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ATV and Off-Roading in Central Oregon

A car goes down a off road by Mt. Bachelor.

One of the defining features of the Central Oregon landscape is that it never seems to end. Look in any direction, and you might see rolling hillsides, wide-open desert, or forests that seem to grow beyond the horizon.

And all that terrain makes the region an idyllic place to go ATV and off-road riding in off-highway vehicles (OHV)—such as quads and dirt bikes. Several trail systems, geared to riders of all comfort and experience levels, dot the Central Oregon landscape and showcase a variety of epic adventures. So if you want to go ATV and off-roading in Central Oregon, here’s how to get started.

ATV and Off-Roading Near Bend, Sunriver, and La Pine

You’ll find a wide range of riding experiences around Bend, Sunriver, and La Pine—from lush forests to the open expanse of the Oregon Outback. Here’s a sampling of what to expect at the region’s best-loved trail systems.

East Fort Rock OHV Trail System: On the east side of the Deschutes National Forest, the East Fort Rock OHV Trail System provides a whopping 318 miles of trails and 83 miles of shared-use roads across 110,000 acres. The beginner-friendly network features a variety of loops and flat paths through forests of ponderosa pine and sage brush; away from the trails, you’ll find four staging areas and four designated play areas.

Edison Butte OHV Trail System: Roughly 25 miles of trails pass through forests of ponderosa pine, manzanita, and hemlock west of Bend and Sunriver—all part of the Edison Butte OHV Trail System. Volcanic features are the hallmark of this trail system, noted by lava rocks and lava ridges that might cause difficulty for less experienced riders. Note that the trail is closed December-March, and trails can get dusty in summer—so consider an outing in spring or fall for the best riding conditions.

An OHV on a trail with overlooking views.

ATV and Off-Roading Near Prineville, Redmond, and Madras

An off road car parked ontop of a plateau overlooking a river.

In recent years, land managers have worked alongside volunteer groups to develop trail systems through some of Central Oregon’s high-desert terrain—where trails might twist and turn through stands of juniper, forested hillsides, colorful meadows, and more. Here are a few popular ATV and OHV trail networks to consider on your next trip to Prineville, Redmond, or Madras.

Green Mountain OHV Trail: Northeast of Prineville, you’ll find Green Mountain OHV Trail—one of the most popular OHV trails anywhere in Central Oregon. The 8.5-mile trail, bookended by a trailhead on either side, traverses open ridgelines, dips into forests of ponderosa pine, and showcases sweeping views of Central Oregon’s rolling hillsides. In May and June, colorful wildflower blooms line the gravel trail.

Millican Valley OHV Trail System: Southwest of Prineville, the Millican Valley OHV Trail System comprises more than 250 miles of designated routes, nine staging areas, and three play areas for Class I, II, and III OHVs—with trails designed for riders of all skill and comfort levels. Several viewpoints showcase the nearby Oregon Badlands Wilderness, Cascade peaks, and the surrounding high desert.

Henderson Flat OHV Trail System: The 18-mile Henderson Flat OHV Trail System offers a wide range of casual riding experiences—whether traversing wide-open stands of juniper, ascending and descending rolling hillsides, or speeding along at the base of colorful rimrock formations. note that the Henderson Flat OHV trails are closed December-March.

Cline Buttes OHV Trail System: When other trails are snowed in each spring or fall, there’s a good chance the Cline Buttes OHV Trail System offers excellent riding. The year-round trail system, due west of Redmond, hosts 65 miles of trail (including eight miles of technical rock crawling) that show off the region’s juniper forests, ancient lava flows, and impressive Cascade Range views.

What to Know About ATV and Off-Roading in Central Oregon

Keep these tips and suggestions in mind for a safe, fun ATV or OHV adventure in Central Oregon. More detailed rules and regulations for ATVs and OHVs can be found on the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department website.

Safety gear: Oregon law states that any ATV or passenger younger than 18 must wear an approved helmet (designed for ATVs, OHVs, or motorcycles) with the chin strap fastened. Helmets are not required for adults—but are strongly recommended. If renting an ATV, you will almost assuredly receive a helmet with your vehicle. Eye protection is also recommended.

Trail conditions: Try not to ride on muddy trails, which can quickly degrade and erode with heavy ATV use—and leave behind hazardous potholes when the trails dry out.

Spark arrestors: Keep in mind that spark arrestors are required on most (if not all) ATV and OHV trails systems throughout Central Oregon. These tools are designed to trap glowing sparks before they can exit your tailpipe—and reduce the risk of wildfire. If renting, be sure to ask the shop whether a spark arrestor has been installed.

Trail use: Stay on roads, trails, or other areas designed for ATVs at all times—and try to ride the middle of the trail to keep from widening it.

Guided tours: A number of outfitters offer guided tours in Central Oregon. Several guides, for instance, take thrillseekers through ponderosa pine forests, lava formations, sandy high desert, and other captivating landscapes—and provide all the gear to help make your experience as fun and exciting as possible.

Tread Lightly: Learn more about keeping outdoor recreation areas beautiful, healthy, and accessible at Tread Lightly!.

Explore Nature’s Beauty

From the sagebrush-covered plains of the high desert to the towering pines and majestic mountain peaks, discover the diverse landscape Central Oregon has to offer.