A Guide to the ATV and UTV Laws in Colorado

guide to atv and utv laws in colorado

Continuing in our series of articles analyzing the ATV laws in every state, which stemmed from this article, we are addressing the ATV laws in Colorado in this article.   It should also be noted that, while I am an attorney, I am not your attorney and am not giving legal advice.  If you have questions, you should consult a local attorney.

Are you Required to Register an ATV or UTV in Colorado?

All off-highway vehicles, including ATVs and UTVs, must be registered and numbered in Colorado to be operated or even possessed within the state.

To register your ATV or UTV, you must be able to provide proof of ownership.  That proof does not have to be a certificate of title, because those are not always available, but you should have a receipt or bill of sale at a minimum.  Check out our guide to keep from accidentally getting stuck with a stolen ATV.

The exceptions to the registration requirement include ATVs and UTVs that match the following conditions:

  • An ATV or UTV owned by the government.
  • An ATV or UTV owned by a resident of another state so long as the ATV is registered in that state and has not been within Colorado for more than 30 consecutive days.
  • An ATV or UTV used strictly for agricultural purposes.
  • An ATV or UTV used strictly on private property.
  • An ATV or UTV being used in an organized race.
  • An ATV or UTV used by a dealer or manufacturer for an educational or safety program.

Are you required to obtain an off-highway permit to use an ATV or UTV in Colorado?

To operate an ATV or UTV for recreational travel upon public land trails, you must obtain an off-highway use permit.  The permits expire on March 31 of each year, regardless of when they are purchased.

The off-highway use permit must be displayed on your ATV or UTV.  ATVs and UTVs that are not required to have a permit include the following:

  • government-owned vehicles;
  • vehicles being used in an organized event; and
  • vehicles operated for non-recreational uses such as logging, mining, grazing of livestock, firewood-cutting and other such uses.

What equipment is required on an ATV or UTV in Colorado?

Colorado requires an ATV or UTV be equipped with the following equipment if it is to be operated on public lands.

  • Head lamp;
  • Tail lamp;
  • Brakes;
  • Muffler; and
  • Spark Arrester.

guide to atv and utv laws in colorado

What are the sound restrictions for ATVs and UTVs in Colorado?

There are strict sound limits imposed on ATVs and UTVs in Colorado.  For quads manufactured before 1998, the sound limit is 99 decibels.  For quads and side by sides manufactured in 1998 or later, the sound limit is reduced to 96 decibels.

These limits do not apply to ATVs and UTVs designed for and used only in closed course competition facilities.

Free testing is available to ensure you are in compliance. Testing is performed using the SAE J 1287 stationary 20 inch pipe test.

What are the age restrictions for ATV or UTV use in Colorado?

A registered ATV or UTV may be operated by any person aged 16 or older.  Additionally, children aged 10-15 may operate a registered ATV or UTV in Colorado under the supervision of a licensed driver.


Are you permitted to operate an ATV on streets in Colorado?

The general rule in Colorado is that you cannot operate ATVs or UTVs on public streets, roads and highways.  Fortunately, many cities and counties in Colorado have opened up some or all of their roads to ATV or UTV use.  In addition, there are some limited exceptions, which we have listed below?

  • Unsurprisingly, if the street is designated for ATV use;
  • When crossing a the street;
  • When traversing a bridge or culvert;
  • During special events as conducted by local authorities;
  • During emergency conditions declared by state or local authority; and
  • When being used for Agricultural Purposes.

What locations in Colorado permit ATV and UTV use on public streets?

As mentioned above, several cities and counties in Colorado have permitted extended ATV and UTV use on public roads.  Below is a quick rundown on what is permitted in these locations.

