Regulations for Off-Highway Motorcycles

This page last reviewed August 10, 2010


Emission control regulations for off-highway recreational vehicles

offhwygrIn January 1994, the Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) adopted emission-control regulations for off-highway recreational vehicles. These off-highway vehicles (OHVs) include off-road motorcycles (dirt bikes) and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). At its December 1998 Public Hearing, ARB revised the OHV regulations. Due to limited product availability, the revised regulations now allow dirt bikes and ATVs that do not meet the new emission standards to be ridden during certain periods of the year - mainly fall, winter and spring months - when ozone levels are low. Ozone is one of the most health-damaging components of smog.

Because of enforcement issues, further revisions took place at a Public Hearing on July 24, 2003. As a result of these revisions, the riding season restrictions now apply to the 2003 and newer model year OHVs. For more details, go to our Off-road Recreational Vehicles website.

Sales and seasonal use of non-complying OHVs

The current regulations still allow the sale of non-complying OHVs. Two-stroke engines are found on most non-compliant OHVs, but there are non-complying four-strokes too. Consumers purchasing 2003 and newer model non-complying OHVs will now receive red sticker registration from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which must be affixed to the OHV. The red sticker identifies an OHV as "non-complying" and limits its recreational use to those months of the year when ARB has determined that ozone levels are low. But because ozone levels vary throughout California, the months for recreational use at OHV riding areas also vary. Persons who ride non-compliant OHVs during months that are not designated for riding are subject to citations and fines. The names of the OHV riding areas are provided below, including the dates when recreational use of a non-compliant OHV is permitted.

Jump to list of seasonal riding areas

Green Sticker program continues for complying OHVs

Complying OHVs will continue to be eligible for green sticker registration and be allowed to ride year-round in OHV riding areas throughout the state.

View our listings of compliant and non-complaint OHVs and other related information.

The history of developing regulations for OHVs

To improve air quality in California, ARB saw clear and compelling reasons to adopt the off-highway recreational vehicle regulations. When the regulations were adopted in 1994, the Board concluded that with three years lead-time, manufacturers would be able to produce and sell in California a full range of OHVs meeting the new emission standards. It was anticipated that at first manufacturers would produce OHVs powered by cleaner four-stroke engines (this was the case in the 1980s with on-highway motorcycles) and that modified, cleaner two-stroke engines would later come into use. At the 1994 Board meeting, industry was, for the most part, in agreement with ARB's proposal. Industry and trade organization testimony centered on requests for a time extension for OHVs with engines 90cc and under, which the Board approved.

After the regulations were passed, however, OHV user groups and dealers began meeting with ARB staff and asking for more flexible regulations. These requests were made at a time when it was becoming apparent that OHV manufacturers were not providing a wide range and number of emission-compliant dirt bikes. Initially, there were less than 10 emission-compliant dirt bike models available, which resulted in potentially fewer sales and economic hardships for many dealers; particularly those dealers selling brands that had no compliant models. To address this problem, the Board approved amendments to the regulations that provided relief but still retained emission reductions.


Seasonal riding areas

Public Land Management Agency

Riding Areas

Riding Seasons

Ranger District:
United States Forest Service
Field Office:
Bureau of Land Management
State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA):
California State Parks

OHV Area Name

Beginning

End

McCloud Ranger District McCloud OHV Area

Year Round 

Arcata Field Office Samoa Dunes

Year Round 

Hayfork Ranger District Hayfork OHV Area

Year Round  

Redding Field Office Chappie-Shasta ORV Area

 1-Oct

 30-June

Eagle Lake Field Office Fort Sage OHV Area

Year Round 

Mt. Hough Ranger District Mt. Hough OHV Area

Year Round 

Feather River Ranger District  Feather River OHV Area 

Year Round 

Downieville Ranger District  Downieville OHV Area 

Year Round 

Beckworth Ranger District  Beckworth OHV Area 

Year Round 

Army Corps of Engineers Black Butte Lake 

Year Round 

Upper Lake Ranger District  Upper Lake OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Grindstone Ranger District  Grindstone OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Ukiah Field Office South Cow Mountain Recreation Area 

