When he thinks of the autumn season, John Savino isn’t thinking of pumpkin spice lattes and chilly sweater weather. His mind is on a winding desert trail behind the wheel of an off-roader, watching wildlife roam and observing distant mountains silhouetted by the sun as he takes in the beauty around him.
Off-roading is a staple of Lake Havasu City’s fall season, and for good reason. With seemingly endless areas to ride, ideal weather, well-managed trails and plenty of fellow enthusiasts, it’s hard to find a flaw.
“The opportunities here are endless,” Savino said. He grew up in Parker and is the former president of the Lake Havasu Side-by-Side Trail Association. Along with the perfect conditions, “the hospitality from local businesses is incredible,” Savino added. The well-loved activity only adds to the city’s tourism draw.
With tons of trails and trail users comes tons of maintenance and needed manpower. Off-roading organizations in town do their part to protect the desert and its trails.
James Bowen, former president of Havasu 4 Wheelers, explained that their group helps “fence dangerous mine shafts, help sign trails, remove debris,” and aid the Bureau of Land Management wherever they can.
The Lake Havasu Side-by-Side Association are working on a new way to approach trail maintenance — grooming.
John Geyer, founding president of Havasu 4 Wheelers and Arizona Peace Trail promotion chairman, explained that grooming involves pulling a grate behind an off-road vehicle to smooth out the trail, fill in any holes, and keep it looking clean. The grates are being custom built for the job, and the first grate of two is expected to be finished within the next week.
“Maintaining the trails takes money, equipment and manpower,” Geyer said. “Just to get the steel for the graters costs about $2,000.”
But it’s worth the cost to protect riders and the desert they enjoy, he says. It also helps work towards making “western Arizona the friendliest off-roading destination,” which Geyer said is one of the state’s goals. He described Havasu and the region as “off-roading Mecca.”
State survey aims to assess off-road trails
Arizona State Parks and Trails wants a better look at the trails statewide. The department is surveying residents for its 2020 Statewide Motorized and Non-Motorized Trails Plan, which is taken every five years. According to the department, the plan “guides decision-making and resource allocation for motorized and non-motorized trails across the state.”
They invite the public to take the survey, attend meetings and provide feedback on findings throughout the process. The survey can be accessed at azstateparks.com/trail-survey.