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

missouri atv laws

Missouri is a state with a wide variety of terrains, from the gentle hills to the fertile plains, lowlands, and other terrains. Missouri is located in the center of the United States, and it shares a common border with eight states. To the east, Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee, to the north Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska to the west, and Arkansas to the south.

The major ATV law in Missouri is that ATVs are prohibited from operating on Missouri highways, except they are owned by the government or used for agricultural purposes. It can only be operated during daylight, between sunrise and sunset. You can go ATV riding in St. Joe Park and Chadwick ATV trails.

The ATV laws in Missouri are quite different from other states. So, you should not assume that it is the same ATV laws enforced in Kentucky or any other neighboring states that are enforced in Missouri.

missouri welcome sign

Missouri ATV Laws

According to Missouri state, an ATV is any motorized vehicle designed for off-way use exclusively and is 50 inches or less in width, has a dry weight of 1500 pounds or less, and travels on three or more non-highway tires. Below are some of Missouri ATV laws.

  • All ATVs are prohibited from operating on any highway in Missouri, except they are government-owned or operated for agricultural purposes.
  • All ATVs authorized to operate on Missouri highways can only do so between sunrise and sunset.
  • All operators of ATV on highways must have a valid driver’s license with them at all times.
  • All ATVs operating on highways must not travel at speeds greater than 30 mph.
  • No teenager below the age of 16 can ride an ATV without the direct supervision of an adult.
  • It is a violation to own an ATV without possessing a certificate of ownership issued by the Department of Revenue.
  • You must apply for a certificate of ownership within 30 days of purchasing an ATV.
  • If you do not apply for a certificate of ownership after purchasing an ATV, you will receive a $25 penalty every 30 days until you apply.
  • All certificates of ownership and other essential documents expire when an ATV is sold.
  • It is not required to register an ATV owned and operated by the government.
  • It is not required to register an ATV if it has a valid registration in another state. However, if the ATV will remain in Missouri for more than 30 days, it must be registered.
  • You need to provide these documents when you want to title and register your ATV, certificate of title or manufacturer’s statement of origin, Notarized Lien Release, and a signed application for Missouri title and license.
  • You need to pay the following fees when you want to register and title your ATV, a $6 processing fee, $8.50 title fee, $10.25 registration fee, state sales tax of 4.225 percent, and local sales tax.
  • After registering an ATV, you will receive a decal that will be renewed every three years, and you must always have the decal with you when operating the ATV.
  • It is forbidden to operate an ATV on private property without seeking the permission of the owner beforehand.
  • Operating or riding an ATV in any river or stream is prohibited, except within the private property boundary, and you have permission to operate there.
  • It is prohibited to operate an ATV beside or on railroad tracks.
  • No individual should operate an ATV in a careless manner that poses a danger to the safety of other people and properties.
  • No individual shall operate an ATV under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other controlled substances.
  • Every ATV operator is required to always wear protective headgear.
  • It is prohibited to operate an ATV with a passenger unless the ATV is used for agricultural reasons.
  • Every ATV to be operated must be equipped with a headlamp and tail lamp that must be turned on during operation on any highway.
  • There must be a slow-moving equipment emblem on the rear of every ATV operated on the highway.
  • If an ATV is to be operated on any highway or street, there must be a bicycle flag that extends at least 7 feet above the ground, and it must be mounted to the rear of the vehicle.
  • Every ATV must be equipped with a spark arrester, an adequate muffler system, and an effective braking system.
  • If you are found violating any of the ATV safety laws in Missouri, you will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

Where Can’t You Operate An ATV In Missouri?

As an ATV operator in Missouri, it is essential that you know where ATV operations are forbidden. This will make you know the places to avoid when riding your ATV, thereby preventing you from violating the laws of the state.

ATV operation is forbidden from highways, and public streets in Missouri, except it is for agricultural purposes or government-operated. Although local authorities can permit ATV operations on public streets, it is best to keep off the streets. Operating an ATV on private property without the owner’s permission is also prohibited.

ATV operations are also prohibited in any stream or river, except it is within the boundaries of private property. It is also forbidden to operate an ATV across or on railroad tracks and the property they are on.

Where Can You Operate An ATV In Missouri?

Now that you know where ATV operation is forbidden, you should also know where you can operate ATVs with liberty without violating any ATV laws in Missouri.

group riding atv in open field

Chadwick ATV Trails

The most popular ATV trail in Missouri is Chadwick ATV Trails, and it offers 80 miles of lovely loops ranging from narrow and twisty single tracks to hard-packed ATV trails, rugged climbs with loose rocks, and dirt bike trails. You will require a trail permit to have access to ride an ATV on this trail.

You can get a trail permit from any Missouri Forest Service Office or at Kay’s County Store. Motorcycles, ATVs, side-by-sides, UTVs, and dirt bikes are permitted on this trail. However, jeeps, SUVs, sand rails, and dune buggies are prohibited. All ATVs permitted on Chadwick ATV Trails must have a width of 50 inches or less.

There is a wide variety of trails available here for every level of ATV riders. Although there have been some upgrades to the trails, so you will encounter some riding challenges on the way.

Smurfwood Trails

Smurfwood Trails is located in Lewis County, the northeastern part of Missouri, and it is the destination for adventure. The trail is open to ATV riders from 9 am till 6 pm every weekend from May to September. All riders are expected to be off the trails by 6 pm. With 20 miles of trails, there is enough dirt and mud to ride your ATV in.

The whole area is about 680 acres, and you will drive through mud bogs, fields, and timbers. The trails are divided into sections for beginners and professionals. The beginner trails are easy and do not have many obstacles; you should know what to expect on the professional trails.

There are also camping sites at the Smurfwood Trails, making it an attractive vacation destination for families, individuals, and groups. It costs $20 to ride an ATV or a dirt bike for a day and $30 for UTVs.

Final Thoughts

Missouri has varied terrain. However, there are not many ATV trails in the state. The few trails available are top-class, and every ATV rider will have a great time riding there. The ATV laws are unique, and you should do everything possible to comply with them when you are operating your ATV.

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.