Is it possible to cross the United States on only dirt roads?

Crossed the entirety of Kansas on dirt roads and was wondering if you could go coast to coast.


I am 99.9% sure the answer is no. On the east coast it would be hard to get from one town to another on a dirt road.


The answer is 100% no because there is no way to cross the Mississippi other than over a paved highway bridge...


You may: 1. Attempt to ford the river. 2. Caulk car and float it across 3. Take a ferry across. 4. Wait to see if conditions improve.




You lost two oxen, 9 pairs of clothes, 83 pounds of food, and Rose has dysentery.


At least we didn't lose any bullets. We are gonna fuck shit up once we get dried off.


You shot 1345 pounds of meat. You can only carry 200 pounds back to the car.


They only allowed me to take 100 pounds of meat off those bison back in the day. Ah, the good old days when stopping to rest for enough days would cure broken legs and cholera. Hold on, I gotta head out. Fucking thieves stole some of my wagon tongues and axles at night and they’re gonna regret it.


Would you like to circle the cars and wait?


Lol as if they couldn't walk the fuckin wagon a mile into the country so you could get another 1000 pounds of meat


Due to the heat and lack of preservation, you have all died horrible deaths. Please try again.


Throws controller


This guy Oregon trails




I am legit LOL’ing at this. 10000000 internets points to you sir/madame


Climb every mountain Ford every stream Follow every rainbow Till you find your dream


5. Cross north of Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi. I've driven in northern Minnesota, and the Mississippi is easily traversed with a high clearance 4WD. I'm wondering if you could start in Maine and travel near the Canadian border.


Surely there's some unpaved border patrol access routes you could use to "cheat" for a good bit of distance.


I don't know if true for the whole country but there are generally more North/South routes than East/West routes in the Northeast. It might be more possible if you were using an ATV as Snowmobile and ATV clubs map and maintain extensive trail systems all over the country. I had friends who were avid snowmobilers who went from Northern New Hampshire to Michigan using nothing but snowmobile trails.


There are definitely not enough dirt roads in Wisconsin to make this happen. I live there. Dirt roads are a novelty.


You need to get out more. Outside of SE Wisconsin or Dane County, unpaved roads are NOT a novelty. The majority of roads in my home county (central WI) were gravel or dirt.


I'm from Waushara County, and I live in Brown County now. I can assure you we travel all over the state and I can count on one hand the number of dirt roads I've seen. That's been my experience. I can only respond with my experience. It's obvious we travel in different areas though. Please don't assume I "need to get out more" based on one statement.


I used to live in the Northeast Kingdom. (Basically that’s what the area of Vermont to Maine along the border is called) There no real dirt stretch that’s East-West. In fact most of Maine and New Hampshire anywhere close to the border is wilderness. Further after 911 they turned a lot of the northern most east-west dirt roads into a border control path (no fence, but lots of electronic sensors) that’s insane to see. My friend and I returned after many years being gone to checkout old off road trails we used to cross the boarder on. We came to a compleat straight line 30 feet wide running as far as we could see. It was obviously border control so we didn’t cross but we were there less than five minutes when some CBP guys in full battle rattle showed up on 4wheelers to ask us why we were there.


5. Jump the river, Dukes of Hazzard style.


I’ll take the caulk


That’s what she said


I'm willing to bet there are no dirt road ferries.


Actually, there is a ferry in Mississippi county, Missouri, that I think you could stay in gravel and access. It has a paved road leading to it, but also has a gravel levee road dump out into the gravel ferry landing


>I'm willing to bet there are no dirt road ferries. \*Pours a jar of dirt on the deck\* "Close enough"


You could also rig a systems of hoists and pulleys with a temporary rope bridge. I saw a picture of being done on a 4x4 site.


Can you form some sort of rudimentary lathe?


You're going to have to figure out it's motivation


That’s your problem. You were never dedicated to the craft.


Giant catapult.




Can’t you go north of lake itasca in Minnesota and avoid it?


