“Between government regulations, environmental groups and and liability issues in this overly lawyered up society times are tough for those of us who like to go play in the dirt”
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find places to take your off road vehicles to go riding, whether they be dirt bikes or ATVs. Between government regulations, environmental groups and and liability issues in this overly lawyered up society times are tough for those of us who like to go play in the dirt. In this article I will list and discuss all of the places to ride that I’ve found so far within a 4-5 hour drive of the Omaha metro area.
I read somewhere the other day that Nebraska is the last state in the country where riders young and old can use public trails for free with no extra license or registration required. That being said it also very few public places available to ride on including just 1 national forest. With no state funded trails or management program we’re almost exclusively limited to the kindness of landowners or forced to pay to ride on private parks.
Well I guess we should start with the closest places to ride and work our way out. Since I don’t want limit this article to just Nebraska I will include all of the surrounding states [Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota] as well so long as the parks are within a 5 hour drive. I will include all of the free as well as pay to ride places I find since we’re all just looking for as many places as we can find.
River Valley OHV Park is by far the closest place for Omaha riders to go off-road. Located just across the South Omaha Bridge in Council Bluffs, IA. at 4300 East S. Omaha Bridge Road this OHV park is open to the public at no cost and allows ATV and dirt bikes to ride the trails from 7:00 am to dusk. Since it’s in IA you will need an IA DNR permit sticker for each of your vehicles.
Abbotts Sports Complexappears to be the next closest track. Located at 7600 N. 70th Street Lincoln, NE 68517 the Abbott Motocross Facility features 2 motocross tracks. The main track is 1.5 miles long and 30 feet wide. It features doubles, tabletops, rhythm-sections, rollers, and off-camber corners. They also feature a mini track that is open to riders 9 years of age and younger that ride 50cc or 65cc motorcycles or ATVs. Abbott does have a daily charge of either $20/ rider for the main track and $15/rider for the mini track or you can purchase monthly or yearly memberships. ATVs are allowed on Mondays and Saturdays.
Unfortunately that’s about it for “official” places to ride within an hour drive of the Omaha metro area. I’m sure there are several spots on private land but without written authorization to mention them here it’s probably safer to leave them off the list for now.
“Hopefully we can turn around the disturbing trend towards banning off road riding in more and more places.”
Headworks OHV Park is a good place that requires a little driving to get to, just west of Genoa, Nebraska. This free OHV park features about 600 acres of sandy wood trails, hill climbs, camping and picnic areas. They usually close the park from the beginning of March till about mid May for seasonal dredging of the area so be sure to contact the Loup Power District first to check to make sure it’s open.
Fiddler Creek Motocross Park is located about 1 mile west of Homer, NE and about 10 miles south of Sioux City and is a members only track which runs $125/yr for a family membership. They have practice runs available from 2:00-8:30 Tuesday & Thursday and races on the weekend.
Off Road Ranch located at 2900 Old Hwy 8 Norfolk,NE 68701 is a 30 acre ranch featuring a 300ft sand drag strip, a motocross/ATV track and even some snowmobile runs in the winter. They also have on-site camping available. The cost to ride is $20 for a daily pass or you can purchase an individual or family yearly membership.
Gypsum City OHV Park is located at 2390 Mill Road, south of Fort Dodge just off U.S. Highway 20 in Iowa. This 300 acre park features 15 miles of rolling hills and perimeter trails. It also has a 15 acre, 1.5 mile motocross track and a 0.4 mile kids track with beginner and safety training area. The park is free to ride with proper DNR sticker and is open from sunrise to sunset.
Scramblers Motocross Park is located west of Yankton, SD. Open 7 days a week, weather permitting when races aren’t going on and features a motocross track and a mini-track for beginners and kid riders. Cost is $10 per rider or you can purchase a yearly membership.
Rathburn OHV Park is on the southwest arm of Lake Rathburn off Highway 142 in south central IA. Open to dirt bikes and ATVs this park encompasses nearly 125 acres in an abandoned rock quarry on Army Corps of Engineers land. It is free to ride but as with all Iowa OHV parks a DNR sticker is required.
