GS Day Rides

GS Day Rides

For this year's BMW MOA Rally in Redmond, the third time we’ve been to Redmond, we’re hoping to take you to some familiar places along with some new places.  

One of the goals of our GS Day Rides was to not combine our routes with those of the Oregon BDR.  Those doing the OR BDR should be rewarded with that challenge and the locations mentioned on those routes, like Cache Mountain or Skylight Cave.  And if you have the time to go see those on your own, do so.  Only one of our GS Day Ride routes intertwines with the OR BDR and that is the Three Creek Butte and Lake route.  Afterall, it wouldn’t be right to not have a route of our own that gets you to a fantastic and up close view of the Three Sisters.

Most of the routes are going to require a level of skill.  If you have ever taken a DART training class, at a minimum, we recommend having gone through their level 2 skill class. That level of skill will get you through most of these routes comfortably.  

If you have never taken a DART training class, DART will be on-site at the rally providing a ‘lite’ version of their full day classes.  These are great sessions to attend.  These classes will allow you to brush up on your current skills, assess where you sit in reference to their training level, and get back to basics and identify a bad habit or two that needs to be corrected.  Not to mention, a great way to warm up those off-road skills before hitting the trails.  Remember, your BMW MOA Foundation grants and rebates can help off-set the cost of this course.

Developing a Route Remotely

Not being from the area, creating routes can be a real challenge.  Lots of effort goes into researching access including having a few subscriptions to apps like Ride with GPS, which hosts our routes, and onX:Off-Road for land, gate and trail information.  Sometimes the biggest help is actually Google Maps and the pics people post or the street views Google collects.  And finally, help from some local resources, like my Co-Chair, David W. Peterson, and any acquaintances of theirs.

Many of the GS Day Ride routes are based around an onX:Off-Road route or collection of routes.  This helps us determine if there’s enough traffic on the route, if there is a problem, that assistance may come along at some point.  It also helps us know areas that are accessible to the public and what is not accessible to the public, not to mention reports from other onX users providing trail reports.

While these routes are not very long from a mileage perspective, you should plan on these routes taking a good chunk of your day.  It is recommended to carry plenty of water and ride with a buddy or two. It’s a lot easier to pick up a GS and navigate trickier obstacles with a couple people than just yourself.  Especially if your skill level and experience is still growing.   

At a minimum, 70/30 tires would be best if not 50/50 for these routes.  But hey, not everyone can afford to replace knobbies after burning them up going cross-country on the interstate system.  Which is another point, we tried to choose routes that a good 70/30 tire in dry conditions could handle, i.e. the Michelin Anakee Adventure and Dunlop TrailMax Missions, without significant issues.  As you may know, tires can make or break a good off-road ride.

Our Favorites

Two routes stick out as favorites that I really want to do while in Redmond for the Rally.  Let’s talk about those.

Government Lands you know that to the south and east of the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center is a huge swath of BLM land?  No, not that BLM!  The Bureau of Land Management, which is another federal government agency.  BLM land is land that the US Forestry Service doesn’t manage.  It is also land not designated as part of a National Park or Monument, let alone Recreation Area.  For the most part it doesn’t have a lot of regulations and can be freely accessed, traveled across and used.  And BLM areas like those between Redmond, Bend and Prineville areas, are slowly developing and some motorized activities are restricted, but in others, game on.

Our Government Lands route starts off right from the edge of the rally grounds.  In fact you’ll find yourself off-pavement within the first mile.  This route works its way along the south side of the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Centers while moving east along the south side of the Redmond Municipal Airport.  Eventually you’ll cross the irrigation canal and then some improved roads that take you by the Biak National Guard Training Center.  From there, you’ll get back on some unimproved roads and follow some utility easements before coming to Pronghorn Club Drive.  

If still following the route, make a zig zag across the paved road before continuing your way off-pavement and southerly to more utility easements that give way to some more interesting terrain. After that section of open BLM land, we’ll give you a little on-pavement break while you make your way to the south entrance of the Mayfield Pond Recreation Area.  