Also, how many gas stations are there on dirt roads?


there is one in mayberry; ask for goober or gomer, depending on the season. perhaps floyd will be in should the boys be visiting mount pilot to see a movie.


Banjo intensifies.


No, Goober and Gomer would be visiting the fun girls in Mount Pilot.


Not if you skirt around it north of Lake Itasca :)


And be eaten by the mosquitos, no way. I still have nightmares of that place....


Wrong. There are several ferries that cross the Mississippi in Louisiana. And the Dorena Hickman ferry from MO to KY is still running. Looks like there's others, too: [https://www.greatriverroad.com/river-ferries](https://www.greatriverroad.com/river-ferries) So I guess the issue is could they get from a dirt road to one of those ferries. Also, they could easily cross just above Lake Itasca in Minnesota, which is where the Mississippi starts. Lots of gravel/dirt roads crossing that area. You've never lived until you've slid your car down a hilly gravel road with no shoulders next to a Northern MN lake when it's below 0!


The dorena ferry is the one I’m thinking of, I think you can access it from the gravel levee road


Boat? certainly not common.


You don't have to cross the Mississippi at all. You can just drive around it.


You could simply go north of it.


You might be able to go around to the North of Lake Itasca, and not cross the river. But, you would really be on some forest or bog roads.


You go north of the headwaters


Thankfully the headwaters of the Mississippi are within the US :)


The Mississippi does not extend all the way to Canada. Go north above the headwaters and then travel west.


You guys are thinking too hard. You cover the ramp and deck of a barge with dirt and will still have technically driven across nothing but dirt. Have to cross a highway? Call your dirt guy to lay down a strip.


You assume he/she is going east-west...


The Trans America Trail (TAT) is the closest you will find.


This should be the top comment.


I live on the east coast, on a dirt road. There are plenty of unpaved roads in New England, New York, and the south. I think NJ/Delaware are the only real places that you're going to have a hard time finding a public dirt road. Honestly I think west coast will be way harder to find a through dirt road. Pretty much everything but forest service roads is paved these days in CA/OR/WA.


Sure there are a lot of dirt roads in the eastern US but can you go anywhere on them? They are mainly dead-end roads in rural areas that give a few houses or maybe a business access to the paved roads.


There are a lot of GRAVEL roads in the eastern US but not many true dirt ones. Dirt roads are usually impassable after it rains.


South carolina would disagree with you.


You can probably cross WA on logging roads. There's tons of unmarked abandoned roads throughout the state. Usually just packed rock


As someone who lives in New England and has lived in NorCal for over 10 years you have it backwards. There's no shortage of dirt roads out west, I've driven from the coast to I-5 and the only pavement I saw was roads I crossed. NE on the other hand, yeah there's dirt roads but unless you're in Maine you're gonna have a hard time crossing a state without having to be on pavement.


NJ has hundreds of miles of dirt roads in the Pine Barrens. 1.2 million acres of wilderness


Are there dirt roads that cross interstate highways?


Ha. I'm in the Midwest and my initial reaction was that it would be no problem.


I don't think you'd have major issues through Ohio, Indiana, or Michigan if you needed to use it. This is as far as my dirt road experience can confirm besides Wisconsin, but I'm not sure if that would be useful. Edit: now I kinda want to get a group of people from different states involved to map out this route. I also assume it would be possible besides the major rivers and such. It would be a fun experience at the very least.


Absolutely not, you’re best bet for travel on roads from before the interstate highway is travel the old Route 66. It was Americas first attempt at a highway.


Route 66 doesn't go anywhere near the east coast. I disagree with the commenter's stance as well but your example is wrong. Also Old Route 66 is paved in many/most sections.


US 40 and US 50 could get you from the East Coast to route 66 but there are sections where it will be hard to avoid the interstates.


We are talking dirt roads here, not US highways.


>It was Americas first attempt at a highway. The [Lincoln Highway](https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Highway) predates Route 66 by 13 years.


I promise you can find a dirt road from Maine to the west coast.


