Endless off-road possibilities exist in Alaska
Alaskans sure know how to work hard and play harder – especially when it comes to off-road fun. It’s clear from getting to know our friends up North that they enjoy a good challenge once in a while, and the varied terrain in Alaska sure does test your limits. The state is so expansive, and offers many different areas to ride and play making this a very unique area to visit and ride in.
There is less regulation in riding areas in Alaska compared to other states, and while some National Parks restrict off-road use (i.e. Denali National Park), the majority of the state is available for your riding pleasure.
In Alaska, expect the unexpected. From glacial drainages, muddy pits, gnarly rock climbs, water crossings, and swamps that could engulf an entire machine, this state has it all. Make sure you strap a winch to your vehicle. Add on skid plates, A-arm guards, bumper, and a solid LED light bar and you’ve got the basics to get you started.
If you are looking for an off-road adventure in Alaska but you don’t feel like towing an ATV or UTV all the way there, Destination Yamaha has four locations in the state where you can rent a machine.
These rental partners have everything you need for an amazing off-road experience aboard a Yamaha ATV or UTV on some of the best terrain in the state.
Located about 160 miles Northeast of Anchorage, Eureka Trails is a higher elevation than other riding areas (at 2,500 ft.) so it is above the main tree line for most of the riding area. This means it’s easier to travel long distances across mountain ridges, exploring old mining areas and glacier drainage areas. This is a popular hunting area in the fall and winter with large herds of caribou roaming through each season. The trail can be quite muddy during the thaw season and dusty during dryer months. It has a little bit of everything, from steep hill climbs, rock climbing, mud and water holes, and rutted areas.
Petersville is located 120 miles northeast of Anchorage and is a multiuse area utilized by cabin owners, hunters and off-road riders. It’s used year road, and tends to be more wet and swampy than other riding areas, making it a popular mud-slinging spot. There are lots of ponds, lakes, and rivers with both forested and open swamps in between. On a clear day, the area offers epic views of Mt. McKinley (aka. Denali), so stop and enjoy lunch with your family while taking in the amazing view!
The Matanuska Valley (i.e. Wasilla, Palmer, Jim Creek) is a popular riding area about an hour north of Anchorage. Wasilla and Palmer allow ATV/SXS use openly on the sides of the road so many people who live in that area ride from their homes to their favorite riding areas. Combined, this all makes the area an ideal living or vacation destination for off-road enthusiasts. Great trails to explore in this area include: Kings River / Permanente Trail, Jim Creek / Knik River, Purington Creek / Boulder Creek. Trails vary in terms of difficulty level:
1. Kings River is part of the Chikaloon Trail system which is made up of three separate trails. The Kings River Trail is a difficult trail with lots of mud and water crossings, while Permanent Trail on the Eastern side is easier to navigate.
2. Jim Creek / Knik River is a 22-mile long trail that follows along the Knik River. It’s suited to all off-road vehicle types and offers a variety of terrain which the train ending at a large glacier.
3. Purington Creek / Boulder Creek – got mud? That’s the one phrase that comes to mind when thinking about this trail. This is a more difficult trail that will lead you to multiple mud holes and water crossings. Just be sure to bring your winch – it will likely be put to use!
To clarify, OHV use is not permitted in Denali National Park. However, the areas around the park (i.e. Paxson) are available for riders and offer some great trails, including: Fish Creek Tail, Osar Lake Trail, and Red Rock Canyon Trail.
1. Fish Creek Trail is open year round, and is accessible by all types and sizes of off-road vehicles. It features several water crossings, and is a great place to fish!
2. Osar Lake Trail is 8 miles long, and is heavily used by hunters in August/September. It’s generally a dry trail that gives access to Osar Lake and also offers epic views of the Maclaren River basin.
3. Red Rock Canyon Trail is a primarily gravel trail (20 miles) that is a fairly easy ride with some sharp rocky areas and the occasionally water crossing. Riders enjoy the moderate elevation changes and beautiful mountain views that this area provides, so be sure to bring a friend along, pack a lunch and stop to enjoy the scenery!