Trail Review: Rosita Creek Flats – Amarillo, Texas

The Texas Panhandle is generally a vast cropland, except for the area carved out by the Canadian River. US Highway 87/287 runs north out of Amarillo, Texas, across this expansive flat land. As it crosses the Canadian River, a small dirt road (aptly named Canadian River Road) turns off to the east into a wide, sandy, staging area surrounded by narrow trail ruts. Welcome to Rosita Creek Flats National Park OHV Recreation Area.

Highway 87/287 crossing the Canadian River and the entrance to the Rosita Creek Flats staging area.

Rosita Creek Flats (also called Rosita Flats) is one of two OHV riding areas at the Lake Meredith National Recreation Area. The Blue Creek Bridge OHV area can be found on the north side of Lake Meredith a few remote miles away. Combined, they provide over 2,000 acres of OHV riding area, 80% of which is at the Rosita Creek location. From the top of the plateaus you can see the dirt playground stretch for miles.

Rosita offers a little of everything in regards to terrain and difficulty. There are wide open roads and sand banks, steep hills, rock climbs and even mud. In fact, you can ride right out into the river itself. Fording the Canadian River is usually easy. It is a dam controlled river that never seemed more than a foot deep and has a pretty solid bottom to it. You can, however, get into some tread-clogging, southern-style mud on the banks and we got a chance to test our winching abilities there.

Rosita offers primitive camping but there are no restrooms or picnic tables as a result of repeat issues with vandalism. There have been threats to close the park, but thanks to the Texas Off-Roaders Association that hasn’t happened yet. TORA works hard with the legislators and corporate sponsors to keep the Canadian River parks available to riders. They also host events like sand drags to help raise funds and awareness.

Park officials do enforce the use of helmets and eye protection and Texas requires an OHV decal while riding on public lands such as this. The decals are $16 and are good through August 31st of the purchase year. When you consider most parks are about $20 per vehicle per day, $16 for a year is great with the many public riding areas offered by Texas. The decal fees are put back into the states OHV program. Decals can be purchased in advance from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or from retailers throughout the state. We found B&R Motorsports to be the closest retailer and easily obtained our decals there for a same day ride. They also had plenty of riding gear and accessories to serve your needs.

If you are going to be in the Amarillo area and are looking for a place to ride, Rosita Creek Flats is a great stop. You’ll probably never be alone there and we met several local riders on our weekday evening ride. Weekends are even more popular, especially on TORA’s event weekends.

Rosita Creek Flats ORV Area – www.nps.gov/lamr/planyourvisit/ohv-off-highway-vehicles.htm

Texas Off Highway Vehicle Program – www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/ohv/index.phtml

Texas Off-Roaders Association – www.texasoffroaders.com

B&R Motorsports – www.brgokarts.com

Trail Review: Red River, NM

Red River, New Mexico, is a quaint, semi-famous ski resort town. The town is void of any recognizable commercialization, instead filled with mom-and-pop shops and gold-mining history. Signs of the snow-life are everywhere, but during the warm months it becomes a totally different outdoor paradise with fishing, hiking, and of course, off-roading. With one long winding road in and one long winding road out, Red River is nestled in the heart of the Carson National Forest.

Red River has eleven off-road trails overseen by the United States Forestry Service and they vary greatly in difficulty. Old Red River Pass is like a fairly well-maintained gravel road that most consumer vehicles could handle, whereas 4th of July Canyon is a tight trail with large loose rocks and deep wash-outs. Trail details, descriptions, directions and maps are available at the town Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center or the USFS Questa Ranger Station.

Red River sits at around 9,000 feet and the trails go as high as about 11,600 feet. Some of our carbureted quads did suffer from altitude sickness at around 11,000 feet and had a noticeable loss of power the entire time. Fuel injected units shouldn’t have this concern and there are products for re-jetting or adjusting carbureted engines to help them breathe more naturally.

In town, you’ll see plenty of horses on the streets as well as the touristy 3-wheeled cars, but keep your ATVs off the asphalt. Red River has a strict regulation against ATVs being on the roads. You can cross the road from staging area to trail but running parallel to the roads will get you a ticket from the town Marshall. This was perhaps my biggest complaint about Red River. In the news it seems to be a debated topic and may change in the near future. Until then no enthusiast likes to see “NO ATVs” signs around.

For those not wanting to haul your ORVs to Red River, there are rentals available in town. Red River Offroad offers custom Kawasaki Teryx units for rent as well as guided Jeep tours. If you are hauling, New Mexico requires registration of ATVs and side-by-sides. $18 per ATV will get you a 3 month out-of-state registration sticker. You can register online and print a temporary permit right away. Your registration fees go back into the state’s ORV program keeping trails like these open. ATV pilots under 18 must pass an ORV safety course. These can be completed online and are well worth the small price for the lessons learned. Our young riders took the ATVCourse.com lessons and I was impressed at the quality of the exam and the riding technique comments made by my daughter in the ride following her taking the exam. As we packed for the trip she named off a full list of emergency survival gear that we should be packing for our rides; all learned through her course. You can see full state requirements and course details at the New Mexico Game and Fish OHV site.

