Rules and Safety
Rules and Safety
We want to make sure you have a fun, safe ride when you explore northern Wisconsin’s ATV/UTV trails, so it’s important to know the rules of the trails and proper riding etiquette. The links below will direct you to valuable information about where and when to ride, ATV/UTV safety, and much more as you plan your next Northwoods getaway.
We have partnered with the Wisconsin ATV-UTV Association (WATVA) in their mission to help ATV and off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and related organizations in the state share information, create lasting ATVing and UTVing experiences and continue to promote a positive image of the sport.
For more information on ATV/UTV rules and safety, visit the Wisconsin ATV-UTV Association.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources information
ATV/UTV Sign Information
- DNR Trail Signing Handbook (PDF 8 MB)
- ATV Route Guideline and Suggestions (PDF 272 KB)
- Wisconsin Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (PDF 41 MB)
- Highway Maintenance Manual (PDF 246 KB)
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation Resources (Wisconsin ATV/UTV Association)
FAQ about ATV/UTV laws
- Every person born after January 1, 1988 must take and pass a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) ATV and UTV safety certification course to legally operate an ATV or UTV on a public trail or route.
- You must be at least 16 years old and have a WI DNR ATV safety certificate to operate an ATV or UTV by yourself on any road route. 12-15 year old youths are permitted to ride ATV’s (not UTV’s) on a road route ONLY IF accompanied by a parent or parent approved adult. However, some municipalities have different age minimums, specific hours of operation, mandatory insurance with some even requiring a valid drivers license. Remember, it’s up to the owner/rider to learn and follow municipal ordinances that sometimes differ from Wisconsin state laws.
- Any person, operator or passenger under the age of 18 MUST wear a helmet that is approved from the Department of Transportation (DOT). A bicycle helmet does not qualify. If you can’t find a helmet small enough for your child, they’re probably too small to safely be riding on public trails or road routes.
- Every occupant riding in a UTV MUST be seated with a seatbelt fastened in a manner prescribed by the manufacturer. No passenger can ride in or on any part of a UTV that is not designed or intended to be used by passengers. You cannot ride in the back storage box areas, sitting on someone’s lap or on the roof.
- Front headlights and rear taillights must be turned on, day or night, while riding on road routes & trail systems. The more visible you are to other vehicles, the safer everyone is. This safety tip applies to both road routes and trail systems.
- All ATV’s and UTV’s must display a current registration sticker on BOTH sides of the vehicle as well as on a rear facing plate. The plate must have a white background and use black text. Other details about the plate do apply.
- No trail passes are required for in-state registrants. Wisconsin does have a non-resident trail pass (5 day or annual) with a single sticker requirement. The non-resident passes do not require rear facing plates.
- Wisconsin has an exhaust sound level requirement (96 dB or less) designed to keep our trails and road routes quiet. Excessive sound levels annoy and curtail access, do your part.
- Observe and follow all speed limits, as posted or provided in a municipal ordinance.
This is not a complete list of state ATV / UTV laws, only those that are most commonly asked about. (Wisconsin ATV/UTV Association)