First Ride at Holly Oaks ORV Park

Categories: Jeep® Life 

By: Josh Welton

The bug hits, and it’s over. A little taste of taking the Jeep® Gladiator Rubicon off-road was all it took; now, I’m kicking up dust down two tracks and crawling through swamps in my dreams! While it’s certainly nice having some family property to mess around with out on the west side of the state, soon metro-Detroiters are gonna have a legit off-road playground, the Holly Oaks ORV Park in Holly, Michigan.

bull dozer

Holly Oaks doesn’t officially open until 2020, but recently, I attended a sneak preview of the massive park just north of Detroit. Over 100 acres are either partially developed or are in the process of being developed, while the remainder of the 235-acre plot will be accessible by 2023.

jeep gladiator driving up a hill

There were guides giving tours in Jeep® Wranglers and Gladiators, but a couple of my friends were there, so I got a couple of thrill rides. Shaun Day, driver of all things cool and fast, took me out first. Admittedly, that jaunt was in a race truck, a right-hand drive diesel. That was enough cool factor.

We followed a trail that gave us a quick look at what the park will offer. A lot of elevation change, and terrain that ranged from mud to rock, from an open dirt bowl to wooded acres and ponds and everything in between.

ORV course

There were a few organizers and officials on hand who, when talking to us at dinner, emphasized how much work so many people have donated to the project, like the landscaping contractor who let his bulldozer driver spend countless hours massaging the topography.

The county and the state will jointly manage the off-road park; there’s a contract for them to work together on it for 20 years, with an option for 10 more.

A gravel pit and salt mines once operated on the land, but those resources have dwindled. Now, it’s time for recreation.

jeep wranglers

Another friend, Matt Zurbrick, has also put a lot of time and effort into bringing this dirt vision to reality. He was there having a blast, wringing out a few very capable bone stock Gladiators, and a couple of modified Jeep® 4x4s. The one I wanted a ride in was the 6.4L HEMI® engine-swapped Wrangler with a built suspension.

jeep gladiator driving down a hill

There are many elements to the park, but right now, the ginormous dirt bowl that drops down off the grassy field where I parked the Dodge Challenger SRT® Demon is what stands out immediately. The high banked half circle flattens out into a track that flies into a step up before a turn loops you 180°, back towards the bowl.

jeep vehicle overlooking an ORV course

Matt took me out for a handful of laps in the angry-voiced HEMI engine-powered Jeep® Wrangler. I tried taking a video, but the choppy surface made it difficult, and I decided just to enjoy the ride. He was just teasing what the Wrangler is capable of and what the track will be and it was still a blast.

His orange modified Wrangler was there too, and while I didn’t see it out in the dirt, I did see it race an SRT Demon at Roadkill Nights on Woodward Avenue.

Once the park opens, there will be a per vehicle or person fee for a day pass and an ORV license and trail permit will be required. I can’t wait to grab a Jeep® 4×4 and get dirty myself.

jeep vehicle overlooking an ORV course

*Always drive within your ability and experience level and consistent with conditions. Always off-road responsibly in appropriate areas.

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Most Metro Detroit Jeepers can not wait for Holly’s ORV park to open, My company Wranglher and a few of our Jeep Gales were the tour guides park for media day. We had the opportunity to hear the stories from the commissioners themselves of the years that have been put into this becoming a reality. I am beyond excited for opening day and was happy to be a part of both media day and The Detroit4fest!!