Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon »

Need to Know

To have the best riding experience possible, here are several tips to consider before heading out on a ride:

A well-planned trip makes for an enjoyable and safe ride. Contact the land manager of your destination before you go; ensure that the OHV area is open and check on trail and weather conditions.

Dress in layers to prepare for changing weather. Wear appropriate protective gear.

Reserve a campsite in advance if you are going on an extended trip.

Ride with someone; never go alone.

Always let someone know where you are going, and when you plan on returning. Consider leaving a map of the riding area with that person. If you need help, they will know where to look. Know the rules of the OHV area before you go.

Make sure your machine is not too loud for the area and that you have the proper equipment installed.

Keep your machine in good shape. Always inspect your machine before each trip to ensure it is in good mechanical shape.

Carry the basics with you on the trail or dunes, including:

  • Water and snacks
  • Basic tools to make on-the-trail repair
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Extra spark plugs
  • A tow strap
  • Waterproof matches or lighter
  • Tire repair kit
  • A cell phone, CB or two-way radio
  • Duct tape
  • Knife
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map of riding area, compass or GPS unit

Always take advantage of safety training opportunities. The more familiar and comfortable you are with your vehicle, its operation and the riding environment, the better you’ll be. Even the most experienced riders can learn something new.

Prepared riders wear off-road safety gear every time they ride. Helmet, goggles, gloves, long-sleeve shirt and pants and over the ankle boots help reduce the chance of injury.

Ride defensively – always be prepared for the reactions of other riders and hazards that may appear. Keep your eyes moving, searching the terrain and environment several seconds ahead within your travel path.

Avoid overriding your sight distance; always ride at a speed that allows you to stop safely if a hazard appears. The faster you go, the less time you have to react and make decisions.

Always scout an area before riding at higher speeds. Traveling at high speed in unfamiliar terrain is a common cause of crashes.

Always ride slowly near crowds and in camping areas. Remember that small children and pets may be present. Showing off in these situations is a recipe for tragedy.

Do what you can to prevent rollovers. Be aware of steep terrain, turning momentum and speed. A vehicle rollover is the most common type of incident.

Travel only on designated roads and trails. Know the boundaries of the designated ATV area and stay inside them.

Become familiar with landmarks. They help keep you oriented and can be used to direct help.

Stay on trails to avoiding widening them.

Always ride with a partner or in a group; this ensures help will be nearby in case of mechanical problems, accidents or illness.

Do not ride double. Never carry a passenger unless your ATV is designed for passengers.

Never allow anyone to operate a vehicle that is too big for them.


​OPRD is proud to partner with the off-road riding industry’s nationally recognized safety training organizations to provide riding tips and practices. The ATV Safety Institute (ASI), The Motorcycle Safety Foundation DirtBike School (MSF – DirtBike School), and the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA) have provided the following riding tips and practice guides. No matter your skill level or level of experience, there’s always something to learn (or to serve as a refresher) when it comes to riding practices.

Class I (quad) – ASI
Class III (off-road motorcycle) – MSF DirtBike School
Class IV (Side by side) – ROHVA

ATVs and Hunting – ATVs are popular vehicles for hunting. Hunters must follow the same rules as other ATV operators. This includes displaying an ATV operating permit, carrying an ATV Safety Education Card, observing the same training and equipment requirements, adhering to sound level regulations and riding only on designated routes.

Scouting and retrieving game must be done on designated trails and roads. Harvested game can be carried by hand to a road or trail and then taken by vehicle. Game shouldn’t be shot if it can’t be packed out. Leaving a new set of cross country tracks invites others to follow and creates a dead end trail for future riders.


  • No hunting or harassing animals from a snowmobile, ATV or passenger vehicle.

Hunting Exception: A qualified disabled hunter may obtain an “Oregon Disabilities Hunting and Fishing Permit” to hunt from a motor-propelled vehicle, except while the vehicle is in motion or on any public road or highway, or within Cooperative Travel Management Areas as per General Hunting Regulations published by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

  • Do not shoot from an ATV.

  • Do not shoot from or across a public right-of-way or railroad right-of-way.

  • Do not carry loaded firearms on an ATV.

Note: A loaded firearm is one having live ammunition in the chamber or arrows out of a quiver (ORS 821.240). A person who has a license to carry a concealed handgun is allowed to carry a loaded firearm on an ATV.

  • Do not cast artificial light from a motor vehicle while in possession of a weapon; or cast an artificial light upon a game mammal, predatory animal or livestock from within 500 feet of a motor vehicle while in possession of a weapon.

  • Always carry your ATV Safety Education Card.


  • Stay on designated trails and roads. Respect closed roads and trails.

  • Know and understand the meaning of trail signs and vehicle symbols.

  • Remember that other hunters may be in the area on foot. Respect other hunters’ rights.

  • Do not drink while riding ATVs and hunting. Laws concerning driving under the influence of intoxicants also apply to ATVs.

  • Limit ATV use in and around campgrounds. Be respectful of other campers’ desires for quiet and minimal disruption.
  • Avoid driving an ATV in wet conditions, wetlands, streams and shorelines.

