The Handbook of Iowa All-Terrain Vehicle, Off-Road Utility and Off-Road Motorcycle Regulations
The Official Off-roading Handbook of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources - Web Version
Table of Contents
Operation of ATVs
It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any ATV under any of the following conditions.
On public land, with the exception as provided in Section 321.234A (see "public land" definition, page 5), or in specified areas permitted by the Department such as "ATV Parks" or "Designated Trails," which are designated and intended for use.
At a rate of speed greater than reasonable or proper under all existing circumstances.
In a careless, reckless, or negligent manner so as to endanger persons or property, or to cause injury or damage.
Without a lighted headlight and taillight from sunset to sunrise and at such other times when conditions provide insufficient lighting to render clearly discernible persons and vehicles at a distance of five hundred feet ahead.
While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotics or habit-forming drugs.
In any tree nursery or planting in a manner which damages or destroys growing stock.
On any public land, ice, or snow, in violation of official signs of the Department prohibiting such operation in the interest of safety for persons, property, or the environment.
In any park, wildlife area, preserve, refuge, or game management area, or any portion of a navigable stream or river identified by the Department in IAC Chapter 49.
Upon an operating railroad right-of-way. This subsection does not apply to a law enforcement officer or railroad employee in the lawful discharge of their duties.
Riding double is prohibited on ATVs and off-road motorcycles (even on private property), unless the ATV or off-road motorcycle is designed and manufactured for two persons (most are not). Designated ATV parks may have special restrictions on ATVs that are designed to carry a passenger. Operators must follow posted signs.
Operating on Roads and Highways
A person shall not operate an all-terrain vehicle or off-road motorcycle upon roadways or highways (including the ditch area) except as provided in Section 321.234A (agricultural exemption) or on a designated and signed trail approved by the county board of supervisors.
Operating on Trails and Private Land
ATVs may not be operated:
- On private property without permission.
- On snowmobile trails except where designated by the controlling authority and the primary snowmobile trail sponsor.
The operation of ATVs on private land is subject to trespass laws and permission must be obtained.
Operation Prohibited in Streambeds
This section does not prohibit the use of ford crossing of public or private roads or any other ford crossing when used for: agricultural purposes, the operation of construction vehicles engaged in lawful construction, repair, or maintenance in a streambed, or the operation of motor vehicles on ice (see "motor vehicle" definition, page 4.)
Except as provided above, a person shall not operate any motor vehicle in any of the following situations:
- Any portion of a meandered stream.
- Any portion of the bed of a non-meandered stream which has been identified as a navigable stream or river adopted by the Department and which is covered by water.
The Department of Natural Resources shall adopt rules identifying the navigable streams and rivers in which a motor vehicle may be operated.