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Iowa ATV Laws: Where And How To Ride Your ATV Legally

Iowa ATV Laws: Where And How To Ride Your ATV Legally

Iowa is bordered by three rivers to the east and west and is very popular for its landscape of rolling plains. There are several parks in this state, most of which are popular places to ride an ATV. Riding ATVs in Iowa is very fun and exciting as you can explore the state and partake in various ATV events.

Iowa ATV law includes: all ATV owners must register their ATVs and always display a valid Iowa DNR registration decal on their ATV. All ATV operators and passengers must wear helmets. You can ride your ATV in Riverview OHV Park, Bluff Creek ATV Park, and Lakeview OHV Park. 

Riding an ATV is exciting and fun; however, it can also be dangerous if you are not careful enough. Hence, ATV laws help protect both ATV riders and other non-riders; these laws are strictly enforced. Let us look at the ATV laws in Iowa.

iowa state flag

Iowa ATV Laws

Iowa classifies an ATV as a motorized vehicle with three to six off-highway tires, a dry weight less than 1200 pounds, an engine displacement limited to less than 1000 cubic centimeters, a handlebar for control, and a seat for the operator. There are several ATV laws in Iowa you should be aware of. Below are Iowa ATV laws:

  • Before you operate an ATV on any public land in Iowa, you must register it with the DNR and obtain a registration certificate for it.
  • While operating an ATV, the operator must always have the ATV's registration certificate and must be able to provide it when requested by a law enforcement officer.
  • All ATVs operating in Iowa must display a registration decal.
  • ATVs should not be operated on any highway except for agricultural purposes and must be between sunrise and sunset.
  • ATVs are allowed on public highways when the operation is used for surveying, mowing, maintenance on a snowmobile, or installing approved trail signs.
  • Anyone operating an ATV on a highway must have a valid driver's license and not exceed the speed limit of 35 mph.
  • Non-residents of Iowa can operate an ATV only when they have obtained a user's permit.
  • All ATVs in Iowa must have an effective and suitable muffler system and a brake system.
  • Before you operate an ATV within the hours of sunset and sunrise, you must make sure the ATV has a functioning headlight and taillight, which must be illuminated during such operation.
  • It is illegal to operate an ATV in a reckless, careless, or negligent manner that can endanger the life and properties of others.
  • You must never operate an ATV under the influence of habit-forming drugs, narcotics, or intoxicating liquor.
  • ATV operators aged 12 to 17 must take and pass an ATV education course and possess an education certificate before riding an ATV on public land or a designated area.
  • You must not operate an ATV in any wildlife area, game management area, refuge area, preserve, or any portion of a meandered or non meandered stream.
  • When riding an ATV, you must not carry more people than the ATV was designed for.

Where Can You Ride An ATV In Iowa?

Iowa is famous for its hardwood forests, flat plains, and rolling hills. However, it also has a scenic landscape and diverse terrain, making it an excellent location for ATV operations.

There are different trails and OHV parks in this state where you can ride your ATV, learn how to ride an ATV, and participate in different ATV events. Let us take a look at some of the best places to ride an ATV in Iowa.

Riverview OHV Park

Riverview OHV Park is a 180-acre property bordered by the Cedar River and offers two natural terrain motocross tracks and miles of wooded trails. Although this park is open all year round, it can be closed temporarily due to bad weather conditions. You must have an Iowa DNR sticker to ride at this park, and your vehicle must have a spark arrestor.

The maximum width of permitted vehicles is 65 inches, and the noise limit is 96 decibels. The off-road vehicles allowed at this OHV park are SXSs, ATVs, Dirt bikes, UTVs, and Motorcycles. Others like dune buggies, Jeeps, Sand rail 4x4s, and SUVs are prohibited.

All riders and passengers are required to wear an approved helmet during a ride. At Riverview OHV Park, camping, campfires, night riding, and trail blazing are prohibited. Also, there are no fees for entry, riding, and parking at this park. All riders at this park must have a valid driver's license, and all vehicles must have seat belts.

atv parked on cliff over in colorado

Bluff Creek ATV Park

Bluff Creek ATV Park was previously a strip mine before it was transformed into an ATV park. This ATV park offers 20 miles of steep hill climbs, mud pits, woods trail, gravel pits, and four motocross tracks. It is open all year round but closes temporarily due to bad weather. Riding is only permitted from dawn till dusk.

This park has a separate track for beginner riders and a track called Gravity Cavity for expert riders. A campground is also available at this park; there are 10 primitive sites, a fire ring, picnic tables, lantern holder, and BBQ grill. Restrooms with flush toilets, water spigots, and shower stalls are also available.

All vehicles operating at Bluff Creek ATV Park must have an Iowa DNR sticker and not exceed the noise limit of 96 decibels. The only vehicles permitted at this park are ATVs, Motorcycles, and Dirt bikes; others like SXSs, UTVs, SUVs, Jeeps, Dune buggies, and Sand rail 4x4s are prohibited.

Lakeview OHV Park

Lakeview OHV Park is open to Dirt bikes, SXSs, ATVs, Motorcycles, and UTVs only. This park has 10 miles of hill climbs, wood and sand trails, mud bogs, and two motocross tracks. Vehicles exceeding the width of 65 inches are not allowed at this park. All riders and passengers operating at this park are required to wear a protective helmet.

This OHV park is open all year round from dawn till dusk; night riding and overnight parking are not allowed. All vehicles operating at this park must have a spark arrestor exhaust silencer or an end cap installed. The terrain at this park consists of loose dirt, berms, trees, hardpack, water crossings, mud, and dust.

At Lakeview OHV Park, you do not have to pay any fee for entry, riding, and parking. The amenities at this park include restrooms and a spacious parking area. You must have an Iowa DNR sticker to ride at this park. DNR officers regularly patrol this park and make sure all riders are not violating any law.

Where Can’t You Ride An ATV In Iowa?

As an ATV rider, you must know that not all areas are open to ATVs. Some areas are closed to ATV either by the government, the property owner, or management. In Iowa, you cannot ride your ATV on a public highway, snowmobile trail, and public streets.

Fan Ridge MX is another area that prohibits the operation of ATVs; motorcycles and dirt bikes are the only vehicles allowed in this area. You cannot ride your ATV in any game management area, wildlife area, preserve, and refuge areas.

Final Thoughts

Riding an ATV in Iowa is a good way to explore the state; however, you can only enjoy your ride when riding in a perfect area, and there are zero interferences. With this article, we have provided everything you need to know about riding an ATV in Iowa; as long as you stick to riding in the appropriate area and abiding by the laws, you will have a smooth ride.

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