The Mayfield Pond Recreation Area does have a designated route through it for motorized vehicles.  Please stay on those routes and stick with our tracks if you can as they should be spot on with the BLM’s maps.  This will take you by Mayfield Pond and then into a backcountry section of the recreation area.  You can skip the backcountry section if you make a left on the trail towards the west entrance of the Mayfield Pond Recreation Area instead of a right.

Once you leave the Mayfield Pond Recreation Area, you’ll zip up Pronghorn Club Drive.  If you come upon a golf course & country club, you’ve missed a turn.  However, once you cross the irrigation canal, get ready for that next turn.  Like previously, you’ll follow utility easements and trails through the backcountry all the way back to where you started, Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center.  Who would have thought all those great trails were right there next to the rally? Right!

So, this route sounds great?  Well, that depends.  You know side by sides, and other 4 wheel vehicles, like to let it rip a lot.  So be ready for some whoops and deep ruts while applying the DART saying, ‘make the rut your road’, as this land does get used for those purposes, frequently.  In addition, depending on the soil moisture conditions, it could be perfect or so sandy, you spend more time digging the big GS out than riding it.  

Prineville Reservoir Dam Overlook

Another favorite and must do on my part.  While scouring Google Maps, I came across a user submitted panoramic photo from a high point that overlooked the Prineville Reservoir and Dam.  After a bit more research, I found onX:Off-Road had some notes and routes to that spot.  In addition, it was also part of a large OHV area managed by the BLM, the Millican Valley OHV Area.

With a good chunk of pavement from the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center to the Millican Valley OHV Area, once there, it’s going to get fun quickly. Many of the trails in the Millican Valley OHV Area can be a challenge.  OnX:Off-Road rates some of the trails here 4/10 in difficulty.  But four wheel ratings don’t always align with two wheels.  Like Government Lands above, much of it depends on the moisture conditions of the soil and usage by other vehicles.  But, if you trudge through our plotted trail to get to that point, the view is going to be so worth it.  So much so, those following the paved Crooked River Loop Day Ride, which runs to the east and across the dam on pavement, will be jealous of your vantage point.  

After getting to the viewpoint and feeling that you’re done with dirt, Millican Valley OHV Area has a number of improved and paved roads that parallel our tracks on the way back.  But either way, if you parallel or follow our tracks, before heading back to Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center make sure to stop at Shoe Tree for a photo.  And if you need gas or something cold to drink, stop at the Alfalfa Store in Alfalfa, OR.  

The Other GS Day Ride Routes

We could do long write ups about the rest of these routes, but some things are just better discovered.  But for more information about Green Ridge, see our Day Rides announcement.

Green Ridge

Three Creek

Gray Butte

Barr Road OHV


Ride with GPS is a great way for the MOA to share and distribute maps, GPS routes and turn-by-turn instructions. As with any great service, some best practices in the form of tips and tricks are in order.

  • Each route in Ride with GPS is equivalent to a track in the world of Garmin GPS units and BaseCamp software. So for all the routes, make sure you get the entire collection of routes in Ride with GPS.
    • Ride with GPS allows you to download many different GPS files types, including GPX, for the BMW Navigator series and other Garmin productsWhen downloading GPX files, only download the "GPX Track" version.
    • The "GPX Route" version will leave you at the mercy of the settings on your Garmin GPS, and will take you off the planned route and maybe to unexpected places and road conditions.
  • Once you have the "GPX Track" version loaded on your device and want turn-by-turn navigation, convert the "track" on your Garmin GPS to a "trip."
  • If you don’t have a dedicated GPS device and use your phone for navigation, Ride with GPS also has a number of file formats to work with various navigation apps for phones.
  • Ride with GPS also has its own phone app that will also help guide you! Download now for Apple iOS or Android.

Still Unsure How You’re Getting To Redmond?

If you’re thinking about the Eisenhower Interstate System, then take a look at our Interstate Not So Bliz! article on the BMW MOA Rally website for links that should make the interstate travel less of a drone.