We don’t need to tell you that one of the best things about RV living is the ability to go to where the action is. Off-roading in Idaho has more opportunities than many people can cover in a couple of weeks. With an RV, you can spend as much time as you want to explore and enjoy. With an ATV or other off-highway vehicle (OHV), you are perfectly set up for some serious fun. Did you know that southwest Idaho is home to one of the largest off-road network of connected trails in this part of the U.S.?
Hemingway Butte (50 miles of trails) An hour from Mountain Home—an easy drive for a day’s excursion—is Hemingway Butte, a popular OHV park with more miles of trail than you can cover in one day. AND, once you are at the trailhead, you have two other choices of trails: Rabbit Creek and Owyhee Loop (north and south). These areas include single-track trails for motorbikes and double-tracks or wider for ATVs. Hemingway Butte offers moderate to difficult trails, with switchbacks, steep terrain, and sandy washes for the experienced rider.
Head for Melba to access the trailhead. The trailhead provides a number of amenities. Staging areas, loading ramps, and restrooms are all here.
Rabbit Creek (54.6 miles) borders the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, but a variety of four-legged wildlife lives here in this high desert, including bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope. Directions and a map are here.
Owyhee Loop, War Eagle, and Silver City (50.9 miles) takes you on a circular set of trails some not meant for beginners or drivers made nervous by steep hillsides. Silver City lives at the 6,000-foot elevation and looks as it did a hundred years ago! Silver was king, of course, but the gold mines kept up the pace. A lively, once-dangerous place, Silver City is the stuff of legends of the Old West. And fun.
Head to Murphy, ID, (which is also close to the Rabbit Creek trailhead) for another access to this set of trails. Murphy is an hour’s drive from Mountain Home.
Trail maps to this complex system can be downloaded from the “Trail Maps” section at Visit Idaho. These maps divide the trails into two areas: Owyhee Front North and Owyhee Front South, and can be downloaded in PDF format.
Off-Road Safety and Idaho Regulations
First of all, know that Idaho greatly values its wild areas and strongly advocates its outdoor ethics. Idaho BLM websites link to the Leave No Trace site and the Tread Lightly site. Being a responsible user means that you can explore these stunning lands for many more years. Idaho lists its regulations for OHV and ATV use on the Department of Parks and Recreation site.
For trail use by an OHV, ATVs, or motorbikes, Idaho requires a valid IDPR OHV certificate sticker, a helmet for users under age 18, and a Forest Service approved spark arrestor and a muffler with no more than a noise level of 96 dB.
State road and highway use requires a valid driver’s license or safety course certificate, insurance, and the above three standards. The permit is available here. Check Idaho Parks and Recreation for a complete list of Idaho regulations.
Safety is paramount when operating any motor vehicle. A helmet, appropriate clothing, and a responsible mindset are key. Here are the golden rules of OHV use, including excellent guidelines for helping children and teens be safe. Carry a first aid kit and tool kit, and don’t get carried away by this incredible landscape. Stay in control!
After a hard day—or two—on an ATV come back, clean up, and fire up the barbecue at Mountainbound Custom Storage & RV Park. Use the laundromat for those dusty jeans, the pool or spa (or both!), and settle in for dinner! (If you don’t want to cook, head to the café!) Store your off-road vehicles in safe, secure units until the next excursion to amp up your options: take out the RV for a few days, and then come back for some serious off-roading. Your off-road vehicle will be waiting for you, clean and ready for action!