The thought of driving a new side-by-side, or SXS, through empty wilderness can easily sound intimidating to newcomers unaccustomed to the freedom of an off-roading adventure. Luckily, plenty of off-road parks welcome side-by-side owners and their families to blast around within a more controlled environment.
Whether catering to new riders who want to figure out if they even enjoy side-by-sides in the first place or experienced racers hoping to hone their skills for competitive off-road racing, these parks provide ample opportunity to try out the variable terrain off the beaten path.
Many of these off-road parks also offer equipment for rental, from UTVs to full camper RVs, with hookups for long-term vacations and even showers, pools, general stores, and bars. If hauling the whole family out to a remote location for that first side-by-side adventure brings up moaning and groaning about long road trips, these off-road parks are just the ticket.
The Best Off-Road Parks in America
Elk River, MN
ERX Motor Park in Elk River combines off-road racing events across 500 acres of woods, dirt trails, and glades. It’s the ultimate playground for new and experienced side-by-side riders alike. The track and full bleachers draw massive crowds to short-course races, while VIP areas host events and campsites for visits longer than a full day. In good weather, the terrain caters well to off-roading, though the facility originally opened as training grounds for Snocross racing in the winter.
Located north of Dahlonega, GA, Iron Mountain Resort covers over 4,300 acres with more than 150 trails currently mapped. The entire park remains open to the public a full 365 days a year, with a restaurant that promises seven days a week of service. Gritty sand and tight trees make for technical side-by-side driving, but plenty of open-graded roads provide an opportunity for newcomers to hone their skills, too. As a warning, though, this is the South—so foul weather can certainly create serious muddin’ conditions at a moment’s notice.
General Sam’s Offroad Park, north of Houston, welcomes everything from trucks and Jeeps to side-by-sides and ATVs. More than 60 miles of trails on a 706-acre plot include sand, creeks, and mud pits, with cabins for rent and public bathrooms that include showers to wash off the grit and grime. A general store, a bar, and concerts also fit into the program. Plus, the facility includes pits to clean off the muck and mire that side-by-side adventures inevitably create on the vehicles themselves.
To get a little taste of big dune charging more common in the Southwestern United States, Midwesterners and East Coasters can take a shorter trip to Waynoka, OK, and visit the aptly named Little Sahara State Park. This affordable state park offers little in the way of amenities, with no store, but it’s hard to argue with full RV hookups, tent campsites, and picnic areas dotted across the 1,600 acres of sand dunes located smack dab in the middle of America.
Oliver Springs, TN
On the larger end of the spectrum, Windrock Park in Oliver Springs, TN, covers a whopping 73,000 acres criss-crossed by over 300 miles of mapped trails. Side-by-side and mountain bike rentals provide plenty of fun for the whole family, as do campgrounds, a general store, a shooting range, and even a ‘Haunted Trail Ride’ night each fall celebrating Halloween. It’s so big, you’re not apt to hit the same parts of the park twice should you return.
Delaware County, OK
Centrally located in Oklahoma, Mid-America Outdoors caters to families with facilities that include campsites, cabins for rental, a pool, vendors, and even a food court. The premises cover around 1,600 acres, with more trails in the mostly wooded expanse being built all the time. The entire facility is also mapped on the Gaia app, so concerns about getting lost become a thing of the past while enjoying a bit of side-by-side fun. Mid-America only opens to the public during planned events, so make sure to check the calendar before planning a trip.
Eureka Springs, AR
3B Off-Road Park in Eureka Springs, AR, might slot in at the smaller end of the spectrum with 50 miles of trails on 150 acres of land, but the facility offers rentals of everything from side-by-sides to full-sized RVs. Tent camping is allowed, in addition to full and partial hookups for trailers, and the On The Rocks Amp & Bar adds an element of nightlife to the fun of exploring the countryside mapped out in the free AVENZA app.