Routt County commissioners hear pitch for ATVs on roads


— The Moffat County commissioners invited Routt County to join them and the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners in allowing ATVs to travel on county roads.

Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner said the step was taken in her county to encourage that form of recreation for its economic benefits.

“We want to do it correctly. We want to stay on trails,” Danner said during a joint meeting. “We also see it as economic development. The people who come (to Northwest Colorado) to ride tend to stay a few days, stay in campgrounds, eat at restaurants and buy groceries.”

Danner added that Moffat County is in the process of developing a trail map showing how off-highway vehicle (OHV) users could use county roads to link to existing trails on public land and ride longer, continuous loops. She added that Uintah County, Utah, is taking similar steps.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners, hearing the plan for the first time Monday, expressed some reservations about a countywide approach, particularly on paved roads.

“I could see some people commuting to work in Steamboat,” Commissioner Doug Monger said after the meeting.

Earlier, Monger told the Moffat County commissioners he also was concerned about mixing ATVs with larger motor vehicles on some of Routt County’s poorly maintained unpaved roads.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said his county was particularly interested in a network of trails in the vicinity of 10,801-foot Black Mountain about four miles west of the Routt County line in the Elkhead Mountains.

“Would you be interested in looking at a couple of roads that would make the loop complete?” Mathers asked.

Danner added that using county roads to link public trails on Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest lands saves ATV users the inconvenience of repeating the chore of loading and unloading their vehicles from their trailers several times as they go from public trail to public trail.

Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins asked the Moffat County delegation if they had encountered any opposition from people living along rural county roads in the vicinity of the proposed trial network.

“It was actively the opposite,” Moffat County Resources Director Jeff Comstock said. “They came to us and asked for this.”

Stan Bragg, a retired Saratoga, Wyo., police officer who was in the audience, said people with Wyoming driver’s licenses are allowed to ride their OHVs on paved roads in Carbon County, and local law enforcement has encountered no problems with the practice.

Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush told the Moffat County commissioners that she felt pressured to agree to their request, but commissioners Monger and Nancy Stahoviak said they did not share that feeling. However, they said they would wait to see Moffat County’s final trail map before considering the question.

In other business

The Moffat County Board of Commissioners shared with its Routt County counterparts Monday negotiations among themselves, Shell Oil and the Colorado Department of Transportation about Shell’s desire to operate heavy oil field equipment on Colorado Highway 317.

The highway runs up the Williams Fork Valley from Colo. 13 south of Craig at Hamilton. Most of the road is in Moffat County, but a 1.5-mile stretch crosses into Routt County.

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Gray said CDOT already has declined to allow Shell Oil to use the road because of its condition and its narrow width. Gray said discussions are under way to explore an arrangement that would provide for Shell to bear the cost of upgrading the highway.

CDOT tentatively is open to that approach but also would want the short section in Routt County, which leads to Routt County Road 67, upgraded, presumably at Shell’s expense, he said.

The Routt County commissioners were noncommittal about the idea this week.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email


trump_suit 5 years, 2 months ago

Bicycles are OK anywhere, anytime after all they have rights.

Those ATV owners however are a rowdy drunken bunch that cannot be trusted on our roads.

Anyone else see a disconnect here?


pitpoodle 5 years, 2 months ago

No to ATVs on roads and make sure they stay on appropriate designated trails. My opinion.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

I think some sections of county roads could be designated as connecting ATV trails, but that is what people already do and law enforcement seems to ignore it. But having such maps would tend to keep tourists on ATVs off the roads elsewhere. And the signage would help make it safer for all users of the road.

There is the available excuse for rural locals of calling their ATV an ag vehicle which apparently can be driven on any roads except freeways as long as they have the reflective safety triangle.

There seems to me a valid concern of how to allow it without suggesting it is safe to use an ATV for commuting along cty road 14.


JusWondering 5 years, 2 months ago


There are many States that permit ATVs on public roads in some variation or another with few issues. It seems Colorado and Routt County are a bit behind for what we claim to be. In Europe, ATVs are often used as an everyday commuter with few issues. I remember seeing them all over Spain and France getting along just fine with cars, trucks and do I even dare say bicycles... even in the cities.

In Arizona, for example, you can license your ATV for on-road use just like any other vehicle (though you do have to comply with the same equipment requirements as cars and there are other rules).

Now, why one would want to ride on some of our County roads with heavy truck traffic I don't know but why not allow them to if they register, insure it, and obey all traffic regulations like any other motorized vehicle? It just doesn't seem much different than a motorcycle to me.

As a commuter vehicle an ATV seems like a more green alternative (at 45 mpg) than most other vehicles out there... and think of the space in parking lots. You can part 2 and perhaps 3 in the same space as a car (unless it is a Smart car).


sledneck 5 years, 2 months ago

This is exactly the kind of thing I was writing about a few days ago. If the cops ignore it... and I ignore it... and most everybody else ignores it... just do it. Don't need any more stupid laws


Scott Wedel 5 years, 2 months ago

Sledneck, But if the cops are ignoring it then instead of leaving it illegal so that annoying people complain about people doing it then it makes more sense to legalize it.

And the cops are presumably ignoring on because it is happening on lightly traveled roads. As far as I know, no one is riding ATVs on cty road 14 and expecting to be ignored by the cops. So it could be legalized to officially allow where they are being used now with possible restrictions to keep it illegal where no one would consider using them now.

I presume this entire issue is because ATV are not considered street legal unlike motorcycles are even Can Am inverted trikes. I am not sure if they are allowed on European roads because those Europeans are so freedom loving or if their ATVs are modified to be street legal.


JusWondering 5 years, 2 months ago

Atvs in Europe are slightly modified... The have rear view mirrors. Other than that they are the same ones you see on the trails everyday in the Summer.


sledneck 5 years, 2 months ago

No more stupid laws. It ain't broke, don't fix it.

There is a solution for those "annoying people who complain..." as well. Guess what it is!!! That's right... IGNORE THEM.

The next law should read as follows: "For any new law to be enacted two existing laws must be repealed."

I would support that law... and the next... and so on...


mtroach 5 years, 2 months ago

Sled..can't belive you are not advocating this, next step would of course be legalizing snowmobiles.

I'm all for allowing ATVs on the county roads, maybe start with the dirt roads and work toward total legalization. If you want to ride a ATV to town, who cares? Everyone needs to learn to share the roads and more different users will keep automobile drivers paying attention. My only concern would be the safety of ATV riders. I find ATVs hard to control, slow to react to user input, devoid of any safety equipment and somewhat top heavy and tippy, especially at speed. A person would have to be crazy to ride one of those things on a roadway, and I hope it will be ok to brush them with the mirrors on my truck if they don't move out of my way.


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