Chaffee County
On designated roads only by operators with a driver’s license.
Custer CountyOn all County Roads.
City of CraigOn all city streets by operators with permit and driver’s license.
City of CreedeOn certain roads by operators with driver’s license and insurance.  Speed limit of 15 mph.
City of DeltaUnknown.
Delta CountyUnknown.
Town of EagleOn the OHV route direct to/from Hardscrabble trailhead. There is a 48″ max width on ATVs and UTVs.
City of EmpireOn city streets, but not adjacent county roads.
Garfield CountyOn designated roads only by operators with licenses and insurance. Maximum speed of 35 mph.  Eye protection required and, for operators under 18, helmets required.
Town of GrandbyOn certain streets only.
Grand CountyOn specified county roads.
Grand LakeOn designated OHV routes only.
Gunnison CountySections of designated county roads only.
Town of GypsumOnly on routes to/from trailheads.
Hinsdale CountyOn all roads for operators with license and insurance, helmet (under 18), and eye protection.  Max speed limit is 15 mph unless otherwise posted.
Jackson CountyOnly on designated county road sections.
City of KremmlingOnly on the OHV route providing direct access to Wolford Mountain.
Lake City
On all roads for operators with license and insurance, helmet (under 18), and eye protection.  Max speed limit is 15 mph unless otherwise posted.
Lake CountyAll county roads by licensed operators.
City of LeadvillePosted routes by licensed operators.
Town of MeekerOn all town roads.
Mesa CountyOn all county roads by licensed operators with minimum insurance.  Speed limit is 35 mph or lesser posted limit.
Moffat CountyOn all county roads unless otherwise posted.
Montezuma County
On all county roads by licensed operators with minimum insurance.  Speed limit is 50 mph or lesser posted limit.
Montrose CountyOn designated roads by operators with license and insurance.  Speed limit is 35 mph or lesser posted limit.
Ouray CountyOn designated county roads only by operators with license and insurance.
City of ParachuteOn all city streets.
Town of PitkinOn streets by licensed operators.  Maximum speed of 15 mph.
Town of RangleyUnknown.
Rio Blanco County
All County Roads EXCEPT County Roads 1 (Blue Mountain Road), 5 (Piceance Creek Road) and 7 (Strawberry Creek Road).
San Juan CountyOn designated routes in the Alpine Loop. Operators must have licenses and insurance.
San Miguel CountyOn designated routes.  Operators must have licenses and insurance.
City of SilvertonOn designated routes marked with yellow signage and arrows.
City of South ForkOn designated routes with city permit.
City of SterlingOn all public streets with a city registration.  
Register at the police department. Owners must provide the following: Bill of sale, title of vehicle or proof of ownership and Proof of current insurance.
Teller CountyOn designated county roads.
City of VictorUnknown.
guide to atv and utv laws in colorado

What to do if you are in an ATV or UTV Accident in Colorado?

If you are involved in an off-highway vehicle accident in Colorado which results in property damage of $1,500 or more or in injuries resulting in hospitalization or death, you must immediately notify an officer of the Colorado state patrol, the sheriff’s office in the county where the accident occurred, or the police department of the municipality wherein the accident occurred.

What regulations are there for hunting in Colorado using an ATV or UTV?

While you are permitted to use an ATV or UTV to assist with hunting in Colorado, there are a number of regulations imposed on the same.  Generally, you may only use an ATV or UTV to transport hunters to a downed animal.  The other uses you may expect to be useful are not permitted.

It is unlawful to harass or pursue wildlife with an ATV or UTV.  The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department also emphasizes the ethical use of ATVs and UTVs in hunting, encouraging consideration of other hunters, and emphasizing that the future privilege of using ATVs or UTVs while hunting will be based on the responsible use by hunters today.

There are also limitations for the carrying of weapons on an ATV or UTV.  Any firearms must be fully unloaded, in both the chamber and the magazine.  All firearms and bows carried on an ATV or UTV must be enclosed in a hard or soft case.

Brent Huntley

Brent Huntley is the owner of ATV Man and is responsible for almost all the material on the website. He also runs photographyandtravel.com and loves to travel and ride ATVs with his family. When he isn't playing, his day job consists of owning Huntley Law.

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