Most of the UTV-ers are also huge nature enthusiasts. It’ only logical. Utv riding and camping, fishing, hunting, or hiking go hand in hand. They are connected by the sense of adventure and thrills of outdoor life. A lot of side-by-side riders plan their trail routes according to available camping spots along the ride. Whether they go alone, with a group of friends, or organize a family trip, it gives them a chance to put together two of their biggest passions: power riding and getting in touch with nature.
Of course, going camping with your UTV is very different than just hopping to the nearest trail or hauling your UTV to the off-road spot with the sole purpose of riding. If you decide on going camping with your side-by-side, be ready for some extra preparations. It’s necessary to make sure that everything goes without a hitch and that you can fully commit yourself to joys and exploration of the great outdoors. Here are some tips on how to make your UTV camping trip the smoothest experience possible.
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Be Certain of What Kind of Camping Trip You Want
Before you even start your preparations and start looking for destinations, you need to be sure that you know exactly what kind of trip you want. Ask yourself who are you going with, where do you want to go, what do you plan to do when you get to the destination?
Planning for camping with your family is very different than for going on a trip with your friends, UTVs or not. Also, be clear about planned activities. Are you going to spend the whole day on a trail and use the camp just for a sleepover, or do you want to go hiking, bike riding, fishing? Maybe you’re the kind of person that enjoys comfort and perks of modern camping sites, such as electricity, Wi-Fi, and running water. Or, perhaps, you just like picking the spot in the wild and setting the camp there.
Only when you’re certain of these thing you can start seriously planning your trip.
Off-road camping requires a great deal of planning. Find the map of your desired destination and search the internet for reviews and experiences of people who have previously camped there. Explore the route you’ll need to go through to get there. If you’re towing your UTV, there’s a possibility that you won’t be able to drive comfortably through some of the backroads to the camp.
Get your machine prepared and serviced if needed. Check engine oil, air filter, fuel system, CVT drive belt, brakes, shocks, tires, and wheels. This way you’ll avoid getting to your dream destination and not being able to use your ride or spending half a trip at the repair shop. Even worse, your UTV may break down and leave you stranded in the wilderness. The wisest thing to do is to draw-up a check-list and gradually complete tasks on it.
Carefully Pick a Destination
As we already mentioned, not all destinations will provide the perfect experience. First of all, make sure that you’re allowed to ride off-road vehicles at your chosen destination. Some camping sites or wildlife areas have strict regulations against the use of ATVs, UTVs, or dirtbikes. If you are going on a family camping trip check that there are some cool hiking, fishing, or swimming areas near your camping site. And that you can get to those using UTV, of course. See if there are any interesting attractions to visit, along the road or near the camping site.
You also, may wanna choose the camping ground with laundromat options and a general store. While it takes some of the wildlife camping edge, laundromat will be more than useful knowing how covered in dirt you’ll be after a full day of riding. A store where you can get some supplies will help you pack lighter for the trip.
If you’re going with a group of friends, make sure that everyone is on board with the proposed trip plan. Some people like rougher and more natural experience, while others prefer comfort and are just there to hang with their buddies.
How to Pack
Besides the stuff you always need to carry on your UTV, camping trips will require some extra items. While packing light is recommended, there are some things that are essential. Depending on where you’re going, it’s possible that you won’t see civilization for a couple of days. In addition to a regular first-aid kit, make sure to pack medicaments that you or any of your fellow campers may use on a regular basis. It’s always a good idea to have some wide-range antibiotics and something to treat potential insect and animal bites. Although you want to get as close to nature as possible, don’t forget personal toiletry items.
The amount and the kind of food and cooking supplies you’ll need mostly depends on who you’re going with. If you’re going with your buddies, simple meals will probably do. Freeze-dried meals, snacks, instant oatmeal, and canned food are all easily prepared over the fire and don’t need refrigeration. They also make cleaning after yourself a piece of cake. If you’re going on a family UTV camping trip consider bringing some cooking equipment and some healthier food items for the kids.
It goes without saying, that you’ll also need standard camping equipment. Sleeping bags, a tent, warm clothing, and cooler. Mind the season when your camping trip will take place. Camping in the cold weather will require more supplies than going on a trip during summer.
Packing all of these items is not going to be easy, especially if you’re not using the trailer to haul your UTV. The space in your vehicle is usually very limited. Make use of travel size boxes to pack as much stuff as you can. If your side-by-side has extra storage options, fill them up – roof racks, toolboxes, under-seat storages, rear storage racks.
Extra Vehicle Accessories
Many UTV manufacturers and aftermarket companies produce vehicle accessories that are specifically intended for use when camping. These are quite useful and handy when you find yourself in the wilderness.
The rooftop tent can be particularly useful for camping trips. It’s installed at the roof of your UTV and occupies much less space than the regular tent. It’s easy to set up and since you’ll be sleeping several feet above the ground, it provides great protection against animals and insects.
Spare tire carrier is another attachment that can save you a lot of storage space. Besides spare tire, it can hold some of your other gear or tools while keeping your rear bed accessible.
The emergency winch will be more than helpful if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but better safe than sorry.
Adding a LED light bar to your UTV is not only handy for night riding but can provide some extra light for your camping site. It easy to install and doesn’t occupy any storage space. At the same time, it eliminates the need for propane lamps or other light sources.
What Not to Do
When going UTV campaign, make sure that you always respect nature, fellow campers, and the authorities in the camping area you’re visiting. Even though you’ve run away from civilization to the wilderness, you’re not alone there. If there’s the assigned trail system, respect it. Stranding around to the private trails can cause damage to the fields, roads and destroy someone’s hard work.
Wherever you ride be careful. When you go to the dunes or your usual riding areas people around are aware of what’s going on and act accordingly. In the woods, you may run into hikers or bikers using the same trail. You never know what’s behind the corner. Plus, there’s is always a danger of wild animals running onto the trail.
Many people go to the wilderness looking for peace and some quiet time. So, no matter how much you enjoy the sound of your engine don’t unnecessarily rev it. It will also disturb and frighten any wild animals around. You are their guest after all, not the other way around.
If you’re camping in an organized campground, follow the house rules of the site. Respect other people in the camp and don’t let anyone who asks ride your vehicle.
Adhering to these rules helps keep these trails open. Running wild in the woods and creating unbearable noise is the surest way to get UTVs banned from a certain area and ruin it for all of the other side-by-side enthusiasts.
The Best UTV Campsites
While some of the sites have imposed restrictions, there are plenty of wonderful camping areas in the US that are UTV-friendly. We gathered the list of the most attractive ones, but feel free to explore for yourself and find the perfect spot for you and your UTV.
- Windrock Park, Oliver Springs, Tennessee
- Circle Pines, Williams, Arizona
- Hidden Falls Adventure Park, Marble Falls, Texas
- Oregon Dunes, Coosbay, Oregon
- Twin Hollow Campground, Gilbert, West Virginia
- Lake Oklawaha, Ft McCoy, Florida
- Pirate Cove Resort, Needles, California
- Craters of the Moon, Arco, Idaho
- Laughlin, Nevada
- Custer, South Dakota
- Fillmore, Utah
- Salome, Arizona
- Trinity Lake, California
- Calico, Barstow, California