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

minnesota atv laws

Minnesota is the 12th largest and 22nd most popular state in the United States; it is famous for its natural and cultural beauty. This state has several waterways, wilderness, historic sites, hiking trails, and cultural attractions. This feature makes it a great place to explore with an ATV.

Minnesota ATV laws include: ATVs are not to be operated along or on the roadway, slope, shoulder, or inside bank of a public road right of way of a county state-aid, highway, or a trunk. You can ride your ATV in Appleton Area Recreation, OHV Park, CC Andrews State Forest, and Thistledew ATV Trail. 

There are several ATV laws in Minnesota that all ATV riders must be aware of. There are things you should never do while operating an ATV, and there are places you should not operate an ATV in. This article will enlighten you on all those things. Let us look at the laws guiding the operation of ATVs in Minnesota.

minnesota state welcome

Minnesota ATV Laws

Minnesota classifies an ATV as a vehicle with at least 3 but no more than 6 non-pneumatic or low-pressure tires, a maximum width of 65 inches, and a total maximum dry weight of 2000 pounds.

In Minnesota, ATVs are divided into Class 1 ATVs, the regular and standard ATVs, and Class 2 ATVs, which are UTVs. ATVs with a maximum width of 50 inches are a Class 1 ATV, while an ATV with a maximum width of 65 inches is a Class 2 ATV.

Below are the ATV laws of Minnesota:

  • Class 1 ATVs can be operated in the slope, the outer bank, the ditch of a trunk, county highway, or county state aid only when making trail connections.
  • You must not operate an ATV in a tree nursery or a planting area in a manner that destroys or damages the stock.
  • Children below the age of 16 must undergo and complete an approved safety course before riding an ATV on public lands.
  • All ATV riders below age 16 must possess a Minnesota ATV safety certificate when riding an ATV on public land.
  • Children below age 12 can only operate a Class 1 ATV, and it must be on private property with permission from the landowner.
  • Every ATV in Minnesota must be registered as long as it belongs to a Minnesota resident.
  • A non-resident does not need to register their ATV as long as it has been registered in their state of residence and will not be operated for more than 30 days.
  • Non-residents need to get an ATV trail pass for their ATVs before operating it in Minnesota.
  • All ATV riders below age 18 must always wear a DOT-approved helmet when riding an ATV.
  • You can ride an ATV within the public road right of way of a county highway or a county state aid.
  • You cannot ride your ATV on a public road, street, or highway.
  • A road authority has the authority to prohibit the operation of ATVs on a public road after a public hearing.

Where Can You Ride An ATV In Minnesota?

Due to the large size of Minnesota, there are several places to ride an ATV. However, it is imperative to know the places where ATVs are allowed because there are trails and parks open to all off-road vehicles, except ATVs.

One of the best places to ride your ATV without breaking any law is on private property; you are good to go as long as it is your property or you have permission from the property owner. Nevertheless, we will still look at some of the public places to ride an ATV.

Appleton Area Recreation OHV Park

Appleton Area Recreation OHV Park is also known as Swift Country OHV Park; it is open daily all year round. This park offers about 20 miles of trails, dunes, a motocross track, and play areas. The terrain at this park has different obstacles and hazard levels; hence, it is suitable for riders of all levels.

It is open to off-road vehicles like ATVs, SUVs, Dune buggies, Motorcycles, SXSs, Sandrail 4x4s, Dirt bikes, Jeeps, and UTVs. You are required to possess an MN OHV permit to ride your vehicle at this park. There are many picnic areas with shaded gazebos in different areas of this park.

Night riding is not allowed at this park as the park is open from dawn till dusk. Camping and campfires are prohibited at Appleton Area Recreation OHV Park. All vehicles permitted at this park are required to have a spark arrestor and must not exceed the noise limit of 96 decibels.

CC Andrews State Forest

CC Andrews State Forest is open all year round except during the spring and deer hunting season. It has about 24 miles of trails that wind along a hardwood forest. To ride at this park, you must have an MN OHV Permit, and your vehicle must have a spark arrestor.

The maximum vehicle width in this area is 65 inches. The vehicles allowed are ATVs, Dirt bikes, UTVs, Motorcycles, and SXSs. Dune buggies, Jeeps, Sand rail 4x4s, and SUVs are prohibited. The terrain of the trail consists of sand, hardpack, dust, loose dirt, mud, rocks, and berms. The noise limit for vehicles in this area is 96 decibels.

The best time to ride in CC Andrews State Forest is after rain as the trail gets dusty during the dry season. Boat ramps, picnic tables, and parking spaces are all available in this area. Trail blazing is prohibited, and camping is allowed in certain areas of this area.

atvs parked in the forrest

Thistledew ATV Trail

Thistledew ATV Trail is part of George Washington State Forest; it is open from April till November. It is open to SXSs, ATVs, UTVs only; however, these vehicles must not exceed 65 inches in width. Other off-road vehicles are prohibited, such as Dirt bikes, Jeeps, Dune buggies, Motorcycles, SUVs, and Sand-rail 4x4s.

During the winter season, snowmobiles are permitted on this trail. To ride in this ATV trail, you must have an MN OHV Permit, and your vehicle must have either an end cap or a spark arrestor exhaust silencer. All riders below the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet when riding. Trail-blazing is not allowed at this trial.

There is a campground available at Thistledew ATV Trail; a tent costs $17 while an RV costs $17 also. The terrain at this trail is mostly hard-packed and smooth; hence, it is mostly suitable for novice riders. The campground at this trail has 23 sites and also provides direct access to the trail.

Where Can’t You Ride An ATV In Minnesota?

As mentioned earlier, not all areas in Minnesota are open to ATVs; it is your responsibility as an ATV rider to know the places you cannot ride an ATV. When you ride an ATV in a prohibited area, there are inevitable consequences. You cannot ride your ATV on any public roadway, highway, or street.

You cannot ride your ATV on frozen public waters, agricultural land, in-state historical sights, and wildlife management areas. It is illegal to ride an ATV on any state forest land designated or posted as closed to motorized use.

Final Thoughts

Minnesota is also known as The Land Of 10,000 Lakes as there are several lakes there. It is a very beautiful state with many attractions to explore; one of the best ways to explore this beautiful state is by going on an ATV ride.

Next time you consider which state in the United States to ride an ATV, you can add Minnesota to your list. However, it is imperative to comply with all ATV laws in Minnesota during your ATV rides.

By Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.

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