“Hold on, I want to try something.” “If you go faster, it will smooth out some.” “If you just hit it a little harder, I’m sure you’ll make it.” Such are the discussions that take place around the campfire, next to a stuck rig or out on the trail before a challenging obstacle.
Sometimes, things turn out great, and sometimes, well… not so much. This particular weekend, we found ourselves ankle deep in some thick mud at the Phoenix Off Road Park, surrounded by Jeeps and trucks, listening to some friends have this same discussion next to their stuck rig. As the winches got unspooled and the recovery materialized, there were smiles all around and the fun was just getting started.
Heading To The Park
We were at the Phoenix Off Road Park for the inaugural Jeep and 4×4 event of the 2017 season, and we were pretty excited to have the chance to check things out. For this event, 125 Jeeps came out to test the 20 miles of newly added trails for 2017. This was in addition to Phoenix Off Road’s already respectable 70 miles of cut trails and 1,000 acres of land.
Altogether, that’s 90 miles of wide-open freshly cleared trails for wheeling pleasure. The park also boasted 25 miles of single track for those that preferred two wheels. Phoenix Off Road accommodates Jeeps, ATV riders, dirt bikes, side-by-sides, and even has trails that can accommodate extra-wide vehicles, like Hummers and Ford Raptors.
Phoenix Off Road Park started life as a farm, and then became a strip mine in the 1960s. Today, some of the land is used as a recycling facility, while the majority of the land is used as the Phoenix Off Road Park. The park itself is relatively new, but the good reviews keep coming in.
“Considering we have only touched a small fraction of the trails available as of now, I would say absolutely,” Jason Koch off JP Extreme stated. “Maybe it was just the order of the trails we took, but it felt like the very challenging ones were offset by some scenic ones in between. This is great because it gives your heart rate a few minutes to return to normal before you challenge it again. Phoenix offers something for everyone – scenic trails, lunch spots, challenging trails, rocks, mud, hill climbs, and trails for the novice.”
The Phoenix crew also hosts ATV and Ford Raptor-specific events, SPARTAN events, AWRCS races, Bonefrog Challenge events, and multi-sport weekends. The diversity of the events available at the park creates a pretty cool opportunity for local food vendors to get in on the action as well. We have had both pizza and BBQ from two separate vendors during our time at Phoenix and there’s just nothing better than good food and good off-roading.
We are big fans of family-friendly fun and this event did not disappoint. Not only were there plenty of activities for the kids available, but also the wheeling opportunities and safety consciousness of the park were outstanding. From trails clearly marked by name to the reflective vinyl used to designate trails, the details were all taken care of.
We all like to let loose and have some fun. However, doing this at the expense of someone else’s safety is never a good thing. Phoenix understood this and put great effort in place to create a safe, clean, and enjoyable experience for all. Many participants noted the family-friendly atmosphere as one of the best features of the park.
A Family Affair
First-time attendee Nick DeLaratta noted that, “The trails put our Jeeps to the limits. We did some hill climbs that I never thought possible. The hills were not rutted, which made for a much more comfortable climb.”
“If they can keep up on the trails, it will continue to be a great place,” DeLaratta continued. “We even got out at the rock garden and had lunch. At no point did we feel unsafe. Even with my four-year-old with me. Great place!”
Speaking of camping and campers, did we mention that on-site primitive camping was included in the admission price for all events? Returning Phoenix Off Road event attendee Adam Billham had his to say, “I come to almost every open event that I can. Its very family-friendly, the staff is very nice and helpful, it’s a calm atmosphere, and it’s nice having local food and fuel only five minutes away. The trails are easy to see and read, the majority of trails are bi-directional, there’s a good balance of mild to wild stuff, everything is well maintained, and there are some very nice views and scenery.”
We had the chance to get out on the trails quite a bit, and we can also attest that this park has some of the best views Southern Ohio has to offer. We spent much of the weekend checking out all of the cool Jeeps, tube chassis’, and 4x4s that made the trip in. A large bonfire pit provided an area for everyone to get together and relive the adventures of the day.
In addition, one of the unique features of Phoenix is the ability to use aftermarket lighting upgrades in a real-time environment. That’s because Phoenix remains open for wheeling until 10 pm during a regular admission day. Many other parks in the US close as soon as it gets dark, but not Phoenix. In fact staying out to get the most out of all those fun lighting upgrades is highly encouraged. In any case, breakage is managed by a crack staff with heavy equipment, ensuring that everyone makes it back safely.
“Our first time at Phoenix was the last event of the 2016 season and we spent ALL winter talking to others about the time we had,” Koch said. “We waited like kids on Christmas Eve for the park to announce their events for the 2017 season so we could mark our calendars and return. We recommend Phoenix Off Road park to anyone looking to go wheeling!”
If you’re interested in amazing off-roading, family-friendly fun, and great staff support, you may want to explore other events that take place at the Phoenix Off Road Park. If you are within driving distance, this is definitely one off-road park you should head to.