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Stay the Trail


 Summer/Fall 2021

One of the best things about living in Colorado is access to our public lands. This is the place to be if you are an outdoor nature lover or if you use motorized recreational vehicles. There are endless opportunities to get out and explore.

stay the trail logo

However, Colorado has recorded a 400 percent increase in motorized recreation last year, which correlates to more users in a shrinking space, ultimately leading to a downward spiral of increased land-abuse prompting additional land closures.

Motorized trails have become places of recklessness and overcrowding, littered with trash, and unwelcoming for those looking for a peaceful mountain adventure. COVID-19 has increased motorized recreation as well, leading new first-time and out-of-state off-highway vehicle users to indulge in the outdoor lifestyle with little education or knowledge of their impact to the land, environment, and fellow users.

stay the trail rangers

Stay The Trail is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to reinforce and highlight responsible OHV use, and to modify and mitigate irresponsible use in an effort to minimize damage to public lands, with the ultimate goal of keeping trails open and welcoming for all.

Stay The Trail accomplishes this through its “on the ground” campaign, with improved signage (route/trail numbers), trail and volunteer projects (fencing, rehabilitation of wildfire and off-trail damage, and trash cleanups), and on-the-trail face-to-face user interaction in the form of informational handouts. They also focus their efforts on keeping OHV users informed by distributing printed materials, including their new area-specific maps complete with ethics’ messaging


Many small mountain towns appreciate the influx of summer tourists who keep stores and local businesses open. They try to accommodate the OHV crowd by opening certain county roads to unlicensed off-highway vehicles. However, drivers must comply with local state and county regulations regarding speed, noise, and common courtesy. All OHVs owned and operated in Colorado (including motor vehicles and motorcycles that are not licensed for public-road access) must display current Colorado OHV registration stickers when in a person’s possession in an OHV staging area or operated on any designated OHV trails or routes in Colorado.

stay the trail ATV

Even with these regulations in place, many riders fail to comply, and they create a negative impression of the motorized recreational vehicle community. These effects can cause the loss of current designated routes and even jeopardize permitted off-road events in the future, overall harming the region’s economy and limiting legal enjoyment of the sport.


The appropriate speed for any OHV should not exceed 25mph, whether in town or out on the trail. Excessive speed and reckless driving are among the top complaints and can also lead to accidents. Although many OHVs are designed to run at high speeds in Baja, we are in Colorado to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Colorado’s rugged terrain consists of trails, not tracks!

stay the trail colorado

Besides speed and recklessness, sound is also an issue. In July of 2010, a state law took effect requiring all OHVs operated on public lands in Colorado to meet a sound limit of 96dB(A), measured using the SAE J1287 20-inch stationary sound test. Loud exhaust systems and blaring stereos not only disturb the peace and quiet of the backcountry, but they’re illegal, too.


Common courtesy has also declined in recent years, as more riders forget to leave their bad attitude on the pavement. Reports of tailgating, passing on blind corners, failing to yield, peeling out, and driving carelessly are often the norm while out on the trail. We are all out there to let off steam, not to create it. We can all be reminded of basic rules of the trail: Slow it down, wave to other users, and use hand signals to indicate the number of vehicles in your group. Treat others the way you would like to be treated and have patience, as everyone has a different skill level. Aside from the variety of OHVs one is likely to encounter—including Jeeps, 4×4 vehicles, side-by-sides, ATVs, and motorcycles—non-motorized users also share these trails. There are no “motorized only” trails in Colorado, so expect hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, and families while traversing routes. Try to leave a positive impression on any of the trail users who cross your path.

hurricane pass

Off-trail or off-route travel is never acceptable or legal. Colorado’s ecosystem is fragile, with an extremely short growing season; alpine tundra is especially sensitive. Damage created to land above tree line can take decades to recover. Never drive around an obstacle, body of water, or snow drift. This can create trail widening, leading to erosion and ultimately a closure. Safely drive over or through them. Avoid spinning tires, as it loosens the roadbed and compromises the surface for the next rider.


Many OHV riders transport their vehicles long distances to ride, and they camp both inside and outside official campgrounds. Trash and abandoned campfires have increased with the usage. Used toilet paper and cigarette butts are a common eyesore, taking away from the serenity and cleanliness of the mountains. Always cat-bury human waste at least 6 inches below the surface and 200 feet from any water, trail, or camp. Smoking outside a vehicle is prohibited during fire bans. Never leave a campfire unattended, and always extinguish it until cold to the touch.

stay the trail map

Remember to be prepared for any situation you might encounter while out on the trail, including the weather. A winch, shovel, trash bag, gloves, jacket, and food and water should be always with you whenever exploring the Colorado backcountry!


Have fun and Stay The Trail!

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