“We operated different machines of different sizes to see how the park would respond and what the park had to offer,” Downing said. “These three parks passed the survey and will be opened on October 30. We will also look at our remaining parks to see if any others would be suitable for ORVs.”
The designation that will allow ORVs in the parks began two years ago as consumers and the manufacturing industry shifted toward these vehicles with bench seats that allowed two or more passengers to ride. The vehicles, equipped with roll cages, were increasingly popular with hunters and with ice anglers, farmers and acreage owners. But other than during the winter on frozen lakes, the owners had no legal place to ride on public land.
Downing said it was common for him to be on the phone with someone who just bought an ORV and was looking for advice.
“They would call and say ‘I just bought this, I got it registered, now where can I ride it?’” he said. “This is a big deal because there has not been a legal place for these vehicles before. Now they have that place.”
The three parks that will allow ORVs beginning Saturday are part of eight OHV parks in Iowa. The parks currently attract OHV and ATV riders from other states due to their unique features of trails in a contained park and trail maintenance. Other states usually only offer linear trails.
There are no fees to ride in the park, but riders are required to have and display a current DNR vehicle registration decal. The registration fees are used to support the program, which helps to fund the parks.
“The ORV owners would have to go out of state to ride legally. With the three parks allowing these vehicles, they can stay here and ride much closer to home,” Downing said.
The DNR has a list of parks and rules on its website at http://www.iowadnr.gov/law/atv/parks.html
What is an Off-Road Utility Vehicle?
ORVs are also known as side-by-sides, or common brand/model names Razor, Rhino, Ranger or Mule.
CONTACT: David Downing, Off Highway Vehicles program coordinator, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-238-3564