When you live in the high desert, one thing you notice is that we definitely don’t lack dirt roads. With so many miles of beautiful landscape to discover in Reno Tahoe, roads had to be forged to see hidden gems (respectfully, of course). Reno Tahoe is the perfect location to put your car in 4-wheel-drive, unload your ATV or dirt bike and leave a cloud of dust behind. There’s really no limit to what you’ll discover. From breathtaking views to hidden natural hot springs, off-roading in Reno, Lake Tahoe and the surrounding public lands truly are a world apart.
Being an off-roading mecca, it’s no surprise we’re also a part of the nationally-televised Lucas Off Road Racing Series, where spectators watch all of the high-flying action from their seats in the grandstands. This family-friendly event takes place each July at Wild West Motorsports Park, east of Reno, and is a must-see with an exciting midway, delicious food and drinks and of course, some of the best off-roading action around.
The best part of off-roading in Reno and Tahoe is the feeling of freedom to go where ever you want, whenever you want, but we thought we’d share a few of our favorite Reno Tahoe off-road and ATV trails below to get you started, and then you can take the trails by the horns from there.
The Hunter Lake off-road trail in Reno is a 30-mile loop that takes you from Boomtown up and over a portion of the Toiyabe National Forest, with a total elevation gain of around 3,500 vertical feet. The ride is a combination of maintained fire roads with a descent on a very rugged (barely passable) road with some big, fast hits. The route takes you past Big Meadow to Hunter Lake, then back down to Reno. If you want to get a real feel for the Sierras and how beautiful the basin really is, this is the trail for you.
Numerous trails cover Peavine Mountain’s high-desert terrain, which is a popular spot for Reno off-roading, especially since the trails are easily accessible from the city limits. The most highly trafficked loop is about 4 miles long and takes you up steep trails to a scenic plateau. Be sure to watch out for mountain bikers or hikers in this diverse, multi-use area.
On your way to or from Virginia City from Reno, ditch the paved highway and take the Old Geiger Grade Toll Road, a 3-mile long twisty, scenic, all dirt road off of Geiger Grade. Off-road driving is sure to be a thrill as you are looking out over scenic views of Reno and the surrounding areas. The trail is also frequently used by equestrians and hikers, so watch for horseback riders and dogs.
If you are looking for some great off-road driving near Reno, Jumbo Grade Trail is a fun 14-mile loop trail located near Washoe Valley that offers incredible views of the valley. This area is perfect for ATVs, dirt bikes, 4x4s and more.
This fun 12-mile point-to-point trail is perfect for any level of off-road driver or dirt biker, as it offers moderate terrain with a few technical areas to navigate. Ophir Grade Trail has some of the best off-roading in Northern Nevada as you make your way from Virginia City to Washoe Lake.
Genoa Peak Road, located near Zephyr Cove, offers amazing off-roading and dirt biking in the Lake Tahoe area. This 10-mile point-to-point trail mostly attracts off-roaders with rougher terrain and a few steep sections, so it is recommended to only be used seasonally from May until November.
Sand Mountain Recreation Area
It doesn’t get much more off-road than Sand Mountain Recreation Area. This recreation area, located about an hour and a half from Reno, has almost 4,800 acres designated as an OHV site. It’s hard to miss the 600-foot-tall sand dune that stretches 3.5 miles long and a mile wide, and it’s a paradise for off-road enthusiasts.
With an abundance of public land in Nevada, there really is an endless number of roads available to put a little mud on your tires, but half the fun is finding your own path. Before hitting the off-road trails around Tahoe and Reno, make sure to follow the rules of the (off) road and keep these safety tips in mind:
• Ride in groups
• Wear a helmet and other personal protective equipment
• Know the area and stay on established roads
• Pack it in, pack it out
To learn more about riding smart and off-roading areas in Northern Nevada, visit the Nevada Off-Highway Vehicles Program website.
If you are in the mood for an exhilarating way to explore, check out ATV rentals in the Reno Tahoe area or even better, take an ATV tour. Sierra Adventures offers seasonal ATV tours departing from Reno which explore the Sierra Valley and the forests around Lake Tahoe.
If you’re looking for ATV rentals in the Reno area, check out Nevada Adventure Rentals. Equipped with a selection of rental gear, Nevada Adventure Rentals is ideal for your next outdoor adventure. If you’re looking for year-round rentals, check out Tahoe Dirt Bikes. With a selection of snow bikes, dune buggies and dirt bikes for off-road fun throughout the summer and winter months, Tahoe Dirt Bikes is perfect for the adventure seeker that doesn’t want to stay in when the temperatures drop. ATV and off-road rentals are also offered by Full Access Tahoe, based in South Lake Tahoe. Get out there and enjoy the beauty of the Tahoe backcountry with their selection of ATV/UTV rentals.
There is nothing is better than cruising through the Nevada high desert on four wheels, so be sure to check out off-roading in Reno Tahoe.
Don’t forget to upload your photos on social media using #RenoTahoe so we can follow along on your off-roading adventure!
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