Ride Into The Wild New Yonder
Pahrump’s myriad trails are making a name with OHV enthusiasts

BY VERN HEE

Climb on an ATV and ride east from Pahrump, and within 30 minutes of the southern town, the desert quickly falls behind as you undulate through mountain trails, checking out the wild horses, deer, or some of the many petroglyphs found in the Spring Mountains.

While Nevada is certainly known for its wide-open spaces and miles of dirt roads, when people think of off-roading, not too many think of the Pahrump Valley. The area is better known for gambling, wine, festivals, and its proximity to Death Valley National Park. That should change.

Where else can you ride your quad along a secluded trail in the middle of desert, on one side nothing but open space and a dry lakebed, and on the other, snow-capped majestic mountains?

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Pahrump is 65 miles west of Las Vegas and just 55 miles east of Death Valley. While its large neighbors could seem a disadvantage, the Pahrump tourism board recognizes that being so close to the two attractions can work in the city’s favor. Arlette Ledbetter of the Pahrump Town Tourism Advisory Committee says promoting off-road adventures is something the board has been considering.

“We have a goal to map our trails and develop that market segment,” she says. “It’s an excellent market to pursue.”

Tourists are already coming to Pahrump for other reasons when they discover the off-roading options are so amazing. So why is the off-roading in Pahrump such a secret? Mike Zaman of the Pahrump Valley 4-Wheelers believes one reason Pahrump hasn’t attracted a lot of riders is simple.

“Pahrump has no advanced trails that are really hard and that’s the main reason it’s not on the map,” Mike says.

OH, WHAT A VIEW

What the town lacks in advanced trails, however, it makes up for with scenery and access to an abundance of diverse trails. Mike says the valley is perfect for riders of all different skill levels and a great place for families to ride together.

“We have access to beautiful scenic trails like Wheeler Pass and destinations like Carpenters Canyon just within a few miles of town,” he says.

The president of the 4-Wheelers, John Allen, says there are also a lot of historic trails such as the Old Spanish Trail. Many riders come to Pahrump to enjoy the petroglyphs or ride where explorers once drove their mules and horses.

“You can ride the Old Spanish Trail, see old mines, and even the remnants of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad,” John says. “You can take a trail and ride a large portion of it to Dumont Dunes [in California]. There are also trails that take you to Tecopa and run along the Amargosa River.”

Mike says there are two types of riders in Pahrump: those with large, off-road vehicles and those with ATVs and motorcycles. The area easily accommodates all. Tyler Baumgarten of Parker’s Kawasaki said the majority of the people that come from out of town like the valley because of the different terrains available.

“I like to ride behind Gamebird and near the Chicken Ranch because the terrain is really different in elevations,” Tyler says. “You can be riding trails in this area and encounter steep hills, rough rocky terrain in ravines, and just straightaways where you can open it up and even get airborne in some areas, although I don’t recommend it because it’s not sand and the landings can be rough.”

Tyler also likes the fact that when he gets bored he can go to the mountains.

“I love taking my ATV up into the mountains and just opening her up,” he says. “It’s a straight shot up the mountain and you can floor it.”

Ariana Cox, aanotherParker’s Kawasaki employee, enjoys the mountain views.

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“From the mountain you get a panoramic view of the valley, which to me is just mesmerizing,” she explains. “You can see all the fields and houses all spread out. I do this all year long, hot or cold.”

IT’S ALL OUT THERE

Like many trail networks across Nevada, some of the trails are unmarked, and while the tourism board is trying to change that, it will take time. For those unfamiliar with the area, that fact shouldn’t discourage them. Mike says the Pahrump Valley 4-Wheelers club can act as guides if contacted in advance. Good maps and GPS are other options. Ariana agrees the trails not being marked is an obstacle, but her store will also helps people who need guidance.

“We give directions to people all the time,” she says. “We also sell a lot of maps.”

Also, unlike many small towns, Pahrump has the infrastructure travelers need for the perfect getaway. The town of about 38,000 has close to 400 hotel rooms and a number of RV parks. After a day or two of riding, check out the Pahrump Valley Speedway or ride a jetpack at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort & Coun- try Club. Pahrump boasts two wineries, numerous fine dining restaurants, diners, bistros, cafes, Mexican and Japanese cuisine, plus many more choices. Whatever you need to complete your adventure, you’ll find it there.

HIT THE ROAD

Pahrump Town Office
400 N. Hwy. 160
Pahrump, NV 89048
775-727-5107 ext. 310
visitpahrump.com

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