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South Dakota ATV Laws: Where & How To Ride Your ATV Legally

South Dakota ATV Laws: Where & How To Ride Your ATV Legally

South Dakota is one of the largest states in the United States. There are many parks, hills, mountains in South Dakota, and it is popular for its attractions and delicious cuisines. This state is also one of the best places to ride an ATV.

South Dakota ATV law includes: no one should operate an ATV on any public highway or street unless crossing from one side of the road to another, and all ATVs must be titled. You can ride an ATV in Bluebird Trailhead, South Shore OHV Area, Talsma's Trail Park, and Shanks Quarry. 

Are you wondering about the need for ATV laws? There are laws regulating the operation of ATVs to curtail the occurrence of accidents. Instead of being unhappy and angry at the laws, you should appreciate them.

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South Dakota ATV Laws

An ATV in South Dakota is described as an off-road vehicle that is self-propelled, has two or more wheels, and is designed to be primarily operated on land except on highways. Below are South Dakota ATV laws:

  • ATVs operated in South Dakota do not require registration or license; however, the operators must obtain a certificate of title from the Department of Revenue for their ATV.
  • The operation of ATVs on public streets and highways is prohibited unless the ATV is used to cross from one area to another.
  • Lands owned, controlled, or leased by the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks are off-limits to ATVs.
  • To operate an ATV on any public highway, you must own a valid driver's license.
  • ATVs operated in public parks must be licensed, equipped with headlights, a horn, a rearview mirror, and brake light, and should be only operated in designated park areas.
  • Operators of ATVs must be 14 years or older and have a valid driver's license before they can ride an ATV in any public park.
  • ATVs can be operated in a highway ditch only by operators above age 12, and the ATV must be as close as possible to the outer edge of the highway.
  • It is against the law to operate an ATV in a highway ditch near the interstate highway system.
  • All ATV operators below age 18 must always wear a protective helmet and eye-protective device when operating an ATV.
  • A driver's license and permit are required to operate an ATV in South Dakota.

These ATV laws must be obeyed at all times. Violation of these laws results in some unpleasant consequences like your ATV being confiscated, you might be asked to pay a hefty fine, or in some severe cases, you might serve a jail term. To avoid getting into these legal problems, you must make sure you do not violate any of these laws.

Where Can You Ride An ATV In South Dakota?

South Dakota is one of the best places suitable for off-road riding and adventure because of its dense population. In this state, you can ride your ATV on closely maintained trails, private parks, public lands, and even in quarries. There are various attractions, amenities, and rugged terrains in the state.

South Shore OHV Area

South Shore OHV Area is an off-road park open all year round; it is located at an abandoned gravel pit. The terrain is filled with hill climbs, a motocross track, wood trails, gravel, rocks, and black dirt. This OHV area provides 5 miles of trails for ATVs and other off-road vehicles.

The off-road vehicles permitted at this park are ATVs, Motorcycles, SXSs, Dirt bikes, and UTVs. Others like dune buggies, Jeeps, Sandrail 4x4s, and SUVs are prohibited in this OHV area. You do not need a permit to operate a vehicle in this area, and vehicles without spark arrestors are also allowed.

All riders at this off-road park are always required to wear a helmet when operating an ATV. There is no fee charged for parking, riding, or entry in this OHV area. Glacier Lakes Motorcycle Club maintains the South Shore OHV Area; they usually host an annual poker run to generate funds for maintenance of the park.

Talsmas Trail Park

Talsmas Trail Park is open only on weekends from 9 am till dusk. You can also visit the park during the weekdays; however, you must have booked an appointment. You do not need to have a permit before riding at this park; however, you must sign a liability waiver, and your vehicle must have a spark arrestor.

Vehicles exceeding the width of 80 inches are prohibited at Talsmas Trail Park. UTVs, ATVs, SXSs, Dirt bikes, and Motorcycles are the only off-road vehicles allowed in this park. The trail terrain at this park consists of loose dirt, berms, hardpack, mud, trees, sand, steep hills, rocks, and dust. Riding at this park costs $30 per rider.

Shanks Quarry

Shanks Quarry is located in Black Hills National Forest; it has 15 miles of wide double-track trails. The terrain in this area is mostly hardpack but also contains loose chunk rocks, mud, shades, steep hills, trees, and dust. There are two designated staging areas at this trail that provide enough space for camping and parking.

Before operating any vehicle in this area, you must obtain a Black Hills National Forest Motorized Trail Permit. Shanks Quarry is open from May 15 till December 15 and allows entry to vehicles whose width does not exceed 62 inches. Trailblazing is prohibited in this area. All vehicles are expected to have a spark arrestor.

The vehicles permitted at Shanks Quarry are ATVs, SUVs, SXSs, Motorcycles, UTVs, Sandrail 4x4s, Dirt bikes, Dune buggies, and Jeeps. There are no special camping areas at this trail system; you can camp anywhere. Riding in this area costs $23.50 per rider while the weekly fee costs $23.50, and the yearly fee costs $28.50.

man rides atv in south dakota

Bluebird Trailhead

Bluebird Trailhead is another off-road trail that is located in the Black Hills National Forest. It is one of the best areas to ride an ATV; this trail passes through a limestone canyon that surrounds the city of Pringle, Custer, and Senator. On this trail, you not only enjoy your ATV ride but also have access to some amazing sights and attractions.

At the end of this trail system, if you move either to the east or the south, you will catch an incredible view of McClure Dam, Ward Reservoir, and other sites. The terrain on the trail consists of loose dirt, trees, hardpack, water crossings, sand, mud, and dirt. It is open to the public all year round. ATVs, dirt bikes, and motorcycles are permitted on this trail.

Where Can’t You Ride An ATV In South Dakota?

ATVs are not allowed to operate everywhere in South Dakota. There are some areas where ATV operations are prohibited. It is highly illegal to ride an ATV on public highways and streets except when crossing from one designated ATV area to another. Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club and James Valley Cycle Club are two areas in South Dakota that prohibit ATVs.

James Valley Cycle Club and Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club allow only Motorcycles and Dirt Bikes; other off-road vehicles are prohibited. Other areas like Grammas MX Park, Central South Dakota Racing Track, and Aberdeen Motocross Track are closed to all vehicle operations; hence, you cannot ride your ATV there or any other off-road vehicles.

Final Thoughts

One of the best ways to thoroughly explore a city, town, state, or country is by riding an ATV. ATVs give you access to areas that regular vehicles cannot be operated on. Is there a better way to explore the mountains, hills, riversides, and forests other than with an ATV? However, in all your exploration and fun, you must be careful and make sure you obey all the laws.

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