Frequently Asked Questions

Stay the Trail Program

What is Stay The Trail?

Since 2003 the Stay The Trail Education and Stewardship Alliance (formerly the Responsible Recreation Foundation) and its flagship Stay The Trail (STT) Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) education and stewardship program have been focused on encouraging responsible OHV recreation on the public roads, trails, and areas that are open to motorized use in the State of   Colorado. STT has been successful in its mission through on-the-ground education to OHV users at trailheads and events throughout the state and through the distribution of various free educational materials specific to OHV use in Colorado.

Order your Free Materials here:



Free Downloads

Spanish Resources

What does OHV stand for?

OHV stands for Off-Highway Vehicle and refers to all motorized recreation vehicles including dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs/Side by Sides, and 4×4/Full Size Vehicles.

Where can I find Stay The Trail or pick up your maps and brochures?

Stay The Trail travels to various locations all over the state of Colorado and a full schedule of our events can be found on our calendar. We also widely distribute our materials to powersports shops, visitor centers, and businesses.

For updates and news on Stay The Trail follow us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

I am putting on an OHV event, can Stay The Trail attend?

Yes, Stay The Trail employees spend most of the summer traveling the state to various motorized events and trailheads. To request Stay The Trail at your event please fill out this form.

If Stay The Trail cannot attend for any reason we are more than happy to send our educational materials for distribution free of charge.

I am a visitor center, powersport shop, OHV dealer, etc. and would like to have your materials in my shop. Can you send some?

Yes, Stay The Trail will mail you our educational materials free of charge.

Request materials here:



Where can I donate to Stay The Trail?

Stay The Trail is a 501 (3) c non-profit which means all donations are tax deductible. You can donate online through PayPal here.


Where can I find good maps for different riding areas in Colorado?

Both the Forest Service and BLM, which manages most of the motorized trails in the state, have been working on providing maps for each area to show designated routes.

The Forest Service uses Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) that show all open and legal routes on any given Forest Service District and also shows the difference between trail types (motorized single track, 50 inch trails, Full Size Trails, and Full Size Roads)

The BLM uses Recreation Management Area Maps that show all open legal routes in that area. Please note that the BLM is working to have maps created and easily accessible for all areas but not all areas have complete maps yet.

I am looking for somewhere new to ride, any suggestions?

There are countless opportunities for OHV recreation in Colorado, Stay The Trail has created an online and paper map with information on 100 different riding areas.  You can find the online map here or order a free copy of our map here.

*When researching new areas please note the type of trails in each area. Not everything is open to every type of OHV.

I am looking for a good Mapping App to use on my smartphone, what is out there?

COTREX was launched by Colorado Parks and Wildlife as a free resource for all to show ALL recreation trails in Colorado. The trails shown in this app range from hiking to horseback to motorized and can be filtered to show only motorized. With this app you have ‘off-line’ capabilities to track your ride, drop location pins, save information, and much more all while out of cell service by using GPS in your smartphone or smart device. COTREX works closely with land managers to ensure information provided on the app is current and up-to-date.

AVENZA is also a free mapping resource that provides free ‘geo-spacial’ maps for all Forest Service Districts and most BLM Motorized Areas. These maps also have ‘off-line capabilities to track your ride, drop location pins, save information, and much more all while out of cell service by using the GPS in your smartphone or smart device. AVENZA uses the official maps that both the Forest Service and BLM put out to ensure that only open legal routes are being shown.

*PAID APPS When using paid for map apps please remember to cross reference information with the official map of an area or one of the above apps that works with land managers to provide up-to-date information on each area.

I noticed that there are some Full Size ‘Trails’ and some Full Size ‘Roads’ on a map. What is the difference?

In addition to the many miles of Off-Highway Vehicle trails and “roads open to all vehicles”, there are a number of Full Size Trails open for recreational travel in Colorado. Although these trails allow for full width vehicles, they differ from most BLM and U.S. Forest Service roads as they are designed for recreational, motorized use rather than simply for transportation. A Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Permit is therefore required on any licensed/plated vehicle that is used for recreation on these trails.

OHV Registrations and OHV Permits

Who needs an OHV Registration?

