommended.
- Expert – High clearance vehicles, 40″+ tires, and lockers recommended
If you’re new to off-roading, you can sign up for a guided off-road tour to get your feet wet. Then, once the tour is over, you have the rest of the day to explore the park’s trails at your leisure. Other options include coming with a group (at least three vehicles for a day of off-roading) or you can add an off-road pass to a lodging reservation and stay and play at the park!
Speaking of playing, MERUS Adventure Park offers many activities you can do when you aren’t off-roading. From hiking and backpacking to cave excursions to mountain biking, you won’t lack for things to do when you visit.
The park also offers cabins, tent and RV sites, and glamping sites. With accommodations starting as low as $15 per night, you can stay at the park without spending an arm and a leg.
With over 6,500 acres of room to roam, MERUS Adventure Park isn’t lacking for areas to explore. You’ll find varied terrain, too, including eight plateau peninsulas, elevations ranging from 2,500 to 3,412 feet above sea level, and the second-largest canyon in North America – Palo Duro.