No matter what type of ride you choose or who the owner is, you will see some of the most beautiful views you can reach on four wheels.The riding is great for any level of rider and the panoramic views are spectacular. Red River and all that it offers is a great offroading, family destination.

Red River Chamber of Commerce – www.redrivernewmex.com

Red River Offroad – www.redriveroffroad.com

New Mexico Game & Fish OHV Program – www.b4uride.com

ATV Course – www.ATVCourse.com

Trail Review: Sand Hill ATV – Perkinston, MS

Sand Hill ATV Park is no longer open to the public. Check back here for updates.

Most people probably think that with beaches so close there must be a lot of good sand riding around the Gulf Coast. Truth is, there’s very little ridable sand in the South. In fact, the only beach that is open to public riding is Daytona Beach in Florida, which strictly abides by a 10 mph speed limit. So when the staff at WeekendATV.com found out there was a little piece of the West Coast not far away, we planned a weekend long excursion for the entire crew and their families.

A favorite: the spillway

Our destination was Sand Hill ATV Park, located in Perkinston, Mississippi, an hour north of Gulfport and two hours south of Jackson. The park is in close proximity to Desoto National Forest. Riding starts at 9am and goes till dark on the weekends and holidays. Campers generally arrive on Fridays, but the park will open any day of the week for large groups or those staying overnight. Park prices are $20 per off-road vehicle, $10 for those under 100cc’s. Additional days are half price. There is no charge for passengers.  Chances are likely that you will be greeted and briefed by the park manager upon check-in.  He or another staff member will review the rules, explain the layout of the land, and fill you in on “must see” hot spots in the park.  A complete list of rules can be found at http://sandhillatv.com/Rules.html.

The drag strip

Accommodations

Sand Hill ATV has several options for overnight stay. There’s plenty of room for primitive camping as well as many 30AMP RV locations. In addition, Sand Hill has several cabins equipped to sleep 6 people each. These cabins are basic, but include shower and bathroom facilities, a small kitchenette, linens and towels.  If you are traveling with a larger group, you may wish to stay in the “Big House” which is also located on site.  Despite being a rustic older home, it fits in well with a destination dedicated to getting dirty.  The “Big House” features two bedrooms, one bathroom, sitting and dining rooms, full kitchen, washer and dryer, linens and towels, and a private above-ground pool. Whether camping or simply visiting for the day, everyone has access to the bathhouse that houses multiples showers and a washer/dryer.  There’s also a separate above-ground pool for all campers. Food is available onsite at The Oasis, where the Sand Hill staff prepares a variety of burgers, hot dogs, and snacks. Restaurants, fuel and other stores are 7 miles away in nearby Wiggins.

On with the ride!

Sand Hill ATV truly has a riding environment for every kind of rider on its 350+ acres. There are wide open meadows and dirt roads perfect for young riders. There is mud almost deep enough to necessitate the use of a snorkel, as well as tightly wooded trails. But most abundant of all, there is sand, and lots of it.

This isn't even THE sand hill.

The park is setup with several different riding areas all connected by roads and trails. The park centers around an old sand and gravel pit. Center stage of the park is a massive sand hill, and assuming your ATV can make it to the top, you’ll enjoy a great view of the park. The hill is surrounded by sand dunes and Arizona-esque drop-offs. Faint tread marks run up some hillsides where brave pioneers have ventured up (or down) paths less traveled. Other areas of the park have steep bluffs of soft sand that will also challenge most machines, especially those without sand tires. The trails are wide enough to accommodate almost everything from a sport quad to a dune buggy or side by side.

trails at Sand Hill

Just down from the staging area you see one of the park’s highlights: a 300′ drag strip. The drag strip is a great place to play around and there are usually a few sport ATVs there to put on a show. Helmets are required on the strip and it is groomed regularly. Throughout the park are various springs, creeks and spillways running between the ponds and beyond. They are navigable enough to be used as trails themselves in several places, though be prepared for the occasional pocket of shallow quicksand that can make for some excitement. On the other hand, the pond is quite deep and can facilitate a great show by those brave enough to attempt skimming across it.  If you like mud, Sand Hill has that too, just make sure your ride has aggressive treads and probably a tow rope or winch.

Overall, Sand Hill ATV Park offers the setting for excellent family riding and beautiful scenery rarely found in the Southeast. If you find yourself anywhere near it this is a must visit park. Even if you don’t have sand tires you will still have a great time. To find out more information call Jeff at 601-528-4284 or email management@sandhillatv.com. Their website is available at http://www.sandhillatv.com.