Where to Wheel: 5 Places to Off-Road in Carson City

By Carson City Local Shelby Holte

Nothing says Nevada like an open dirt road. My husband Collin and I moved here four years ago and while we’ve lived in a lot of places with great features, we have never before been able to hop in our 4×4 and go from driveway to pavement to dirt in under ten minutes. It’s not uncommon for us to grab our favorite coffee in town on a Sunday afternoon, and with minimal planning, head to the hills with our two rescue dogs for a walk at sunset with a stunning view of the Sierras. The concept of off-roading within city limits continually blows our minds, and it’s one of the many reasons we are so proud to put down roots here.

Exploring Prison Hill in the Suzuki

Exploring Prison Hill in the Suzuki

Before we get into locations, rest assured we’ve hit the dirt in several different vehicles with varying capabilities from our daily driver, to a 4×4 that is built for the bumps. With the right planning and foreknowledge, you’ll be able to find an open trail to enjoy in whatever model you drive!

Now let’s get some dirt on those tires, shall we? Here’s our top 5 favorite off-road trails in Carson City.

Prison Hill OHV Recreation Area

Top of Prison Hill

Top of Prison Hill

To begin, I feel we should all hold our cowboy hats and ball caps over our hearts in celebration of the fact that we have a bona fide OHV Recreation Area right here in

Carson City. Prison Hill OHV (off highway vehicle) Area has it all. Whether you’re passing through town in a midsize SUV or a pulling a full-blown rock crawler on the trailer, you’re set up for a great time. Take the trail all the way to the top of the hill for a killer sunset view, or try your luck up steep granite in the rig. All are welcome!

The Prison Hill Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area and the motorized trailhead/parking located on Golden Eagle Lane will be closed while the trail improvements and stabilization project is completed.

Construction work is currently underway. The project will include repair and realignment of several existing trail segments, creation of a few new trail segments, rehabilitation of some sites, and stabilization and drainage improvements. The project is designed to reduce erosion, better manage stormwater runoff, and create a recreation area that is sustainable for the long-term.

Construction activities will continue through December. The OHV area will be closed Monday – Friday during construction but will re-open to recreational use on the weekends. Users are cautioned to watch for construction equipment and material and be aware that certain locations may be subject to close on weekends when work is in progress.

For more information, please contact the Carson City Parks, Recreation & Open Space Department at 775-887-2262.

Just be a responsible human, be sure to check the map before you go and follow the signage.

Goni Road

For a more vehicle inclusive outing, head up Goni Road on the North side of town. We’ve seen everyone succeed out here from those with a sedan, to those in the

Goni Road

Goni Road

built out side-by-side. Goni Road is a couple

miles of gravel road that will lead you up quite high in elevation! From the top you’ll catch spanning views of the Sierras, Washoe Lake, and Slide Mountain. If you’re traveling in a more capable vehicle, there are countless drivable trails that shoot off from the main road to explore. Keep your eyes peeled as this area is home to quite a few wild horses! Just find Goni Road and head north until it turns to dirt.

Ash Canyon to Hobart Road

Ash Canyon Road

Our next favorite is in the running for most scenic, in my opinion. Ash Canyon to Hobart Road offers nine steep but stunning miles of dirt road culminating at the peaceful Hobart Reservoir at a whopping 7,650 feet. No matter what time of day you choose to go, the hairpin turns on the road will have you wanting to pull over and snap a photo every time. Beyond the views, there is lots to watch for on this trail road. It is commonly used by mountain bikers, home to various types of wildlife, and can be a bit tricky if you encounter oncoming traffic. Be mindful of all out there as you enjoy the grandeur! Hobart Road can be accessed seasonally, typically from Spring through Fall, and fishing is regulated by the Department of Wildlife. This road is only open from May-November, so be sure to plan ahead!

Kings Canyon Road

Views up Kings Canyon Road

Views Up Kings Canyon Road

The off-road superlative for wildest road in Carson City goes to King’s Canyon road. Just to the left of the King’s Canyon Waterfall Trailhead lies nine miles of dirt road for your wheeling pleasure. Originally built as the part of the Lincoln Highway, King’s Canyon Road completed a cross country highway from Times Square New York to Lincoln Park San Francisco and was operational from 1915-1928. Now, we enjoy it in our 4x4s hope the top isn’t too washed out when we set out! If you’ve been up King’s Canyon Road, you know that last haul can be a bit tricky depending on the rainfall and washout in the area. It’s not uncommon for folks in regular cars to drive up the road a ways to enjoy the view, but the conditions make themselves obvious rather quickly about a mile up. Praise hands for the wide turnaround. If you’re set up for some bumps, be sure to let someone know when you plan to return as cell service can be spotty on Spooner Summit. Tag us in your photos @visitcarsoncity if you make it all the way to Spooner Lake!

Carson River Canyon Open Space

Wild Horses Carson River Canyon Open Space Area

Completing the list of Carson City’s off-road offerings is Carson River Canyon Open Space, also recognized as Brunswick Canyon. Beginning as open space and running into BLM land, these treasured trails are sure to provide adventure. Visit during the fall for great colored foliage, or during the spring to see the raging river. You’re likely to see wild horses on your way too!

As with any outdoor adventure, plan ahead and prepare to make sure your fun day stays fun. Be aware of vegetation, other trail users and changing weather conditions, and if you see us out there, give us a honk!

Be sure to tag @visitcarsoncity in all your adventure photos! Where are you headed to next?