Let us set the scene for you: you feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the power of the machine beneath you. You’re zooming through a picturesque landscape, and your heart is racing with excitement as you admire the winding road ahead.
Yes — of course we’re talking about ATV riding!
As exciting as it is, ATV riding can also be dangerous if you’re not familiar with proper safety measures or how ATVs should and shouldn’t be used.
This ultimate guide will walk you through that and much more, equipping you with everything you need to know to get behind the handlebars asap. So, buckle up, and let’s kick up some dirt!
As their name implies, ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles) are vehicles designed to handle various terrains and conditions, such as driving through mud, snow, and hills. ATV rides are, then, usually off-road rides. While some ATVs can be used as on-road vehicles, too, most do not respond well to paved surfaces like asphalt roads.
ATVs are known for two defining features, handlebar steering and straddle seating position. Drivers steer them using handles and they must be seated with one leg on each side of the seat, like when riding a bicycle.
Source: 1-Hour ATV Tour in Miami // Happy drivers standing on three ATVs with their arms spread
Some distinguish ATVs from UTVs (Utility Terrain Vehicles). Unlike ATVs, UTVs can seat two passengers side by side and are usually larger in size. UTVs are also primarily used for utility- or work-related purposes rather than recreation.
Source: Sedona ATV Rental
Of course, ATVs come in various sizes as well. Smaller ATVs are recommended for younger adults or smaller-built people, while others should choose larger models with appropriate weight capacities.
ATV riding can be a thrilling and fun outdoor activity for riders of all levels. However, it’s important to follow some basic guidelines to ensure your safety and the safety of others around you. Here are some tips on how to ride ATVs:
Alternatively, you can also opt for a guided tour for your first ATV drive. That way, you’ll have experienced guides that will walk you through all the steps, and be able to explore some really cool trails. It’s a win-win!
Depending on your local laws and regulations, you may only be permitted to drive ATVs on designated trails.
Even if that’s not the case, it’s usually best for beginners to practice driving on a proper trail system rather than unadapted terrains, like public roads or unmaintained dirt roads. This will help ensure you ride with confidence, avoid accidents, and even that you don’t harm the environment! ♻️
Riding ATVs on non-designated terrains can cause erosion, damage to natural habitats, and harm to wildlife. On the other hand, riding on public roads or unmaintained dirt roads can be dangerous and illegal.
So, try to avoid both scenarios and use a designated trail system. Here’s how to choose one that best fits your needs and preferences.
The first thing to consider is whether you want to use private or public ATV trails.
Private ATV trails are owned by certain individuals or groups and aren’t open to the public.
Public ATV trails, on the other hand, are open to everyone and are usually operated by federal or state agencies.
When choosing between private and public ATV trails, consider your riding preferences and budget, as well as any applicable rules or regulations.
Although private and public ATV trails have their differences, the biggest – and most important – difference comes down to the type of terrain.
You may want to experiment with different terrains or stick to the one that’s easiest for you to navigate and maneuver through. Either way, it’s useful to know the options you have at your disposal. So, here are the most common ATV trails by terrain:
Mud riding in action. (Source: Extended Denali ATV Tour) // Three people in a UTV driving through mud
ATV driving on wooded trails. (Source: Extended Denali ATV Tour) // Three ATVs driving through a forest
ATV sand driving. (Source: Las Vegas Dunes ATV Tour) // A group of ATV riders riding through the Las Vegas desert
ATV riding has many benefits besides being just a fun activity to share with family and friends.
For example, research shows it can benefit your health by providing moderate-intensity physical activity. It can also help you develop unique skills, such as navigating uneven terrains and learning to maintain balance while maneuvering the vehicle.
On top of that, ATVs also have several advantages over similar off-road vehicles, such as UTVs and dirt bikes.
|ATVs vs UTVs||ATVs vs dirt bikes|
|ATVs are generally less expensive than UTVs|
ATVs are lighter and smaller than UTVs, which allows them to navigate tight spaces and narrow trails more easily
ATVs require more physical exertion and can lead to greater health benefits
|ATVs are more stable and easier to handle than dirt bikes, making them more suitable for those with less off-road experience or limited physical abilities|
ATVs are more versatile and can be used for various activities, such as utility work or hunting
ATVs can accommodate passengers and gear more easily than dirt bikes
It’s important you familiarize yourself with ATV-related safety precautions before your first ATV ride. This will help you minimize the risk of serious injury or accidents.
Here are the most important precautions to follow:
Always keep a safe distance from other drivers. (Source: Guided ATV Tour Sedona) // People riding ATVs one behind the other
When riding ATVs, always wear long pants and a shirt with long sleeves to protect your skin from scratches, cuts, or sunburn. Also, ensure your clothing fits snuggly so you avoid getting caught on parts of your ATV.
The short answer is no; an ATV is not safer than a motorcycle. Research shows that ATV accidents have a higher death rate than motorcycle accidents, primarily because they typically lead to more serious injuries. However, you can minimize the risks by sticking to the safety precautions described above.
Want to learn how to properly ride an ATV — or explore trails you can’t access on your own?
Book an ATV tour on our website and let our trusted operators take great care of you. Whether you want to drive through forests, canyons, mud, or deserts, we’ve got you covered!
Browse through our extensive list of available ATV tours across the US and book one that best suits your needs. All that’s left to do is gear up and get ready for the thrill of ATV riding!
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