Book Review: Guide to Arizona Backroads And 4-Wheel-Drive Trails

Say you’re a new owner of an off-road rig or you’ve just moved to a new area, let’s just say Arizona for this piece. How do you go about finding good off-road areas, that are legal, and appropriate for your ride and skill level? You might wave down some Jeeper in a Safeway parking lot—if you’re lucky—or find an off-road repair shop. They are known gold mines of off-road trail secrets. The other method, and easier way, is to purchase an Arizona backroads guidebook.

Secret Pass Canyon’s (page 186) “Gate Keeper” is usually a great photo-op, however, at other times it could be no more than a speed bump.

For the Arizona region, we like FunTreks’ Guide to Arizona Backroads & 4-Wheel Trails, third edition. This can be bought directly from FunTreks, or online resellers like Amazon. By the time you’ve read over and ventured out on a fair percentage of its 100 trails, you’ll be an old Arizona hand at wheeling, and you’ll have plenty of traveling pals, too.

“You can almost smell the dust and sun-warmed boulders when you read the trail descriptions.” A fan of the FunTreks’ Arizona guide told me. And I agree with him.

Besides Arizona, FunTreks produces similar guidebooks that cover California, Colorado, and Utah. They have two ATV-specific guidebooks for our AZ and UT. Riders. FunTreks also offers other products such as tangible paper off-road maps, digital GPS downloads, trail overviews, a FunTreks 4×4 Trail App, and many more resources.

A Glovebox Necessity For Every Off-Road Vehicle!

The Arizona guide’s cover is attractive, very helpful, and self-explanatory. As you can see, the guide can be easily used because of its spiral binding. The inside page overview lists numerical trails opposite the state map, showing you all the trail locations.

Each trail featured in the FunTreks’ Arizona backroads guidebook features a comprehensive overview introducing the trail, trail location and how to get to the trailhead, and other critical details one should know before considering it as a destination.

Using Area 1 as an example, each area has an introduction, which includes a map of that area.

Research: FunTreks Investigates Each Point Of Interest For Its Arizona Backroads Guidebook

Obviously, FunTreks can’t include every known trail located inside Arizona’s borders. Within an hour’s drive of Kingman, there are more than a hundred trails throughout the region. The FunTreks team does investigate a wide variety of trails suitable for 4×4, SxS and ATV vehicles, as well as off-road motorcycle single track trails. FunTreks actually drives every trail in the book during the research phase for each edition. They work with local clubs on the trail names, trailhead locations, and routes.

Moss Wash (page 192) is an example of how the trails got their names. The Kingman Walapai 4 Wheelers, who’ve adopted the trail and maintain it faithfully for the BLM, call this route the Mansion Trail.

While driving each trail, the team notes GPS coordinates, trail conditions, and personal observations at the time. Remember, however, in Arizona as well as the South Western United States, trail conditions can change almost overnight due to monsoon rains, snow run-off, or the occasional thunderstorm, depending on the latitude and/or the altitude. Or a trail can remain unchanged for decades.

Moss Wash was once paved all the way to the Gold King Mansion, the first poured concrete building in Arizona. It is now the favorite trail for most local wheelers.

Using The Guide: FunTreks Made Its Arizona Backroads Guidebook Easy To Use

Physically, the book is also a joy to use. All trails are color-coded for technicality—green for easy, blue for moderate, and red for difficult. The trails are listed in three ways: alphabetically, numerically, and by difficulty (beginning with the easy trails). In addition, it’s spiral bound, which allows you to open it flat on the console to see both facing pages at once. Or you can fold it back on itself to see one page at a time. It also has an extra wide rear flyleaf that allows you to use it as a placeholder. The pages are all plastic-coated for extra durability and to withstand the harsh off-road lifestyle . You can also use a dry marker for highlighting and then wipe it off after you’ve done the trail.

Secret Pass Canyon (page 186) is another top favorite trail in North Western Arizona. The actual Secret Pass is a cherry-stem trail, which means a dead-end. The extra-wide rear flyleaf shows how you can use it for placekeeping.

There are a couple of self-imposed restrictions in the FunTreks guides. The major restriction is limiting the content to one hundred trails. This restriction keeps the guides from becoming completely unwieldy. The second restriction is using facing pages for each trail, which is mainly for the convenience of the user but limits the amount of information that the authors can include.

Another favorite photo-op location along Secret Pass is the overhang. It’s also a very nice campsite if you enjoy overland camping.

Speaking of included information, be sure to read all of the introduction, including the tips, suggestions, and warnings. The authors’ checklist of items you should consider to include in your vehicle’s loadout is excellent. I suggest you make a copy so that you can check off the items before each trip. With a copy, you can also customize your loadout manifest or exclude items you deem unnecessary to your particular operation.

The rear cover gives you a quick summary of the guide’s contents. On Amazon, you can access some images and read the back cover before you buy!

Personal Observation: FunTreks’ Arizona Backroads Guidebook

I’m very familiar with the trails in northwestern Arizona, and I’ve included a few photos from those trails with this article. I’ve found that by and large the trails’ descriptions are very accurate, and reading those descriptions can take you right back to your memories of those trails. At the same time, I can hardly wait to use the book to find the trails around Sedona and in southern Arizona. The guides are very well written and researched and are filled with excellent photography.

A User’s Quote:

“I’ve owned, and worn out, the first two editions of this book. It is a permanent addition to my glovebox. Its excellent maps and information can help you find your way. Useful for beginners and even seasoned off-roaders.
Sent from my Jeep!” – Michael, Phoenix, AZ

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About the author

Jim Brightly

Jim was the first full-time tech editor on staff at Four Wheeler Magazine. He has also spent time at Petersen Publishing and assisted in the birth of Petersen's 4Wheel Drive and Off-Road magazine as its feature editor.
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