The Holly Oaks ORV Park is the only off-road vehicle park in southeastern Michigan.

The Holly Oaks ORV Park is the only off-road vehicle park in southeastern Michigan.

Photo provided by Desiree Stanfield


Holly Oaks ORV Park offers thrills, adventure for off-road enthusiasts

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published May 11, 2022

 Since it opened in 2020, some off-road vehicle enthusiasts in southeastern Michigan have discovered Holly Oaks ORV Park.

Since it opened in 2020, some off-road vehicle enthusiasts in southeastern Michigan have discovered Holly Oaks ORV Park.

Photo provided by Desiree Stanfield

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HOLLY — Since 2020, southeast Michigan residents who enjoy off-road vehicles have had a local outlet where they can partake in their hobby.

Holly Oaks ORV Park opened to the public on Sept. 17, 2020, making it the first off-road vehicle park in southeast Michigan.

The park is located in Holly and is operated by the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Parks and Recreation Division.

In 2017, the DNR, supported by a $2.9 million Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, purchased 235 acres on a former mining and gravel site.

In 2019, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved a 20-year operating agreement, with an additional 10-year option, with the DNR.

After its inaugural season, Holly Oaks ORV Parks’ second full operating year is underway.

According to a press release, the site is a “unique destination” for all types of ORVs, including full-size vehicles, side-by-sides, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles.

Park Supervisor Jamie Weasel provided more details.

“We have about a 108-acre ORV park that has hill climbs, trails, obstacles (and) different things to ride on and explore,” he said. “You can use pretty much any type of vehicle in the park that’s classified as an ORV — side-by-sides, Jeeps, 4x4 trucks, motorcycles, quad four-wheelers, anything of that nature. It’s a park for people who like off-roading.”

From Weasel’s perspective, local ORV enthusiasts have appreciated having access to a park that’s closer to home than some of the other options in the state.

“People really enjoy it and like that it’s close enough where they can come here and have a day of fun and do some things, but not have to travel all the way to the west side of Michigan or travel two or three hours up north,” he said. “It’s close enough where they can come here, enjoy their day and still drive back home. There’s over a million people that live in Oakland County, so we’ve got a lot of people that have off-road vehicles, and now they’ve got a place where they can go that’s probably a half hour to 45 minutes away, spend a day and still go home at night.”

Weasel estimated that patrons typically spend four to six hours at the park after arrival.

He said that approximately 20,000 people went to the park last season.

The high volume of patrons did not come as a surprise to him.

“We thought that people would enjoy it, that it’s close enough to all the major population centers of southeast Michigan, so it attracts people that want to come and have fun for a day, and then be able to go home at night,” Weasel said. “And the people that come out, the feedback has been great about how the park is laid out and what they can do in the park.”

Aside from being an employee at Holly Sports, which rents out ORVs, including to Holly Oaks customers, Ryan McAvoy also personally takes advantage of the park’s services.

“They have a good selection on just about everything to do, from a track, to hill climbs, to mud pits, to sand, all kinds of stuff,” McAvoy said. “It’s a good layout; little bit of everything.”

Before Holly Oaks became an option, McAvoy used to travel up north to access an ORV park.

He said the close proximity is “way better than driving all the way up north.”

“I could just go right there, have a full day and not have to leave (after) half a day,” McAvoy said.

Prior to opening, Weasel said, an ORV park had been “in the works” since the early 2000s.

With the park property being owned by the state and leased to the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department, Weasel said it is “the only venture like this in Michigan.”

“It was wanted by the state,” Weasel  said. “They knew that there was a lot of off-road vehicle owners in this area of Michigan, that people were requesting this type of park and this type of facility, and they didn’t have a way to service them, so they were actively looking for a place to build it and host it.”

Aside from a shorter ride for Metro Detroit residents and being owned by the state, Weasel said, there is a “variety” of other things that separate Holly Oaks from other ORV parks in Michigan.

“This is an old gravel mine and a sand mine, so there’s some pretty steep hills and some pretty good climbs and things, whereas some of the other off-road parks are kind of mud bogs, where people are going there just to mud; they’re just muddy areas,” he said. “People love that, too, but this one has a little bit of both, where you’ve got hill climbs, you’ve got technical areas and there are a couple muddy areas, too. So if you want to get muddy, get stuck and get pulled out, we’ve got that, too.”

Those who have already enjoyed what Holly Oaks offers will have even more to like this summer, as Weasel said there is room for expansion.

“There’s going to be an additional 60 acres of park later this year,” he said. “In each of the next three years, an additional 20 acres will be added, so the park will more than double its size in the next three years.”

Weasel expects that the additional acres will be ready sometime in mid-summer.

That’s not the only change that patrons can expect.

“The park is utilizing grant funds from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to reshape perimeter berms and add evergreen tree plantings, which will continue to reduce noise and dust while boosting the overall appearance in the park,” Principal Planner Jon Noyes stated via a press release.

In order to reduce noise, guest vehicles cannot exceed 94 dBA, which is a weighted scale of decibels adjusted for human hearing used to judge loudness, and all vehicles must have a muffler and a spark arrester.

Those who like to operate remote-controlled cars also have something to look forward to when visiting the park.

“In June, Holly Oaks will welcome RC cars/trucks with a 1.5 acre-track and crawling course,” the release states. “There will be no additional fee to enjoy this feature, but participants will need to pay for park entry to drive back to the site.”

Holly Oaks is open 2-8 p.m. Fridays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in May.

For a single-day adult operator, the cost is $30.

The price for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who are operating their own vehicles is $15.

Adult supervision and a signed waiver are required for youths to ride an ORV.

A Michigan Department of Natural Resources ORV Safety Certificate is also required for all youth riders.

The certificate is issued upon successful completion of all approved ORV safety course components.

In addition to the daily vehicle fee, an annual DNR ORV license, which is $26.25, and a trail permit, which is $10, are needed to enter the park.

Daily vehicle entry tickets can be purchased online up to five days in advance of a visit to the park.

The $15 rate for youths is only available in person at the gate.

For more information, visit OaklandCountyParks.com or call (248) 653-0710.

Emails can be sent to hollyoaksorvpark@oakgov.com.

Holly Oaks ORV Park is located at 14551 Shields Road in Holly.

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