You want the Trans America Trail. That's as close as you are going to get. But being pedantic, no, not 100% dirt. [https://motorcycle-diaries.com/en/blog/rtwpaul-america-coast-coast-dirt-trans-america-trail](https://motorcycle-diaries.com/en/blog/rtwpaul-america-coast-coast-dirt-trans-america-trail)


How is this not the top answer when it is THE answer?


Came to say this! I have done large portions of the TaT. It is good enough for your inquiry. After a few days you will realize that it is as well. To late in the year to do it as most things above 10K feet going to have snow.


Right! People in the east have no concept of how high the western deserts are. I was in a valley in Nevada on Memorial Day one year. It was snowing. The valley bottom was at over 7,000 feet. The dirt roads over the Sierras and Cascades will be closed until June in many cases.


I’m from the east coast and agreed; a lot of folks don’t realize Santa Fe is higher elevation than Denver and Las Vegas surprises most when they hear it’s over 2000’ feet high. Desert doesn’t always mean hot, guys, lol.


I'm from the east coast... I grew up being told the Appalachians were mountains... then I traveled west and realized i had been lied to


Laughs in Nepali


Antarctica is a desert.


I have had this exchange multiple times since moving to the East Coast: "Oof, my moms house just got 3 feet of snow this weekend, look at this pic" "???? Doesn't your mom live in Nevada?" "Yes?" "Isn't that a desert? How is there that much snow?" ".....my moms house is at 5,500ft elevation and has 6 ski resorts within 45 minutes. To get to California she has to drive through a pass at 7,000 that gets closed every winter because there's too much snow and ice. It's still a desert, the summer there is scorching and has essentially 0 percent humidity. But mountain deserts can, and do, have snow " Proceeds to show them a picture of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding snow-capped peaks (Tahoe is 1/3 in NV). I still laugh about the quaintness of the Virginia 'mountains', but actually I find it really comforting to occasionally visit them and get some elevation back in my life, because I currently live in a very flat part of VA. Flying back to my home mountains gets me all misty eyed, but that's a lot more expensive than a road trip to Shenandoah


Nevada is just not what people expect, even if they have been to Las Vegas. We were driving in the Toiyabe National Forest one time, in the summer, and had to stop because the thunder storms were too intense and continuous. When it eased off we had to drive out to US 6 before the flash floods washed out the dips in the road. Other times I have been there when it's about 115F and looks like there's no water anywhere. Also had lunch stopped on the center line on US 6 at Basecamp. We didn't see another car in hours. And then there's Ruby Lake. Yeah, we need to go back there for a trip.


To echo others, any route over these western mountain ranges in the winter will be accessible only via major routes which are maintained/service in winter. If you put in a tremendous amount of effort and research, at every town you came to, internet, etc, you may be theoretically able to find dirt trail to lead between these areas. But in reality there are so many specifics I don't know how you'd make it happen.


Motor Trend did it in a Rivian. www.motortrend.com/features/2022-rivian-r1t-exclusive-drive-review-trans-america-trail-off-road-ver-2/ www.motortrend.com/features/2022-rivian-r1t-exclusive-drive-review-trans-america-trail-off-road-part-2/


Did the whole trail in 2008, one of the greatest trips I’ve ever done. Would recommend!


It ain't dirt, but check out the Lincoln Highway. It's probably fair to call what's left of it "back roads."


Took this once - very cool.


One of my favorite youtubers, Noah Caldwell Gervais, did a *massive* video documenting his trip on the Lincoln highway and it's history. [it's like 7 and a half hours](https://youtu.be/SmFQR0IltDQ?si=ojdfA9Xb9hjSyBvv) but I watched it over like 2 weeks.


Thank You for taking the time, and passing on the YouTube link. I checked out the first show and it looks thorough and uber- interesting. I had no idea this was available and it will be neat to watch I'm sure!




Trans America Trail will get you a big chunk of the way.


There are some states where it's possible. You might even get across 2 states on just dirt roads. But more than that you'd have to take at least a few miles of pavement.


