Feds to open Utah’s national parks to ATVs

Mike W.

Active member
The article probably does gloss over details. I can't speak with absolute authority but what I think is the case is that Utah allows ATVs and UTVs that meet certain criteria to get a license plate and registration similar to any other street-legal motorcycle.

Utah has a list of requirements like reflectors, lights, horn, muffler, blinkers, speedometer, windshield and they have to carry insurance as well. So it would be those I presume to be the OHVs being discussed, not just any random OHV.

I've experienced my share of hooligans and renters in UTVs and personally don't have a particularly high regard for them but if a street-legal dirt bike is OK on White Rim then I see the logical argument that a street-legal UTVs should also.
The was I understand it is they will only be allowed on paved roads. I believe the thought behind it is because Utah allows them on city streets they should be allowed to be driven in National Parks..State Parks allow them..I can't see hauling a UTV to Zion to drive the same road I'm driving my car on..But as we are all aware some people are crazy..
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
The was I understand it is they will only be allowed on paved roads. I believe the thought behind it is because Utah allows them on city streets they should be allowed to be driven in National Parks..State Parks allow them..I can't see hauling a UTV to Zion to drive the same road I'm driving my car on..But as we are all aware some people are crazy..
There were plenty in the Glen Canyon Rec Area south of the Maze district of Canyonlands NP, so I wouldn't bet against an increase of them. Also realize that a ton of them are rented locally. I didn't see anything that said they'd be limited to paved roads but that would be a significant clarification. There are no paved roads in the Maze, are there? Also driving the Grand View road in the Island in the Sky seems pointless in a UTV, it would be White Rim, Shafer and Potash that would be interesting and they are dirt.
 
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DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
I live in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. People are often driving their licensed UTVs in the neighborhood and to the grocery store. It’s silly, but do what you want.

I can’t imagine UTVs on the dirt roads in the Canyonlands - their speed and mobility may drastically increase the day-use traffic in permitted areas that typically only saw the campers that pulled the permit - the Dollhouse of The Maze comes to mind. These are sensitive areas that may suffer from increased traffic.
You need a day use permit to drive (or ride a bicycle as well) on White Rim and Elephant Hill (and some other roads in Needles). I don't think you technically need a permit to drive to the Dollhouse and back in a day but you would to overnight. You are right about UTVs being able to cover ground fast so I can see Maze day trips needing a permit now.
 

highwest

New member
The was I understand it is they will only be allowed on paved roads. I believe the thought behind it is because Utah allows them on city streets they should be allowed to be driven in National Parks..State Parks allow them..I can't see hauling a UTV to Zion to drive the same road I'm driving my car on..But as we are all aware some people are crazy..
This would be okay.

I’m concerned that this decision means that UTVs must be allowed in the same places as other licensed vehicles. Perhaps we need more information, but the article says, “Nov. 1, when these vehicles may be allowed on both main access roads and back roads like Canyonlands National Park’s White Rim and Arches’ entry points from Salt Valley and Willow Springs.”

I do not know if the number of day use permits is limited in all areas, I know it is it some, but the sheer volume of UTVs and the speed at which they can travel these backcountry routes may add a lot of pressure.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
This would be okay.

I’m concerned that this decision means that UTVs must be allowed in the same places as other licensed vehicles. Perhaps we need more information, but the article says, “Nov. 1, when these vehicles may be allowed on both main access roads and back roads like Canyonlands National Park’s White Rim and Arches’ entry points from Salt Valley and Willow Springs.”

I do not know if the number of day use permits is limited in all areas, I know it is it some, but the sheer volume of UTVs and the speed at which they can travel these backcountry routes may add a lot of pressure.
The move was ordered Tuesday by the the National Park Service’s acting regional director, Palmer “Chip” Jenkins, who directed a memo to Utah park superintendents instructing them to align their regulations with Utah law, which allows off-road vehicles to travel state and county roads as long as they are equipped with standard safety equipment and are registered and insured.

“This alignment with state law isn’t carte blanche to take their ATVs off road,” said agency spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo. “If people [drive] off road, they will be cited. Protection of these resources is paramount.”

Under the rule change, off-highway vehicles could roam Canyonlands’ Maze District and Arches’ Klondike Buffs — as long as they remain on designated routes. In general, ATVs would be allowed to travel roads that are open to trucks and cars.
The key statement seems to me to be that they are allowing ATVs/UTVs that Utah recognizes as street legal to be used the same as a regular motor vehicle. The vehicles Utah recognizes as street legal have windshields, blinkers, brake lights, a horn, carry insurance and get a license plate like a motorcycle. In this case "off road" means driving routes and trails the NPS already lets motor vehicles on so the better term is "off highway" I think.

They would compete with trucks for permits but since you have to assume the person driving one either trailered it there or somehow got to Moab or where ever that they likely would be using the UTV instead of driving their Super Duty or rented Jeep. So it may not actually be a lot of extra pressure, it's already tough to get permits. It's probably just a substitute vehicle for someone who was already considering the trip.

I think the question I have is how successful is the NPS going to be at making sure it's a licensed UTV and the Charlie-Foxtrot potential for rentals that are not street legal or owners bothering with the permitting system or making their UTV street legal and it being plated and insured.
 

STREGA

Explorer
Arizona allows ATV’s (quads), SxS and dirt bikes to become street legal as well. They are allowed here at the Grand Canyon to use the roads like any other car as long as they meet state regulations. You will see them here but they are not overwhelming the park by any means, a few of the park residents have them as well. There is not much in the way of dirt roads that are open to vehicle travel on the South Rim, the North Rim has more dirt roads that are open to vehicle travel but I don’t know if they allow SxS on them or not.
 

shade

Well-known member
I’m concerned that this decision means that UTVs must be allowed in the same places as other licensed vehicles. Perhaps we need more information, but the article says, “Nov. 1, when these vehicles may be allowed on both main access roads and back roads like Canyonlands National Park’s White Rim and Arches’ entry points from Salt Valley and Willow Springs.”
Yep, that's trail use, not paved roads.

