What To Know When Off-Roading in the Winter

What To Know When Off-Roading in the Winter

Wintertime tends to put a limit on recreational activities. Some outdoor activities, however, level-up with the changing of the seasons. For off-roaders, winter is an excellent opportunity to gain a unique off-roading experience that you won’t find during any other season.

Winter off-roading comes with a bundle of safety considerations to mind before and while hitting the trails. AM Off-Road has compiled a meticulous guide on what to know when off-roading in the winter to make your favorite recreational activity as safe as it is fun. We’ve included a list of our favorite freshly powdered trails that are just waiting for you and your dominant vehicle’s arrival.

Safety Risks in Wintertime

Wintertime is notorious for posing greater safety risks to on and off-road drivers. Be knowledgeable about the most common winter driving hazards to prepare for your off-roading adventure.

Black Ice

Most people are familiar with or have had their own frightening run-in with black ice. Black ice is transparent on the road. Its inability to be detected make it a common cause for serious accidents. It is especially important to be wary of black ice when off-roading on smoother trails, bridges, and below overpasses. Tread carefully if you suspect black ice is on your vehicle’s path.


With increased precipitation and shorter spans of daylight, it is common to experience visibility issues during the winter. Keep your vehicle clean as possible inside and out to promote a better vision of the road. Sweep snow off your windshield and all windows when necessary to maximize your ability to see from your vehicle.

Less Control

Suspension systems help drivers control their vehicle and make for smoother rides. In the winter, suspension systems stiffen due to the cold temperatures. Stiff machinery hinders vehicle performance and can interfere with the driver’s steering abilities.

Necessary Gear and Accessories

Increase your car’s ability to conquer snowy terrain with appropriate winter gear and accessories. AM Off-Road’s inventory has extensive vehicular add-ons that improve car functionality. Accessories for your off-roading vehicle like Jeep Wrangler light covers and body armor heighten any car’s appearance and performance. Consider updating your vehicle with these additional features to increase safety for drivers and passengers.

  • Swap regular tires for winter tires with a greater tread. This will improve your car’s ability to keep on the road and lend the driver more control.
  • Be sure to monitor tire pressure leading up to your trip. If available, check tire pressure throughout the duration of the off-roading excursion.
  • Antifreeze is a must in the winter. It prevents damage to your car’s radiator. It essentially lowers the freezing point of water to protect the systems in your vehicle from freezing.

Mindful Maintenance

You must consider common safety risks posed by winter to effectively prepare for a safe off-roading adventure. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to promote your car’s performance in the winter. That’s why we’ve added a section on winter maintenance to our guide on what to know when off-roading in the winter.

  • Avoid running on low fuel. Always keep at least half the tank full to avoid running out of gas in an inconvenient or isolated location. Keep a spare gallon of gas in the trunk for backup or emergency use.
  • Get a protective coat for your car’s paint. A protective wax or film creates a barrier between your vehicle, road grime, and snow. Protective barriers make it easier to keep your car clean, which in turn increases visibility and prevents buildup in your car’s undercarriage.
  • Windshield wipers are susceptible to freezing to your car’s windshield. Prevent this from happening by leaving them in the raised position when parked outdoors. Use a scraper tool to remove ice and snow from your windshield rather than using your vehicle’s wipers.

The Beauty of Off-Roading in Winter

Off-roading in the wintertime is unique for its altered scenery and terrain. Fresh snowfall creates a unique off-roading terrain experience for the driver and enhances already-stunning landmarks. Once you have prepared your vehicle for winter off-roading excursions, it’s time to choose a destination. Amplify your wintertime fun with these recreational spots known for their beautiful winter scenery and expansive trails.

Trails Perfect for a Winter Visit

Take advantage of wintertime’s beauty by checking out these national trails known for their winter-centric perks. Reach new heights and landscapes across the states with these renown U.S. trails. Each has unique and beautiful features that are amplified with a fresh coat of snow.

Paiute Trail, Utah

Utah is a trendy location in the off-roading community because of its versatile trails. Of those trails, Paiute Trail near Moab is a prime location to visit in the winter. This trail is family-friendly and has an abundance of fishing, camping, and hiking spots. Paiute Trail has immaculate winter scenery provided by its ranges, plateaus, and mountains. Many tourist sites claim you are likely to spot native wildlife along the ride!

Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota

The Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota is popular for off-roading year-round because of its hundreds of miles of mapped and maintained trails. The national forest’s large pine woods and deep canyons only become more enticing with a fresh layer of pure snow.

Drummond Island, Michigan

Drummond Island has a plethora of off-road trails that are pristine come wintertime. With numerous trail options, this spot in Michigan is perfect for off-roading fans looking to log lots of miles this winter. Drummond Island is considered Michigan’s largest closed-loop trail system, with over 40 miles of ORV and 60 miles of ATV routes. Its location on Lake Huron in Upper Peninsula Michigan indicates its expansive views, which are only done justice by visiting in the winter. You are sure to take in tons of beautiful unique scenery at Drummond Island.

Tug Hill State Forest, New York

Yes, there is more to New York than the city! New York has stunning outdoor recreational land that is often overlooked or forgotten. We recommend adding the Tug Hill State Forest in New York of potential trails to visit this winter. It is open year-round, and its location is known for heavy snowfall. You are bound to create memorable times off-roading in over 12,000-acres of Tug Hill.

What To Know When Off-Roading in the Winter

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