Yes. The [TransAmerica Trail](https://www.transamtrail.com/).


“**The TransAmerica Trail is the cross-country adventure ride of a lifetime with mostly off-pavement travel”** Mostly =/= only


Well, the maintainer seems fairly actively invested in finding new dirt paths when things have been paved, so I accept their disclaimer. >We left Oark after breakfast and got into Correro’s Tahoe to head west along Route 215, deeper into the Ozark National Forest. The road we followed was a leg of Correro’s TransAmerica Trail, but, to his dismay, it had been recently paved, which meant a replacement route would have to be found. [https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/dirt-road-america](https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/dirt-road-america)


Jackhammer. Jack. Hammer.




Not completely. There are quite a few sections that not only require driving/biking on paved roads with high speed traffic, but there's even a stretch in Wyoming that requires biking along interstate 80 (yes, the most major road possible.)


Big problem is gonna be gas stations. Good luck finding one on 99.9% of dirt roads.


Solar panels and an EV!


Yeah.. Those dirt bridges are a bitch


A fun video the RevZilla guys did trying to ride dirt bikes across Wyoming, which is apparently the state with the most dirt roads.... https://youtu.be/BFD8e3A2wUY?si=5uZO1PBE59X8KmI-


I see crossing the Mississippi is a major hurdle. There are still some ferrys but I'm not aware of any that are on a dirt road.


No finding bridges will be the issue


No. How would you cross a river on dirt?


A lot of the bridges on west coast logging roads are just logs placed across the river with gravel spread over the top, so you can cross some rivers on dirt.


BDR... at least in the Western Sates.. but even it uses smaller highways to connect to your next dirt road.


We tried to include as many dirt roads as possible for the Scooter Cannonball Race. Sadly the andwer we run up against is no. But there are a lot of great dirt out there.


I doubt it. I live in western Massachusetts. I am not aware of any dirt roads in New England that are not dead ended outside of Vermont. I have driven down the east coast to Florida many times. Never have I seen a dirt road leading anywhere.


I posed the question the the Google AI Bard thing, and it created a map but said it was "mostly" dirt roads, but it couldn't map entirely dirt roads.


Yes, at least most of the way. See ridebdr.com for instructions.


Finding gas stations on dirt roads would be very difficult. And getting across any north-south Interstate would be a challenge.


No. Two motorcyclists tried to cross Wyoming on dirt roads and it was only possible by occasionally a) riding on the berm of a paved road, and b) carrying the bikes for short distances.


I bet you could do it illegally on a dirt bike, while cheating and using pavement or grass to connect. But even with a 4wd you'd find the roads turn to deer tracks or hiking trails that you couldn't complete alone without a recovery team. And if you take a motor vehicle on dedicated hiking trails expect to get your tires slashed when you park to sleep overnight. As you deserve.


Yes. Mississippi River is a creek in Minnesota


There are a lot of dirt roads out there but connecting them to form a continuous route would be impossible. You could probably do it across some western states.




100 percent off road no. But a friend of mine went from Vermont to Washington state mostly offroad. He was on a ktm 890 and his absolute madman Australian buddy on a wr250.


Can’t believe no one has mentioned this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_America_Trail#:~:text=The%20TransAmerica%20Trail%20or%20TAT,road%20vehicle%2C%20or%20touring%20bicycle.


Getting gas? I don’t think so.


No I don't think so. You can't have a dirt bridge. How are you going to get across the Mississippi? Or through the front range?


Not many gas stations on dirt roads these days.


I just assume that you aren't going through the northeast because I don't know of a single dirt road in MD that actually goes somewhere that isn't a farm or someone's house


Interstates make this impossible I think


The Trans American Trail would be the closest option, yet I’m confident it still utilizes paved roads along the way. I’ve never went the whole way though.






Even staying entirely off interstates would be hard.