In Oregon, most ATV incidents happen on the dunes!… and most are preventable

Do your part. Be prepared before you ride!

(Please note: An ATV Safety Education Card is required for the operation of most off-road vehicles)

Be Aware of Hazards

  • Razorbacks or “slip face”: Located on the downwind sides of dunes where loose sand creates steep drop-offs. Do not cross straight over a razorback. Approach dune crest at an angle so you are able to scan the terrain and look for other riders. Use caution as there may be other riders approaching from the opposite side of the crest. Travel at a safe speed that will allow you time to react appropriately

  • Deep Depressions or “Witch’s Eye”: Deep depressions typically located within hillsides can vary in size and be hard to see. If you approach one, slow down and let others know

  • Riding on Dry Sand that changes to Wet Sand & Vice Versa: Traveling through changing terrain can cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Always ride at a safe speed to stay in control of your vehicle

Be Seen and Be Aware of Others

  • Have a highly visible red or orange flag that is at least 9ft above ground so others can see you

  • Always be alert to your surroundings – be aware of others, obstacles and hazards around you

  • Practice defensive riding habits – always look ahead in your travel path so you are able to make controlled adjustments in order to avoid others, potential obstacles and hazards

  • Avoid jumping – if jumping, it should only be done with extreme caution and be appropriate for the conditions of the riding environment. Always have a spotter at the top of a dune to make sure the area is clear of other riders, vehicles, obstacles and hazards

Always Wear Protective Gear

  • Helmet – be sure the helmet is DOT Certified and in good condition

  • Goggles – Maximize and maintain terrain visibility at all times. Wearing orange or yellow colored lenses can help you see better during the day and clear lenses at night

  • Gloves – Protect your hands while maintaining a comfortable grip

  • Long Sleeve Shirt and Long Pants – proper clothing can help provide comfort and protect your skin from the elements

  • Sturdy Over-the-Ankle Boots – Full ankle and foot support can provide protection from vehicle heat and metal while maintaining underfoot traction

Be Speed Conscious

  • Never override your sight distance

  • Ride at safe speeds that are appropriate to the conditions of your riding environment allowing you time to react to other riders, obstacles and hazards

  • Always keep speed low in all camping and staging areas

Know Your Limits and the Limits of Your Vehicle

  • Seek additional training to become a better and safer rider

  • Do not ride outside of your comfort level

  • Become familiar with your vehicle know its limitations

  • Temper the urge to impress others as the consequences can become serious

  • Do not ride double on quads and dirt bikes as they are not designed for two people

  • Prevent rider fatigue – after a long day, your body and mind can become fatigued and unable to react quickly to others, obstacles and hazards. Be sure you’re rested before riding and be alert at all times

  • Prevent rollovers – be aware of steep terrain, turning momentum and speed as they can contribute to one of the most common type of incidents on the dunes

Cognitive and Self-Awareness Check

  • Don’t consume anything that will inhibit your ability to use good judgement and operate a vehicle safely

  • Don’t let your guard down and let complacency get in the way – always be alert to your surroundings

  • Don’t be overconfident – even the most experienced riders can get into trouble

Plan Ahead and Become Familiar with Your Environment

  • Know the laws and rules and make sure your vehicle has an ATV Permit. (buy online)

  • Know your riding area – download a digital map with GPS tracking or take a hard copy map with you

  • Know your landmarks – they help keep you oriented and can be used to direct help

  • Ride with others and let others know where you are riding

  • Ride with an experienced rider that is familiar with the area

  • Take a cell phone or other communication device in case help is needed. Note that cell coverage may be limited

  • Prepare appropriately for the weather conditions and have a first aid kit on hand

  • Take water and snacks to stay hydrated and to keep your energy level up

  • Take a tool kit and tow strap in case you have mechanical issues

  • Dunes are constantly changing – what was once familiar ground can quickly change by wind and rain

Do You Have Your ATV Safety Education Card?

  • Class I (quad, 3-wheeler) – All operators are required to have an ATV Safety Card

  • Class III (off-road motorcycle) – All operators are required to have an ATV Safety Card

  • Class IV (side-by-side) – Youth operators under age 16 are required to have an ATV Safety Card

  • Youth under age 16 need to complete both online training and hands-on training to obtain an ATV Safety Card

  • Free online ATV Safety Education Course –

Youth Riders

  • Should always demonstrate proper Rider Fit – youth riders should only ride appropriately sized ATVs and should never operate a vehicle that is too big for them to control

  • Should always wear a securely fastened DOT certified helmet

  • Should always be supervised by an adult that has an ATV Safety Card and is able to provide immediate assistance and direction to the youth

Wildfires – Many ATV areas close their trails in the summer, due to high fire danger. Most ATV areas require USFS-approved spark arresters on ATVs to reduce the chance of starting a wildfire.

Protecting Resources – Riding off designated trails can damage sensitive areas, often forcing agencies to spend more time closing illegally created trails and less time maintaining or creating new, designated trails.

