Three Iowa state parks are now open to off-road utility vehicles, also known as O-R-Vs. They’re four-wheel drive machines equipped with roll cages and bench seats to carry passengers. David Downing, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says O-R-Vs are increasingly popular among hunters and farmers, but up until this past weekend, were forbidden in state parks.
Downing says, “We had to do some research in terms of the actual specific parks in terms of where the trails were wide enough, the types of terrain, the maintenance that’s required for these larger machines, and of course safety, being able to see other riders.” Downing says O-R-Vs will be limited to three of the eight state parks that also allow A-T-Vs and off-highway motorcycles: Lakeview O-H-V Park in Johnson County, Tama O-H-V Park in Tama County, and Nicholson Ford in Marshall County.
Downing says the state wanted to study each park to determine if it could accommodate the wider vehicles. “In the case where you have these parks where you may have kids on a 50 cc dirt bike, for them to encounter a larger vehicle, obviously the person who’s going to come out on the losing end of a collision is going to be the youngster on the small machine,” Downing says.
“That’s the reason being able to see each other and the types of terrain play an important role.” He says with three parks now approved for O-R-Vs, the state will survey the remaining five parks in Iowa to see if they can also be opened to the vehicles. Before riding, Downing says you must register your vehicle with the D-N-R.