Best SUV in California

Trying to find the best SUV in California? Bivy has great hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, riding and more, with hand-curated trail maps, as well as detailed driving directions.


California, San Diego County

02 :10 hrs
29.9 mi
1147.146 ft

Pinyon Mountain Valley offers a scenic and very challenging ride through Pinyon Canyon in the rugged desert terrain of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The ride starts off easy but things change quickly as drivers will start to encounter multiple obstacles. The Squeeze is a narrow, rocky passage that will wreak havoc on wild vehicles. Pinyon Dropoff is another obstacle that is very steep on an uneven rocky surface. Additional steep climbs and rocky sections also present more challenge. The ride is rated as difficult and should only be attempted by experienced drivers operating hard-core modified vehicles. Lockers are not required but will make it easier. Avoid the area during rainstorms due to flash flood potential.


California, El Dorado County

01 :39 hrs
15.4 mi
346.32507 ft

The Rubicon is one of the most well-known off-roading trails in all of California and is loved for its amazing scenery and extreme terrain near south Lake Tahoe. The trail is done as a point-to-point route starting from a staging area on the west side of Loon Lake and ending at a staging area on the east side, just a few miles from Lake Tahoe. The challenges along the Rubicon are numerous and include tight boulder fields, rock ledges, open granite tracts, high water crossings, and more. Some of the popular named obstacles include Old Big Sluice, Little Sluice, Big Sluice, and Cadillac Hill. The Rubicon should only be attempted by very experienced drivers and spotters driving modified lifted SUVs outfiitted with lockers and at least 33 inch tires. Completing the entire length of the trail in one day is difficult but camping is available in a few spots starting at Buck Island Lake. ATVs, UTVs, and motorcycles are allowed but will need to arrange the shuttling of vehicles between staging areas if wanting to cover the whole trail in one direction.


California, San Bernardino County

00 :35 hrs
6.3 mi
266.458 ft

Johnson Valley is home to some of the most extreme and exciting off-roading routes in all of California known as the Hammers and includes famous trails like Jack Hammer, Sledge Hammer, Claw Hammer, and more. Sledge Hammer is the southern-most Hammer trail and will challenge even the most experienced drivers. The route is rated as extreme and features large boulders, tall ledges, massive waterfalls, and some tight spots where scraping and body damage is likely. Only experienced drivers and spotters in fully modified vehicles should attempt. Be prepared with spare parts and recovery gear. Also, be sure to attempt with at least a few other vehicles.


California, Mendocino County

03 :50 hrs
37.7 mi
631.629 ft

This route takes visitors along a remote and scenic road near the coastline of the Pacific Ocean in northern California. The area is very wooded with occasional ocean views. The route follows roads that are hard-packed dirt but can be a little narrow and steep in a few spots but passable for any passenger vehicle. They can also get muddy after lots of rain so pay attention to current conditions. The trip is just under 40 miles and should take less than half a day.


California, San Bernardino County

01 :01 hrs
10.4 mi
261.28107 ft

Johnson Valley is home to some of the most extreme and exciting off-roading routes in all of California known as the Hammers. Claw Hammer is the shortest and "easiest" of the three main Hammer trails but still provides plenty of extreme rock crawling challenge. Claw Hammer features huge boulders, tall ledges, tricky waterfalls, and tight spots where body damage is likely. Only experienced drivers and spotters operating modified vehicles with armor and sliders should attempt. Also, do not set out alone as vehicle damage and failure is possible.


California, El Dorado County

00 :15 hrs
1.3 mi
116.81299 ft

Wentworth Springs Road at one time was the start of the Rubicon Trail on the far west end. The trail is now typically bypassed as most visitors enter the Rubicon at Loon Lake. The small section of trail still has a lot to offer in the way of exciting and extreme rock crawling. The route starts at the Wentworth Springs Campground and is only a little over a mile and a half long. In that short distance drivers will encounter multiple obstacles including huge granite slabs, a large rock garden, the Postpile, and the Lost Sluice. After Lost Sluice the trail then intersects with the Loon Lake entrance. This section of trail should only be attempted by very experienced drivers in modified vehicles equipped to handle difficult to extreme conditions.


California, San Diego County

00 :26 hrs
4.8 mi
270.81494 ft

The trail up to Bronco Peak is the main feature in Corral Canyon OHV Area and offers both amazing scenery as well as very challenging terrain for off-roading. The trail is extremely narrow and steep with lots of large boulders. There is the chance of incurring body damage or rolling so caution is required. The trail should only be attempted by very experienced drivers operating modified vehicles, preferably with front and rear lockers. The trail is often combined with the Sidewinder Trail just to the north for additional challenge.


California, Monterey County

00 :56 hrs
10.2 mi
329.03098 ft

The Old Coast Road offers some amazing scenery as it winds down and climbs up through densely wooded terrain of sycamore trees and redwoods just north of Big Sur. The ride is rated as easy and is passable by any passenger vehicle except for when conditions are rainy and then 4-wheel drive is recommended. The road can be driven in either direction.


California, San Bernardino County

00 :36 hrs
6.5 mi
326.09998 ft

Jack Hammer is part of the famous "Hammers" in Johnson Valley and is known as possibly one of the most challenging off-roading routes in the world. Jack Hammer is extreme and anyone who attempts it should be fully aware that damage is inevitable and part of the experience. Huge boulders, tall ledges, and tight spots that require scraping on the sides are all part of the adventure. Only the most experienced drivers operating well-built, highly modified machines with roll cages should attempt. Be prepared with recovery gear, spare parts, and other vehicles (no not attempt alone). Despite the short length of the route, be prepared to spend most of the day making your way through.


California, Fresno County

06 :41 hrs
31.4 mi
649.78394 ft

This challenging and scenic trail is one of the most well-known off-roading routes in all of California and offers an exciting trip between the John Muir and Dinkey Lakes wilderness areas. The majority of this trail is rated as difficult and includes multiple obstacles. Drivers will be required to navigate their way through large boulder fields, muddy bogs, steep rocky climbs, and more. The trip is recommended for modified, high-clearance vehicles being operated by experienced drivers. Street legal vehicles can exit on Kaiser Pass Road and use paved roads to return to Hwy 168 but green sticker vehicles will need to return the way they came.

See more adventures..

Explore complete list