Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the Great Western Trail (GWT)?

2. Where is the GWT?

3. Is it free to travel?

4. Can I drive my Ford Bronco on the trail?

5. Is it dangerous?

6. Is help available if I break down?

7. When is the best time to travel it?

8. Can I camp along the way?

9. Are there bathrooms?

10. Are there service stations and stores along the trail?

11. Can I drive it alone?

12. What should I bring along?

13. Do I need to buy all the trails, or can I buy just those I want to travel?


1. What is the Great Western Trail (GWT)?

The Great Western Trail was conceived in the 1980s to connect a long network of pre-existing trails traversing a corridor through central Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and end at the Idaho-Montana border with Canada. It was designed to serve all-terrain vehicles, 4x4 enthusiasts, motorcyclists, horseback riders, hikers, and in the high country, snowmobile riders. Not all sections of the trail are open to all of these modes of travel. In Arizona the GWT can be driven in its entirety by a 4-wheel drive vehicle. (top)

2. Where is the GWT in Arizona?

It starts near Phoenix and travels through the center of the state to the Utah border. A map in the Gallery of Pictures shows the individual sections. (top)

3. Is it free to travel?

Yes, it is free to travel, although there are restrictions in that a free pass is required to access one of the trails, and a permit is required in the Tonto National Forest if you intend to stop in the recreation areas. (top)

4. Can I drive my Ford Bronco on the trail?

Although some sections of the trail are accessible to low clearance vehicles, most aren't. We do not recommend driving the trail in anything less than a high-clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle. (top)

5. Is it dangerous?

Off-road driving always carries risks, and inexperienced drivers should never attempt to travel the GWT alone. (top)

6. Is help available if I break down?

Generally speaking, not immediately. You should always inform people at home which trail you will be driving and when you intend to return home. Cellphones will rarely work on the trail, and as a result we carry a CB radio, a hand-held Ham radio, and a Personal Locator Beacon. (top)

7. When is the best time to travel?

This depends on the trail. Those in the south are best traveled in the winter because of the extreme heat in the desert in the summer. Those in the north are best traveled in the summer since snow and monsoon rains will cause their closure in the winter. It's always best to check with the rangers before leaving home to learn if the trail you want to travel is open. (top)

8. Can I camp along the way?

Yes, but there are restrictions. Dispersed camping is allowed throughout the entire GWT, but you will need a permit to camp in recreation areas in the Tonto National Forest. (top)

9. Are there bathrooms?

There is one bathroom along the entire 360 mile trail in Arizona, however there is rarely a long wait to use it. (top)

10. Are there service stations and stores along the trail?

No. You must bring all the food, water, and supplies you will need. There are services near the beginning or ending of some of the trails, but not all. (top)

11. Can I drive it alone?

This is a question that has two answers: definitely yes!, and absolutely not! We have always traveled it alone, even though there are very remote areas that rarely see human life. If your vehicle is in excellent condition and you are prepared for most emergencies, you probably can. Those who disagree feel the team in the second vehicle can go for help in time of an emergency, or pull you out of your crashed and burning vehicle. The choice is yours. (top)

12. What should I bring along?

Good humor, food, fuel, water, water, water, emergency communication equipment, and whatever else you'll need on your trip. Some people carry enough spare parts to build a second Jeep if the first one breaks down, but that adds weight, takes up space, and is generally unnecessary. (top)

13. Do I need to buy all the trails, or can I buy just those I want to travel?

Driving the Great Western Trail in Arizona, available in paperback at this site, Amazon, and other retailers, includes all the trails and necessary information to travel the GWT from Phoenix to Utah. It is also available in Kindle ebook format, either as a complete book or in serial format so you can purchase only the trails you think you'll want to travel. (top)