Colorado residents who own and operate an OHV in Colorado are required to register their OHV’s (dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, Side by Sides, unlicensed vehicles) with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and display a current Registration sticker.

For more information on OHV Registrations visit CPW website.

What is acceptable proof of ownership for your OHV?

When registering an OHV in Colorado you must provide acceptable proof of ownership in the form of one of the following:

  • Bill of sale that includes both the seller and buyer’s printed names and signatures, the vessel/vehicle identification number (if any), the vessel/vehicle make, model and year (if known), and the date of the sale; click here for bill of sale template
  • Previous registration certificate issued by a governmental entity that lists the applicant as registered owner;
  • Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO)/Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO);
  • Certificate of Title;
  • Any court issued document proving ownership;
  • A collection of personal property by affidavit form pursuant to 15-12-1201, C.R.S.; ​​
  • A physical inspection form completed by a CPW agent​
Who Needs an OHV Permit?

All OHVs and motor vehicles (including motorcycles) that display a valid Colorado or out-of-state license plate must also display a current Colorado OHV permit sticker when operating on any designated OHV trails in Colorado. All out of state OHVs, including out of state OHV registrations, must also display a current Colorado OHV permit when operating on any designated OHV trail or route in Colorado.

What is the difference between an OHV Registration and an OHV Permit?

An OHV Registration is required for unlicensed vehicles (dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, or Side by Sides) and are required for all OHVs owned by Colorado Residents.

An OHV Permit is required for any out-of-state OHV owned by someone recreating in Colorado or in-state and out-of-state licensed vehicles (plated dirt bikes or street legal 4x4s) operating on a designated OHV trail.

While Registrations and Permits are different both cost $25.25 and all funds from both go toward supporting the maintenance, enhancements, and education to OHV recreation around the state of Colorado.

Once I get my OHV Registration/Permit where do I put it?

Once you receive your registration or permit it is required by Colorado Parks and Wildlife that it is displayed on your OHV.

Registration Decals must be affixed permanently on the upper forward half of the OHV in a location where the decal can be easily seen. OHV operators must carry the corresponding registration card.

How long is my OHV Registration/Permit good for?

In Colorado your OHV Permit is valid April 1 to March 31 of the year shown on sticker.

During summer recreation the OHV registration/permit should display the next calendar year date due to the registration/permit period designated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

I live in another state, does my OHV Registration from another state work in Colorado?

No. Colorado does not share reciprocity with any other states for OHV registrations/permits.

So I spent $25.25 on an OHV Registration, where is my money going?

Funds collected by Colorado Parks and Wildlife for OHV registrations and permits are returned to land managers, OHV clubs, and OHV organizations through a rigorous grant program. The funds distributed are designed to maintain, enhance, and create OHV opportunities along with education and advocacy efforts.

Rules and Regulations

What are the sound limits for Colorado?

To operate an OHV in Colorado your OHV must adhere to certain sound limits. These limits were put in place to help reduce conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users and to help reduce impacts on wildlife.

Sound limits in Colorado are:

–96dB(A) if manufactured after 1/1/1998

–99dB(A) if manufactured before 1/1/1998

Do I need a spark arrester for my OHV?

Yes. All OHV’s operating on public lands are required to have a ‘Forest Service Approved’ spark arrester. The objective of the spark arrester is to reduce the amount of fires started by exhaust systems. Spark Arresters have been required since 1905 in passenger vehicles and most ATVs, UTVs, Side-by-Sides, and trail motorcycles come already equipped with one. The most common OHV seen without a spark arrester are motocross bikes or racing motorcycles. When operating these on public lands, even on a closed course or track, a spark arrester is still required to reduce fire risks.

How does a spark arrester work?

Spark arresters work on the principle of trapping small carbon particles and a properly installed and maintained spark arrester will significantly reduce fire risk. For more details on how spark arresters work, information on maintenance installation, and to check if your spark arrester is qualified visit the Forest Service website.

Can my child ride an OHV legally?

Colorado Law-Persons less than 10 years of age cannot operate OHV’s on public roads. OHV operators between the ages of 10 and 16 must be accompanied by and under the immediate supervision (within direct visual contact) of a person with a valid driver’s license.

