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ATV Navigational Aids

ATV Navigational Aids

Riding the trails on your all-terrain vehicle can be a lot of fun and a great way to blow off some steam. Something that is never fun however is getting lost out on the trails with no clue how to get back to the truck/trailer or starting point. The good news is that there are a few options for adding some ATV navigational aids to the ride. Let’s take a look at the most common options for this need.

GPS systems

The most obvious solution for adding ATV navigational aids to your ride is a reliable GPS system. While this may seem like a clear no brainer, there is a very important consideration to keep in mind. Most GPS systems only navigate marked roads and are not able to help you much on trails or other uncharted territory which is where ATV riding takes place. There are specialized GPS systems which are capable of navigating larger trails, but they are not always a reliable option, especially if you are unsure if the trail will show up or you are doing off trail riding. While they may not be as reliable for ATV riding as they are for marked roads, a GPS system may still be able to point out certain landmarks or nearby buildings such as a Rangers Station or the entry point to the park where the trail is located in some instances. It isn’t a surefire navigational option but at least it will point you in the right direction in the event you are lost, alone, and not sure how to find civilization. Most GPS systems will at the very least be able to point you in one of the four navigational directions. While this can help if you know you need to head north to get back to where you started, you can save yourself a lot of money by simply carrying a small, reliable compass with you if going this route in terms of navigation.


If buying a pricey GPS system, which may not even work for the off road riding you intended to do, sounds like a bad idea, your phone is a great option for navigational purposes. There are a few great reasons to take your phone with you on every ride. For starters, if you get separated from your riding buddy or group, it makes it easy to reconnect and find each other again. Phones are also ideal in an emergency situation such as getting so lost you can’t find your way back to civilization. They are also crucial in a medical emergency to call for help. Another great thing about bringing a phone with you on a ride is that they usually have navigational aids. While you will most likely run into the same issue as GPS systems unable to navigate off road trails, it will at least give you the basics of the four directions if needed.

Phone Apps

When looking at another reason to bring your smartphone along for a ride, a great app built by the community is a bonus. With an app like UTV Trails, you can see other trail maps as mapped out by your fellow riders. While this app or any similar in style isn’t 100% accurate at all times, it can be a big help for exploring trails without getting lost. Since the trail will be mapped out on the app, you can follow it back to the starting point to avoid getting off track or lost in the woods. This type of app also allows you to create your own map of a ride for future reference for both yourself and others in the ATV community.

Walkie Talkies

Another solid plan in terms of helpful tools for navigating is a pair of walkie talkies. If you are riding with your buddies, a pair of walkie talkies is great for reconnecting when separated, or even being lost while out on a solo ride as long as you have long range walkie talkies and someone on the other end. It is important to invest in high quality walkie talkies with long range for an option you can count on when you need it most. There is no point in buying this type of device if it won’t be high powered enough to get the job done.

Trail Maps/Guides

When it comes to ATV navigational aids, the old fashioned ways work best. Some of the more popular trails will have paper trail maps or guides if you are lucky, and if you are smart, you will definitely make good use of this old fashioned yet effective navigational aid. If you go somewhere with a map of trails, make sure you keep it handy to avoid any issues. It is generally a terrible idea to think you are too skilled or too cool for trail maps. Even if you have been on a trail several times, it is easier than you think to get turned around and lost which could lead to a serious problem. If you have a map of the grounds, take it with you!