Know Before You Go

  • Learn the Rules of Riding: There are laws specific to operating off-highway vehicles on public lands. Learn about them by visiting the webpage of your outdoor destination prior to leaving home and take a training course.
  • Scout Your Route: Each vehicular recreation area has a vast and diverse mixture of geology for riders exploring in their motorcycle, ATVs, dune buggies or 4x4s; learn about the various trail experience levels and terrain to avoid emergencies.
  • Be Prepared: Know which supplies you need to have for a successful ride. Be prepared with a first aid kit, extra water and food, maps, a tool kit and extra fuel.
  • File a Riding Plan: Tell a responsible person back at camp or at home where you are going and when you plan on returning. Ask that person to notify local law enforcement if you do not return on time.
  • Use Required Safety Equipment: Know which gear is required for your type of recreation to prevent injury. Always wear protective gear, including a safe, well-fitting helmet.
  • Never Go Alone: Always ride with at least one other person, but preferably in groups of three. If one rider is hurt, someone can stay with the rider while the other one gets help. Never move an injured rider.
  • Tread Lightly: Know where to ride, and ride only on designated routes and trails. Be sure to check ahead for open trails. Remember, wildlife has the right-of-way.
  • Know Your Limits: Know the rules, your skill level and how to maintain your vehicle. Only operate at speeds in which you can maintain control at all times. Do not ride faster than your talent and never operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Keep your speed under 15 mph when riding near campsites or groups of people.

Key points to ensure your safety while recreating in the SVRAs and on California public lands

  • Tell a responsible person where you are going (in detail) and when you will return. Ask that person to notify local law enforcement if you do not return on time.
  • At a minimum, you should consider taking and using the following safety equipment: protective clothing, helmet, goggles, gloves, seatbelts, (4WDs and dune buggys), first-aid kit, map, matches, and a signal mirror. If you own a cellular phone, take it with you.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel (2-cycle oil if required) and drinking water for the round trip. Drinking water can be more important than fuel in the desert
  • When in the desert, consider staying with your vehicle if it is disabled rather than setting off on your own for help.
  • Avoid driving or stopping in tall grass or brush or where natural fuels come in contact with hot vehicle parts. Stop only in cleared areas.

Practice Safe Road Habits

  • Drive with courtesy. Be prepared to yield the right of way anytime there is doubt and you can safely do so.
  • Stay to the right side of the road or trails.
  • Approach curves and hill crests with caution. Assume there are vehicles ahead and slow accordingly.
  • Don't go down a trail you haven't been up first. If you don't like what you find, you may not be able to go back up.
  • Go with a friend. Two heads and two vehicles are better than one.
  • Allow extra room and stopping distance when approaching other vehicles, especially youngsters, who may be less experienced.