Logging and Construction – Both are common in Oregon. Check before you go.

Trail Signs – Learn how to read trail signs to determine the difficulty of a trail and the types of ATVs allowed.

Forest Roads – Forest roads are typically open to ATVs. Check road conditions, and remember that many forest roads are open to two-way traffic. Keep low speeds and watch for other vehicles. It could be a log truck or another ATV—you never know.

Keep Your Lights On – The forest canopy creates shady areas that make it hard for others to see you coming. Keep your lights on for safety!

Bright Clothing – Wear bright clothing, especially during hunting season.

Hunting Season – Find out if hunting is allowed where you ride.

​The high desert is a fragile ecosystem. Please ride ATVs on designated trails and road systems only.

Sound Carries – In the high desert, natural sound buffers such as hills and valleys are few and far between. Keep muffler and exhaust systems in good working order, and at or below the state’s recommended decibel levels.

Fences and Cattle - Do not cut fences. Respect the rights of property owners. Most central and eastern Oregon public lands are open to cattle grazing. Look out for cattle and slow down when nearing them. It is against the law to chase or harass livestock, game animals or any other wildlife.

Wildfires - Many ATV areas close their trails in the summer, due to high fire danger. Most ATV areas require USFS approved spark arresters on ATVs to reduce the chance of starting a wildfire.

Weeds - Weeds are non-native plants that displace natural vegetation. Weeds can increase soil erosion and degrade water quality. Eradication is difficult and expensive. The best way to get rid of weeds is to prevent them from spreading!

  • Stay on the established roads and trails.

  • Check and wash your ATVs, pick-ups and trailers before and after a drive. Seeds can stick to tires, radiators and the undersides of vehicles.

  • Clean your clothes of any weed seeds.

  • Do not pick flowers or noxious weeds.

  • Do not pick and transport wildflowers that you cannot identify.

  • Do not camp in weed-infested areas.

Report weed-infested sites to the land manager or the Oregon Department of Agriculture Weed Hotline: (866)-INVADER (468-2337).

Riding responsibly is the best way to protect your access to riding areas in Oregon.  Many other users enjoy the same areas as well.  Here are a few tips to ensure OHV’s continue to have access:

Riders should never operate their off-road vehicle on private lands unless they have permission from the land owner or the land is posted open for ATV use. Oftentimes, private property or private timberlands are located adjacent or within OHV riding areas. Impacts from OHV use cannot be effectively managed and maintained on private lands, and reflect negatively on the perception of OHV users and the sport in general.

Know where you’re permitted to ride and where you’re not.

Restricted areas should never be entered with a motorized vehicle. These areas are restricted for many reasons, such as protecting wildlife, controlling erosion, aiding reforestation efforts, and protecting fragile vegetation or soil. Riding in these areas can cause permanent harm to the vegetation, damage or destruction to nesting areas for birds, and even create fire hazards. Entering a restricted area has strong penalties including fines and vehicle impoundment.

Respect seasonal closures. They are needed to minimize damage to the trails and allow time for animals to reproduce undisturbed.

Avoid wet areas and waterways. They are a vital resource for many plants and animals.

If you must cross water, ride carefully and only at designated spots.

Cutting switchbacks and taking shortcuts damages trails and causes erosion.

Share the trails and make friends with other trail users.  Respect their rights to the trail too.

View animals from a distance.  When they flee, they use valuable energy reserves.

Know and respect the sound limits where you ride.

Keep your RPMs and speed down and steady when you are around non-riders.

Always use a spark arrester.  It doesn’t sacrifice power, but can save the forest from fires.

Maintain your exhaust system.  Remember, noise doesn’t equal horsepower.  Too little exhaust back-pressure can actually cause less power and engine damage.

If you “pack it in, pack it out.”  Trash is an eyesore and it attracts scavengers that endanger other wildlife. Even biodegradable materials such as food scraps take time to break down.

​To leave a good impression, you need the right information.  In an age where outdoor recreation is the sport of choice, it is our responsibility to exercise responsible outdoor practices.  Tread Lightly! has a simple message:  Conserve our environment!  Make the commitment to follow and promote the Tread Lightly! Principles:

  • Travel Responsibly on land by staying on designated roads, trails and areas. Go over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trails. Cross streams only at designated fords. When possible, avoid wet, muddy trails. On water, stay on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.
  • Respect the Rights of Others including private property owners, all recreational trail users, campers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed. Leave gates as you found them. Yield right of way to those passing you or going uphill. On water, respect anglers, swimmers skiers, boaters, and divers and those on or near shore.  
  • Educate Yourself prior to your trip by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies, planning for your trip, taking recreation skills classes, and knowing how to operate your equipment safely.
  • Avoid Sensitive Areas on land such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams. Stay on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitats and sensitive soils from damage. Don’t disturb historical, archeological or paleontological sites. On water, avoid operating your watercraft in shallow waters or near shorelines at high speeds.
  • Do Your Part by modeling appropriate behavior, leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species, and repairing degraded areas.

For more information, contact Tread Lightly at

Oregon Revised Statutes