Best Places For Off-Roading Near Chicago

June 13, 2015 7:00 AM

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When Chicago’s winter-wrought potholes leave you yearning for off-road grit and bumps away from the city, check out these places in nearby Wisconsin and Indiana, and of course some great trails here in Illinois. You can challenge yourself and your ATV, bike, UTV or whatever at an off-road park or enjoy the scenery by off-roading when on a long, mixed-use trail or recreation area.

Lafayette County Cheese Country Trail
Trail entry at W. Seventeenth St., next to Badger State Ethanol
Monroe, WI 53566
(608) 776-5706
TriCounty ATV Club
(608) 574-2911

If looking for an easy but scenic off-road experience, do the Lafayette County Cheese Country Trail part of the Southern Wisconsin TriCounty Trails. The closest trail entry is in Monroe, Wisconsin about two and a half hours from Chicago northwest of Rockford, Illinois. The trail is 47 miles of an abandoned railroad bed that includes several bridges as it goes through the towns of Monroe in Green County, Darlington in Lafayette County and Mineral Point in Iowa County. It is a multi-use trail regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that is partially maintained by the TriCounty Trails ATV Club and the three counties. Registration needed for ATVs and UTVs can be done online. Click here for registration and here for trail pass permits.

Richard Bong State Recreation Area
26313 Burlington Road
Kansasville, WI 53139
(262) 878-5600

A shorter trail that’s closer to Chicago can be found in Kenosha County. The Richard Bong State Recreation Area, a little over an hour from Chicago on Wisconsin State Highway 142, currently has two loops available totaling over four miles. Vehicle stickers are needed for admission and parked cars. A state trail pass is needed for off-road bikers and motorcyclists. ATVs and UTVs need to register ahead of time. However, UTVs 51 inches and more might not fit on the trails.

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Rocky Glen OHV Park
4012 S. Main St.
Rockford, IL 61102
(815) 963-8081

In the same area but in Illinois, Rocky Glen OHV Park has 120 acres for trying out your four-wheel off-highway vehicle, ATV or motorcycle. Paths offer different levels of difficulty, bumps, jumps and challenges. The park also has a beginner’s training area and is user friendly with showers to wash off that mud and dust. There is an entry fee for riders, but not spectators.

Related: Best Hiking Trails In Chicago

The Cliffs Insane Terrain Off Road Park
2681E. US Highway 6
Marseilles, IL 61341
(815) 795-5200

The Cliffs Insane Terrain on US Highway 6 southwest of Joliet is among the best known northern Illinois off-road parks. A multi-vehicle park, it has several path options, but some of the fun terrain is really rough, so think about vehicle modifications and possible follow-up repairs. Expect mud; lots of mud.

Badlands Off Road Park
3968 N. Xavier
Attica, IN 47918
(765) 762-2981

The 800-acre Badlands Off Road Park lies about two hours south of Chicago in Attica, Indiana on US Highway 41. It’s a fun park with plenty of areas to test your vehicle’s capability and your skills. You don’t even have to bring anything except yourself and, hopefully, a change of clothes. Actually, Badlands also has clothes. You can rent vehicles here, purchase food and drinks and take a shower.

Related: Ask An Expert: Best Bike Rides In Chicago

Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on

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