Anybody who owns a side-by-side gets to the point where piloting your way through the same trails can feel repetitive and you feel a need for a new adventure or challenge. It’s time to load up the trailer and find some true bucket list destinations that offer a variety of off-road challenges that combine amazing scenery and a unique experience for the entire family. One of the most popular off-road destinations in America (and one of our bucket list destinations) is Johnson Valley, CA. Once you discover what all the excitement is about, you’ll be itching to pack up for some epic climbs and lake bed fun.
Johnson Valley: Room to Roam, Climb, and Zoom
Part of what puts Johnson Valley, CA on your bucket list is the pure epic expanse of the Mojave Desert. This isn't an off-road park situated next to a city with strip malls and a selection of upscale brewpubs. You will spend your time luxuriating in endless landscapes of rugged mountains, sand dunes, color-streaked canyons, and unadulterated fresh air. While it’s home to some of the most challenging trails on the continent, there are also plenty of options for riders of all skill levels to enjoy.
Home of Hammertown and King of the Hammers
Johnson Valley is home to the ultimate off-road series and the annual King of the Hammers UTV off-road race. If you plan your bucket list adventure right, you can join up to 50,000 other enthusiasts in a pop-up city that celebrates the best off-road talents and machines in the world.
Top Trails and Rocks to Crawl in Johnson Valley
Perhaps the best part of visiting Johnson Valley for an epic UTV adventure is that this massive area has trails and open land that caters to riders of every ability level. The kids can explore with you under the vast California sun or you can push your machine to the edge on one of many rugged trails located throughout the valley. These are just a few of the best trails to try:
- Driving the Dunes: Swerve and power through sandy hills or taller dunes. The shifting sands do change each year, so check with other riders to find out where the fun is this season. This activity is great for improving vehicle control with less stress on your ride.
- Sledgehammer: Push your UTV to the limit on this expert rock crawling trail. The 1.6 mile path is known for causing havoc with machinery. When you conquer the climb, you will be on top of the world. You will gain cred with your off-roading buddies as you compare notes of the time you survived the Sledgehammer.
- Jackhammer: This canyon crawl is relentless in presenting new and challenging obstacles along its 1.5-mile trail. Tight turns in an enclosed valley up the ante as you inch along oversized boulders and the graveled path. Bring plenty of water as you spend the morning navigating one of the most extreme rides in the valley.
- Sunbonnet Pass: Only 1.3 miles in length, you might think with such a pretty name that this trail is for pleasant sunsets and family picnics. Not! The Pass is littered with rocky obstacles, a steep hill climb, and a rubble-strewn descent guaranteed to have your stomach turning as your UTV slides down.
- Aftershock: Maybe your teens want something a little more exciting than speeding over the dry lake bed. Aftershock presents an exciting combination of challenging climbs, scenic vistas, and a little more breathing room between obstacles. When you conquer Depreciation Knob at the end, you ride out of the trail with a real sense of accomplishment.
Even though there are numerous marked trails across the desert, part of the excitement of visiting Johnson Valley is that you are able to explore while leaving paved roads behind. Pack your sunblock, cooler, and extra fuel cans and spend your entire day on dry lake beds and cactus-strewn scenery.
Camping and Local Amenities
Create your own tiny Hammertown when you and your buddies bring your RVs to the Mojave desert for some dry camping fun. The Johnson Valley campground offers no amenities, so pack your generators and lots of water and fuel. Simply pull in to Means Dry Lake Bed or Soggy Dry Lake, find a perfect parking spot, and set up camp. If you prefer the comfort of a hotel and restaurant, Barstow is about 30 miles away.
Pack a good supply of first aid and plenty of tools as help is at least 30 minutes away. Riders are expected to handle their vehicle problems without assistance from repair garages. Of course, if your bucket list includes epic UTV obstacle courses, you will need a machine ready to stand up to the abuse. At Tousley Motorsports, we’ve been equipping off-road fans with the best in UTV since 1971. We ship anywhere in the continental U.S.A. Give us a call and get ready to check off the first destination on your list today.