Right now, the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), the Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) to public lands, and many other OHV-advocacy groups are lobbying Congress and state Governors to support OHV/Powersports vehicles as essential services, and to keep powersports facilities open during the COVID-19 pandemic. OHVs, including UTVs, ATVs, dirt bikes, personal watercraft and snowmobiles are not just for recreation at your local OHV area, they are also regularly used by first responders including firefighters, law enforcement, EMTs, and search and rescue, along with our military, for quick response to whatever emergency occurs.

Keeping open your local OHV areas


It is vitally important that powersports dealers, OEM manufacturers, distributors, and the aftermarket remain open and operating. Not only to provide OHVs for first responders and the public, it’s so that we can escape Coronavirus hotspots (cities), recreate to alleviate tensions and fears, and exercise easily while practicing social distancing.

The BLM may close some high-traffic areas of the Imperial Sand Dunes, AKA Glamis, but the dunes remain open for OHV use. Photo by Cody Hooper.

Not only are OHVs essential services, the OHV/Powersports industry is there to provide a lot more than vehicles and the parts and mechanics to keep them running. As states and the federal Governments write legislation and even bring lawsuits to secure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our doctors, nurses, and EMTs so that they can safely treat COVID-19 patients and find a cure, powersports dealers and related companies are a vital source of alternative face masks, some even more effective than N95 masks. OHVers have been dealing with dust – fine particles in the air – since before there were ATVs and then UTVs.


On the trail, we OHV enthusiasts spread out to keep out of each other’s dust, and we’ve been doing it for decades before “social distancing” joined the American lexicon. When we reach a turn onto a new trail, individuals stop until the next person in line sees the turn, and that person stops until the next person arrives. It’s simple a trail rule. Now, we have radios, which let us keep even greater distances without getting lost, and Polaris’ Ride Command now lets us do it with our phones.

OHV in your local area
Spreading out on the trail cuts down on dust, and it lessens contact that could spread viruses.

So, we’re well equipped to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines like those in effect at OHV parks like Tennessee’s Windrock Park. Windrock is open to valid permit holders, but we must ride in groups smaller than 10 and disperse on trails and at trailheads. In California, all beaches and 280 state parks are closed, along with developed BLM recreation sites, but OHV and hiking trails (along with dispersed camping spots) are open so that health-conscious citizens can exercise and recreate. It is important to get out in our UTVs, not only for personal physical and mental well being, but also to support our OHV industry in these trying times.

Powersports manufacturers, dealers and aftermarket companies have a stockpile of handkerchiefs, scarves, multi-use tubes and purpose-built face masks to fight dust and diseases, like the RZ Mask. You may have picked up what you need at a UTV jamboree.

In fact, the Polaris family includes Polaris Defense, and Polaris is currently running television commercials urging our Armed Forces members and veterans to take advantage of special incentives for purchasing Polaris UTVs and ATVs. Polaris Adventure Outfitters and dealers are still in operation, as are Destination Yamaha outfitters and Yamaha Outdoors dealers. Yamaha also has long supported first responders with Tactical Black Rhinos, Wolverines, Grizzlies and YXZs. Yamaha’s Outdoor Access Initiative has donated $4 million over the last decade to assure access to well-maintained trails, so it’s important that we follow through by riding those trails.


Sheriffs Departments use UTVs, ATVs and dirt bikes to patrol trails and washes, and firefighters and EMTs outfit UTVs for faster response times. Many first responders work with volunteers to increase effectiveness in emergencies.

While UTV racing is on hold due to COVID-19, most OHV enthusiasts are able to recreate on dispersed public and private lands. Others are not so fortunate. West Virginia’s Governor ordered the entire Hatfield-McCoy Trail System closed to all Resident and Non-resident Permit holders, which will have a devastating effect on local economies. Trails are open to first responders, though, as people get still lost or worse. Hatfield-McCoy regulars know the trails and area so well that their services could be vital in assisting search and rescue operations. Going from a recreational UTVer to a first responder could be as easy as volunteering and switching our radios to the local S&R frequency.


Currently, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), only the Dakotas, Iowa and Arkansas have no Shelter at Home order, and Dakotas BLM lands are open with recommendations to keep groups small. Check www.mic.org/#/covid for state-by-state COVID-19 rules and updates. Also check out your local ride-spot websites for the latest COVID-19 closures, as fines could be hefty.

The Arizona Peace Trail and other trails in the Quartzsite, Arizona, area remain open. This photo was taken before social distancing was in place.

There is also a debate going on now with COVID-19 restrictions and the upcoming Easter weekend. Easter is the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, and those inclined to celebrate are being warned not to congregate in churches. Why not honor Easter on your local OHV trails?

Is it also time to resurrect our OHV/Powersports, local, state and national economies? With the proper dust masks and riding gear and social distancing (see Guidelines For Off-Road Riding and Social Distancing), we can adhere to the restrictions while still exercising our rights and freedoms in our OHVs. So, take a ride this weekend on your local trails and support those that support us.

Use the Force, Luke: OHVers are better equipped to fight dust and disease with safety gear already in possession. Let’s ride!

Don’t think that we are not taking COVID-19 seriously, because we are. Lumpy is in the category of most susceptible to Coronavirus, and he is taking every precaution and following guidelines. However, he is also under doctor’s orders to get at least 40 minutes of exercise a day with a heart rate above 100 BPM. Riding dirt bikes elevates his BPM to 124, and driving UTVs is almost as beneficial. And the mental benefits are incalculable.

NOHVCC partner Don Amador, a longtime OHV-advocate and founder of quiet warrior, adds:

DON’T TAKE NON-ESSENTIAL OUTDOOR RISKS – Trail enthusiasts of all persuasions understand that participation in the sport comes with inherent risks.   Many of those injuries are critical and can require medical evacuation to a hospital where you will unnecessarily place yourself and others in danger of infection or require hospital staff – who are already maxed out taking care of COVID-19 patients – to address your self-inflicted injuries. If you get lost, the local Search and Rescue may not be able to respond due to staffing shortages.

There is a growing consensus in the outdoor recreation advocacy corps that the best short-term advice is for us to avoid traveling long distances to recreate but rather utilize local opportunities to get some fresh air and exercise while practicing social distancing. Responsible recreation means that we have an obligation to be good stewards and show respect for other trail users and our land management partners. Part of that responsibility is to respect temporary unit closures.

Well said, General!

Ride safe!



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