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Top 5 Dirt Bike Trails in Iowa
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Top 5 Dirt Bike Trails in Iowa

Whether you’re hitting the trails for the first time or you’re a seasoned dirt bike daredevil, the state of Iowa has you covered. These five designated OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) parks and private land dirt motorcycle trails cater to every level of action, whether your own your wheels or need to rent some. Before you take your pick among these incredible trails, make sure to read the State of Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rules for ATVs, off-road motorcycles and ORVs in these parks.

1. Bluff Creek OHV Park

Sprawling across Mahaska County, southwest of Oskaloosa, this 350-acre park is centered around an abandoned coal mine that has been transformed into a prime off-road riding area. With about 20 miles of trails, steep hill climbs, deep pits, four motocross tracks, as well as beginner's route, and a notoriously difficult run also known as the Gravity Cavity, this OHV park has something in for just about everyone. The park is open all year round but is closed whenever weather or trail conditions make riding unsafe. Its thirteen basic camping sites feature flush toilets, showers, and water taps. Iowa residents need a current registration, while out-of-state riders are required a non-resident user permit. If registration is required in the non-resident home state, it must be displayed on the vehicle.

2. Riverview Recreational Area

Boasting one of few state-sanctioned OHV parks in urban settings, the city of Waterloo is the home of the Riverview Recreation Area, a favorite place to ride for many weekenders. In late 1998, a lease agreement on the parcel was approved between the City of Waterloo and the Trailblazers Off Road Club, with the construction of the area supported by the Iowa DNR and the Iowa OHV Association. The 15-years lease allowed the club to transform the area into a supreme OHV park with two MX trails, a flat track, many miles of ATV trails, and a large parking lot. Although newcomers might be surprised by the sheer number of trucks and trailers in the parking lot every weekend, the 180 acres of scenic surroundings offer plenty of trails to share. the Riverview is largely a family-oriented area, with off-road riders of all skill levels and ages enjoying the trails.

3. Gypsum City OHV Park

Located in the southeast corner of Fort Dodge, this 800-acres park includes 60 miles of trails for ATVs, side-by-sides, and off-road motorbikes, as well as 1.5-mile motocross tracks, a .4-mile kid's track, and a beginner's circle track. The trail terrain across the park ranges from open prairie for novice riders to trails meandering through heavily timbered areas for advanced riders, that include adrenaline-boosting water crossings and mudding areas. Throughout the park, trailhead signs indicate what machines are allowed on certain trails. Park amenities include open shelters with picnic tables and grills, separate restrooms, and fishing ponds. You can reserve a campsite here.

4. Rathbun OHV Park

With one of the most scenic backdrops of all off-road trails in the state, the Rathbun provides 125 acres of dirt and rock, trees and hills that follow the lay of the land along the shore of Rathbun Lake. Its trails are perfect for leisurely cruising, but also for testing the skills of seasoned riders. Most of the trails are wide enough to accommodate off-road utility vehicles so the riders of all levels will have no difficulty honing their skills with dirt bikes, ATVs, and side-by-sides. Just keep in mind that the State of Iowa requires all ATV riders between 12 and 17 to complete an approved ATV safety course, and have the Iowa ATV Safety Certificate with them while riding on designated public lands, designated riding areas, and public ice. The examination takes place online and requires a one-time fee of $34.95.

5. The Lakeview OHV Park

Featuring an A- and B-level motocross practice tracks, an off-road utility vehicle practice track, a pit bike track, and two kiddie tracks, this park is perfect for those who want to get better in riding their OHV of choice. The tracks are designed for use by both dirt bikes and ATVs. In addition, an extensive network of trails spreading over 160 acres of sand, mud, hard packed dirt, and hill climbs guarantees tons of excitement for hard-core riders, as well. While there are restrooms on the site, no camping is permitted. However, multiple state and federal campsites can be found within a five-mile radius of the park, together with cities of Ely and Solon.

Before you hit any of these trails, make sure you inspect your bike or ATV for any malfunction, as wells as to bring the basic tools, spark plugs, spare bolts, washers, hose clips, etc. Due to the DNR rules, helmets are required by operators and passengers on riding, parking, and loading areas. Finally, always make sure you’ve checked the park status, as they sometimes close down for flood or storm clean-up or adverse weather conditions.

Image credit: Photo by Daniel from Pexels

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