Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office

Where Can I Ride My Off-Highway Vehicle in Riverside County?

Vehicle Use Categories

Public lands in the California Desert District (CDD) are designated in several Vehicle Use Categories:  Open Areas, Limited Use Areas, and Closed Areas.

 Open Area Sign


Open Areas  

Within Open Areas, motorized vehicles may be operated anywhere your skill and vehicle can go within the boundaries of the Open Area.  There are currently NO BLM OHV Open Areas located in Riverside County, however, there are Open OHV Areas in adjacent counties.  Information on BLM-managed Open OHV areas in California is available at the web site:

 Limited Use Area Sign


Limited Use Areas - Designated Routes

Within Limited Use Areas, motorized use is restricted to a specific designated road and trail network to protect sensitive natural and cultural resources.  

All cross-country travel is prohibited in these areas and the designated routes are marked with brown trail markers.  You may only use the designated route network --- all other trails are closed --- even if you do not see a red closed sign.  You can obtain Desert Access Guides from the Palm Springs Field Office to aid you in determining which trails are open.

  • Meccacopia Special Recreation Management Area

    Note:  The Drop 31 area is a Limited Use Area; it is NOT an Open Area.  Vehicles must stay on designated routes.  The hill-climbs in this area are unauthorized intrusions.  Anyone found riding off-route will be cited by Law Enforcement. 



Designated Route Decal 
 Limited Use Area Decal
 Closed Route Decal
 Not a Designated Route Decal

 Closed Area Sign


Closed Areas

Within sites designated as Closed Areas, motorized vehicle use is prohibited.  This includes all designated Wilderness Areas.  The BLM uses many different signs and carsonite posts with decals to inform you of Closed Areas, Closed Routes and Wildernesses.

Here are a few examples, although there are many others:



Wilderness Decal

Designated Route Ends Decal 
 Wilderness Boundary Behind This Sign
Route Closed Decal 
 Open to Hikers and Horses Decal


Route Designations

There are three different route designations used in the CDD. 

Open:  These routes are open to all vehicles.

Closed:  Access on route by motorized vehicles is prohibited except for:  (1) fire, military, emergency or law enforcement vehicles when used for emergency purposes; (2) combat or combat support vehicles when used for national defense purposes; (3) vehicles used for official purposes by employees, agents, or designated representatives of the federal government or one of its contractors.

Limited:  Route access is limited seasonally.  The only route in the PSSC Field Office that is limited is Meccacopia Trail.  This route is closed annually from June 1 to September 30 to protect wildlife access to critical water sources.  The same exceptions to motorized-vehicle use of closed routes also apply to limited routes.


Route Difficulty Rating

The BLM PSSC Field Office is beginning to implement a Route Difficulty Rating System.  This is a work-in-progress, so most trails are not yet rated.  The Route Difficulty Rating system is only a guide.  The rating symbols can be found on the carsonite or metal posts at the beginning of each trail. 

NOTE:  It is important to remember that these ratings are independent of the need for 4WD on these routes.  A route could be rated as “Easiest” and yet still require 4WD.  Also note that the ratings are merely guides.  Every individual’s level of skill is different.  It is up to you to use your best judgment as to whether you and your vehicle can handle the route. 

Easiest Route Rating Symbol 
More Difficult Route Rating Symbol 
Most Difficult Route Symbol 
These routes are suitable for beginning route users as well as the more experienced who are looking for a less challenging ride.  The routes have a low level of risk for the user and are relatively flat.  Few obstacles will be found on these routes.
Steeper and narrower than the Easiest, these routes require skills beyond that of a novice and at times will challenge the average user. Some obstacles may be encountered along these routes, but nothing extreme.
  The steepest and narrowest, these routes require users with advanced skills who are seeking a higher risk.  The terrain is often steep and the routes may be difficult to follow.  Users should have knowledge of navigation and survival.
Obstacles are challenging.