The following tips are from Tread Lightly!‘s website. Tread Lightly! is an organization who promotes responsible off-highway vehicle use.
- Stay on routes designated for four wheeling.
- Cross streams only at designated fording points, or where the road crosses the stream.
- Cross large rocks and other obstacles slowly, at an angle, one wheel at a time.
- Avoid muddy trails. Leave them for another day when theyâ€™re dry. If you do come across mud on the trail, go easy on the gas to avoid wheel spin, which can cause rutting. Donâ€™t leave the trail to avoid muddy spots, this can widen the trail and damage trailside plant-life.
- Straddle ruts, gullies and washouts even if they are wider than your vehicle.
- Donâ€™t turn around on narrow roads, steep terrain, or unstable ground. Backup until you find a safe place to turn around.
- Travel straight up or down hills. Donâ€™t traverse the face of a hill; you may slip sideways or roll your vehicle.
- Stop frequently and reconnoiter ahead on foot.
- Ride in the middle of trails to minimize widening them. Avoid side-slipping and wheel spin, which can lead to erosion.
- To help with traction, balance your load and lower tire pressure to where you see a bulge (typically not less the than 20 pounds).
- Know where the differential or lowest point on the vehicle is.
- Choose the appropriate winch for your vehicle size.
- Attach towing cable, tree strap or chain as low as possible to the object being winched. Let the winch do the work; never drive the winch.
- Protect the soundscape by avoiding unnecessary noise created by your vehicle.
- Leave gates as you find them. Respect private land.
- Yield the right-of-way to those passing you or traveling uphill. Yield to mountain bikers, hikers, and horses.
- Avoid â€œspookingâ€ livestock and wildlife.
- Always avoid sensitive habitats: wetlands, meadows, and tundra.
- Following a ride, wash your vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
- Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated â€œWilderness.â€
- Pack out what you pack in. Carry a trash bag in your vehicle and pick up litter left by others.
- Whenever possible, use existing campsites. Camp on durable surfaces and place tents on a non-vegetated area. Do not dig trenches around tents.
- Camp a least 200 feet from water, trails and other campsites.
- Minimize use of fire. For cooking, try using a camp stove.
Before you go
- Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements. If you cross private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).
- Get a map.
- Make a realistic plan and stick to it. Always tell someone where you are going and your expected return time.
- Check the weather forecast.
- Make sure your vehicle is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies and spares for trailside repairs.
- Travel with a group of two or more vehicles, as riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown. Designate meeting areas in case of separation.