10 Awesome Dirt Roads of The American West

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1. White Rim Trail, Canyonlands National Park, UT

For one of the finest desert sunsets the American west has to offer, look no further than the Murphy Hogback formation on the White Rim Trail. Fortunately there's a small campsite here, limited to just 3 parties. So you'll have the place virtually to yourself if you can secure a permit, which you have to do well in advance. The whole of the White Rim Trail is over 100 miles long and makes a loop, more or less, that's high on the ticklist of many mountain bikers. Work it out with a support party to drive your gear and food while you pedal the thing over the course of two or three days. If you know where to look, there's also a short slot canyon you can hike to the waters of the Green River. Or for a single day trip from Moab, Utah, you can drive the incredible Shafer Switchbacks at the begining of the trail and drive back to Moab by way of Potash Road.

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The earth is round and the great discoveries, crossings, and formidable pioneering efforts
on the surface of the planet have all been ticked off the list by countless predecessors. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be out there experiencing previously uncharted lands for yourself. In fact, there are significant benefits like witnessing relics of a rough history, and getting a hands-on sense for the way people lived and extracted a living from the stubborn ground set within amazing landscapes a hundred or more (or fewer) years ago. Or enjoy simplicity of getting away from it all, exploring solitude and out-of-control beauty for your own benefit and at your own slow pace.

These are 10 places in the American west you should see for yourself, accessed only by way of a dirt road and with additional things to do along the way, told in a photo gallery format. Click the arrows or the thumbnails to scroll through the photos — I hope you enjoy.

While most of these treks reside within National Parks, you'll need to be self-sufficient, know the ins and outs of handling a high-clearance 4WD, and be comfortable and knowledgable with traveling unmaintained roads without mobile phone service. Depending who you are, that's either a recommendation or a warning. Travel wisely. No GPS coordinates are included here because I want you to take responsibility for planning your travels, however links are included to more information and these things called maps, hedging my bets that they're going to go wicked viral one day.


+3 / 0
# KC 2012-08-29 12:13
Nothing to argue here. I'm 7 for 10, challenge accepted -
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Mark Stephens
0 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2012-08-29 19:37
Nothing to argue here but surely there's something to add from your stash. Right?
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+2 / 0
# Pasquale 2012-08-30 19:48
7 for 10 seems to be the number... I need to get out more.

.Sadly my last trip to #6 found the road paved - glad I made that trip early on when its was dirt and remote. Still a big place in my heart for that road.

While a bit short in distance I find Schnebly hill road spectacular, especially the look out/campsite on the rocks up top.
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0 / -1
# Greg 2013-06-16 16:21
Great pictures!
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# Guest 2014-02-18 18:23
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