Helena National Forest
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    Remember: You are responsible for your own safety and for the safety of those around you.

    Not all roads and trails are created equally. Some roads are for cars and trucks, but not off-highway vehicles. Some trails are for off-highway vehicles, but many are not. Know where you are going and what you need before you go. Do your part by modeling appropriate behavior, leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species, and restoring degraded areas. Consider the following: 


    Educate yourself

    • Obtain a Motor Vehicle Use Map for specific information on your forest; determine areas open to ORV/ATV use.
    • Review site specific regulations; contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements.
    • Know how to operate your equipment safely: take an ATV class such as ATV Rider Course that provides a fast-paced, half-day, hands-on training session. Call the ATV Enrollment Express toll-free at 1-800-887-2887 to enroll.

    Be prepared; communicate

    • Make sure your ATV is mechanically up to the task.
    • Ensure your vehicle is registered and licensed.
    • Make a realistic plan and stick to it.
    • Share your plans with someone;’ if plans change let them know.
    • Don’t ride alone.
    • Prepare for the unexpected: pack first aid kit, emergency items, tools, supplies, spares, and a spill kit for trailside repairs.
    • Check the weather forecast; be prepared for sudden changes in weather.


    Ride safely; stay in control

    • Control your speed at all times.
    • Approach turns anticipating someone around the bend.
    • Slow down when sight lines are poor.
    • Wear your helmet and protective gear.
    • Don’t take unnecessary chances; help for emergencies may be miles away.
    • Reduce vulnerability if you have an accident or breakdown; buddy up with two or three riders; designate meeting areas in case of separation.
    • Know your limitations; watch your time, your fuel and your energy.
    • Teach new riders trail etiquette—lead by example.

    Yield the right of way

    • Those traveling uphill or passing you.
    • Mountain bikers, hikers and horses.

    Respect nature

    • Proceed with caution around horses and pack animals.
    • When encountering horses on the trail: move to the side of the trail, stop, turn off your engine, remove your helmet, and speak. You want horse to know you are human. Ask the rider how to proceed.
    • Slow down when sight lines are poor.
    • Cross streams only at designated fording points (where the trail crosses the stream).

    Respect the trail

    • Comply with all signs; respect barriers; leave gates as you found them.
    • Obey all traffic signs. State traffic laws apply to all national forest roads; violations are reported to the state department of motor vehicles.
    • Travel only in areas open to utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) or all-terrain vehicle use (ATV).
    • Be considerate of others on the road or trail.
    • Learn the basics of trail etiquette.
    • Drive over, not around, obstacles to avoid widening the trail.
    • Do not ride in camping, picnicking, trailhead or residential areas.
    • Keep speeds low around crowds and when entering/leaving camping areas.
    • Park only in designated parking areas.

    Respect your vehicle

    • Stay alert: avoid listening to headphones or ear buds; they can impair your awareness to external noises; in some areas it is illegal to operate UTV/ATVs with both ears covered.
    • No passengers are allowed on all-terrain vehicles, unless vehicles are designed to carry passengers.
    • Do not carry passengers in the bed of an UTV.
    • Do not drive ATVs/UTVs wider than 50 inches on most designated all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails.
    • Wear a helmet, eye protection, and other safety gear.
    • Children under 8 years of age may not operate all-terrain vehicles or motorcycles.
    • Any operator under 16 (and older than 8) must have constant supervision by an adult over the age of 8.
    • Remember: spark arresters, mufflers, and brakes are required for motorized vehicles.
    • Don’t drink and ride; don’t use alcohol or drugs: alcoholic beverages are prohibited on all trail systems or in recreation areas.