Off-road motorsports are often viewed purely as a form of recreation. ATV’s, dirt bikes, UTV’s and 4×4 builds appear, on the surface, to be a loud and dirty way to see the outdoors. However, anyone involved in the sport can tell you without hesitation just how expensive off-road recreation is. Sure, we’re not talking about the cost of a yacht, or a vacation home on the beaches of Carmel, but anyone and everyone riding the trails is emptying some of their wallet to do it.

Depending on the age and specific vehicle, it’s likely that most off-road enthusiasts are riding a machine that cost them at least $5,000 – and potentially far more. A four-seater UTV can put an off-road vehicle purchase into the $20,000 range in the blink of an eye, and a fully-built rock crawling rig is likely worth $60,000 or more in parts and labor alone.

After you figure out the purchase price of a ride, consider the cost of accessories, like roll cages, bumpers and doors for UTV’s, performance enhancements for dirt bikes and aftermarket seats, racks or wheels for an ATV. None of it’s cheap, and as gear heads, most of us can’t resist buying some of it one form or another. Because what’s a few hundred bucks more when you’re already into the hobby a solid $5,000, right?

Beyond accessories there’s safety gear that’s a must: helmets, goggles, and other goodies that rack up a hefty bill. And after you buy all that you’ll likely want to use the thing. With that in mind, there’s fuel cost for the vehicle itself, as well as whatever tow rig you employ to get to and from your riding destination. With the price of fuel today, a day out on the trail is a hundred bucks in fuel alone for my family.

And it is worth every single penny.

Yes, off-road recreation is expensive, and while it can cause the occasional pain in our bank accounts, that spending is a major boost for local economies that is often overlooked. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, ATV riders alone spend an estimated $66.5 Billion dollars on the sport last year – and generated over $8.5 billion in local and State sales tax. You read that right. I said billion.

While much of that money comes from purchases of new equipment, a good portion of it is also generated due to the number of people that off-roading is accessible to. Whether you have a $2,000, 10-year-old used quad, a 4×4 Toyota passed down from your Uncle, or a $20,000 utility terrain vehicle, you can get off road and have an equally good time. For that reason, people of all socio-economic classes are spending money on the tools and goods to ride, and providing a boost for local economies.

For small towns with a major recreational and tourism industry, this is especially important, since throngs of off-roaders mean not only folks at their gas pumps, but more traffic to restaurants, grocery stores and shops.

So next time you’re exploring a new trail, take the time to check out the nearest town and support a local brewery, sandwich shop or gas station. See, we’re not just having fun…We’re helping to bring back the economy of this great land.