As of July 1, 2022, ATV and UTV riders in Iowa now have greater use and access for their rides throughout the state of Iowa. Why? A 2020 survey asked riders of four-wheeled recreational vehicles in the state what they’d most like to see changed, and nearly 5,000 riders enthusiastically told the surveyors.
Above all, riders said they wanted to be able to ride in all 99 of Iowa’s counties, as well as hop on county and/or state roads as necessary to connect trailheads. According to the new law, it seems those ATV and UTV riders have gotten their wish. There are still plenty of restrictions to be observed, but here are the revised rules, current as of July 1, 2022.
All ATVs and UTVs operating on public roads in Iowa must have working headlights, taillights, brake lights, rearview mirrors, and a horn. Headlights must be in use at all times when the ATV or UTV is on a public road, regardless of ambient lighting conditions at the time they are riding. Riders must not exceed a speed limit of 35mph. Additionally, riders must be 18 years of age or older, and have both a valid driver’s license and proper insurance for any vehicle taken on the road. Authorized riders may ride day or night.
It’s also worth noting that Iowa cities will have jurisdiction over how ATV and UTV traffic may operate within city limits, but may not charge riders any fees for use of city streets. So, interested riders may want to do a little recon ahead of time to see what’s allowed where they intend to ride.
Riders must take the most direct route to and from ATV parks and trails, county roads, city streets that have been authorized for ATV/UTV use, or their own homes. It’s permissible to use state two-lane or county highways only under those circumstances. Additionally, during special events throughout the year, ATV and UTV access may be restricted from county roadways as appropriate.
Although ATVs and UTVs now have limited access to state two-lane and county highways, they are still not allowed on state four-lane or interstate highways. However, riders are allowed to cross four-lane highways at intersections from authorized roads, as long as the highways in question are not interstates.
Finally, having an ATV or UTV does not mean that riders can access gravel and/or paved roadways that are under construction or otherwise closed to traffic. Riders must behave like other traffic and go around such roadways as marked, and not try to ride through them.