Guide to the ATV and UTV Laws in Texas

texas laws of ohv

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 Texas 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.

How Does Texas Define an ATV?

In Texas, a vehicle classifies as an ATV or all-terrain vehicle if it meets the following:

  • Is equipped with a seat (or seats if designed for a passenger) for use of the rider;
  • Has three or more wheels;
  • Is not more than 50 inches wide;
  • Is designed for off-highway use; and
  • Is not designed by the manufacturer for farm or lawn care.

Do you have to register your ATV or UTV in Texas?

ATV and UTV registration is not required in Texas for off-highway use, although it used to be.  You are able to obtain titles for your ATV and UTV at a county tax assessor/collector’s office.  We recommend always getting a title, as discussed in our guide to avoiding a stolen ATV.

What is a Texas OHV Decal?

The OHV Decal is required to be obtained before riding an ATV or UTV on any public lands or private lands which have received TPWD OHV grant monies.  The decal must be properly mounted on your ATV or UTV.

Texas does not offer any reciprocity with OHV registration or decals from any other state.  If you are visiting Texas, you will need to purchase the Texas OHV decal.

The Texas OHV decal can be obtained by calling 512-389-8917 or by visiting one of these locations.  As of 2018, the cost of the OHV decal was $16 per fiscal year.  The fiscal year in Texas ends each August 31, at which time your decal will expire, regardless of when it was purchased.

What are the Equipment requirements in texas?

Texas has a pretty standard list of equipment for ATVs and UTVs operated on public lands.  The required equipment includes the following:

  • A working muffler;
  • An operational brake system;
  • A head and tail light (during the hours between 1/2 hour before sunrise and 1/2 hour after sunset or reduced visibility);
  • A USFS-qualified spark arrester; and
  • The Off-Highway Vehicle decal issued by the State Parks and Wildlife Department.

Any person operating an ATV or UTV on public property in Texas must be wearing a Safety Helmet and Goggles or other eye protection.

If you are in need of a great helmet or goggles that are a really good value, check out our Recommended Gear.

ohv rules for texas

Is a Safety Certificate required in Texas?

To operate an ATV or UTV on public property or a beach in Texas, you must hold a safety certificate issued by Texas or another state.

The only exceptions to this requirement are for those taking a safety training course under the direct supervision of a certified instructor or a youth operating under the direct supervision of an adult who holds a safety certificate.

What are the ATV/UTV laws for Youth Riders in Texas?

You may not operate an ATV or UTV in Texas if you are under the age of 14 unless you are accompanied by and under the direct supervision of a parent, guardian or another adult authorized by the parent or guardian.

Are you permitted to operate ATVs on TExas Streets?

Generally, ATV use is not permitted on the public roads of Texas.  The exceptions are for (1) a farmer or rancher travelling less than 25 miles; (2) a public utility worker; or (3) a law enforcement officer.

If ATVs are permitted on the public roads of Texas, they must be equipped with a triangular orange flag atop an eight foot pole attached to the back of the ATV.  Additionally, the headlights and taillights must be illuminated and the operator must hold a valid driver’s license.

Are ATVs or UTVs permitted for hunting in Texas?

Because ATVs and UTVs are not permitted on State Wildlife Management lands or on Type II Permit lands, they are not much use for hunting in Texas.

The exception to this rule is when the ATV or UTV operator has a current handicapped license plate or placard.  In this situation, the operator may ride their ATV or UTV directly to and from their hunting location, but they may not be used for any other recreational purpose.

Cross-country ATV or UTV use is not permitted in Texas for any reason, including game retrieval.

What Other ATV/UTV Laws are there in Texas?

  • You may not operate an ATV or UTV in a careless or reckless manner that endangers, injures or damages a person or property.
  • You may not carry passengers on an ATV or UTV unless the ATV or UTV is designed by the manufacturer to transport a passenger.

Where are you Permitted to Operate ATVs and UTVs in Texas?

