Ride through 500+ miles of deserts, forests and total wilderness.
From the Payette National Forest to the Owyhee wilderness, Southwest Idaho has one of the largest OHV (off-highway vehicle) trail networks in the Northwest.
Ready to explore? We’ll give you the run-down on the best trails, what to pack, safety tips and more!
Before you explore, always remember to adventure responsibly. Stay on the trails, respect the wildlife and keep Southwest Idaho wild.
Boise National Forest OHV Trails
Exploring the vast trail networks in Southwest Idaho
Just over 30 minutes from Downtown Boise is the historic Gold Rush town of Idaho City and the towering Ponderosa pines of the Boise National Forest. While it surrounds one of the fastest growing cities in the US, this forest is full of rugged trails through remote backcountry and the old Gold Rush town.
Sunset Mountain Lookout Road (23.1 miles)
This road will take you to the summit of Mores Creek and (as the name suggests) it’s a great lookout point of the entire forest, especially during sunset.
Deadwood Lookout Road (10 miles)
Ride along the rugged ridge of Deadwood Mountain and reward yourself with the amazing panoramic views from the lookout cabin at 8,200 feet above sea level.
Local’s Tip: Spend the night at the Deadwood Lookout Cabin for a total escape into the wilderness. You can reserve your stay at www.recreation.gov.
Kirkham Ridge Trail (35 miles)
This part of the Boise National Forest is home to 35 miles of singletrack dirt bike trails. There’s also great ATV access along the southern part of the trail, about a mile east of the ranger station.
Need ATV or dirt bike rentals?
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
Taking in the views of the Central Mountains while riding through the Payette National Forest
The Payette National Forest provides incredible access to the Snake and Payette Rivers, endless meadows, alpine lakes and the Central Mountains. Located near popular mountain towns like McCall, Donnelly and Cascade, the trails here are full of scenic views and wild places.
Want to explore McCall for the weekend? Check out our guide!
Yellow Pine (50 miles)
Visit a historic mining town tucked away in the mountains, which is also home to one of the best harmonica festivals in the Northwest! Along the way, you’ll wind up the Little Payette River, over Lick Creek Summit and drop down through a deep canyon that eventually meets up with 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 the pioneer days.) and treat yourself with 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 way and dip your toes into the cool water. (There’s also plenty of campsites by the river!)
You can rent ATVs or dirt bikes from Redline Recreational Toys, Lofty Peaks Adventures and CM Backcountry Rentals in McCall.
Owyhee Wilderness OHV Trails
Camping along the river in the Owyhee Canyonlands
The Owyhee mountains are home to some of the most untouched, unexplored and unadulterated wilderness in Southwest Idaho. The trails here are a great challenge for dirt bikers and ATV riders alike!
Hemingway Butte (50 miles)
Looking for a more challenging, technical ride? Hemingway Butte features moderate to difficult trails with tight switchbacks, sand washes and steep, rocky terrain for dirt bikes and ATVs.
Download Our Travel Guide
Summer Road Trips
Rabbit Creek (54.6 miles)
Loop through the high mountain desert outside Melba, Idaho and spot rare protected wildlife all along the way. This area is home to pronghorn antelope, golden eagles and bighorn sheep.
Owyhee Loop, War Eagle and Silver City (50.9 miles)
Take the scenic route through the Owyhee canyonlands to historic Silver City. Once a prominent mining town during the pioneer days, it’s now an abandoned ghost town with homesteads, storefronts and schoolhouses that look the same way they did in the 1880s.
There’s tons of ATV and dirt bike rental services 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 Safe Riding Tips
Safety first! Always wear a helmet during your ride.
Before you explore, we’ve got a few tips for you to have the best ride ever!
- Stay only on marked trails, and avoid muddy patches, stream banks or vegetated areas. This prevents damage to the wilderness we love and respects the local community.
- Ride within your abilities. (A good rule of thumb: Don’t go for that crazy jump if you’re not ready.)
- Gear up! Wear helmets, jackets, eye protection, long sleeves, long pants, gloves…you name it.
- Only carry passengers if your ride is built for it. (It’s no fun getting thrown off a motorbike anyway.)
- Yield to the right if there are other riders trying to pass. Shut off your engine if you’re yielding to hikers or horseback riders. (It’s just the right thing to do.)
- Check the weather and make sure there aren’t any seasonal closures along your route.
- Let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
- Tread lightly — don’t get too friendly with the animals or leave any litter behind.
Off Roading Packing List
Depending on the route and length of your trip, this might not be everything you’ll need — but it’s a great start!
• Plenty of extra water and food
• Extra fuel, oil and spark plugs
• Set of basic tools for your machine
• First aid kit
• 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 (For capturing your adventure, obviously!)
• You might also want to consider adding a survival kit and a spare tire for extended trips
Rules and Regulations
Taking a break from the trails in Payette National Forest.
Before you hit the trails, you’ll need to have valid license plates with an OHV registration sticker, either from your home state or from Idaho. The sticker needs to be visible at all times. You’ll also need a helmet (if you’re under the age of 18), a muffler and a forest-service approved spark arrestor.
If you’re riding on any state, federal, city or county roads (i.e. BLM lands, forest service roads, etc.) you’ll also need a valid driver’s license and liability insurance. Drivers under the age of 16 need to be supervised.
For more information on OHV rules, regulations and trails in Idaho, you can check out this handy pamphlet from the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department. We also recommend checking with a local guide on trail conditions, parking, and regulations, as these change regularly.
Remember, it’s not about the destination — it’s about the journey. In Southwest Idaho, ATVing and motorbiking is 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. It’s what keeps Southwest Idaho still wild.