Perry Lake ATV & Motorcycle Trail is located just off of Perry Lake State park which is northeast of Topeka, KS. The park has over 140 acres and features 2 short tracks, a dedicated children’s riding area and a longer trail with both easy and more challenging terrain. Riding is free open during daylight hours.
Tuttle Creek ORV Area is located near Randolph, KS which is about 24 miles north of Manhattan, KS. It features 310 acres of steep hill climbs, rocky terrain sections with sharp turns, deep ruts, creek crossings and scattered mud puddles. It even includes some very cool jeep trails, which I know isn’t what we’re talking about in this article necessarily but I’m partial to anyone who likes to play in the dirt. The best part of all is it’s free.
Nicholson-Ford OHV Park is located just outside of Marshalltown, IA. It is a 110 acre park featuring approximately 20 miles of river bottom trails. It is free to ride with an Iowa DNR sticker as usual. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to gather much more information or reviews beyond that. .
Bluff Creek OHV Park is what seems to be the biggest and best place to ride within a 4 hour drive, just southwest of Oskaloosa, IA. This 350 acre park with most of the area available for dirt bike and ATV riding features nearly 20 miles of trails, steep hill climbs and 3 motocross tracks. A long abandoned coal mine, this park has well maintained and marked trails with some cool bridge crossings and even has camping available. Riding is free with the usual appropriate stickers and the hours are from dawn till dusk.
Talsmas Trail Park is located just across the South Dakota boarder at 404031 313th St. in Avon, SD 57315. This is a private ranch with several hundred acres of designated riding area. The trails consist of climbing hills, creek crossings, overlooking bluffs, brush and open prairies. The cost to ride is $25 per rider/day and camping is allowed overnight with 2 day rides. Hours are 9:00 to 1 hour before sundown on Saturday & Sunday and the same with Monday-Friday but they request you call ahead for weekday rides.
Tama OHV Park over is over in Iowa just south of Tama on State Highway 63. With 300 acres of tight wooded trail riding and some hills it also features a 15 mile perimeter trail, a kids track and 23 campsites, 10 of which have electric hookups. Riding is free but you’ll need the usual Iowa DNR stickers on your vehicles.
Harlan County Lake is located near Republican City, NE. With 9 miles of trails for ATV and motorcycles located on 475 acres it has a little something for everyone. The trails wind through a variety of terrain, ranging from rolling hills full of prairie grasses to streams to nice wooded areas. There is also a 2.3 acre area including a mini-track separated from the rest of the riding area that is specifically designated for beginner riders on a 90cc or small motorcycles and ATVs where young riders can develop their skills in a controlled, safe environment. Riding is allowed from dawn to dusk and is free to the general public.
Dismal River Trail in the Bessey Ranger District of Nebraska’s one and only National Forest is located just south of Halsey, NE. Unfortunately only 11 miles of sandy trails remain available to OHVs, down from 300 miles just a few years ago and only 18 acres of open riding, down from the previous 90,000. This is a painful reminder of the ongoing struggle with the government and environmental groups over areas available to ride your dirt bikes and ATVs.
Lakeview OHV Park is located northeast of Iowa City, IA near the northeast edge of Coralville Lake. This 160 acre off road park has 2 motocross tracks, a children’ area for 100cc and under vehicles and a mix of wooded and open trails. Riding is free with the appropriate stickers from the Iowa DNR.
Riverview OHV Park is located on Hawthorne Street in Waterloo, IA. This 180 acre park is surrounded by the Cedar River offering up some scenic riverside trails. It features 2 motocross tracks including a Pee Wee track for the younger riders as well as a small hill climb. It’s free to ride provided you have your up to date DNR stickers.
Well that’s about all I can find for now. I will try and update this article if and when I find more places to ride off road around Omaha. If anyone knows of other good spots that are relatively close please feel free to email me with them. Hopefully we can turn around the disturbing trend towards banning off road riding in more and more places. A good start would be for people to quit suing landowners when they get hurt riding on private land opened up to for some good clean and dirty fun. In the meantime we all need to do our part to be respectful of the existing laws and keep the places we have left clean and safe for future riders.
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