ATV exploration has exploded in the Northwest, simply because it’s a blast to do with the kids! Idaho boasts family-friendly opportunities to explore riding parks and ATV trails throughout the state. If you’re venturing out for the first time, you should consider trying out a riding park on your first attempt – they are smaller in size and are perfect for getting a handle on things before getting too wild. Plus, a single ATV is easily shared between the kids when you have wide open spaces for play.

A family riding ATVs on a trail.
A family journeying through the trail system at Hemingway Butte on ATVs. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Try something new! A day of ATV exploration out in Hemingway Butte may be just what you need. Let’s go over what to pack, how to get there, and where to rent your ATV below.

What to Pack

  • Helmet
  • Protective clothing
  • Cell phone
  • Water
  • Lunch (or a cooler filled with snacks for the kiddos)
  • First-Aid kit
  • Extra gas

Getting There

Take I-84 to Nampa and exit to Highway 55. From there, turn onto Highway 78 in Marsing and watch for signs that will direct you to specific trailheads. Trailhead locations are between the Melba Junction and Oreana on Highway 78, about 45 miles southwest of Boise. There are vault toilets, OHV trails, a loading ramp, and parking area for your motorized vehicles.

ATV Madness at Hemingway Butte

A group of people on a side by side exploring a trail.
Exploring Southwest Idaho on a side by side in early spring. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Exploring Hemingway Butte is nothing short of amazing. The versatility of the trails cover a lot of beautiful and lush country in the spring and offer family-friendly rides that are relaxing and scenic. It’s an incredible play area for ATVs located just 45 miles southwest of Boise. With more than 625 square miles of beautiful terrain, trails, mud flats, and hills, it’s easy to get a sampling of all that’s available to ride in this region.

Most trails are rated novice to amateur, with a few trails being rated as expert (just in case dad wants to show off his skills).

If your family has been riding before and are comfortable with more challenging terrain, there are plenty of places to let loose on the throttle. There are hills to climb, long, straight stretches for racing, and plenty of single track for dirt bikes and smaller quads.

A young girl riding a dirt bike on a trail.
Learning to ride at Hemingway Butte. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

When you journey out for the first time, make sure you examine the difficulty of the trail. Look for what you consider to be a “manageable” trail if it is your first time. A trail is manageable if there are no steep inclines, dirt that isn’t too loose, and small amounts of rocks.

A father and son examining a dirt bike on a trail.
Going through the safety checklist before hitting the trails. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Know your limits on your first ride and reinforce safety with your kids. Remember, when you start up your ATV, it’s your responsibility and your ride – it’s important to keep everyone safe. Wear a helmet and other safety gear, and know the terrain. Make sure that everyone in your group is comfortable with the chosen trails and that all riders can handle it.

A family riding an ATV on a trail.
Weaving through Southwest Idaho on an ATV. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

If you plan on letting the kiddos drive for awhile, make sure they have completed the appropriate safety courses. Any unlicensed operators under the age of sixteen, on national forest roads, must have completed a motorbike or ATV safety course approved by the Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation. To view rules and regulations for the state of Idaho click here.

Trail Maps

A massive trail network stems from each trailhead. The large number of routes in this area can be overwhelming to a first-timer, so make sure you map out your ride ahead of time. You can plan your journey by viewing the Owyhee Front North trail map here, or the Owyhee Front South trail map here.

ATV Rentals

Explore stunning Idaho wilderness with an ATV rental from Intermountain Power Sport Rentals LLC or Redline Recreational Toys. Hemingway Butte is the perfect recreational area to explore with your family and there are several national forests only a short distance away from Boise, Nampa, and Cascade.

Trip Tips

  • Keep your vehicles on roads and trails. Off-route travel damages fragile soils and plants.
  • Observe wildlife and wild horses from a distance – don’t chase or run with horse herds. Yes, you read that correctly. There are wild horse herds. Much of the area near Hemingway Butte is an important winter range and foaling area for bands of wild horses.
  • Pack it in, pack it out.
  • Bring a lunch for you and the kids – snacks keep everyone happy. See you out on the trails!

Tyler Schnur

Published on April 5, 2016