The Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws
The Official Off-roading Handbook of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Web Version
Table of Contents
ORV Land Use Definitions
The DNR administers over four million acres of land used for a variety of purposes. Wise use of those lands includes preserving natural features and wildlife habitat and encouraging a variety of recreational uses. Just as other users are limited in their activities in order to protect and conserve these vital resources while minimizing conflicts with other activities, ORV enthusiasts are restricted in where and how they may operate.
See state road, trail, and route signs.
The following terms may be used when describing where or how ORVs may be operated on state-owned lands.
- Designated: Any place that is posted as open for ORV use with appropriate signs.
- Designated Area: An area that has signs for cross-country ORV use posted by the DNR. An ORV license is required.
- Designated Route: A forest road or other road that is designated by the DNR for ORV use.
- Forest Roads: Hard-surfaced roads, gravel or dirt roads, or other routes capable of travel by a 2‑wheel-drive, 4-wheel conventional vehicle designed for highway use, except an interstate, state, or county highway.
- Forest Trail: Designated path or way that is not a route; open for legal travel only by a vehicle that is an overall width of 50 inches or less.
- Highway: The entire width between the boundary lines of a way publicly maintained when any part of the way is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.
- Designated ORV Trail:Designated paths or ways that are motorcycle only trails, ORV trails, or ORV routes. An ORV license is required.
- Motorcycle Only Trails: These trails are maintained at a width of 24 inches on the ground and a width of 40 inches at handlebar height. Only two-wheeled motorcycles are allowed to operate on these trails legally.
- ORV Trails: These trails are open only to ORVs up to 50 inches in width. ORVs are prohibited on forest trails if the ORV is greater than 50 inches in width.
- ORV Routes: These routes are maintained at a width of 72 inches and are open to all ORVs.
ORV Trail Maps
Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr to obtain ORV trail maps for state-owned lands.