First in a series of off-highway vehicle (OHV) articles by Lynn Blamires feature writer for My Local Utah
The pandemic did much to change the picture of travel all over the country. When air travel and cruises were shut down, people discovered Utah’s backcountry in a big way. People also bought the means to get to and enjoy the secluded recreation spots available in our great state. Almost 231,000 Off-Highway-Vehicles (OHVs) were registered in 2021 to ride Utah trails including those who purchased out-of-state permits. The term OHV as used here does not include Jeeps.
Finding a Place to Ride Is a Challenge for Newbies
Finding where to ride faces any new OHV owner. Utah boasts 80,000 miles of trail available to enjoy, but they can be pretty easy to hide in the 84,899 square miles that make up Utah.
I have said before that if you don’t get off the highways and into the backcountry you will never see the real Utah. Riding the interstate from Salt Lake to St. George one will pass by entire OHV trail systems with thousands of miles of trail and not be aware of any of them.
You may be a first-time OHV owner because of a friend who has one. Riding with a friend is the first rule of safety on the trail. Often that leads to riding with other friends and soon you have a group that likes to ride together, but do you know where to find them?
Here Are Some Suggestions on Finding OHV Trails in Utah:
- Go to Utah.gov – then go to Activities, drop down, and click on Off-Highway Vehicles. Click on Maps & Trails and scroll down to “Statewide ATV Day Rides Interactive Map” and open that. This will give you a view of the state that you can study. It shows trail systems large and small. Scroll down further to find Off-Highway Vehicle Maps. Here you will find 45 maps of trail systems in the state. Study these carefully to learn the best access points to the trails.
Join an OHV Club
- You will make new friends who enjoy the backcountry the same way you do. You will be riding trails with people who are familiar with them and should know how to ride responsibly.
Attend a Jamboree
- Attend one of the many OHV jamborees held around the state. Seventeen are scheduled for 2023, but that could change. There were new ones that opened in 2022. These give you some of the best ways to find new trails. Guides not only know the trails, they know the history of the area that you will ride. That is something I always enjoy.
Keep checking MyLocalUtah.com
- Stay tuned to My Local Utah, I will be spotlighting OHV trail systems with information on the systems and places of interest to visit.
Join Me and Ride Utah’s Amazing Trails
- I was on the trail 40 days this year on some fantastic rides. If you would like to join me in exploring Utah trails, send me an email. I will put you on a list of Riding Buddies and you will receive invitations to join me on the trails.
New Law Will Help Protect our Trails
I love the OHV trails in Utah’s backcountry. I am very interested in protecting them from damage by irresponsible riders. In the past, I have seen riders go around width-restricted gates and make new trails to get around snow banks early in the riding season. Just because a machine is powerful enough and capable enough doesn’t give anyone the right to go off designated trails for their own purposes.
A new law passed this year, goes into effect on the first day of 2023. January 1, 2023, a test will be required to certify that you know the rules for riding. The test is free for anyone 18 and older and will yield a certificate that is required to be carried like a driver’s license. The test will be offered online at Recreation.Utah.gov.
Younger Riders Are Required to Take a Safety Training Course
Those under 18 will be required to take a training course either online or from a hands-on course. The certificate earned will need to also be carried like a driver’s license. The ATV Safety Institute offers excellent training. Find out more at ATVsafety.org.
Certificate Is Required to Ride Utah Trails
Anyone who wants to ride or drive an OHV in Utah, whether a resident or not, is required to produce this certificate when approached by law enforcement. Riders found to be causing trail damage will be required to pay for repairs.
When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and use this new law to be better prepared to ride Utah’s backcountry.