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The Best Overland Trails To Take In The USA

Rubicon Trail

Location: California 

The legendary Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile-long route west of Tahoe and about 80 miles east of Sacramento. It is a historical 4×4 trail in the Sierra Nevada and a popular hotspot for adventurous overlanders.

If you have heard of Rubicon Trail, you probably only know that it offers a gorgeous view of a sprawling landscape overlooking the Granite Bowl and towering trees scattered around it. However, many adventurers have little to no idea of how dangerous this trail truly is.

Rubicon Trail is rugged, and I never, with its roads made of clustered boulders in several places. Although it has a variety of terrain, it is best to visit this trail with a 4X4 vehicle with high clearance.

If you are a novice overlander or an explorer who tends to steer clear of challenging terrains, you might have to sit Rubicon Trail out. Although the route is only 22-mile-long, it is one of the most challenging trails you’ll ever encounter.

This is why it is often reserved for the more experienced overlanders who love a little off-roading challenge.

Black Bear Pass

Location: Colorado

Black Bear Pass Road is located near Telluride in Colorado. Also fondly called Black Bear Road or Forest Service Road 648, it is nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains in San Miguel County.

With an elevation of 12,844 feet, Black Bear Pass Trail is undoubtedly one of the highest mountain roads in Colorado. It is also one of the moderately difficult trails to pass unless you count the narrow switchbacks that can be tricky to navigate.

Black Bear Pass Trail offers breathtakingly dramatic views of the San Juans, Telluride, and of course, the mountainous landscape on either side of the route. Explorers are also treated to gorgeous views of the historic mines and waterfalls. All-in-all, Black Bear Pass Trail is a dream.

However, there is a catch.

The roads are narrow and only go one way. However, with excellent driving skills, great navigating acumen, and a hardy 4WD vehicle, you can pass through the trail with no problem.

Engineer Pass

Location: Ouray, Colorado

The Engineer Pass trail is a point-to-point trail beginning three miles south of Ouray. It measures roughly 20 miles and passes through the San Juan mountains.

With Cinnamon Pass, Engineer Pass makes up a part of the Alpine Loop. It has a rich history and has several historical sites near the trail to show it. Some of these historical remnants include the long-abandoned Mickey Breen Mine, a ghost town, and an ancient mill (the San Juan Chief Mill).

More importantly, is the overview of the areas around the route. Engineer Pass has an elevation of 12,800 feet and offers a lovely view of the mountains around it. On this route, you will never run out of exciting scenes to enjoy.

Engineer Pass is relatively easy to pass and is considered beginner-friendly. The most challenging part of the trail is the first two miles, which are rugged and narrow in some areas. For the best driving conditions, visit the trail with a 4WD.

If you plan to go Overlanding in Engineer Pass, we recommend going before or after winter, never during. The alpine area can be challenging and dangerous to navigate in winter weather.

Dalton Highway

Location: Alaska

Do you fancy an Overlanding trip to the Western United States? Dalton Highway is one of the best trails you can visit.

If you are familiar with the Ice Road Truckers show, you are undoubtedly familiar with this beautiful trail in Alaska. Although Dalton Highway was initially created as a Trans-Alaska Pipeline supply road, it is now used by adventurous overlanders who are always up for a fun challenge.

This remote trail takes the cake as one of the most beautiful and accessible trails in one of the coldest states in the USA. This gravel trail is flagged by alpine mountains and serene grassy wilderness on both sides. In fact, it is so beautiful that anyone will wonder why the trail is called one of the most dangerous highways in the world.

Well, here’s why.

Dalton Highway is a whooping 414-mile gravel trail that is often mostly deserted. It runs from a town called Livengood to Prudhoe Bay and through the wilderness without network coverage, hotel, gas station, or restaurants for most of the drive. On this Highway, you are alone with your thoughts.

If this doesn’t bother you, you are definitely up for a treat. Although the road can be tricky and steep in several parts, the Highway is pretty managed and easy to navigate.

Remember to stock up on supplies because this is one long ride.

White Rim Trail

Location: Canyonlands National Park, Southern Utah

White Rim Road is an approximately 100-mile-long unpaved loop. It is a very remote and moderately challenging road that runs below the Island In The Sky mesa and at the top of the White Rim Sandstone. While driving this trail, you will be treated to an expansive and breathtaking view of the area.

To access White Rim Trail, you will need a 4WD vehicle with high clearance for easy travel. It is important to note that ATVs, UTVs, and OHVs are not allowed. You will also need an overnight or day trip permit to visit the trail and the area.

White Rim Trail is one of many of North America’s Overlanding trails. Are you interested in more of North America’s finest Overlanding routes? Check out some of these routes.

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