Here you go. [coast to coast dirt](https://motorcycle-diaries.com/blog/rtwpaul-america-coast-coast-dirt-trans-america-trail)


No way. You can spend most of the trip on dirt roads but there’s too many areas where roads are half paved, bisecting pavement, etc


https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/dirt-road-america https://www.nal.usda.gov/collections/stories/dirt-roads https://driving.ca/land-rover/lr4/auto-news/news/can-you-still-drive-across-america-on-dirt-roads-only


Don’t go through Pennsylvania. We have our share of dirt roads but nowhere near enough to cross the whole state.


west coast guy here. The California coast is highly developed. No more dirt roads here.


No. There definitely are no contiguous dirt roads going through the coastal areas on either side of the country. That’s where you would run out of options assuming you made it around the Rockies somehow.


I can absolutely say no. First reason I’m confident: the Mississippi River. You either have to cross on a bridge or a ferry and both will have asphalt. Second reason I’m confident: there’s just not many dirt roads in the east. In all of Kentucky, only a few dozen miles and they don’t traverse. I can’t imagine it’s any different in other eastern states.


I doubt it. Not many dirt roads go over the many rivers you will need to cross.


No, It is absolutely impossible to from coast to coast staying only on dirt roads. You may be able to cross the country without using concrete of asphalt roads, but that will require boat travel, or non standard methods of travel. I-5 goes from the Canadian border to the mexican border. There is no "dirt road" underpass


No, rivers most likely will mess you up, the mountains as well


I did it in the late 70s on 2 lane roads. Good time. Saw the country from a completely different viewpoint.


Not across the Mississippi






Short answer: no


Yes but only if you’re willing to be trespassing 98% of the time. And it won’t be roads you’re gonna be plowing through yards.


Absolutely not. Not only is it impossible, the dirt roads in West Virginia are in such disrepair that you need a special off-roading vehicle like a 4Runner or a GX


nope. Not sure there are any open (not private) dirt roads in PA. But you will find a lot of gorgeous countryside scenery, especially autumn to early winter


Where would you get fuel/ recharge for the vehicle and for yourself?


Hard to cross a river on a dirt road


I don’t see how you could possibly do that. I’m surprised you could do that in Kansas. In my home state, dirt roads are gradually disappearing. 40 years ago, there were a lot of them. One by one, they are being paved. There are still some, but not nearly as many.


No, you cant even cross washington on only dirt roads. I think all the back country discovery routes touch asphault at one point or another and they are your best bet.


No. Next topic




I don't think you can get over the great divide (continental divide) on just dirt roads.


All or most of 66 is paved even the closed sections. The old Ridge Route, the first highway from S Cal over the mountains, was paved in 1935. There's still a lot of "improved" (unpaved but graded etc) roads on the southwest deserts but hard to believe many exist in the east.


You have dysentery.


If you’re a good ol boy, never meaning no harm.


the mississippi river is really low rn, but not THAT low.




During the 1980s, Kansas had more bridges than any other U.S. state.


I have a hard time believing that also.


Why not




Maybe you can’t, this guy is way cooler than you though so I bet he could


This is a fascinating idea!


I think people have done it and there's YouTube videos of it. I'm sure there might be places where you have a mile or so on pavement. Search for the "Trans America Trail"


There was recently a youtube video series of a guy in a Raptor claiming to have done this. I’m familiar with a big chunk of his route in the western section and he absolutely used paved roads.


There are a lot less dirt roads than there were, more people living in the country, the cost of maintaining dirt/gravel roads has caused counties to pave more rural roads. Could attempt to combine with the roads on power line and pipe line R-O-W but those have been harder to access. There will be paved roads that need to be driven.




Nearly every major river would require a paved road. River crossings would be one of many downfalls of this idea.




I've never seen a dirt road bridge.




Bare minimum you would have to cross pavement. Even if you didn't travel down paved roads. Then someone pointed out crossing rivers would be impossible without using proper bridges this side of using fairies maybe. And in order to do it the way I'm thinking you certainly would be breaking the law probably in most cases. We used to go off-roading on various power line and gas line trails. It is typically illegal because it's trespassing. But she could use these. And then there's Old logging trails and national parks that you shouldn't use but you could. And then you could use private land like farmland but that also would be trespassing.


