Badlands Off Road Park Review: Buying & Riding in the Same Place
Dunes, mud, rock, streams, wooded trails and hills. For off highway enthusiasts in the Midwest, it doesn’t get much better than Badlands Off Road Park. The Attica, Indiana OHV destination is one of a kind in the diversity of its terrain. One moment, it feels like you’re wheeling in the mountains out West. A minute later, it’s as if you’re slinging sand in the desert, down south for a good old mud bog or right back in the Midwest timber. The Badlands accomplishes all of this in less than 900 acres, but that’s not all the property has to offer…
Fortunately for yours truly, someone who’d been on the hunt for a RZR four-seater, Attica Motorsports is located within the friendly confines of the Badlands—and it’s the largest Polaris dealer in the state of Indiana. That means units are priced to sell, the buying process is pressure-free and a massive parts department is always at the ready. Once we picked out the perfect RZR for our needs, we signed on the dotted line, grabbed a few wrist bands and hit the trails. Only in Attica can you buy a brand-new machine and then immediately set out to put it through its paces.
Buying and riding is all in a day's work at the Badlands. When a leisurely drive through Indiana corn-country brings you to the long gravel drive that ushers you into the Badlands, it’s also bringing you to the largest Polaris dealership in the Hoosier state: Attica Motorsports. The day before we arrived, we learned that 12 RZRs had been sent to new homes. Twelve!
Only at Badlands Off Road Park can you sign for a new machine one minute and be riding it through the trails the next. Hanging a right as we pulled out of Attica Motorsports’ dealership, we entered the Badlands’ varying terrain and extensive trail system for a few hours of break-in time aboard our new machine. Color-coded trails allow you to pick from novice, to moderate, to the most challenging trails.
RZR XP 4 1000
Thanks to a Polaris manufacturer rebate in addition to Attica Motorsports’ usual below-sticker pricing, our 2020 RZR XP 4 1000 checked in a few thousand dollars below MSRP. It’s no 168hp turbocharged XP 4 or the 181hp Pro XP 4, but the naturally aspirated 999cc ProStar twin-cylinder DOHC four-stroke engine, with its 110 hp, is more than enough for our needs (and is an upgrade from the S4’s 100 hp rating).
Wide Open Spaces
A large swathe of the Badlands property is an open floor plan, and one of the first types of terrain you encounter is sand. This first stop in the playground is great for roosting through the dunes, navigating whoops sections and playing in the various sand bowls that are available. Here, you can see the elevated position of this particular spot in the dunes, with countless sandy, spider-like hills branching out from the main road that originally guided you into the depths of the park.
Blasting Up The Arteries
The artery-like hills run perpendicular to the primary path into the park. They’re moderately-challenging at best, but the loose sand warrants some speed if you plan to negotiate them in two-wheel drive. We spent most of our time in this part of the park (hey, you can’t blame us for saving our new machine’s first trail-generated scratches for another day).
Something For Everyone
It’s hard to explain how so many different types of terrain can be packed into a little more than 800 acres, but somehow the Badlands Off Road Park pulls it off. In the age of side-by-sides, most trails cater to this vehicle group (as well as the Jeep and SUV crowd), but that’s not to say that dirt bike and ATV riders have been forgotten. In fact, bikes and sport quad owners can test or brush up on their racing skills at the park’s dedicated, full-size motocross track.
With a spool-type rear-end, RZRs have a knack for digging holes in two-wheel drive. Luckily, Polaris employs one of the most effective on-demand all-wheel drive systems in the side-by-side world. To try it out, we deliberately buried the rear tires on a loose sand hill, hit the button on the dash and immediately extracted ourselves once rear wheel spin was detected.
Whoops & Bowls
An impressive line of shallow (yet wide) whoop-dee-doos exists near the sand dunes area of the park (shown). And for those that enjoy globe of death-type movement, various sand bowls allow you to speed round and round until you’ve had enough.
You can’t ride the Badlands without taking a trip through the “tubes.” The gigantic buried culverts serve as drain tiles along the Badlands’ river trail, but double as one of the most unique features you’ll find at any OHV park. They pass through a hillside and dump water into a small pond on the other side. Following a big rain, the drop-off can measure several feet deep, but even when the water level isn’t up it’s a load of fun to splash in.
They also host Ultra4 racing at the Badlands. Check it out right here!