Federal Law-There are no federal regulations or age limit for OHV riding. Instead, each state has its own guidelines and laws to adhere too.

Is it required to wear a helmet or other protective equipment while riding?

Riders age 18 and over are not required to wear a helmet in Colorado. However, operators or passengers under the age of 18, MUST wear a DOT-approved helmet.

**Stay The Trail strongly recommends always wearing a helmet and proper protective gear when operating an OHV for you and your passengers safety.**

I have a licensed Side by Side from another state, can I drive it on the roads in Colorado?

The state of Colorado and the Colorado Department of Transportation does not allow four wheeled OHVs to carry a license plate and does not recognize OHVs with out of state plates as ‘street worthy’ vehicles. However, there are many counties, towns, and other municipalities in Colorado that see the benefits of OHV recreation and have opened roads within their jurisdiction to OHV use. When operating on these roads you must have working headlights, taillights, brake lights, a muffler, spark arrester, valid driver’s license, insurance, and a valid OHV registration/permit. Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a DOT approved helmet.

Are there any County or Town roads I am allowed to operate an OHV on?

There are many county and town roads that allow OHV use but not all. These roads have been open at the discretion of each municipality. Please remember when operating your OHV on these roads to follow observed speed limits and laws.

Click here for a list of counties and towns with OHV regulations in place.

Do I need an OHV Registration or Permit for my OHV?

All OHVs and motor vehicles (including motorcycles) that display a valid Colorado or out-of-state license plate must also display a current Colorado OHV permit sticker when operating on any designated OHV trails in Colorado. All out of state OHVs, including out of state OHV registrations, must also display a current Colorado OHV permit when operating on any designated OHV trail or route in Colorado.


Who has the right of way on the trail?

Non-motorized encounters

  • When encountering other trail users please yield to all non-motorized trail users first.
  • When encounter horse traffic, pull off to the side of the road and turn off your engine. Let the horse and rider pass or proceed only after they wave you by.

Motorized encounters

  • When coming up to a slower rider, be patient and pass safely without leaving the trail.
  • When encountering on-coming traffic uphill traffic has the right of way, look for a safe area to pull off and let them pass.
What do people mean when talking about hand signals when passing on the trail?

When encountering oncoming or passing traffic use hand signals to communicate how many more people are in your group. A closed fist means you are the last rider in the group.

Where can I camp when I want to take my OHV camping with me?

In Colorado there are many places that you can dispersed camp and ride your OHV directly from your camp spot. Every Forest Service and BLM area has different rules for camping and it is best to contact the corresponding land manager for correct rules on camping. You can also refer to the areas Motor Vehicle Use Map for information on camping.

As a rule of thumb only dispersed camp in already established sites, make sure you know of any current fire restrictions, don’t camp next to lakes or streams, and be courteous of other campers around you.

What should I do when I encounter wildlife on the trail?

When encountering wildlife on the trail be respectful of them by slowing down, giving room, and observe from a distance. Do not chase or harass wildlife with your OHV.

What is appropriate gear when going out on my OHV?

When gearing up to ride your OHV always wear a helmet and goggles, long sleeve shirt and pants, gloves, over the ankle boots.

Always consider bringing extra layers of clothing while riding, weather conditions in Colorado can change rapidly and can be unpredictable.

What should I bring with me when I leave the trailhead?

Always plan for your machine to breakdown and have enough food and water to get you back to the trailhead. It is also important to think about weather and conditions that can change rapidly in Colorado. Often times you can gain a lot of elevation in a short amount of time on trails and it could be 75 and sunny when you leave the trailhead and by the time you get to the top of a mountain pass it could be raining or snowing. Always be prepared!

What do I do when driving through a small community or campground?


When driving through small mountain communities or campgrounds on your OHV remember to follow posted speed limits, slow down enough to not kick up dust, and keep an eye out for pedestrians. Remember that it is often a privilege to ride through and in these small communities, take your time and be respectful of this privilege.

Still have Questions?

I still have other questions, who can I contact?

We are constantly updating the FAQ to include additional topics. If your question is not covered, please send an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Please be aware that your question may be used in future FAQ updates.