The landscapes in California’s desert regions are both stunning and remote, offering endless opportunities for exploration. Many parks and public lands in these areas have popular, well-maintained dirt roads suitable for low-clearance vehicles and sedans. However, plenty of other routes are not advised for inexperienced drivers in two-wheel-drive vehicles. Rather than getting stranded and stuck with a hefty towing bill, consider booking a 4x4 tour with a guide. Beyond keeping visitors safe and comfortable, guides are experts on the desert's ecology, geology and history. These tours are tailored to all kinds of travelers, from families seeking a safe and enjoyable day trip to adrenaline junkies craving an extreme off-road challenge.


Adventure Hummer Tours (Joshua Tree National Park)

Adventure Hummer Tours in Joshua Tree, California

Adventure Hummer Tours has been operating in Joshua Tree National Park for over 20 years, offering both regularly scheduled tours and custom trips. From March through November, guests have the option of riding in an open-air military Hummer or a fully-enclosed H2 Hummer, and during the winter months, guests ride in the H2. Adventure Hummer Tours has certified wilderness guides who are experts on the park’s geology, flora, fauna, and cultural history, and guests will spend about an hour outside of the vehicle for photo ops and short walks. Most of the company’s scenic tours run around three hours, with options to explore the park in the morning, afternoon and at sunset. Custom tours are also available, and perfect for visitors who want to see giant boulders and Joshua Tree forests at their own pace. Adventure Hummer Tours offers tour departures in Yucca Valley and Palm Springs, the latter of which is a longer tour due to travel time.


California Overland Desert Excursions (Anza-Borrego State Park)

One of California Overland's Off-Road Tour Vehicles

Located just outside of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs, California Overland Desert Excursions offers a variety of adventures, ranging from 4x4 tours to camping with an astronomer. With a fleet that includes open-air military vehicles, Jeeps (open-air and enclosed) and a climate-controlled excursion van, California Overland runs regularly scheduled tours and private events in the park. One of the most popular options is the two-and-a-half-hour Badlands Adventure, which is the most affordable tour, and perfect for visitors who only have a day or two in the area. Another top-rated trip is the five-hour Three Terrains Tour, which explores either a classic dry lake bed or a remote palm grove, followed by a one-and-a-half-mile hike in an incredible slot canyon. Both trips feature a grand finale to Vista del Malpais, a remote and little-known overlook that offers breathtaking views of the best badlands in California.


Farabee’s Jeep Rentals & Tours (Death Valley National Park)

Farabee's Jeep Rentals & Tours in Death Valley

Farabees Jeep Rentals & Tours is a family-owned business located in Death Valley National Park, offering daily 4x4 tours in enclosed, climate-controlled Hummers, plus Jeep rentals for self-guided tours. Their eight-hour Racetrack Tour visits the dry lake bed between the remote Cottonwood and Last Chance Ranges, which is best known for large rocks that mysteriously move across the cracked clay. Tours to Echo Canyon and Emigrant Canyon run around four hours, and visitors can also create custom tours. Whether you’re interested in geology or Star Wars filming locations in the park, Farabee’s guides are both knowledgeable and friendly, making this an unforgettable way to see the hottest, driest landscape in North America.


Wild Desert Tours (Helendale)

UTVs from Wild Desert Tours on a dirt trail in the Mojave Desert

For those keen to get off the beaten path, consider booking an adventure with Wild Desert Tours in Helendale. Wild Desert Tours has an impressive fleet of side-by-side UTVs, offering unparalleled access to the Mojave Desert’s diverse terrain. Tours run two to three hours and include a one-hour safety briefing prior to departure. Helmets are provided, and each one is equipped with a live intercom, so guides can provide guests with real-time instructions on the trails. Beginners are welcome, and while drivers are required to be 21 years or older, drivers over the age of 18 with a valid license may drive if a parent or guardian rides along as a passenger. Customers must sign a damage deposit, and additional insurance policies are also available for purchase.