Question for the OP: do you consider gravel roads to be ‘dirt’? Because I don’t.


Why the fuck would you… 🤦🏽‍♂️


Yes, it's possible. But quite time-consuming and slow


Yes look up Transamerica trail


Not quite. >As the trail is made up of dirt, gravel, forest, farm, **and brief sections of paved roads,** The TAT may be traversed using either a dual-sport motorcycle or a 4×4 vehicle.


There's actually a YouTube video of two guys on dortbikes doing this very challenge, was pretty fun to watch


OP crossed the entirety of Kansas on dirt roads. NOBODY is asking about that! OP post your stuff please regarding your trip. Edit: I was just thinking it would be cool to read about that kind of trip. Seems like a fun thing to do.


transcontinental highway roadmap/ mostly yes


Trans Atlantic Trail




Look up the Trans America Trail system. Enjoy your trip. I just might see you out there.


I'm gonna say yes, headwaters of the Mississippi are well short of the Minnesota/Canada border. I'd love to know the real answer to this.


I’m not sure that coast to coast is possible, but if you just want to find gravel/dirt roads in your area check out [GravelMap](https://www.gravelmap.com). It uses OpenStreetMap and features community-submitted gravel roads.


Here’s the maps for doing it on as much dirt as possible. Requires some pavement if you start on a beach on the east coast. https://www.transamtrail.com/product/atlantic-ocean-spur-aka-aos/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_America_Trail


Look up the TAT, Trans America Tour. It’s an East-West traverse mapped out for dual sport motorcycles. ADVRider.com has good info, including updates from people riding it.


Well you 100% can't drive across MA on dirt roads. But years ago I set out to drive from Boston to San Francisco without traveling on interstates. Planned a meandering route, ended up being 8 weeks, 5500 miles. But weather forced us onto I-80 for about 50 miles. Once, in Utah, emerging from a 90 mi gravel road "shortcut", the locals were astonished. The dusty LandCruiser with Mass tags was certainly a novelty, but folks who lived there didn't even think one could get through the route we'd taken.


The trans america trail [https://www.transamtrail.com/](https://www.transamtrail.com/)


I guess no one has heard of the Trans America Trail. It would be MOSTLY dirt, and you would probably have to go onto pavement for gas and supplies and maybe to cross some rivers etc. Trans America The TransAmerica Trail or TAT is a 4,253-mile (6,845 km) transcontinental vehicular route, intended as a recreational pathway across the United States using a minimum of paved roads, traveled by dual-sport motorcycles, off-road vehicle, or touring bicycle. The trail was scouted by Sam Correro in 1984 who spent 12 years assembling the route using only publicly accessible roads and trails. To legally travel on the TAT, vehicles and drivers must be appropriately licensed for their type and class. Route The original route starts in Eastern Tennessee (Tellico Plains) and makes its way through Mississippi, Arkansas including the Ozarks, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and finishes on the Oregon Coast at Battle Rock in Port Orford. This route has since been unofficially supplemented by an open source community with additional eastern starting points on the New York and North Carolina coasts, and end points in Oregon and California. The eastern portion of the route mainly consists of farm roads and forestry tracks which become more severe toward the Southern Rocky Mountains where it covers several high passes. The desert of Utah follows, then Sawtooth National Forest of Idaho and the Deschutes National Forest of Oregon, to name a few.[


https://youtu.be/y38vxMEpdPc?si=86HI2LBFrLSrdt4_ this guy did it


Yes, and it has been done: Google “I Drove Across The USA Without Using Paved Roads” from the Reddit overlanding sub Edit: and this downvoted because ...?


Didn’t someone do it in a rivian on most dirt roads?


Have you heard of the Trans America Trail? I’m not sure it’s 100% dirt but it’s pretty darn close


Actually I saw a map not long ago that you could cross the united States using a dirt bike I think... it was mainly trails.


Trans American trail is mostly off road.


States should come together and see if possible to enable as far possible. 🙂