Below is a list to every public-land venue where ATV and UTV use is legally permitted:

North Texas

Barnwell Mountain Recreational Area

(ATVs, Motorcycles, ROVs & Full Size OHV’s)utv atv and ohv laws for texas
Gilmer/Upshur County
6284 State Highway 155 North Gilmer, TX 75645

Eisenhower State Park

(ATVs and Motorcycles only)
Denison/Lake Texoma/Grayson County
50 Park Road 20
Denison, TX 75020-4878

Northwest OHV Park

(ATVs, Motorcycles, ROVs and Full Sized OHVs)
Bridgeport/Wise County
2914 Hwy 101
Bridgeport, TX 76426
940-683-3480 (M-F)
940-683-3685 (Weekends)

Trophy Club Park at Grapevine Lake

(ATVs & Motorcycles only)
Trophy Club/Denton County
100 Municipal Drive
Trophy Club, TX 76262

Lake Buffalo OHV Area

(ATVs, Motorcycle, ROVs & Fill Sized OHVs)
City of Iowa Park/Wichita County

Navigable River on the Texas/Oklahoma Border

(ATVs, Motorcycle, ROVs & Fill Sized OHVs)
Red River
Bureau of Land Management Lands along the Texas side of the Red River
Clay, Wichita, & Wilbarger Counties
BLM Tulsa Field Office: 918-621-4400
BLM Moore Field Office: 405-794-9624

South/Central Texas

Mud Buddies ATV Park

(ATVs, Motorcycles & ROVs)
Near Hallettsville/Lavaca County
5541 County Road 450
Hallettsville, TX – 77964

Buffalo Valley MX Park

(ATVs & Motorcycles)
Near Marion/Bexar County
3488 Pvt. Rd, FM 2538
Marion, TX – 78124

Emma Long City Park

(Motorcycles and Bicycles only)
Austin/Travis County
1706 City Park Road
Austin, TX 78730

Southeast Texas

Bolivar Peninsula/Crystal Beach

(Motorcycles, ATVs, ROVs and Full-Sized Vehicles)
Crystal Beach/Galveston County
Motorized vehicle use is allowed on the beaches of the Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston County

Riding in vegetated areas or in the sand dunes is not allowed
Bolivar Peninsula, TX
409-765-2955 or 409-765-2961

Rio Bravo MX Park

(Motorcycles & ATVs)
Houston/Harris County
11610 North Lake Houston Parkway
Houston, TX – 77044

Sam Houston National Forest *

(ATV’s & Motorcycles only)
Montgomery/Walker & Grimes Counties
Sam Houston Ranger District
394 FM 1375 West
New Waverly, TX 77358

Northwest/Panhandle Texas

Childress ATV & MX Park

(ATVs, Motorcycles & ROVs)
Childress/Childress County
(ATVs, ROVs & Motorcycles)
White River Reservoir (just West of Spur, Texas)/Crosby County
2880 FM 2794
Spur, TX – 79370

Buffalo Springs Lake OHV Area

(ATVs, Motorcycles & ROVs)
Lubbock County
9999 High Meadow Road
Lubbock, TX 79404

Lake Mackenzie Recreation Area

(ATV’s & Motorcycles only)
Silverton/Briscoe County
139 South Mackenzie Road
Silverton, TX 79257

McClellan National Grassland

(ATV’s & Motorcycles only)
Pampa/Gray County
Black Kettle Ranger District
Route 1 Box 55B
Cheyenne, OK 73628

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

Moore & Potter Counties
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area
Fritch, TX 79036

  •          Blue Creek OHV Area 
    (ATV’s, Motorcycles, ROVs, Full Size OHV’s, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails)
  •          Rosita Flats OHV Area 
    (ATV’s, Motorcycles, ROVs, Full Size OHV’s, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails)

Navigable Rivers in the Panhandle

(ATV’s, Motorcycles, Full Size OHV’s, Dune Buggies & Sand Rails)
Texas Off Roaders Association (TORA)

  •          Canadian Area 
    Oldham, Potter, Hutchinson, Roberts, & Hemphill Counties
  •          Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River
    Armstrong, Briscoe, Hall, & Childress counties

West Texas

Escondido Draw Recreational Area

(ATVs, Motorcycles, ROVs & Full Size OHV’s)
Near Ozona/Crockett County
3285 County Road 406
Ozona, TX 75645
Lat: 30°35’22.0″ N
Long: -101°34’19.4″ W

Moss Creek Lake ATV Park

(ATVs & Motorcycles)
Near Big Spring/Howard County
10,000 East Moss Lake Road
Big Spring, TX 79760

Twin Buttes OHV Area

(ATVs, Motorcycles, and ROVs)
Near San Angelo/Tom Green County
Twin Buttes Marina Park Road
San Angelo, TX 76904

San Felipe Park

(Dune Buggies, ATV’s & Motorcycles)
Near Fabens/El Paso County
San Felipe Road/CR 793
Fabens, TX 79838

Brent Huntley

Brent Huntley is the owner of ATV Man and is responsible for almost all the material on the website. He also runs 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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