Cinder Hills OHV – Memorial Day 2011

Cinder Hills is a 13,500 acre off-road area located about 13 miles Northeast of downtown Flagstaff, Az. in the Coconino National Forest.   At an elevation of 6,900 feet above sea level, it provides a great summer getaway for some of us desert dwelling people.  The Cinders themselves are a small brown “Pumice” type stone that is remnants of extinct Volcano’s in the area.  Sunset Crater is a well known tourist destination that is in the Cinder Hills area. Sunset Crater is 500 feet deep, and was used by the Apollo astronauts to practice operating the Lunar rover. As for the riding, It’s as close to riding in sand as you can get, as with sand, paddle tires are recommended, but not a necessity.

We took off on the Thursday night before the Memorial Day weekend to try and beat the traffic, as this is a popular riding area for anyone into ATVs, dirt bikes, UTVs, or sand cars.  We were meeting up with a group from Rides and Riders out of Buckeye, Az.Arriving around 10:00pm, it was a bit difficult to navigate the roads to find our campsite due to the loose ground and the forest of pine trees.  Like sand, it is recommended to watch carefully for areas of where deep Cinders are, as you will get stuck.

On Friday, about 8 of us took off on a ride, we headed to an area popular with the riders at Cinder Hills called ‘Hundred Dollar Hill”.  It’s a monster hill climb of almost 900ft and should only be attempted by an experienced rider with a machine that is capable of handling such a hill.  We then took off and headed to an area known as the Cherry Bowl.It is a semi deep crater with several hill climb trails coming out of it.  This is a good area for moderate riders to attempt the hill climbs.  Headed back to camp, we found many trails to ride, there are some 19 miles of marked trails in the OHV area.  Many of the trails however are inundated with “Whoops”, so be prepared to be “Whooped” when you get back to camp.

Saturday was similar to Friday, in that a trip to Hundred Dollar Hill was a must. For the duners out there, it’s like riding to competition hill, you just have to go and see whats going on.  We rode trail after trail, stopping from time to time to rehydrate and take in the awesome views from atop a huge cinder mountain.  Then onto Cinder Lake, which is not a Lake at all, but a huge, tree free open area of cinders where you will find the afternoon drags.  So leave the bathing suit at home! (Someone actually brought one)  But that’s another story.

Sunday was our final day at the Cinders, by this time we just wanted to take a nice leisurely ride around the area and enjoy the beauty and weather we will be missing after we leave.  Riding on small trails through the forest, to the tops of hills, looking at snow capped mountains in the distance…..yeah….we will be back before summer ends.

Other area’s of interest to ride at Cinder Hills is Double Crater, Little Cinder Basin,and Pinnacle Crater, as well as all the trails.  Please read all the signs in the area as there are around 50,000 acres that surrounds the OHV area that is restricted to riding and camping.  It is open year round, but may have restrictions in the winter due to snowfall.Camping is free, however, there are no facilities offered unless you camp at Bonita Campground.  There are Supermarkets within 10 miles of Cinder Hills if you forget anything from home.

How you get there:
From Flagstaff:  Take Highway 89 North 8 miles, turn East on Forest Road 776 (there is a sign posted Cinder Hills OHV), follow that road 1.5 miles to the main Staging area.

Click on the link for more info and pictures of Cinder Hills OHV

You May Also Like


Sounds like you had a good time, maybe we’ll have to plan a trip out there and check it out.

Thanks for the info.


Kevin McKenzie says:

Sounds like a future trip! Do people climb that mountain in pic # 4?

Brian Rodgers says:

0h yeah. Thats whys it’s a destination ride. Just like Comp hill at the dunes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.