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Paiute ATV Trail – A Four-Wheeler's Dream

Central Utah is the perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, hunting, hiking, rock hounding, and riding ATVs. There's nothing like getting those ATV tires spinning up the trail with a tent or a fishing pole strapped on your machine.

The reason we have so many outdoor options is because the majority of the land around here is Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management property. In fact, Utah ranks number three nationally for the total percentage a state's lands that are public. Check out these numbers for comparison.

  • Utah 70.4%  Rank: 3
  • Iowa 1.04%  Rank: 49
  • Texas 1.92% Rank: 47
  • Michigan  22.47%  Rank: 15
  • West Virginia 9.92% Rank: 24
  • Oregon 31.58% Rank: 13

In areas of the country where land ownership is predominantly private, it becomes far more difficult to develop far-reaching outdoors opportunities. Tearing across some farmer's wheat field with your ATV sport tires just isn't a good idea, so it makes trail development difficult.

Benefits of Public Lands

There are a lot of reasons why having so much public land is a benefit. They should be obvious, but I'm going to list them anyway so anyone in the bottom rankings can go green with envy.

  • Camping
    Around these parts, you can pull over just about anywhere and set up camp. There is a small cost if you want to stay in one of the many established campgrounds. However, if rustic works for you, head up any mountain road, find a spot you like, and it's yours to camp in, free of charge.
  • Hunting and Fishing
    Bear, elk, deer, turkeys, mountain lions, pheasants and even bison are some of the animals you can take during regular or special hunts. Though small, there are hundreds of lakes and streams teeming with trout, bass, and many other game fish.
  • Hiking and Biking
    If hunting isn't your game, not to worry, you can hike and bike thousands of miles of backcountry trails and enjoy the wildlife from a distance. Or, just take in the scenery.
  • Rock Hounding
    This area is a geologists dream. We have everything from volcanic to metamorphic to sedimentary. And, in many places private collection of many types of rock is permitted with either a free or inexpensive ($10) permit.
  • Other Activities
    Target shooting, geocaching, photography, cave exploring, boating, parasailing from the many mountain tops, soaking in hot springs, gold panning, bird watching, and rock climbing are among the numerous outdoor opportunities here.

The best part is that this area is sparsely populated. In a six-county area of central Utah, there are thousands of square miles of land, four national parks and monuments, eight state parks, three national forests, and only seven stop lights and one of those just flashes red. I can literally be surrounded by wilderness within minutes of walking out my front door. Many locals even outfit their four-wheelers with ATV hard surface tires and ride them to work or school.

Best Benefit of All: The Paiute ATV Trail

The Paiute ATV Trail is a multi-use trail system that encompasses over 1,000 miles of existing trails and roads as well as several sections of track developed just for ATV riders. The main route is a circular loop that stretches 250 miles and has dozens of tentacle-like side trails that lead riders to high mountain lakes, scenic vistas, and campgrounds.

Nearly 20 communities are accessible to off highway vehicles, so riders can get food and water, repairs, ATV OEM replacement tires, gas, hotels, and souvenirs as needed. Every town has an information kiosk that is conveniently located at a primary trailhead. The kiosks have trail maps, information about local stores, and timely messages about fire restrictions or trail closures.

Riders of the Paiute ATV Trail can access three state parks, all with campgrounds. One of them, Fremont Indian State Park and Museum, is located at a key position on the main loop and contains over 3,600 petroglyphs. The world famous Big Rock Candy Mountain is located on a side trail and is near a historic mining district that the Forest Service keeps well maintained and open to riders.

Don't be intimidated though, most of the trails are family friendly. For those who seek thrills, not to worry, there are plenty of places for you to throw on the ATV racing tires and ride like the wind. The Paiute Trail connects with the Arapeen Trail, Great Western Trail, and Fremont Trail, along with hundreds of miles of other roads open to four wheelers.

You Can Do It All On A Four Wheeler

With the combination of accessible lands and a well designed trail system, all of the activities I listed earlier are accessible to ATV riders. My office is located right on the trail and every day I see riders from across the country whose storage racks and ATV accessory bags are loaded with camping gear so they can spend a few night under the stars. They want to get out and enjoy nature in a way that isn't possible in more populated areas.

Many of the riders I encounter have spotting scopes to watch wildlife, fishing poles, or mountain climbing gear strapped to their machine. Just today I checked on and discovered that there are nearly 500 geocaches within a 20 mile radius of my home, the majority of them being in the mountains and accessible by all-terrain-vehicles.

No matter what activity you enjoy, you can do it with your ATV. Just be sure to stay on the trail, wear a helmet, and follow the rules.

We Love UTVs As Well

Because of the size and scope of the trail system, many areas are not suitable for larger vehicles so they have 50 inch width restrictions that are enforced by narrow gates. A stock Polaris RZR can make it through, but don't take anything with modifications or you'll have to turn around and find another route.

Notwithstanding width restrictions, about 80% of the Paiute Trail is open to any side-by-side machine. Just get a map or ask a local park ranger to find out all you need to know for a safe and fun ride.

This week in Marysvale, Utah is the fourth annual UTV Jamboree that features guided rides, an ATV rodeo, and a king of the trail competition. A mud bog competition will put the best ATV mud tires to the test. Best of all, its free to participate, but you can purchase souvenir shirts or tasty Dutch oven dinners to support the event.

Coming Up

Now that I've been writing about the Paiute ATV Trail and the UTV Jamboree, I am going to Marysvale to have some fun. I'll take some pictures and ride a few trails. Expect reports soon.

Ryan Richards

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