I think the increased pressure could easily take the form of pressure to increase the number of permits for an area. We'll see how it goes, but maybe this will increase the number of backpackers that want to get away from all of the racket.
 

1stDeuce

Explorer
I for one am jealous of states like AZ and UT that allow ATV's/UTV's to be licensed for street use provided they meet certain criteria. Colorado allows me to do so for my motorcycle, which is a plated dirt bike, but they won't allow ATV's or UTV's to convert to a street legal title even if they meet all the DMV requirements. This makes no sense to me. I generally don't see how driving a properly equipped vehicle of any kind on the street harms anyone, aside from the operator perhaps, regardless of the vehicle's original designation. In my mind, it simply provides us with greater freedom, whether we choose to take advantage of that freedom or not.

As for the park service allowing UTV's on roads or trails that allow other licensed vehicles, it makes sense to me. I never understood why a non-plated dirtbike was forbidden to ride the White Rim, while the same bike with a plate was fine. It's not like turn signals are needed anywhere on the White Rim... Though I'd rather not have the loud piped UTV's blatting around in my national parks, the bro's with their diesel trucks and 6" exhaust pipes are already there, and I find most UTV's less obnoxious than bro-dozers.

For places requiring permits, they're not going to allow more permits, the additional vehicles will just compete for existing permits. For those that don't, I doubt there will be any real influx of traffic simply because it's not terribly fun to drive a UTV a great distance to get to many of those places.

I can't believe I just defended the one vehicle type that I generally despise... I must be off today. Or perhaps I'm just less off than normal... :)
 

AbleGuy

[Back] Roads Scholar
I for one am jealous of states like AZ and UT that allow ATV's/UTV's to be licensed for street use provided they meet certain criteria.
Yeah!
And while in Colorado you may have legal pot....we don’t in Arizona but we have very generous open carry and CCW laws.
 

1stDeuce

Explorer
Yeah!
And while in Colorado you may have legal pot....we don’t in Arizona but we have very generous open carry and CCW laws.
I could care less about the pot laws here. Aside from attracting a bunch of dirty hippies to the big cities, it doesn't much affect me at all, since I prefer to kill my brain cells with 🍺.

Colorado is also open carry, but getting a CCW requires a bit of "training". (Not much, but still not as good as constitutional carry, IMO.)

Colorado also is not allowing surplus military vehicles (HMMWV's specifically) to be titled and plated. There was a bill to allow it recently, but it got modified in committee to specifically DENY it instead of allow it.

Oops, we've really derailed. Well, we'll see how legalizing plated UTV's and ATV's on NPS roads affects things. My guess is it won't much at all. Have to revisit this thread in a couple years and see what time has to say...
 

MOguy

Explorer
This is how it is in our Forestry areas but we aren't that busy. All I can say is be careful. People get on 4wheelers and side by sides and loose their minds.

We get a sticker from the state that says we are good on forestry and one from the county that says we are good on all other dirt ROADS. There are specific use areas for UTV and ATVs only where they need a different sticker and pay a different fee.
 

dreadlocks

Well-known member
North Rim GC does allow SxS.. I found that out when researching the trail out to sublime point.. had found several reports of people doing it on an ATV..

however when I did the trail, I didnt see any other vehicles except for the two camped out at the point.. I never saw an ATV once the time I was there.. and we explored alot of the NF north of the park.. dont seem like they are a problem from my POV, but maybe I just went at the wrong time of the year and all the drunkard hooligans are back in school?

Bryce, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands all have ample ATV/OHV riding opportunities all around the park.. being able to ride from in the park to out of the park or vice versa dont seem to me to be that big of a deal IMO.. most all inner park roads are what 35mph max? at those speeds I dont think its a bad idea to open up alternative modes of transportation..

If I didnt know any better, I'd think many of you would want these parks shut down to everything but foot traffic.. wheels are wheels, if you got between two or eight of em your all the same.. everyone on these forums uses a wheeled vehicle to enjoy our parks, why are some okay but others so disparaged? Is this a case of **** you, I got mine or what?
 

highwest

New member
Is this a case of **** you, I got mine or what?
Partly :p

Glad to hear about your experiences at the North Rim.

A big concern is volume of traffic on off road trails where you need a permit to camp. In these spots, due to the distances involved, you usually only see the limited number of permit holders on the trail. But anyone can day trip these trails without a permit - so when ATVs and SxSs are allowed - will vehicle pressure increase? That remains to be seen.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
For some reason everyone wants the door to paradise to swing closed and lock behind them.
 
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dreadlocks

Well-known member
there's so many less restricted places in utah to rip ass and get your rocks off w/an OHV w/no traffic at all.. I dont see the national parks becoming a big magnet for people who wouldn't of done it anyhow in a vehicle.. this would be different in other states, but if your driving through a few national parks w/a trailer full of OHV's already, it sure would be nice to be able to gently explore a few national parks w/out dumping all the non street legal vehicles somewhere..

The mega toy hauler rigs in Utah have very high numbers, and the giant diesel trucks they build to pull em arent really great for back country.. at least not as good as the vehicles they are towing, so how many of those rigs simply go around all the national parks because what they tow are not street legal? Sure my bike is street legal, but my son's isint.. and thats why I left my dirt bikes at home when I went through all those national parks.. Was really only Grand Canyon we coulda used em and like hell I'll let him put around the rim of the GC.
 
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