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 Guide for All-Terrain Vehicles and Off-Road Motorcycles
Resident-owned ATVs and off-road motorcycles must display a valid DNR registration. Nonresident-owned ATVs and off-road motorcycles must display a valid nonresident user permit.
A person under 12 years of age shall not operate an all-terrain vehicle, including an off-road motorcycle, on a designated riding area or designated riding trail or on ice unless one of the following applies:
- The person is taking a prescribed safety training course and operation is under the direct supervision of a certified all-terrain vehicle safety instructor.
- ATV and off-road motorcycle riders under the age of 12 must be under the direct supervision of an adult possessing a valid driver's license. Direct supervision means maintaining visual and verbal contact at all times.
ATV riders 12 through 17 years of age must have a valid safety certificate before riding on any public land or ice or land purchased with all-terrain vehicle registration funds.
Riding double is prohibited on ATVs and off-road motorcycles (even on private property), unless the ATV and off-road motorcycle is designed and manufactured for two persons (most are not).
Riding is prohibited in or on any park or fish and game areas except on designated all-terrain vehicle trails.
Riding is prohibited in any tree nursery or planting in a manner which damages or destroys growing stock.
Riding in wildlife areas is prohibited.
Careless, reckless, or negligent operation is prohibited.
Speed greater than reasonable or proper under all existing circumstances is prohibited.
Riding while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotics is prohibited.
ATVs and motorcycles may not exceed an engine noise limit above 96 decibels as tested under SAE J1287.
All-Terrain Vehicles—Highway Use: Exemptions to Operation upon Roadways
Agricultural Exemption: Use must be for a valid agricultural purpose.
- Operation must be between sunrise and sunset.
- Operator must have a valid driver's license.
- Machine must be operated at speeds under 35 mph.
- An owner of land or the owner's family may operate an ATV or off-road motorcycle in the ditch area that is adjacent to their property (they must stop riding at the end of their property boundary).
Licensed Engineer or Surveyor Exemption: The operation is incidental to the vehicle's use for the purpose of surveying by a licensed engineer or land surveyor.
Political Subdivision or Utility Exemption: The ATV is operated by an employee or agent of a political subdivision or public utility for the purpose of construction or maintenance on or adjacent to the highway.
Providing Emergency Services Exemption: The ATV is operated by an employee or agent of a public agency for the purpose of providing emergency services or rescue.
Trail Maintenance Exemption: The ATV is operated for the purpose of mowing, installing approved trail signs, or providing maintenance on a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle trail designated by the Department of Natural Resources.