Year Round 

Ukiah Field Office  Knoxville Recreation Area 

Year Round 

SVRA Clay Pit 

 1-Sep

 30-Jun

City of Marysville Eugene Chappie OHV Park 

Year Round 

SVRA Mammoth Bar 

Year Round 

Nevada City Ranger District Nevada City OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Truckee Ranger District Truckee OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Lake Tahoe OHV Area 

Year Round 

American River Ranger District American River OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Georgetown Ranger District Georgetown OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Placerville Ranger District Placerville OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Amador Ranger District Amador OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Pacific Ranger District  Pacific OHV Areas 

Year Round 

SVRA Prairie City 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Calaveras Ranger District  Calaveras OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Summit Ranger District  Summit OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Mi-Wuk Ranger District  Mi-Wuk OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 31-May

SVRA Carnegie 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Santa Clara County Metcalf Motorcycle Park 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Stanislaus County Stanislaus OHV Areas 

  1-Oct

  30-Apr

Groveland Ranger District  Groveland OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 31-May

Bass Lake Ranger District  Bass Lake OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 31-May

SVRA Hollister Hills 

 1-Oct

 31-May

Hollister Field Office  Clear Creek Management Area 

 1-Oct

 31-May

High Sierra Ranger District  High Sierra OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 31-May

Bishop Field Office  Bishop Resource Area 

Year Round 

Hume Lake Ranger District  Hume Lake OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 31-May

SVRA  Oceano Dunes 

Year Round 

Santa Lucia Ranger District  Santa Lucia OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Kern River Ranger District  Kern River OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 31-May

Tule River/Hot Springs Ranger District  Tule River/Hot Springs OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 31-May

Ridgecrest Field Office  Olancha Dunes 

Year Round 

Ridgecrest Field Office  Jawbone Canyon, Dove Springs 

 1-Sep

 31-May

Ridgecrest Field Office   Spangler Hill 

 1-Sep

 31-May

White Mountain Ranger District  White Mountain OHV Areas 

Year Round 

Mt. Pinos Ranger District  Mt. Pinos OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

SVRA  Hungry Valley 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Santa Barbara Ranger District  Santa Barbara OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Ojai Ranger District  Ojai OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers Ranger District Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

San Gabriel River Ranger District  San Gabriel River OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Front Country Ranger District  Front Country OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Mountain Top Ranger District  Mountain Top OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

San Jacinto Ranger District  San Jacinto OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 31-May

Barstow Field Office Dumont Dunes

Year Round

Barstow Field Office  El Mirage 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Barstow Field Office  Stoddard Valley 

 1-Sep

 31-May

Barstow Field Office   Rasor 

 1-Sep

 31-May

Barstow Field Office  Johnson Valley 

 1-Sep

 31-May

Needles Field Office  Eastern Mojave Desert Areas 

Year Round

San Bernardino County  Park Moabi 

Year Round

Lake Havasu Field Office  Parker Strip 

Year Round 

Palm Springs Field Office Colorado Desert Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Trabuco Ranger District  Trabuco OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

Descanso Ranger District  Descanso OHV Areas 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

El Centro Field Office  Lark Canyon 

 1-Oct

 30-Apr

SVRA  Ocatillo Wells 

 1-Oct

 31-May

SVRA  Heber Dunes 

Year Round

El Centro Field Office  Arroyo Salado 

 1-Oct

 31-May

El Centro Field Office   Superstition Mountain 

 1-Oct

 31-May

El Centro Field Office  Plaster City 

 1-Oct

 31-May

El Centro Field Office   Imperial Dunes-Mammoth Wash 

Year Round

El Centro Field Office   Imperial Dunes-Glamis/Gecko 

Year Round

El Centro Field Office   Imperial Dunes-Buttercup Valley 

Year Round 

For more information

Please contact the Air Resources Board:

(800)242-4450 (USA only) or (800) END-SMOG (California only)

To contact us in writing:

P.O.Box 2815, Sacramento, CA 95812

Off-Road Emission Reduction Program

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