New Mexico ATV Laws: Where And How To Ride Your ATV Legally

new mexico atv laws

New Mexico is popular for its mountains, forests, and desert areas. Riding an ATV is a fun and exciting adventure; it also provides an avenue for you to explore where you are. In this blog post, we will be discussing ATV operations in New Mexico.

New Mexico ATV law states that ATVs are not allowed on any highway or freeway except when crossing. When riding an ATV in New Mexico, you must never be under any influence. You can ride your ATV in Big Burro Mountains, Farmington Dunes OHV Area, Montessa OHV Park, and Gallup ATV Park.

Before you operate an ATV in any state or country, you must be informed about the ATV laws of that state or country. By doing this, you will not encounter any legal problems because you know what to do and what not to do. We will start by looking at the ATV laws in New Mexico.

welcome to new mexico sign

New Mexico ATV Laws

There are several ATV laws in New Mexico; all these laws are strictly enforced. It is best to know these laws and obey them. Violation of these laws can result in trouble; you might be fined, or your ATV will be impounded. Below are New Mexico ATV laws:

  • Children below age 18 are always required to wear eye protection and safety goggles while operating an ATV.
  • ATVs should not generate noise exceeding 96 decibels.
  • It is illegal to operate an ATV recklessly or carelessly, causing the endangerment of a person or property of someone else.
  • Every ATV operating in New Mexico must have a spark arrestor that the United States Forest Service approves.
  • Children below age 10 must not ride an ATV unless it is size fitted and under an adult’s supervision.
  • ATVs must not operate on limited-access freeways or highways or any paved highway or street.
  • All ATV owners must register and title their ATVs, and they must also obtain a registration certificate and never operate an ATV without the certificate.
  • When riding an ATV at night, the ATV must have at least one headlight that can illuminate objects at a distance of 150 feet. They must also have one tail light or two that illuminates objects from a distance of 200 feet.
  • Non-residents ATV operators in New Mexico must either have a registration certificate from the resident state or obtain an on-resident permit before operating their ATV.
  • Children below 6 years must not operate an ATV unless on private property.
  • ATV riders aged 6 to 9 must not operate an ATV with an engine larger than 110 cubic centimeters; those aged 10 to 15 should not use an ATV with an engine larger than 250 cubic centimeters, while those aged 14 and 15 who own a valid driver’s license can use an ATV whose engine is 450 cubic centimeters.
  • Children below age 18 must never carry a passenger with an ATV when riding on public land, even if the ATV was designed with an extra seat for a passenger.

Where Can You Ride An ATV In New Mexico?

Now that you understand the ATV laws in New Mexico, you must also know where and where not to ride your ATV. There are many parks, trails, and recreational areas in New Mexico where you can ride your ATV.

Montessa OHV Park

Montessa OHV Park is open all year round from dawn till dusk. This OHV park offers 577 acres of land for riding. These riding areas range from hill climbs to sandy washes to ATV trails. It has a main staging area that provides parking space; however, there are no shades or water available.

Camping is not allowed at this park as it is available only during the day. All vehicles at this park must have a spark arrestor, while riders should have a New Mexico OHV permit. There is no vehicle width restriction at this OHV park. Night riding in this area is highly prohibited.

Montessa OHV Park is mostly suitable for ATVs and dirt bikes; however, other vehicles like SUVs, Jeeps, SXSs, UTVs, Dune buggies, and motorcycles are also allowed. This park offers about 5 miles of ATV trails that consist of sand, berms, small jumps, dust, hard pack, rocks, loose dirt, and mud.

Big Burro Mountains

Big Burro Mountains is a part of Gila National Forest with several ATV trails with different difficulty levels. There are a few expert sections where expert riders can enjoy their ride. You can also explore the gravel forest service road with your vehicle. The trails have rugged mountains, forests, and high desert vegetation areas.

The terrains at Big Burro Mountains are mostly hard packed; however, they also consist of steep hills, loose dirt, trees, shades, rocks, sand, dust, mud, berms, and some roads. You have a New Mexico OHV permit to ride a vehicle in this area; all off-road vehicles are permitted in this area.

Gallup ATV Park

Gallup ATV Park, also known as North Hogback Trail, was established in November 2010. This ATV park is open all year round; it has 10 miles of ATV trails and about 1.2 miles of the motocross track. A New Mexico permit is required to ride an ATV in this park; however, non-residents must have a non-resident OHV use permit to ride in this park.

There are no amenities at this park, and all vehicles are expected to have a spark arrestor exhaust silencer. There are no fees required to enter or ride at this ATV park.  The ATV trails at this area have different levels ranging from novice level to expert riders’ level. There are also some intersections along the trail.

The off-road vehicles allowed at Gallup ATV Park are ATVs, UTVs, SXSs, Motorcycles, Dune buggies, SUVs, Dirt bikes, Jeeps, and Sandrail 4x4s. These vehicles are allowed in all areas at this ATV park.

couple ride atv in new mexico

Farmington Dunes OHV Area

Farmington Dunes OHV Area offers 20 miles of trails, steep hills, dunes, and sandy arroyo bottoms surrounded by sandstone walls. This OHV area is open all year round, and an OHV permit is required to ride in this area. The only amenity provided in this area is a vault toilet. Primitive camping is allowed in this OHV area.

Riding off the trails and night riding is allowed in this area. Youths riding in this area are always expected to put on a helmet while riding. All off-road vehicles are permitted at this OHV area. There are no fees required to enter, ride, or camp in this area. At the north of Farmington Dunes OHV Area, there is an active sand and gravel sandpit.

Where Can’t You Ride An ATV In New Mexico?

Riding an ATV on the highways and freeways in New Mexico is prohibited. However, you can ride next to a highway, but your ATV must be operating in an OHV area. The only time you are allowed on a highway or freeway is when crossing from one ATV designated area to another, and you must do so while complying with traffic laws.

There are also some areas where you cannot ride ATVs even though they are designated areas. This is because ATVs are prohibited from these areas. These places are Buckman MX Track, Elephant Rock Trails, Little Apache Trail, and Rim Trail.

Final Thoughts

Every ATV law in New Mexico is established for the safety of ATV riders; these laws prevent accidents and protect both ATV riders and other civilians. Hence, you should not see these laws as harsh but appreciate them and abide by them. New Mexico is a great place for ATV riding, but do that in compliance with the ATV laws.

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.