If you want to take your off-road vehicle on the trails and have yet to purchase your ORV permit from the Department of Natural Resources, then June 7 and 8 is for you when the first Free ORV Weekend will take place in Michigan.
For the single weekend, ORV riders will be able to test out the trails in the state without the required off-road permits. This is especially good for those who have wanted to try out the extensive trail system but are hesitant to pay up to $36.25 for the annual permit. Fees for ORV permits have changed in 2014 and the DNR offers a chart showing the requirements and rates on their website.
Michigan is home to over 3,700 miles of trails across the state, in the upper portion of the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula offering riders some of the most varied terrain anywhere to ride in. From deeply forested trails in the northern part of the state, to trails along the Great Lakes to the remoteness of the Upper Peninsula, there are trails for everyone's needs.
For those wanting to head out for the first time and are not sure, ORV's include any multi-track or multi-wheeled vehicle, amphibious craft or hovercraft that can use the trails. This also includes any two or four wheeled vehicles that are register for the roads but also operated off road on the ORV trails.
When looking for a trail to ride, the best place to start is the DNR ORV webpage where you will find maps of the designated trails and other helpful information. Not only can you download the maps in hard copy form, but there are also data files for desktop GIS programs, GPX files to use with your GPS system and KMZ files which allow you to open them under Google Earth. The listings are truly a treasure trove of information for ORV users.
Though the need for an ORV permit is waved for the weekend, keep in mind that all other regulations still apply, so stay on the trails.
Two of the most important rules are:
- Operators under age 16 must have a valid safety training certificate. Michigan will accept ORV/ATV education certifications that are issued by other states and provinces.
- Operators and passengers must wear a U.S. Dept. of Transportation approved crash helmet and protective eye wear.
To become more familiar with the rules and regulations of the state, there is the Handbook of Michigan Off-Road Vehicle Laws, which outlines all of the do's and don'ts of off-roading. It can be found online, where hunting and fishing licenses are sold and at any DNR customer service center. ORV licenses are also available online at the DNR E-License website and at participating ORV dealers.
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