Off-Roading Guide

From the Payette National Forest to the Owyhee Wilderness, southwest Idaho has one of the largest off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail networks in the Northwest.

Ready to explore? We’ll give you the lowdown on the best trails, what to pack, safety tips and more!

Before you explore, always remember to adventure responsibly. Stay on the trails, respect wildlife and keep southwest Idaho wild.

Boise National Forest OHV Trails

ATV in southwest Idaho

Exploring the vast trail networks of southwest Idaho

Just over 30 minutes from downtown Boise are the historic gold rush town of Idaho City and the towering ponderosa pines of the. While it surrounds one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., this forest is full of rugged trails through remote backcountry and the old Gold Rush town of.

Sunset Mountain Lookout Road (23.1 miles)

This road takes you to the top of Mores Creek and is (as the name implies) a great vantage point of the entire forest, especially at sunset.

Deadwood Lookout Road (10 miles)

Drive along the rugged crest of Deadwood Mountain and reward yourself with the breathtaking panoramic view from the Lookout Cabin at 8.200 feet above sea level.

Locals’ Tip: Spend the night at Deadwood Lookout Cabin for a total wilderness escape. You can book your stay at

Kirkham Ridge Trail (35 miles)

This part of the Boise National Forest is home to 35 miles of singletrack dirt bike trails. There is also great ATV access along the southern part of the trail, about a mile east of the ranger station.

Do you need an ATV or dirt bike rental?
In Idaho City, you can rent ATVs or dirt bikes from Intermountain Power Sport Rentals or ATV Adventurez. In Garden Valley, you can rent from Garden Valley UTV Rentals.

Payette National Forest OHV Trails

ATV in Southwest Idaho

Enjoy views of the Central Mountains as you drive through the Payette National Forest

The Payette National Forest offers incredible access to the Snake and Payette rivers, endless meadows, alpine lakes and the Central Mountains. Located near popular mountain towns such as McCall, Donnelly and Cascade, the trails are full of scenic vistas and wild places.

Want to explore McCall for the weekend? Check out our guide!

Yellow Pine (50 miles)

Visit a historic mountain mining town that also hosts one of the best harmonica festivals in the Northwest! Along the way, you’ll ride up the Little Payette River, over the top of Lick Creek and through a deep canyon that eventually meets the South Fork of the Salmon River.

Burgdorf and Ruby Meadows Trail (17.4 miles)

Venture through alpine meadows blooming with wildflowers, visit an abandoned cabin (legend has it that it was the site of a murder during pioneer times.) and treat yourself to a relaxing soak in natural hot springs.

Salmon River ATV Loop (70.1 miles)

Wind along the banks of the Wild Salmon River. You can stop at the sandy beaches along the trail and dip your toes in the cool water. (There are also many campgrounds along the river!)

Need help?
You can rent ATVs or dirt bikes at Redline Recreational Toys, Lofty Peaks Adventures and CM Backcountry Rentals in McCall.

Owyhee Wilderness OHV Trails

Owyhee Camping

Camping along the river in the Owyhee Canyonlands

The Owyhee Mountains are home to some of the most pristine, unexplored and unspoiled wilderness in southwest Idaho. The trails here are very challenging for dirt bikers and ATV riders alike!

Hemingway Butte (50 miles)

Looking for a more challenging, technical ride? Hemingway Butte offers moderate to difficult trails with tight switchbacks, sand washes and steep, rocky terrain for dirt bikes and off-road vehicles.

Download our guidebook

Summer Road Trips

Rabbit Creek (54.6 miles)

Loop through the high mountain desert outside of Melba, Idaho rare protected wildlife all along the way. Zinc-horned antelope, golden eagles and bighorn sheep live in this area.

Owyhee Loop, War Eagle and Silver City (50.9 miles)

Take the scenic route through the Owyhee Canyonlands to historic Silver City. Once a major mining town during the pioneer era, it’s now an abandoned ghost town with homesteads, storefronts and schoolhouses that look just like they did in the 1880s.

Need Rentals?
There are tons of ATV and dirt bike rentals in the greater Boise area, on the way to Owyhee County. Try Idaho ATV Rentals in Boise, Redline Recreational Toys in Meridian or Intermountain Power Sports in Nampa.

7 Tips for Safe Riding

ATV Helmet Safety

Safety first! Always wear a helmet while riding.

Before you explore, we have a few tips for you to have the best ride ever!

  1. Stay only on marked trails and avoid muddy areas, stream banks, or overgrown areas. This prevents damage to the wilderness we love and respects the local community.
  2. Ride within your means. (A good rule of thumb: don’t go for this crazy jump if you’re not ready to go.)
  3. Get ready! Wear helmets, jackets, eye protection, long sleeves, long pants, gloves … they call it.
  4. Only carry passengers if your ride is built for it. (It’s no fun getting thrown off your motorcycle anyway.)
  5. Swerve to the right when other drivers try to pass. Turn off your engine when yielding to hikers or horseback riders. (It’s just the right thing to do.)
  6. Check the weather and make sure there are no seasonal closures along your route.
  7. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
  8. Proceed with caution – don’t get too friendly with wildlife and don’t leave trash behind.

Off Road Packing List

Family ATV

Depending on the route and length of your trip, this may not be all you need – but it’s a good start!
* Lots of extra water and food
* Extra fuel, oil and spark plugs
* Set of basic tools for your machine
* First aid kit
– Flashlight
– Tow strap or rope
– Waterproof matches
– Duct tape or electrical tape
– A tire repair kit
– Map, compass, GPS receiver
– Cell phone or two-way radio
* Camera (To capture your adventure, of course!)
* You may also want to add a survival kit and spare tire for longer trips

Rules and Regulations

Payette ATV

Take a break from the trails in the Payette National Forest.

Before entering the trails, you will need valid license plates with an OHV registration sticker, either from your home state or Idaho. The sticker must be visible at all times. You will also need a helmet (if you are under 18), a muffler, and a Forest Service-approved spark arrestor.

If you are riding on state, federal, city or county roads (e.g. BLM lands, forest roads, etc.) You will also need a valid driver’s license and liability insurance. Drivers under 16 years of age must be supervised.

For more information on OHV rules, regulations and trails in Idaho, check out this handy brochure from the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department. We also recommend checking with a local guide about conditions, parking and regulations as these change regularly.

Remember, it’s not about the destination – it’s about the journey. In southwest Idaho, gymnastics and motorcycling are all about the experience: the wildlife you meet, the rivers you cross, the mountains you climb, and the views you find.

All along the way, remember to respect the wilderness and communities as you explore them. It is what keeps southwest Idaho still wild.